Psychoanalysis is a system of psychology originated by the Viennese physician Sigmund FREUD in the 1890's and then further developed by himself, his students, and other followers. It consists of three kinds of related activities: (1) a method for research into the human mind, especially inner experiences such as thoughts, feelings, emotions, fantasies, and dreams; (2) a systematic accumulation of a body of knowledge about the mind; and (3) a method for the treatment of psychological or emotional disorders.
Psychoanalysis began with the discovery that HYSTERIA, an illness with physical symptoms that occurred in a completely healthy physical body--such as a numbness or paralysis of a limb or a loss of voice or a blindness--could be caused by unconscious wishes or forgotten memories. (Hysteria is now commonly referred to as conversion disorder.) The French neurologist Jean Martin CHARCOT tried to rid the mind of undesirable thoughts through hypnotic suggestion, but without lasting success.
Josef Breuer, a Viennese physician, achieved better results by letting Anna O., a young woman patient, try to empty her mind by just telling him all of her thoughts and feelings.
Freud refined Breuer's method by conceptualizing theories about it and, using these theories, telling his patients through interpretations what was going on inside the unconscious part of their minds, thus making the unconscious become conscious. Many hysterias were cured this way, and in 1895, Breuer and Freud published their findings and theories in Studies in Hysteria.
CLASSIC PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY
Traditional psychoanalytical theory states that all human beings are born with instinctual drives that are constantly active even though a person is usually not conscious of thus being driven. Two drives--one for sexual pleasure, called libido, the other called aggression--motivate and propel most behavior. In the infant, the libido first manifests itself by making sucking an...