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Freud was a neurologist trying to find an effective treatment for patients with neurotic or hysterical symptoms. Freud realised that there were mental processes that were not conscious, whilst he was employed as a neurological consultant at the Children's Hospital, where he noticed that many aphasic children had no apparent organic cause for their symptoms.

He then wrote a monograph about this subject. Charcot had introduced hypnotism as an experimental research tool and developed the photographic representation of clinical symptoms.

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Freud's first theory to explain hysterical symptoms was presented in Studies on Hysteria , co-authored with his mentor the distinguished physician Josef Breuer , which was generally seen as the birth of psychoanalysis. The work was based on Breuer's treatment of Bertha Pappenheim , referred to in case studies by the pseudonym " Anna O. Breuer wrote that many factors that could result in such symptoms, including various types of emotional trauma, and he also credited work by others such as Pierre Janet ; while Freud contended that at the root of hysterical symptoms were repressed memories of distressing occurrences, almost always having direct or indirect sexual associations.

Around the same time Freud attempted to develop a neuro-physiological theory of unconscious mental mechanisms, which he soon gave up. It remained unpublished in his lifetime. In Freud also published his so-called seduction theory which proposed that the preconditions for hysterical symptoms are sexual excitations in infancy, and he claimed to have uncovered repressed memories of incidents of sexual abuse for all his current patients.

This became the received historical account until challenged by several Freud scholars in the latter part of the 20th century who argued that he had imposed his preconceived notions on his patients. By , Freud had theorised that dreams had symbolic significance, and generally were specific to the dreamer. Freud formulated his second psychological theory— which hypothesises that the unconscious has or is a "primary process" consisting of symbolic and condensed thoughts, and a "secondary process" of logical, conscious thoughts.

This theory was published in his book, The Interpretation of Dreams. In this theory, which was mostly later supplanted by the Structural Theory, unacceptable sexual wishes were repressed into the "System Unconscious", unconscious due to society's condemnation of premarital sexual activity, and this repression created anxiety. This "topographic theory" is still popular in much of Europe, although it has fallen out of favour in much of North America. In , Freud published Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality [27] in which he laid out his discovery of so-called psychosexual phases : oral ages 0—2 , anal 2—4 , phallic-oedipal today called 1st genital [ by whom?

His early formulation included the idea that because of societal restrictions, sexual wishes were repressed into an unconscious state, and that the energy of these unconscious wishes could be turned into anxiety or physical symptoms. Therefore, the early treatment techniques, including hypnotism and abreaction, were designed to make the unconscious conscious in order to relieve the pressure and the apparently resulting symptoms.

This method would later on be left aside by Freud, giving free association a bigger role. In On Narcissism [28] Freud turned his attention to the subject of narcissism. Still using an energic system, Freud characterized the difference between energy directed at the self versus energy directed at others, called cathexis. By , in "Mourning and Melancholia", he suggested that certain depressions were caused by turning guilt-ridden anger on the self.

By , Freud addressed the power of identification with the leader and with other members in groups as a motivation for behavior Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. Also, it was the first appearance of his "structural theory" consisting three new concepts id, ego, and superego.

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Three years later, he summarised the ideas of id, ego, and superego in The Ego and the Id. Hence, Freud characterised repression as both a cause and a result of anxiety. In , in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Freud characterised how intrapsychic conflict among drive and superego wishes and guilt caused anxiety , and how that anxiety could lead to an inhibition of mental functions, such as intellect and speech. According to Freud, the Oedipus complex, was at the centre of neurosis, and was the foundational source of all art, myth, religion, philosophy, therapy—indeed of all human culture and civilization.

It was the first time that anyone in the inner circle had characterised something other than the Oedipus complex as contributing to intrapsychic development, a notion that was rejected by Freud and his followers at the time. Also in , Anna Freud , Sigmund's daughter, published her seminal book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense , outlining numerous ways the mind could shut upsetting things out of consciousness.

When Hitler 's power grew, the Freud family and many of their colleagues fled to London. Within a year, Sigmund Freud died. Led by Heinz Hartmann , Kris, Rappaport and Lowenstein, the group built upon understandings of the synthetic function of the ego as a mediator in psychic functioning [ jargon ]. Hartmann in particular distinguished between autonomous ego functions such as memory and intellect which could be secondarily affected by conflict and synthetic functions which were a result of compromise formation [ jargon ].

These "Ego Psychologists" of the s paved a way to focus analytic work by attending to the defenses mediated by the ego before exploring the deeper roots to the unconscious conflicts. In addition there was burgeoning interest in child psychoanalysis. Although criticized since its inception, psychoanalysis has been used as a research tool into childhood development, [39] and is still used to treat certain mental disturbances.

