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The method of Psychoanalysis - Essay Example

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Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory and a psychotherapeutic method developed by Sigmund Freud. Its basic premise states that human beings function at a conscious or unconscious level and most psychological problems can be traced to unresolved conflicts simmering below the level of consciousness…
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The method of Psychoanalysis

Download file to see previous pages... in Jeffrey Magnavita 72).
From the onset, psychoanalysis was plagued by controversy and severe criticism, yet it continued to grow and evolve in leaps and bounds. It was a radical departure from the prevailing schools of psychological thought and as such it took the world by storm with its groundbreaking theories. The main criticism leveled at psychoanalysis and its founder is the excessive and unnecessary emphasis on sex. This preoccupation with sex on the part of Freud may be attributed to his having been raised in a repressive society where frank sexual expression was taboo. Freud has also been accused of sexism and his theory of "penis envy" caused much furor and outrage particularly among the feminists. But in the words of Westen, "if you grow up in a culture where men are so privileged, it's easy to see how he could arrive at that" (qtd. in Marilyn Elias 10). Finally the scientific integrity of psychoanalysis has been questioned and many feel that what parades as fact is often mere speculation. However criticisms aside, psychoanalysis remains one of the most insightful and relevant systems for attempting to explore and understand the human psyche.
Freud's most important contribution to the field of psychology is his work pertaining to the concept of the unconscious. Westen found that, "Before him, nobody realized that our conscious mind is the tip of the mental iceberg" (qtd. in Elias 10). Freud formulated his theories on the unconscious following his collaboration with Charcot and later Breuer on hysteria and hypnosis respectively. He adopted free association and dream interpretation as his preferred techniques and from consequent findings he laid the foundation for psychoanalysis. Goldenson says, "The theory of dynamic psychology developed by Sigmund Freud, is based primarily on the influence of unconscious forces such as repressed impulses, internal conflicts, and early traumas on the mental life and adjustment of the individual" (qtd. in Magnavita 76).
The Structural Components of the Psychic State
Freud described the structure of the psyche by means of "developmental progressions" that involve "id, ego, and superego, which are 'systems', not actual entities or structures" (Don Baucum 154). These systems are the structural components of the psyche and an understanding of their innate functioning affords a valuable insight into the subtle and infinitely complex machinations of the human mind.
Development progresses from the id which is the receptacle of basic, primeval, biological needs, mainly the sex drive and aggression. Motivation stems from the id and is propelled by either the life instinct (Eros) or the death instinct (Thanatos). The id operates on the pleasure principle and its purpose is to give vent to the drive that seeks the acquisition of unadulterated pleasure and the avoidance of pain. The ego develops from the id which is present at birth itself usually following the remonstrations of parents when the child is naughty. It attempts to hold the wilder excesses of the id in check by providing harmless, socially acceptable outlets for its irrepressible energy and need. It functions on the basis of the reality principle. The individual remains grounded in reality thanks to the ego. In the words of Magnavita, "The ego works in conjunction with the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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