What is a psychoanalyst

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Classical psychoanalysis is the origin of the development of psychotherapy and goes back to the neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). Freud assumed that every person unites three inner instances: The "it" stands for unconscious drives. The "I" creates the connection to reality. The “superego” is formed as an instance of conscience by adopting the values ​​of the environment, such as those of the parents. For Freud, the sex drive (libido) was decisive for psychic energy. From early childhood to adulthood, the libido manifests itself in certain phases that are typical for each age. In his opinion, psychological disorders can develop from a disturbance in the early childhood libido development.

Freud saw the signs of mental disorder as a substitute for an unsolved problem of early childhood. The aim of psychoanalysis is therefore to make people aware of the unresolved conflicts. What is of great importance for the analyst is the form in which the patient develops resistance to the processing of unconscious experiences and insights. It is also of interest which defense mechanisms the patient has developed in dealing with the instincts and desires on the one hand and reality on the other.

In the therapeutic sessions, the patient talks about everything he is feeling or thinking. This form of “free association” was a central element of psychoanalysis for Freud. Freud assumed that the patient would repeat a "pattern" over the course of the sessions that would make the conflict clear to the therapist. By reliving early childhood feelings, especially towards parents and siblings, together with the therapist, he “transfers” his early childhood wishes and feelings to the psychoanalyst. This gives them the opportunity to interpret early childhood situations and experiences. Following Freud, psychoanalysis has undergone many developments, especially through ego psychology, self psychology, and object relationship theory.

Classical psychoanalysis is rarely carried out today. So their practical importance is small. One reason is that the therapy lasts for several years. Another - crucial - reason is that the empirical evidence for the effectiveness of classical psychoanalysis is poor.