“The mind is like an iceberg; it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.” – Sigmund Freud. This famous quote from Freud speaks strongly about psychoanalysis. You can see the tip of the iceberg but not really know how large it is on the surface.
Psychoanalysis explains that all human beings have unconscious feelings, thoughts, memories, and desires that strongly influence how we act, speak, behave or feel. This is the Theory of Psychoanalysis, which was developed by Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis.
Through the psychoanalytic theory, psychoanalytic therapy was derived. Psychoanalysis therapy is now known as a helpful mental health intervention to decipher repressed emotions and discover past experiences.
This article will dig deeper into the psychoanalytic theory and psychoanalysis talk therapy and how it is used in clinical psychology for mental health problems.
What Is Psychoanalytic Theory?
The psychoanalytic theory explains that human behavior is influenced by three components that influence our inner development and personality: id, ego, and superego. These are a person’s innermost drives, unconscious intentions, and unresolved childhood issues. Here’s what you need to know:
- Id: The id is a part of the human personality that seeks instant gratification and where urges, desires, wants, and needs can be found. These are often unconscious, unorganized, illogical, instinctual urges that lack morals just to fulfill that satisfaction.
When the id is not satisfied, the person experiences anxiety, anger, or tension. For example, a child is having tantrums because they want a lollipop. That is the id influencing the child’s behavior.
- Ego: The ego is a part of the conscious mind and is defined by how the person views themself. It is often associated with your self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence, or self-awareness. An example of ego is when you acknowledge that you are the smartest person in your workplace or you’re better than everyone else.
- SuperEgo: The superego is considered the person’s righteous and just psyche. The superego keeps the id in check, controls impulses, and checks in with a person’s morals and conscience.
For example, you’re itching to buy new shoes. That’s your id acting there. But then your superego tells you that you don’t need new shoes because you need to save money, so you decide not to get the shoes you want so much to buy.
So how do these three human personality components help with mental health talks? Psychotherapy aims to find the balance between the three, to have a healthy personality. Sigmund Freud believed that the imbalance between these three might lead to maladaptive personality traits.
Maladaptive behavior may affect a person’s coping mechanism, social relationships, and overall mental health. The goal of psychoanalysis is to find balance, not perfection. Still, psychoanalysis can be a very helpful tool in getting to the root of your mental health issues.
What Is Psychoanalysis Therapy?
The main goal of psychoanalysis is to gain insight into a person’s innermost thoughts and emotions, including past experiences. These insights, gathered with the help of a therapist, can either be conscious or unconscious.
Psychoanalysis therapy is built on the idea that a person’s actions and behaviors stem from childhood memories lodged in the unconscious mind. This is where you’ll find a therapist’s job helpful. Psychoanalysis therapy is used to study the reason behind a person’s behavior, emotions, and relationships with other people.
Psychoanalysis therapy uses several techniques to explore a person’s unconscious, the most common ones being dream analysis, free association, and Freudian slips.
Types of Psychoanalysis Therapy
Psychoanalysis is not a one-time thing, and it cannot completely cure a person’s troublesome emotions and thoughts. It takes time to explore the human mind to determine the root of a person’s actions based on their early childhood experiences. Below are the methods of psychoanalysis therapy:
1. Dream Analysis
Many of us ask if dreams really have meaning. In psychology, dreams have interpretations or meanings. It can be an underlying motivation, implication, or representation.
Dreams are used in psychoanalysis therapy to explore the unconscious mind to reveal your true desires. For instance, dreaming of falling off a cliff could signify that something in your life may not be on the right track. It can be related to your career, family relationships, or marriage, and may require self-exploration to help you make changes in your life.
2. Free Association
Another technique used by psychoanalysts is free association. During a free association session, the client speaks about anything that comes to their mind. The client is uninterrupted while speaking; sometimes, they lie down on a couch staring at the ceiling rather than facing the therapist. This way, the client speaks freely of whatever comes to mind with less pressure.
The therapist gathers these free associated thoughts to explore painful feelings and repressed memories. Another form of free association is when the therapist says one word, and the client spontaneously responds with the first thoughts that come to mind. The main objective of free association is to avoid resistance during therapy, meaning there are no filters to what the patient says, so the therapist can explore the unconscious more deeply.
3. Freudian Slip
The Freudian slip is the more technical for the very common phenomenon called ‘slip of the tongue.’ Sigmund Freud believed that the words that slipped out of your tongue are not by accident; rather, they reveal what is hidden in your unconscious.
Of course, the Freudian slip is not applicable to all situations. For example, a child calling their teacher ‘mom’ may just be a pure mistake because the child spends more time with their mother.
A great example of a Freudian slip is when a friend tells you that she loves the man she’s dating now named Ken but rather says, “I’m so in love with John,” her ex-boyfriend. This may mean that in her unconscious, she is still in love with John. However, it is possible that in some instances, slips are innocent glitches that are a force of habit.
Where to Find a Good Therapist
Kentucky Counseling Center has therapists who are well-versed in psychoanalysis.
Talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) is helpful for the prevention or management of mental illness symptoms. Individuals experiencing anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, and eating disorders can benefit from psychotherapy.
Depending on your condition, psychotherapy may or may not need to be combined with other therapies, such as medication. If you’re searching for a therapist who can psychoanalyze you, a loved one, or a family member, Kentucky Counseling Center can help you. Schedule an appointment online now.