What Are Psychoanalytic Theory’s Strengths and Weaknesses?

One of psychoanalysis’ greatest strengths, according to Great Ideas in Personality, is that it can be used to explain the nature of human growth and all elements of mental functioning. Psychoanalytic theory’s detractors, on the other hand, believe that it unduly exaggerates and generalises human behaviour. With this in mind, we’ll look at the strengths and drawbacks of psychoanalytic theory, as well as its history.

Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, originally developed the term “psychoanalysis” in 1896, when he was 40 years old. Psychoanalysis, according to Freud, is a type of therapy for treating mental illness as well as explaining the complexities of human behaviour by focusing on the unconscious mind. He claimed that what a person experiences as a child has a significant impact on their personality and behaviour as an adult.

A specific goal underpins Freud’s psychoanalytic theory: bringing the contents of a person’s unconscious or subconscious mind to the level of consciousness. He believed that people often had repressed emotions that they couldn’t access because they were buried so deeply. A psychoanalyst’s job is to unearth buried memories and emotions in order to treat mental illness and neuroses.

Freud received his medical degree in neurology in 1881 and opened a private practise treating patients with psychological illnesses soon after. However, it wasn’t until Josef Breuer, a teacher and colleague, treated “Anna O” that Freud’s career took a significant turn. Because Breuer believed his psychoanalytic treatment worked, the case of Anna O, which he discussed with Freud, was crucial.

Anna O was diagnosed with hysteria and experienced symptoms such as hallucinations, paralysis, and convulsions, all of which were unrelated to any physical cause. Anna O was able to recover suppressed memories and terrible events from her past as a result of her treatment with Breuer, purportedly curing her paralysis.

As a result, when Breuer told him about Anna O’s story, Freud had a “lightbulb moment.” Physical ailments, according to Freud, are frequently the result of suppressed emotions and traumas. This hypothesis did not exist before to Freud’s introduction.

Model of Psychoanalysis

The mind is divided into three categories in Freud’s psychoanalytic model: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. The conscious mind houses our current ideas, feelings, and attention, but the preconscious mind, often known as the subconscious, houses knowledge that we may recall and recover from our memories. The unconscious mind, according to Freud, exists at a deeper level. We keep the processes that drive our behaviour, such as our natural desires and impulses, in it.


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