Personality and Health Psychology Laboratory
Reverend Michael Wm. MacGregor, Ph.D., R.D.Psych.

Psychoanalysis

What is psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychology?
As a therapy, psychoanalysis is based on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behaviour.  These unconscious factors may create unhappiness, sometimes in the form of recognizable symptoms and at other times as troubling personality traits, difficulties in work of love relationships, or disturbances in mood and self-esteem. Psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how these unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behaviours, traces them back to their historical origins, shows how they have changed and developed over time, and helps the individual to deal better with the realities of adult life. Psychoanalysis is an intimate partnership, in the course of which the patient becomes aware of the underlying sources of his or her difficulties not simply intellectually, but emotionally by re-experiencing them with the therapist. Typically the patient comes  four or five times a week, lies on a couch, and attempts to say everything that comes to mind.  These conditions create the analytic setting, which permits the emergence of aspects of the mind not accessible to other methods of observation.  As the patient speaks, hints of the unconscious sources of current difficulties gradually begin to appear -- in certain repetitive patterns of behaviour, in the subjects which the patient finds hard to talk about, in the ways the patient relates to the therapist. The therapist helps elucidate these for the patient, who refines, corrects, rejects, and adds further thoughts and feelings.  During the years that an analysis takes place, the patient wrestles with these insights, going over them again and again with the therapist and experiencing them in daily life, in fantasies, and in dreams.  The patient and the therapist join in efforts not only to modify crippling life patterns and remove incapacitating symptoms, , but also to expand the freedom to work and to love.  Eventually the patient's life -- his or her behaviour, relationships, sense of self -- changes in deep and abiding ways. Psychodynamic psychology is based on psychoanalytic principles that have been modified conceptually and technically.  Unlike psychoanalysis, which has as one of its ultimate goals the uncovering and working through of earlier conflicts, psychoanalytic psychology takes as its focus the patient's current conflicts and dynamic patterns.  Also unlike psychoanalysis, which  makes use of  free association and analysis of transference neuroses, psychoanalytic psychology uses interviewing and discussion and focuses less on interpretation of the transference.  In general, psychoanalytic psychology focuses more on patient's current defenses, conflicts, patterns of behaviour, and repetitions.  

Where can I find out more information about psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychology?

There are a number of good web sites that can provide you with more information relating to psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychology.  These include:
     The American Psychoanalytic Association
     The Psychoanalytic Research Consortium
     APA Division 39 for Psychoanalysis
     The Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis
     The Toronto Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
     Abstracts of Sigmund Freud’s Writings
     The Freud Museum 

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