Psychoanalysis is defined as a set of psychological theories and therapeutic techniques that have their origin in the work and theories of Sigmund Freud.1 The core of psychoanalysis is the belief that all people possess unconscious thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories.
Psychoanalysis suggests that people can experience catharsis and gain insight into their current state of mind by bringing the content of the unconscious into conscious awareness. Through this process, a person can find relief from psychological distress. Psychoanalysis also suggests that:
- A person’s behavior is influenced by their unconscious drives.
- Emotional and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety are often rooted in conflicts between the conscious and unconscious mind.
- Personality development is heavily influenced by the events of early childhood (Freud suggested that personality was largely set in stone by the age of five).
- People use defense mechanisms to protect themselves from information contained in the unconscious.
- Skilled analysts can help a person bring certain aspects of their unconscious mind into their conscious awareness by using psychoanalytic strategies such as dream analysis and free association.