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  Psychoanalysis is Freudian psychology. This form of treatment was invented by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s and was thereafter developed by him, his collaborators and subsequent followers. The key concepts are the unconscious, free association, resistance and defence mechanisms, transference and interpretation.

The existence of an unconscious, the idea that mental activity exists of which the individual is unaware, is not new. Poets and writers, in particular, had alluded to forces underlying human action. But Freud was the first person to formulate these into a psychological system and a therapeutic approach.

Freud\'s work, and the work of all subsequent Freudian analysts, aids the process of free association, starting from the problem or question the patient brings and free associating from there without any form of censorship. The analyst looks for key elements or indications of unconscious processes, and gives these back to the patient in the form of interpretations. These include interpretations of the resistance (in the form of defence mechanisms) which the patient has to this activity, and analysis of the patient\'s relationship with the analyst through the transference (unconscious feelings and attitudes that are part of past relationships, but still used in the present as ways of relating to others including the therapist or analyst).

The Freudian analyst expects that if the patient free associates for long enough in daily contact with the analyst, repressed thoughts will eventually present themselves. Freudian analysis is usually a full-time commitment of five 50-minute sessions a week. This regular contact with the analyst is designed to aid the transference by making the analyst a central figure in the patient\'s life for the duration of the therapy.

Historically, free association replaced hypnosis as a technique and interpretation replaced suggestion. Freud formulated theories on the dynamics of neuroses based on his experience of his patients\' free associations, their resistance to interpretations and their transference. He went on to formulate a theory of development using his clinical material (which included his own analysis of himself). MJ

Further reading Raymond E. Fancher, Psychoanalytical Psychology: the Development of Freud\'s Thought; , Peter Gay, Freud a Life for our Time; , Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud; , Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.



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