Psychoanalysis, name applied to a specific method of investigating unconscious mental processes and to a form of psychotherapy. The term refers, as well, to the systematic structure of psychoanalytic theory, which is based on the relation of conscious and unconscious psychological processes.
II THEORY OF PSYCHOANALYSIS
The technique of psychoanalysis and much of the psychoanalytic theory based on its application were developed by Sigmund Freud. His work concerning the structure and the functioning of the human mind had far-reaching significance, both practically and scientifically, and it continues to influence contemporary thought.
A The Unconscious
The first of Freud’s innovations was his recognition of unconscious psychiatric processes that follow laws different from those that govern conscious experience. Under the influence of the unconscious, thoughts and feelings that belong together may be shifted or displaced out of context; two disparate ideas or images may be condensed into one; thoughts may be dramatized in the form of images rather than expressed as abstract concepts; and certain objects may be represented symbolically by images of other objects, although the resemblance between the symbol and the original object may be vague or farfetched. The laws of logic, indispensable for conscious thinking, do not apply to these unconscious mental productions.
Recognition of these modes of operation in unconscious mental processes made possible the understanding of such previously incomprehensible psychological phenomena as dreaming. Through analysis of unconscious processes, Freud saw dreams as serving to protect sleep against disturbing impulses arising from within and related to early life experiences. Thus, unacceptable impulses and thoughts, called the latent dream content, are transformed into a conscious, although no longer immediately comprehensible, experience called the manifest dream. Knowledge of these unconscious mechanisms permits the analyst to reverse the so-called dream work, that is, the process by which the latent dream is transformed into the manifest dream, and through dream interpretation, to recognize its underlying meaning.
B Instinctual Drives
A basic assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious conflicts involve instinctual impulses, or drives, that originate in childhood. As these unconscious conflicts are recognized by the patient through analysis, his or her adult mind can find solutions that were unattainable to the immature mind of the child. This depiction of the role of instinctual drives in human life is a unique feature of Freudian theory.
According to Freud’s doctrine of infantile sexuality, adult sexuality is an end product of a complex process of development, beginning in childhood, involving a variety of body functions or areas (oral, anal, and genital zones), and corresponding to various stages in the relation of the child to adults, especially to parents. Of crucial importance is the so-called Oedipal period, occurring at about four to six years of age, because at this stage of development the child for the first time becomes capable of an emotional attachment to the parent of the opposite sex that is similar to the adult’s relationship to a mate; the child simultaneously reacts as a rival to the parent of the same sex. Physical immaturity dooms the child’s desires to frustration and his or her first step toward adulthood to failure. Intellectual immaturity further complicates the situation because it makes children afraid of their own fantasies. The extent to which the child overcomes these emotional upheavals and to which these attachments, fears, and fantasies continue to live on in the unconscious greatly influences later life, especially love relationships.
The conflicts occurring in the earlier developmental stages are no less significant as a formative influence, because these problems represent the earliest prototypes of such basic human situations as dependency on others and relationship to authority. Also basic in molding the personality of the individual is the behavior of the parents toward the child during these stages of development. The fact that the child reacts, not only to objective reality, but also to fantasy distortions of reality, however, greatly complicates even the best-intentioned educational efforts.
C Id, Ego, and Superego
The effort to clarify the bewildering number of interrelated observations uncovered by psychoanalytic exploration led to the development of a model of the structure of the psychic system. Three functional systems are distinguished that are conveniently designated as the id, ego, and superego.
The first system refers to the sexual and aggressive tendencies that arise from the body, as distinguished from the mind. Freud called these tendencies Triebe, which literally means “drives,” but which is often inaccurately translated as “instincts” to indicate their innate character. These inherent drives claim immediate satisfaction, which is experienced as pleasurable; the id thus is dominated by the pleasure principle. In his later writings, Freud tended more toward psychological rather than biological conceptualization of the drives.
