Psychoanalysis is the brain child of one of the greatest intellectuals of our times, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He believed that unconscious thought and lack of insight was the main culprit in many of the mental disorders; hence, making conscious the unconscious thoughts, gaining insight, releasing repressed emotions and experiences would help in treating the disorders successfully. Whether a person is having problem with job, relationship, children, or a particular situation/environment, it is not happening today. The trouble has cropped up due to the faulty way that individual is related to the past.
Proving his point, Freud made his patients who were suffering from depression, conversion disorders or anxiety to lie on a couch to relax, whereas as he would sit behind from where they could not see him. They were allowed to talk about their dreams, past experiences and childhood memories. Freud saw success with many patients through his methods.
The rise of many other schools in psychology led to criticism and formation of myths about psychoanalysis. Let us have a look into some of them.
7. Psychoanalysis is a time consuming procedure
It is true that psychoanalysis does not work with the click of a finger or by popping in some pills. The therapy aims in resolving unresolved issues of the past which are creating problems in the present. How much time is dedicated to one patient will solely depend on the goal that particular patient has. Often, the truth is so well hidden that it takes time for the patient himself to find it.
6. It is about past which cannot be changed anyway
Psychoanalysis is not about your past, but how the unresolved issues of the past are affecting your present life situations and experiences. There is no moving ahead and being free without letting go of the past, but how will you let go of a thing that you don’t even know you possess? Psychoanalysis helps patients make connection with the past so that they can develop insight into the confusing present behaviors and responses.
5. Psychoanalysis is just the way Freud saw human behavior
There is no arguing that psychoanalysis is the brainchild of Freud. Truth is that there are many other psychologists who have contributed to the school of thought, though we can say they were inspired by Freud. The world of psychotherapy did not collapse after Freud’s death in 1939, but it has continued to evolve and progress for nearly 100 years. During that time the basic principles of psychoanalysis and the way it is used as a mental health treatment have changed in many ways to suit the changing world. Today there exits at least 22 theoretical orientations of psychoanalysis regarding human mental development.
4. Psychoanalysis plays the blame game
Who can deny the fact that parental abuse of children, negligence or wrong form of showing love will have a negative impact on their personality? Freud, who had done extensive research in child development, saw the connection between parenting styles and mental illnesses. Freud conceptualized the formative years of child development from his own experiences which was particularly based on the relationship with his father. Though people do not accept the truth which was revealed by Freud, they have been inspired by his theories. One of the best-seller in parenting books, Baby and Child Care, by Pediatrician Benjamin Spock is based on Freud’s theories of childhood psychosexual development. Psychoanalysis does not play the blame game but helps the adults to create understanding, new perspective and acceptance in their past relationships and experiences.
3. Freud gave too much of importance to sex
The misleading word here is ‘Libido’, which is today considered to be sexual desire. In psychoanalysis the word ‘libido’ is a free creative psychic energy that an individual has to put toward personal development or individuation. Sigmund Freud popularized the term and defined libido as the instinct energy or force which is part of the id and is the driving force of all behavior in every one of us. Unfortunately, many relate to the word as sexual desire, which has given rise to the misconception.
2. Psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience without any empirical backing
This myth stands no more. Among many other works the recent has been of that of Jonathan Shedler that shelved this myth. Shedler proved the efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy through his work in recent years. According to him empirical evidence supports the efficacy of psychodynamic therapy. In addition; patients who receive psychodynamic therapy continue to benefit from the therapeutic gains and keep improving even after their treatment ends. Non-psychodynamic therapies are effective in part because it utilizes techniques that have long been central to psychodynamic theory and practice. The perception that Psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience without any empirical backing does not accord with available scientific evidence which reflects selective dissemination of research findings. Today there is a lot of empirical evidence to prove many of propositions of contemporary psychodynamic theory regarding social, developmental, and personality psychology.
Also Read: How Psychology Is Connected To Science?
1. Psychoanalysis is not in fashion or practice anymore
The fundamental methods adopted by psychoanalysis are to allow the patient to verbalize thoughts, including free associations, fantasies, and dreams. Based on this information, the analyst analyses the unconscious conflicts which are responsible for present day symptoms and character problems which will be used to create insight for resolution of the problems for the patients. These methods are used either directly or as a part of eclectic therapy and counseling sessions all over world even to this day. In present day there is need to bring out in open the unconscious thoughts and desires trapped in the psyche, so that the root of the problem can be addressed. We need psychoanalysis to control increasing crime in our society more than ever.