Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness


What is psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis started under Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Although there have been many developments since his death in 1939, certain pillars of the discipline remain. Psychoanalysis aims to alleviate emotional distress by bringing unconscious patterns of thought, emotion, and desire into awareness. This is done through long-term exploration of the person’s mental processes in a one-to-one relationship with the psychoanalyst.

Classical psychoanalysis involves three to five sessions per week, during which the analysand (patient) lies on a couch with the psychoanalyst sitting behind, out of view. This arrangement is intended to create a relaxed and reflective state of mind, in which the analysand can access the depths of his or her mind. The analysand is instructed to express whatever thoughts pop into awareness, a process known as free association. Psychoanalysts also believe that early childhood experiences and relationships have profound influence on adult relationships. Through the process of free association, unconscious childhood feelings and beliefs can emerge to be understood and reworked with the tools of a mature adult mind.


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