Freud and Psychoanalysis Show Notes
In this episode of the Motor City Hypnotist Podcast we are going to talk about what Psychoanalysis really is and how it started.
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I am David Wright and with me is my producer Matt Fox.
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WHAT IS PSYCHOANALYSIS?
People sometimes use the terms psychoanalysis and psychotherapy interchangeably. This is not the case.
Psychotherapy; Is a general term that describes “talk therapy”.
Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that aims to release pent-up or repressed emotions and memories in or to lead the client to catharsis, or healing. In other words, the goal of psychoanalysis is to bring what exists at the unconscious or subconscious level up to consciousness.
The Founder of Psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud and His Concepts
Freud was born in Austria and spent most of his childhood and adult life in Vienna. He entered medical school and trained to become a neurologist, earning a medical degree in 1881.
Soon after his graduation, he set up a private practice and began treating patients with psychological disorders.
His attention was captured by a colleague’s intriguing experience with a patient; the colleague was Dr. Josef Breuer and his patient was the famous “Anna O.,” who suffered from physical symptoms with no apparent physical cause.
Dr. Breuer found that her symptoms abated when he helped her recover memories of traumatic experiences that she had repressed, or hidden from her conscious mind.
This case sparked Freud’s interest in the unconscious mind and spurred the development of some of his most influential ideas.
Perhaps the most impactful idea put forth by Freud was his model of the human mind. His model divides the mind into three layers, or regions:
- Conscious: This is where our current thoughts, feelings, and focus live;
- Preconscious (sometimes called the subconscious): This is the home of everything we can recall or retrieve from our memory;
- Unconscious: At the deepest level of our minds resides a repository of the processes that drive our behavior, including primitive and instinctual desires.
Later, Freud posited a more structured model of the mind, one that can coexist with his original ideas about consciousness and unconsciousness.
In this model, there are three metaphorical parts to the mind:
- Id: The id operates at an unconscious level and focuses solely on instinctual drives and desires. Two biological instincts make up the id, according to Freud: eros, or the instinct to survive that drives us to engage in life-sustaining activities, and thanatos, or the death instinct that drives destructive, aggressive, and violent behavior.
- Ego: The ego acts as both a conduit for and a check on the id, working to meet the id’s needs in a socially appropriate way. It is the most tied to reality and begins to develop in infancy;
- Superego: The superego is the portion of the mind in which morality and higher principles reside, encouraging us to act in socially and morally acceptable ways (McLeod, 2013).
Freud believed these three parts of the mind are in constant conflict because each part has a different primary goal. Sometimes, when the conflict is too much for a person to handle, his or her ego may engage in one or many defense mechanisms to protect the individual.
These defense mechanisms include:
- Repression: The ego pushes disturbing or threatening thoughts out of one’s consciousness;
- Denial: The ego blocks upsetting or overwhelming experiences from awareness, causing the individual to refuse to acknowledge or believe what is happening;
- Projection: The ego attempts to solve discomfort by attributing the individual’s unacceptable thoughts, feelings, and motives to another person;
- Displacement: The individual satisfies an impulse by acting on a substitute object or person in a socially unacceptable way (e.g., releasing frustration directed toward your boss on your spouse instead);
- Regression: As a defense mechanism, the individual moves backward in development in order to cope with stress (e.g., an overwhelmed adult acting like a child);
- Sublimation: Similar to displacement, this defense mechanism involves satisfying an impulse by acting on a substitute but in a socially acceptable way (e.g., channeling energy into work or a constructive hobby)
The 5 Psychosexual Stages of Development
Finally, one of the most enduring concepts associated with Freud is his psychosexual stages. Freud proposed that children develop in five distinct stages, each focused on a different source of pleasure:
- First Stage: Oral—the child seeks pleasure from the mouth (e.g., sucking);
- SecondStage: Anal—the child seeks pleasure from the anus (e.g., withholding and expelling feces);
- Third Stage:Phallic—the child seeks pleasure from the penis or clitoris (e.g., masturbation);
- Fourth Stage:Latent—the child has little or no sexual motivation;
- Fifth Stage:Genital—the child seeks pleasure from the penis or vagina (e.g., sexual intercourse; McLeod, 2013).
Freud hypothesized that an individual must successfully complete each stage to become a psychologically healthy adult with a fully formed ego and superego. Otherwise, individuals may become stuck or “fixated” in a particular stage, causing emotional and behavioral problems in adulthood.
The Interpretation of Dreams
Another well-known concept from Freud was his belief in the significance of dreams. He believed that analyzing one’s dreams can give valuable insight into the unconscious mind.
In 1900, Freud published the book The Interpretation of Dreams in which he outlined his hypothesis that the primary purpose of dreams was to provide individuals with wish fulfillment, allowing them to work through some of their repressed issues in a situation free from consciousness and the constraints of reality (Sigmund Freud Biography, n.d.).
