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Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic Therapy

One of the most popular concepts in psychiatry, psychoanalytic therapy has been in picture for more than a century now. But is this form of therapy effective?
PsycholoGenie Staff
Informally, psychoanalytic therapy is also referred to as the 'talking therapy' or 'talking cure', as this form of treatment relies on verbal interaction between the therapist and patient. At times, talking about your problems to someone makes you feel better, and this therapy banks on this very fact about the human nature. This therapy, developed by Sigmund Freud, is one of the several therapies used by modern-day therapists to cure a range of mental disorders.

What is Psychoanalytic Therapy?

Also referred to as psychoanalysis, it is a term used for the process of studying human mentation and human development, and its application to reveal the unconscious thoughts and feelings which affect the conscious behavior of an individual. Determining these factors and treating them is crucial, as they have the tendency of resulting in neuroses. In a broad sense, it refers to the study of human psychological functioning and behavior, and applying the same to cure a range of mental problems.

Some of the most prominent theories which form an integral part of this psychotherapy include topographic theory, ego psychology, conflict theory, object relations theory, self psychology, interpersonal psychoanalysis, modern psychoanalysis, inter-subjective psychoanalysis, etc. This form of therapy was developed by Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud, way back in the 1890s. Since then, it has been practiced by numerous therapists around the world. Over the period, several new forms of this therapy have also been developed.

Application
Several therapists use psychoanalytic therapy as a method of investigation of the mind and the way one thinks, and to study the various theories of human behavior. Its most common use, however, is the treatment of psychological or emotional illnesses. This form of therapy stresses on the fact that events from our childhood, our unconscious feelings, our thoughts, etc., play a crucial role in the mental illnesses we suffer from. The therapist makes the person talk about these thoughts, feelings, dreams, fantasies, and other aspects of the mind, which help in tracing the unconscious conflicts that trigger mental health problems. As a part of the treatment, the therapist also interprets these unconscious conflicts to the patient in order to make him understand the problem. In this way, all the pathological defenses, wishes, and guilt of the patient are clarified. It is quite effective for the treatment of various disorders, including anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Criticisms
Over the period, this form of treatment has been subjected to severe criticism on various fronts. A lot depends on the individual's willingness to provide the information. It is very difficult to make this happen, as people suffering from a mental disorder are not quite convinced that they need any sort of help. The critics of this therapy also highlight the long period of treatment and cost incurred as its major drawbacks. The fact that psychoanalytic therapy relies on the ambiguities for data, along with the lack of empirical evidence, also makes the case weak for it.

Over the course of time, things have changed considerably. The frequency of visits to the therapist has been reduced. Even the traditional couch meant for the patient has been replaced by a proper chair. What hasn't changed, is the fact that it is one of the most effective methods of treating personality disorders―a fact that is backed by several studies.