I came across the term while browsing forums, google didn't offer a direct response. It would be much appreciated if you could explain the general idea and post external links


About Psychoanalysis:

From the American Psychoanalytic Association:

About Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is a method of treatment that helps people understand themselves, their relationships, and how they behave in the world. Psychoanalytic treatment is based on the idea that we are frequently motivated to act by impulses that we don’t recognize because they originate in our unconscious. These unconscious conflicts can create negative feelings – emotions such as unhappiness, anxiety, or depression – which can be expressed in many ways, including self-destructive behavior, or difficulties with personal relationships or work.

Psychoanalysis is sometimes called the “talking cure” because during treatment the patient is encouraged to talk about everything that comes to mind: their childhood, the present, fears, thoughts and dreams. Nothing is off limits. Talking like this, with a psychoanalyst helping to identify patterns and recurring themes, helps people learn how they came to be who they are and why they do and feel the things they do. It is this understanding of oneself that paves the way toward the emotional freedom necessary to make substantive, lasting changes.

The key to psychoanalytic treatment is in the relationship the patient develops with the analyst. Typically, psychoanalysis involves the patient coming several times a week, lying on a couch, and communicating as openly and freely as possible.

The frequency of psychoanalytic sessions is something that can be worked out between patient and analyst, but the APsaA standard is four to five sessions per week. This frequency deepens and intensifies treatment and is one of the hallmarks of psychoanalysis.

The couch has become so intertwined with psychoanalysis in the mind of the public that it is often used as shorthand to convey the idea of therapy. Stereotype or not, psychoanalysts still recommend its use. Patients recline on the couch and the analyst sits right behind them, just out of view. This arrangement, which may seem unusual at first, promotes “free association,” an essential element to psychoanalysis in which patients allow their thoughts to wander freely and talk about whatever comes to mind. Being on the couch, facing away from the analyst, can also make it easier to talk about embarrassing or difficult topics.

Psychoanalysis is a collaboration in which the patient and analyst work together to explore unconscious feelings, thoughts and conflicts through talk.

About Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Sometimes also called psychodynamic psychotherapy, this treatment method is based on the theory and technique of psychoanalysis. The primary difference is that the patient and analyst meet less frequently, sometimes only once a week. As with psychoanalysis, the frequency of sessions can be customized to the needs of the patient. Another difference is that the patient usually sits upright and opposite the therapist, rather than reclining on a couch with the therapist out of view.

Other than these differences, psychoanalytic psychotherapy is very much like analysis in its use of free association, the importance placed on the unconscious, and the centrality of the patient-therapist relationship.

About Applied Psychoanalysis

Applied psychoanalysis describes the practice of using psychoanalytic theories and methods to explain social, cultural and political phenomena and has been going on since psychoanalysis first began.

Applied psychoanalysis takes the search for meaning and motivations outside of the doctor’s office, using psychoanalytic principles to make sense of the world.

Psychoanalysts have been known to work as consultants in community settings, such as schools, businesses and corporations.
American Psychoanalytic Association


From About.com Education:

What Is Psychoanalysis? The Psychoanalytic Approach to Psychology

By Kendra Cherry Psychology Expert

Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic approach to psychology. This school of thought emphasized the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements: the id, the ego, and the superego.

Freud's theories of psychosexual stages, the unconscious, and dream symbolism remain a popular topic among both psychologists and laypersons, despite the fact that his work is viewed with skepticism by many today.

Many of Freud's observations and theories were based on clinical cases and case studies, making his findings difficult to generalize to a larger population. Regardless, Freud's theories changed how we think about the human mind and behavior and left a lasting mark on psychology and culture.

Another theorist associated with psychoanalysis is Erik Erikson. Erikson expanded upon Freud's theories and stressed the importance of growth throughout the lifespan. Erikson's psychosocial stage theory of personality remains influential today in our understanding of human development.

Major Thinkers Associated With Psychoanalysis

  • Sigmund Freud
  • Anna Freud
  • Erik Erikson
  • Erich Fromm
  • Carl Jung
  • Karl Abraham
  • Otto Rank
  • Sabina Spielrein

Key Psychoanalysis Terms

Case Study - An in-depth study of one person. Much of Freud's work and theories were developed through individual case studies. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes for behavior. The hope is that learning gained from studying one case can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective and it is difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

Conscious - In Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscious mind includes everything that is inside of our awareness. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way.

Defense Mechanism - A tactic developed by the ego to protect against anxiety. Defense mechanisms are thought to safeguard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with. In some instances, defense mechanisms are thought to keep inappropriate or unwanted thoughts and impulses from entering the conscious mind.

Ego - The ego is the part of personality that mediates the demands of the id, the superego and reality. The ego prevents us from acting on our basic urges (created by the id), but also works to achieve a balance with our moral and idealistic standards (created by the superego).

Id - The personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs and desires.

Superego - The component of personality composed of our internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and from society. The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally rather than realistically.

Unconscious - A reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety or conflict. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experiences even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.

Criticisms of Psychoanalysis

  • Freud's theories overemphasized the unconscious mind, sex, aggression and childhood experiences.

  • Many of the concepts proposed by psychoanalytic theorists are difficult to measure and quantify.

  • Most of Freud's ideas were based on case studies and clinical observations rather than empirical, scientific research.

Strengths of Psychoanalysis

  • While most psychodynamic theories did not rely on experimental research, the methods and theories of psychoanalytic thinking contributed to experimental psychology.

  • Many of the theories of personality developed by psychodynamic thinkers are still influential today, including Erikson's theory of psychosocial stages and Freud's psychosexual stage theory..

  • Psychoanalysis opened up a new view on mental illness, suggesting that talking about problems with a professional could help relieve symptoms of psychological distress.

From Psychology Today:

What Is Psychoanalysis?

It began, of course, with Freud. Psychoanalysis refers both to a theory of how the mind works and a treatment modality. In recent years, both have yielded to more mainstream, research-driven approaches, but psychoanalysis is still a thriving field.

Belief in the primacy of the unconscious fantasy, sexual desires (libido, penis envy, Oedipal complex), and dreams has wavered. But Freud also identified such basic mental maneuvers as transference, projection, and defensiveness, and demonstrated how they distort our functioning. As a treatment based on extended self-exploration, psychoanalysis has evolved beyond the silent-shrink stereotype.

Neuropsychoanalysis is an up-and-coming subfield that aims to wed the insights of Freudian psychology and its emphasis on subjective experience with neuroscientific findings about brain processes.

Further Reading:

Contemporary Psychoanalysis: William Alanson White Institute

Introduction to Psychoanalysis: Purdue University

Institute of Psychoanalysis: British Psychoanalytical Society

Psychoanalysis: Wikipedia

Great Ideas in Personality: Psychoanalysis

International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Wiley Online Library

Psychoanalysis: University College London

Frontiers in Psychology: Psychoanalysis and Neuropsychoanalysis

About Psychoanalysis: International Psychoanalytical Association

Psychoanalysis Articles From Psychology Today:

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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD - I can't remember the last time I answered a question on SE without having to google something. That certainly isn't a relevant criterion for good answers. The trick is to find the best information available, whatever your sources happen to be. $\endgroup$ – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Aug 31 '15 at 22:15

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