Psychoanalysis (or Freudian psychology) is a body of ideas developed by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud and continued by others. It is primarily devoted to the study of human psychological functioning and behavior, although it can also be applied to societies. Psychoanalysis has three main components:
1. a method of investigation of the mind and the way one thinks;
2. a systematized set of theories about human behavior;
3. a method of treatment of psychological or emotional illness.
Under the broad umbrella of psychoanalysis, there are at least 22 theoretical orientations regarding human mentation and development. The various approaches in treatment called "psychoanalysis" vary as much as the theories do. The term also refers to a method of studying child development.
Freudian psychoanalysis refers to a specific type of treatment in which the "analysand" (analytic patient) verbalizes thoughts, including free associations, fantasies, and dreams, from which the analyst induces the unconscious conflicts causing the patient's symptoms and character problems, and interprets them for the patient to create insight for resolution of the problems.
The specifics of the analyst's interventions typically include confronting and clarifying the patient's pathological defenses, wishes and guilt. Through the analysis of conflicts, including those contributing to resistance and those involving transference onto the analyst of distorted reactions, psychoanalytic treatment can clarify how patients unconsciously are their own worst enemies: how unconscious, symbolic reactions that have been stimulated by experience are causing symptoms.
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