Psychoanalytical Theory Psychoanalytic Theory Started Off With Essay

Length: 8 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Psychology Type: Essay Paper: #87777648 Related Topics: Psychodynamic Theory, Eriksons Theory, Psychodynamic Theories, Object Relations Theory
Excerpt from Essay :

Psychoanalytical Theory

Psychoanalytic theory started off with the work of Sigmund Freud. Throughout his clinical work with people suffering from mental illness, Freud came to believe that childhood experiences and unaware desires contributed to a person's behavior. Based on his observations, he developed a theory that described development in terms of a series of psychosexual stages. According to Freud, disagreements that take place during each of these stages can have a lasting influence on one's character and actions (Cherry, 2011).

Psychoanalytic theory was an extremely influential force throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Those enthused and influenced by Freud have gone on to expand upon Freud's ideas and develop theories of their own. Of these neo-Freudians, Erik Erikson's ideas have become possibly the best known. Erikson's eight-stage theory of psychosocial development describes growth and change all through the lifetime, centering on social dealings and disagreements that take place during different stages of development (Cherry, 2011).

The innovation of Freud's advance was in distinguishing that neurotic behavior is not haphazard or meaningless but goal-directed. Therefore, by looking for the reason behind so-called abnormal behavioral patterns, the analyst was given a method for understanding behavior as meaningful and informative, without denying its physiological aspects. Freud claimed that all people are born with certain instincts, like a natural tendency to satisfy their biologically determined needs for food, shelter and warmth (Cory, 2008). The satisfaction of these needs is both sensible and a foundation of pleasure which Freud refers to as sexual. Consequently, when the infant, sucking at its mother's breast discovers the pleasure intrinsic in this activity, the first glimmers of sexuality are aroused. The child discovers an erotogenic zone which may be reactivated later in life through thumb sucking or kissing. Through this intimate interface with the mother, upon whom the child is dependent, a sexual drive materializes. As this drive is divided out from its original purpose as a purely biological nature, it achieves a comparative autonomy. During the early stages of childhood development, other erotogenic zones come out (A Brief Outline of Psychoanalytic Theory, 2009).

The oral stage, connected with the drive to integrate objects by way of the mouth, is followed by the anal stage during which the anus becomes an erotogenic zone as the child takes pleasure in defecation. This pleasure is characterized by Freud as aggressive because the child is understood to be taking delight in discharge and destruction. The anal stage is also connected with the desire for retention and domineering power. The next stage the child enters is the phallic stage when the sexual drive is centered on the genitals. Freud named this stage as phallic rather than genital because, he thought that, only the male organ is important (A Brief Outline of Psychoanalytic Theory, 2009).

What is taking place in this process, though the stages overlap, should not be seen as a firm succession. In fact it is a gradual association of the libidinal drives, but one still centered on the child's own body. The drives themselves are tremendously flexible, and are in no sense fixed. Their objects are dependent and disposable, and one sexual drive can substitute for another. "What one can envision in the early years of the child's life, then, is not a shared subject meeting and desiring a stable object, but a multifaceted, shifting field of force in which the subject, the child itself, is caught up and disconnected, in which it has as yet no center of individuality and in which the limitations between itself and the external world are undecided. Within this field of libidinal force, objects and part-objects materialize and disappear again. They are outstanding among such objects is the child's body as the play of drives laps across it" (A Brief Outline of Psychoanalytic Theory, 2009).

It has been said that this is auto eroticism, within which Freud from time to time includes the whole of infantile sexuality. The child takes erotic delight in its own body, but without as yet being able to view its body as a total thing. Auto-eroticism must therefore be distinguished from what Freud calls narcissism, a state in which one's body or ego as a whole is taken as an object of longing. The child in this state is described by Freud as chaotic, sadistic, aggressive, self-involved and mercilessly pleasure-seeking, totally within the grip of the pleasure principle. It is also not gender specific. That is to say, even though it is full of sexual drives, it draws no difference between the gender categories male and female (A Brief Outline of Psychoanalytic Theory, 2009).