Several researchers [41] followed Karen Horney 's studies of societal pressures that influence the development of women. In the first decade of the 21st century, there were approximately 35 training institutes for psychoanalysis in the United States accredited by the American Psychoanalytic Association APsaA , which is a component organization of the International Psychoanalytical Association IPA , and there are over graduated psychoanalysts practicing in the United States.

D.W. Winnicott on Psychoanalysis and Human Emotion

The IPA accredits psychoanalytic training centers through such "component organisations" throughout the rest of the world, including countries such as Serbia, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, [42] and many others, as well as about six institutes directly in the United States. The predominant psychoanalytic theories can be organised into several theoretical schools.


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Although these theoretical schools differ, most of them emphasize the influence of unconscious elements on the conscious. There has also been considerable work done on consolidating elements of conflicting theories cf. Killingmo, and S. In the 21st century, psychoanalytic ideas are embedded in Western culture, [ vague ] especially in fields such as childcare , education , literary criticism , cultural studies , mental health , and particularly psychotherapy.

Though there is a mainstream of evolved analytic ideas , there are groups who follow the precepts of one or more of the later theoreticians. Psychoanalytic ideas also play roles in some types of literary analysis such as Archetypal literary criticism.

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Topographic theory was named and first described by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams These systems are not anatomical structures of the brain but, rather, mental processes. Although Freud retained this theory throughout his life he largely replaced it with the Structural theory. Structural theory divides the psyche into the id , the ego , and the super-ego.

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The id is present at birth as the repository of basic instincts, which Freud called " Triebe " "drives" : unorganized and unconscious, it operates merely on the 'pleasure principle', without realism or foresight. The ego develops slowly and gradually, being concerned with mediating between the urging of the id and the realities of the external world; it thus operates on the 'reality principle'. The super-ego is held to be the part of the ego in which self-observation, self-criticism and other reflective and judgmental faculties develop. The ego and the super-ego are both partly conscious and partly unconscious.

During the twentieth century, many different clinical and theoretical models of psychoanalysis emerged. Ego psychology was initially suggested by Freud in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety A major step forward was Anna Freud 's work on defense mechanisms , first published in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence The theory was refined by Hartmann , Loewenstein, and Kris in a series of papers and books from through the late s.

Leo Bellak was a later contributor. This series of constructs, paralleling some of the later developments of cognitive theory, includes the notions of autonomous ego functions: mental functions not dependent, at least in origin, on intrapsychic conflict. Such functions include: sensory perception, motor control, symbolic thought, logical thought, speech, abstraction, integration synthesis , orientation, concentration, judgment about danger, reality testing, adaptive ability, executive decision-making, hygiene, and self-preservation.

Freud noted that inhibition is one method that the mind may utilize to interfere with any of these functions in order to avoid painful emotions.


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  • Hartmann s pointed out that there may be delays or deficits in such functions. Frosch described differences in those people who demonstrated damage to their relationship to reality, but who seemed able to test it. According to ego psychology, ego strengths, later described by Otto F. Kernberg , include the capacities to control oral, sexual, and destructive impulses; to tolerate painful affects without falling apart; and to prevent the eruption into consciousness of bizarre symbolic fantasy. Synthetic functions, in contrast to autonomous functions, arise from the development of the ego and serve the purpose of managing conflict processes.

    Defenses are synthetic functions that protect the conscious mind from awareness of forbidden impulses and thoughts.

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    One purpose of ego psychology has been to emphasize that some mental functions can be considered to be basic, rather than derivatives of wishes, affects, or defenses. However, autonomous ego functions can be secondarily affected because of unconscious conflict. For example, a patient may have an hysterical amnesia memory being an autonomous function because of intrapsychic conflict wishing not to remember because it is too painful. Taken together, the above theories present a group of metapsychological assumptions. Therefore, the inclusive group of the different classical theories provides a cross-sectional view of human mentation.

    There are six "points of view", five described by Freud and a sixth added by Hartmann. Unconscious processes can therefore be evaluated from each of these six points of view. The "points of view" are: 1. Topographic 2. Dynamic the theory of conflict 3. Economic the theory of energy flow 4. Structural 5. Genetic propositions concerning origin and development of psychological functions and 6.

    Adaptational psychological phenomena as it relates to the external world. Modern conflict theory, a variation of ego psychology, is a revised version of structural theory, most notably different by altering concepts related to where repressed thoughts were stored Freud, , Modern conflict theory addresses emotional symptoms and character traits as complex solutions to mental conflict. Moreover, healthy functioning adaptive is also determined, to a great extent, by resolutions of conflict.

    A major objective of modern conflict-theory psychoanalysis is to change the balance of conflict in a patient by making aspects of the less adaptive solutions also called "compromise formations" conscious so that they can be rethought, and more adaptive solutions found.