How the conditions for satisfaction are to be brought about is the task of the second system, the ego, which is the domain of such functions as perception, thinking, and motor control that can accurately assess environmental conditions. In order to fulfill its function of adaptation, or reality testing, the ego must be capable of enforcing the postponement of satisfaction of the instinctual impulses originating in the id. To defend itself against unacceptable impulses, the ego develops specific psychic means, known as defense mechanisms. These include repression, the exclusion of impulses from conscious awareness; projection, the process of ascribing to others one’s own unacknowledged desires; and reaction formation, the establishment of a pattern of behavior directly opposed to a strong unconscious need. Such defense mechanisms are put into operation whenever anxiety signals a danger that the original unacceptable impulses may reemerge.
An id impulse becomes unacceptable, not only as a result of a temporary need for postponing its satisfaction until suitable reality conditions can be found, but more often because of a prohibition imposed on the individual by others, originally the parents. The totality of these demands and prohibitions constitutes the major content of the third system, the superego, the function of which is to control the ego in accordance with the internalized standards of parental figures. If the demands of the superego are not fulfilled, the person may feel shame or guilt. Because the superego, in Freudian theory, originates in the struggle to overcome the Oedipal conflict, it has a power akin to an instinctual drive, is in part unconscious, and can give rise to feelings of guilt not justified by any conscious transgression. The ego, having to mediate among the demands of the id, the superego, and the outside world, may not be strong enough to reconcile these conflicting forces. The more the ego is impeded in its development because of being enmeshed in its earlier conflicts, called fixations or complexes, or the more it reverts to earlier satisfactions and archaic modes of functioning, known as regression, the greater is the likelihood of succumbing to these pressures. Unable to function normally, it can maintain its limited control and integrity only at the price of symptom formation, in which the tensions are expressed in neurotic symptoms.
A cornerstone of modern psychoanalytic theory and practice is the concept of anxiety, which institutes appropriate mechanisms of defense against certain danger situations. These danger situations, as described by Freud, are the fear of abandonment by or the loss of the loved one (the object), the risk of losing the object’s love, the danger of retaliation and punishment, and, finally, the hazard of reproach by the superego. Thus, symptom formation, character and impulse disorders, and perversions, as well as sublimations, represent compromise formations—different forms of an adaptive integration that the ego tries to achieve through more or less successfully reconciling the different conflicting forces in the mind.
III PSYCHOANALYTIC SCHOOLS
Various psychoanalytic schools have adopted other names for their doctrines to indicate deviations from Freudian theory.
A Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung, one of the earliest pupils of Freud, eventually created a school that he preferred to call analytical psychology. Like Freud, Jung used the concept of the libido; however, to him it meant not only sexual drives, but a composite of all creative instincts and impulses and the entire motivating force of human conduct. According to his theories, the unconscious is composed of two parts; the personal unconscious, which contains the results of the individual’s entire experience, and the collective unconscious, the reservoir of the experience of the human race. In the collective unconscious exist a number of primordial images, or archetypes, common to all individuals of a given country or historical era. Archetypes take the form of bits of intuitive knowledge or apprehension and normally exist only in the collective unconscious of the individual. When the conscious mind contains no images, however, as in sleep, or when the consciousness is caught off guard, the archetypes commence to function. Archetypes are primitive modes of thought and tend to personify natural processes in terms of such mythological concepts as good and evil spirits, fairies, and dragons. The mother and the father also serve as prominent archetypes.
An important concept in Jung’s theory is the existence of two basically different types of personality, mental attitude, and function. When the libido and the individual’s general interest are turned outward toward people and objects of the external world, he or she is said to be extroverted. When the reverse is true, and libido and interest are centered on the individual, he or she is said to be introverted. In a completely normal individual these two tendencies alternate, neither dominating, but usually the libido is directed mainly in one direction or the other; as a result, two personality types are recognizable.
Jung rejected Freud’s distinction between the ego and superego and recognized a portion of the personality, somewhat similar to the superego, that he called the persona. The persona consists of what a person appears to be to others, in contrast to what he or she actually is. The persona is the role the individual chooses to play in life, the total impression he or she wishes to make on the outside world.
B Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler, another of Freud’s pupils, differed from both Freud and Jung in stressing that the motivating force in human life is the sense of inferiority, which begins as soon as an infant is able to comprehend the existence of other people who are better able to care for themselves and cope with their environment. From the moment the feeling of inferiority is established, the child strives to overcome it. Because inferiority is intolerable, the compensatory mechanisms set up by the mind may get out of hand, resulting in self-centered neurotic attitudes, overcompensations, and a retreat from the real world and its problems.
Adler laid particular stress on inferiority feelings arising from what he regarded as the three most important relationships: those between the individual and work, friends, and loved ones. The avoidance of inferiority feelings in these relationships leads the individual to adopt a life goal that is often not realistic and frequently is expressed as an unreasoning will to power and dominance, leading to every type of antisocial behavior from bullying and boasting to political tyranny. Adler believed that analysis can foster a sane and rational “community feeling” that is constructive rather than destructive.
C Otto Rank
Another student of Freud, Otto Rank, introduced a new theory of neurosis, attributing all neurotic disturbances to the primary trauma of birth. In his later writings he described individual development as a progression from complete dependence on the mother and family, to a physical independence coupled with intellectual dependence on society, and finally to complete intellectual and psychological emancipation. Rank also laid great importance on the will, defined as “a positive guiding organization and integration of self, which utilizes creatively as well as inhibits and controls the instinctual drives.”
D Other Psychoanalytic Schools
Later noteworthy modifications of psychoanalytic theory include those of the American psychoanalysts Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Harry Stack Sullivan. The theories of Fromm lay particular emphasis on the concept that society and the individual are not separate and opposing forces, that the nature of society is determined by its historic background, and that the needs and desires of individuals are largely formed by their society. As a result, Fromm believed, the fundamental problem of psychoanalysis and psychology is not to resolve conflicts between fixed and unchanging instinctive drives in the individual and the fixed demands and laws of society, but to bring about harmony and an understanding of the relationship between the individual and society. Fromm also stressed the importance to the individual of developing the ability to fully use his or her mental, emotional, and sensory powers.
Horney worked primarily in the field of therapy and the nature of neuroses, which she defined as of two types: situation neuroses and character neuroses. Situation neuroses arise from the anxiety attendant on a single conflict, such as being faced with a difficult decision. Although they may paralyze the individual temporarily, making it impossible to think or act efficiently, such neuroses are not deeply rooted. Character neuroses are characterized by a basic anxiety and a basic hostility resulting from a lack of love and affection in childhood.
Sullivan believed that all development can be described exclusively in terms of interpersonal relations. Character types as well as neurotic symptoms are explained as results of the struggle against anxiety arising from the individual’s relations with others and are a security system, maintained for the purpose of allaying anxiety.
E Melanie Klein
An important school of thought is based on the teachings of the British psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. Because most of Klein’s followers worked with her in England, this has come to be known as the English school. Its influence, nevertheless, is very strong throughout the European continent and in South America. Its principal theories were derived from observations made in the psychoanalysis of children. Klein posited the existence of complex unconscious fantasies in children under the age of six months. The principal source of anxiety arises from the threat to existence posed by the death instinct. Depending on how concrete representations of the destructive forces are dealt with in the unconscious fantasy life of the child, two basic early mental attitudes result that Klein characterized as a “depressive position” and a “paranoid position.” In the paranoid position, the ego’s defense consists of projecting the dangerous internal object onto some external representative, which is treated as a genuine threat emanating from the external world. In the depressive position, the threatening object is introjected and treated in fantasy as concretely retained within the person. Depressive and hypochondriacal symptoms result. Although considerable doubt exists that such complex unconscious fantasies operate in the minds of infants, these observations have been of the utmost importance to the psychology of unconscious fantasies, paranoid delusions, and theory concerning early object relations.
Jacob A. Arlow
John L. Herma