While most psychodynamic theories did not depend on experimental research, the methods and theories of psychoanalytic thinking add to experimental psychology. Psychoanalysis opened up a new outlook on mental illness, suggesting that talking about troubles with a professional could help mitigate symptoms of psychological distress. Freud's theories exaggerated the unconscious mind, sex,


A lot of the concepts proposed by psychoanalytic theorists are hard to evaluate and quantify. Most of Freud's ideas were based on case studies and clinical observations rather than empirical, scientific research (Cherry, 2011).

Even though psychoanalysis began as a tool for ameliorating emotional anguish, it is not only a therapy. It is, in addition, a technique for learning about the mind, and also a theory, a way of understanding the progressions of ordinary everyday mental performance and the stages of normal development from infancy to old age. In addition, since psychoanalysis seeks to make clear how the human mind works, it supplies insight into whatever the human mind produces. In so doing, it has had a thoughtful influence on many facets of twentieth-century culture (Psychoanalytic theory, 2005).

As a general theory of individual human behavior and knowledge, psychoanalytic ideas supplement and are supplemented by the study of the biological and social sciences, group behavior, history, philosophy, art, and literature. As a developmental theory, psychoanalysis adds to child psychology, education, law, and family studies. Throughout its examination of the multifaceted relationship between body and mind, psychoanalysis also advances the understanding of the function of emotions in health as well as in medical illness. Additionally, psychoanalytic knowledge is the foundation of all other dynamic advances to therapy. Whatever the alterations, the insights of psychoanalysis form the underpinnings of much of the psychotherapy engaged in general psychiatric practice, in child psychiatry, and in most other individual, family, and group therapies (Psychoanalytic theory, 2005).

Psychoanalytic theories, generally, do not take into account a lot of factors such as a patient's constitutional rights, their inborn disposition, family system features, and the impact of the self-directed functions on development or the limits of the child. The analyst's preferred theory may become a belief system that forms their understanding of the patient leading to an imposition of the theory on the data. The analyst's wisdom of confidence about their favorite theory may be founded on conveyance to the author of the theory or from its fit with their own psychological composition. In the end, not responsible in terms of any psychoanalytic theory, there is something beyond description, which is the unrelenting and basically unyielding essence of the person that cannot be explained on the basis of good mothering or on the basis of facilitating surroundings. "Whether this is thought of as soul or spirit, or even a true self, it is not something the psychotherapist can all-powerfully create. It can only be discovered, unburied, cleared away of emotional clutter" (Horner, 2006).

In their clinical work, analytic therapists are confronted with the complication of familiarity and distinctiveness, of commitment and autonomy, and of the well-being of the group and the welfare of the self. "Using the conjunction, and, rather than or, communicates that we cannot choose one alternative over the other, as this inevitably will do violence either to the self or to the group, be it the parent-child dyad, the marital dyad, the family, or society at large. Added, are the complexities of language and communication" (Horner, 2006).

These difficulties cannot be unstated from a common sense perspective. Such understanding necessitates an in-depth understanding of what goes into the making of the person from the very start of life, and how this developmental history either facilitates, or mitigates in opposition to the ability for both sides of the equation. Unfortunately, no single psychoanalytic theory is able to include them all (Horner, 2006).

According to Iser (2006) ppsychoanalysts are genuinely emotionally involved in their work, which consists in applying the psychoanalytic method to the analysand in the circumstance of a dyadic relationship. They practice psychoanalysis as a method and apply a quantity of knowledge about communication, about the etiology of mental disorders and about psychic association. On the other hand, an analysis demands-in spite of method and knowledge-that the analyst produces an image of the analysand, encompassing the analysand's biography, personality, and sociocultural context.

The richness of this representation that develops throughout the course of therapy is bound at the same time to a…

Sources Used in Documents:


A Brief Outline of Psychoanalytic Theory. (2009). Retrieved from

American Psychoanalytic Association. (2011). Retrieved from

Beystehner, K.M. (2001). Psychoanalysis: Freud's Revolutionary Approach to Human

Personality. Retrieved from

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