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Sanya Sirohi and Vineet Sekhon

                                                            SIGMUND FREUD              
When talking about the pioneers in the field of Psychology, one name which is embedded in everyone's minds is Sigmund Freud. Even though he was a neurologist, he has remarkably contributed to the world of Psychology through his Psychoanalytic approach to therapy. Let's discuss the ins and outs of this therapy!


Psychoanalytic therapy is a method of treating psychological disorders by bringing the repressed unconscious material into consciousness. It includes the structure of personality and the levels of consciousness.

The goal of the therapy is to enhance the client’s self-awareness and insight. It views intrapsychic conflict (hidden inner conflict) to be the cause of psychological disorders.


Assumption: The problems are rooted in the unconscious and are brought into light by catharsis.

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The first step in the treatment is to elicit the intrapsychic conflicts.  It mentions two important techniques.
  • Free Association- Psychoanalytic therapy allows the client to speak whatever comes to mind without censoring. It forms connections and associations between the hidden meaning.
  • Dream Analysis- Dreams are the symbols of the unfulfilled desires present in the unconscious. According to this approach, dreams use symbols because they are indirect expressions and therefore do not alter ego.
The second step refers to the modality of treatment. It includes:
  • Transference-The therapist is non-judgemental and focuses on emotional identification.
  • Interpretation-It involves confrontation and clarification. In confrontation, the psychologist makes the client aware of an aspect of their psyche that must be faced by the client. Clarification involves, the psychologist bringing a vague/confusing event into focus.
  • Insight- The client starts to understand himself/herself and his/her conflicts in a better manner.
The third aspect includes the duration of treatment. This therapy can go on for several years. It is an intense treatment. It includes three phases during the treatment. Stage one involves establishing a therapeutic relationship. Stage two is characterized by transference, the resistance shown by the client which is further resolved by confrontation and clarification. The third phase is the termination of therapy.


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Psychoanalysis therapy focuses on past experiences and acknowledges the hidden inner conflicts. This approach also focuses on relationships and interpersonal experiences (Shelder, 2010).


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Psychoanalytic therapy suffers from major and obvious weaknesses that lessens its value. It cannot be tested scientifically. It is a time-consuming process. Freud used a small group of patients for researching so his work cannot be generalized.

Although there have been new approaches and development of therapy in the field of clinical psychology, some of Freud’s basic ideas continue to shape our thinking about human behavior and functioning.



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