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Q1. Discuss the basic tenets of psychoanalytic therapy. How do neo-psychoanalytic models differ from Freud’s psychoanalysis?


Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy draws on theories and practices of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis. It is a therapeutic process which helps patients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships both past and present. It differs from most other therapies in aiming for deep seated change in personality and emotional development.


Basic Tenets of Psychoanalytic Therapy

Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on a number of tenets. These include:

  1. The Unconscious: The idea that some mental processes, such as motives, desires, and memories are not available to awareness or conscious introspection. It is often referred to as unconscious mental functioning or unconscious processing. Unconscious forms the largest part of the human psyche. It is not within our awareness, but can be explored indirectly through psychoanalysis. The two key drives are Eros (Libido or Life drive) and Thanatos (Aggression or Death drive).
  2. Defense mechanism: While some mental processes are out of our awareness, this is a process in which people are also motivated to push threatening thoughts or feelings from awareness. Intrapsychic conflict between Id and SuperEgo leads to anxiety. Ego defence mechanisms are normal and healthy methods to mediate this conflict by denying or distorting reality to protect the fragile balance of the psyche. Includes repression, denial, projection, displacement, sublimation, reaction formation and compensation.
  3. Developmental Perspective: Childhood relationships with caregivers are seen as playing a role in shaping current relationships. The theory is probabilistic in regards to this relationship. The developmental perspective is covered in the psychosexual and psychosocial stages of development laid out in psychoanalysis.
  4. Individual or Personal meaning of events: Psychodynamic clinicians are interested in the patient’s phenomenological experience – how the patient experiences himself, important others, the world in general. In this way the psychodynamic clinicians are focused on what is called schema or schemata in CBT terminology. They are seen as having explicit, conscious and implicit unconscious aspects.
  5. Transference: The tendency to unwittingly construct and create, through an active but unconscious process, the pattern of imagined and real past relationships with an important person. The creation of the transference derives from the patient. Most often, the patient “creates” the transference out of an active, though unconscious, aspect of repeating a past experience.
  6. Counter-transference: The experience of transference by analysts and therapists. The analyst’s awareness and attention to countertransference permits the analyst/therapist to have a fuller appreciation of the drama of the patient’s life. The analyst does not act on the countertransference but rather uses her awareness of these feelings as further information to inform the understanding of the patient’s world.
  7. Resistance: It has two aspects, viz.
    1. Neutrality: The stance which the analyst/therapist takes in which he or she does not express personal preferences to the patient and does not ally himself or herself with important dimensions of the patient’s conflict.
    2. Abstinence: the analyst avoids gratifying the patient’s wishes, whatever those might be—praise or punishment—direction or to be left alone.


Difference with Neo-Psychoanalytic Models

Neo-Freudian psychologists were thinkers who agreed with many of the fundamental tenets of Freud's psychoanalytic theory but changed and adapted the approach to incorporate their own beliefs, ideas, and opinions. 

There are a few different reasons why these neo-Freudian thinkers disagreed with Freud. For example, Erik Erikson believed that Freud was incorrect to think that personality was shaped almost entirely by childhood events. Other issues that motivated neo-Freudian thinkers included:
Freud's emphasis on sexual urges as a primary motivator.
Freud's negative view of human nature.
Freud's belief that personality was shaped entirely by early childhood experiences.
Freud's lack of emphasis on social and cultural influences on behavior and personality.

There were a number of neo-Freudian thinkers who broke with the Freudian psychoanalytic tradition to develop their own psychodynamic theories. Some of these individuals were initially part of Freud's inner circle.

Carl Jung
Freud and Jung once had a close friendship, but Jung broke away to form his own ideas. Jung referred to his theory of personality as analytical psychology, and he introduced the concept of the collective unconscious. He described this as a universal structure shared by all members of the same species containing all of the instincts and archetypes that influence human behavior. 
Jung still placed great emphasis on the unconscious, but his theory placed a higher emphasis on his concept of the collective unconscious rather than the personal unconscious. Like many of the other neo-Freudian's, Jung also focused less on sex than did Freud.

Alfred Adler
Adler believed that Freud's theories focused too heavily on sex as the primary motivator for human behavior. Instead, Adler placed a lesser emphasis on the role of the unconscious and a greater focus on interpersonal and social influences. 
His approach, known as individual psychology, was centered on the drive that all people have to compensate for their feelings of inferiority. The inferiority complex, he suggested, was a person's feelings and doubts that they do not measure up to other people or to society's expectations.

Erik Erikson
While Freud believed that personality was mostly set in stone during early childhood, Erikson felt that development continued throughout life. He also believed that not all conflicts were unconscious. 
Many were conscious and the result, he thought, from the developmental process itself. Erikson de-emphasized the role of sex as a motivator for behavior and instead placed a much stronger focus on the role of social relationships.

Karen Horney
Horney was one of the first women trained in psychoanalysis, and she was also one of the first to criticize Freud's depictions of women as inferior to men. Horney objected to Freud's portrayal of women as suffering from "penis envy." 
Instead, she suggested that men experience "womb envy" because they are unable to bear children. Her theory focuses on how behavior was influenced by a number of different neurotic needs.

* * *

Freud is considered the father of Psychoanalysis. And his technique forms the base of the psychoanalytic therapy, also known as the talking cure. The psychoanalytic psychotherapy is based on a number of tenets viz. The Unconscious, Defense Mechanisms, Developmental Perspective, Individual or Personal meaning of events, Transference, Counter-transference and Resistance.

Several psychologists close to Freud branched out to conceptualise their own models with psychoanalytic underpinnings. Most of them had reservations about the importance to sex and lack of social focus. These included Jung, Adler, Horney and Erikson amongst others.

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