In this book, he also distinguished between the manifest content (the actual dream) and the latent content (the true or hidden meaning behind the dream).
The purpose of dreams is to translate forbidden wishes and taboo desires into a non-threatening form through condensation (the joining of two or more ideas), displacement (transformation of the person or object we are concerned about into something or someone else), and secondary elaboration (the unconscious process of turning the wish-fulfillment images or events into a logical narrative).
Freud’s ideas about dreams were game-changing. Before Freud, dreams were considered insignificant and insensible ramblings of the mind at rest. His book provoked a new level of interest in dreams, an interest that continues to this day.
On the Couch: Why You Lie Down During Treatment
Although it has frequently been used in satire and cartoons to poke fun at psychoanalysis, there are some good reasons why the couch is an important aspect of the psychoanalytic treatment experience.
Dr. Harvey Schwartz explains that having the client lie on the couch instead of sitting face-to-face with the analyst frees both participants from the social constraints established by looking at one another:
“Both have the opportunity to let their minds run free in relation to each other. The unconscious communication that can result fosters a more profound intimacy and deeper self-discovery” (2017).
Further, Schwartz notes these important points regarding the couch:
- It is used when the client is ready, and there is no pressure to use it;
- There is no “right” way to use the couch—each client’s experience is unique;
- The couch can facilitate greater levels of honesty that aid in the treatment process;
- It can facilitate self-acceptance and reduce inhibitions;
- The couch can be considered a place of freedom, in which you can explore the deeper aspects of your pains and your passions (2017).
While the couch isn’t necessary for patients in psychoanalysis, it is recommended and encouraged for optimal results.
TOOLS USED IN PSYCHANALYSIS
1) Rorschach inkblots
Due to the nature of defense mechanisms and the inaccessibility of the deterministic forces operating in the unconscious,
The inkblot itself doesn’t mean anything, it’s ambiguous (i.e., unclear). It is what you read into it that is important. Different people will see different things depending on what unconscious connections they make.
The inkblot is known as a projective test as the patient ‘projects’ information from their unconscious mind to interpret the inkblot.
However, behavioral psychologists such as B.F. Skinner have criticized this method as being subjective and unscientific.
Click here to analyze your unconscious mind using inkblots.
2) Freudian Slip
Unconscious thoughts and feelings can transfer to the conscious mind in the form of parapraxes, popularly known as Freudian slips or slips of the tongue. We reveal what is really on our mind by saying something we didn’t mean to.
For example, a nutritionist giving a lecture intended to say we should always demand the best in bread, but instead said bed. Another example is where a person may call a friend’s new partner by the name of a previous one, whom we liked better.
Freud believed that slips of the tongue provided an insight into the unconscious mind and that there were no accidents, every behavior (including slips of the tongue) was significant (i.e., all behavior is determined).
3) Free Association
A simple technique of psychodynamic therapy is free association, in which a patient talks of whatever comes into their mind.
This technique involves a therapist reading a list of words (e.g.. mother, childhood, etc.) and the patient immediately responds with the first word that comes to mind. It is hoped that fragments of repressed memories will emerge in the course of free association.
Free association may not prove useful if the client shows resistance, and is reluctant to say what he or she is thinking. On the other hand, the presence of resistance (e.g., an excessively long pause) often provides a strong clue that the client is getting close to some important repressed idea in his or her thinking, and that further probing by the therapist is called for.
Freud reported that his free associating patients occasionally experienced such an emotionally intense and vivid memory that they almost relived the experience. This is like a “flashback” from a war or a rape experience.
Such a stressful memory, so real it feels like it is happening again, is called an abreaction. If such a disturbing memory occurred in therapy or with a supportive friend and one felt better–relieved or cleansed–later, it would be called a catharsis.
Frequently, these intensely emotional experiences provided Freud a valuable insight into the patient’s problems.
4) Dream Analysis
According to Freud the analysis of dreams is “the royal road to the unconscious.” He argued that the conscious mind is like a censor, but it is less vigilant when we are asleep.
As a result, repressed ideas come to the surface – though what we remember may well have been altered during the dream process.
As a result, we need to distinguish between the manifest content and the latent content of a dream. The former is what we actually remember.
The latter is what it really means. Freud believed that very often the real meaning of a dream had a sexual significance and in his theory of sexual symbolism he speculates on the underlying meaning of common dream themes.
– Therapy is very time-consuming and is unlikely to provide answers quickly.
– People must be prepared to invest a lot of time and money into the therapy; they must be motivated.
– They might discover some painful and unpleasant memories that had been repressed, which causes them more distress.
– This type of therapy does not work for all people and all types of disorders.
– The nature of Psychoanalysis creates a power imbalance between therapist and client that could raise ethical issues.
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David R. Wright MA, LPC, CHT
The Motor City Hypnotist