What is PsychoAnalysis?

Sigmund Freud was the man who founded psychoanalysis. Most people have heard of him, and he's generally thought of as some famous man who had some strange ideas about dreams, sex, and your relationship with your mother.

Well, he had lots of ideas about how the mind works, and admittedly, a lot of them seem quite far out and bizarre when you first take a look at them. Indeed, these ideas have created a huge amount of controversy down the years. However, a lot of people have found these ideas to work, and psychoanalysis arose as a method of putting these ideas into practice.

Psychoanalysis can be thought of as one of two things. Firstly, as a treatment for mental health problems. Secondly, as a way of understanding more about your own mind.

Perhaps the idea that is at the core of psychoanalysis is that everybody possesses something called an unconscious. This is the proper name for what a lot of people call your sub-conscious. This is a part of your mind that you are not aware of, and has a big influence over what you do and who you are.

In Psychoanalysis, the therapist attempts to get access to your unconscious mind, find out what's going on, and then make you aware of some of the things that are going on that you aren't aware of. The therapist uses a number of different techniques in order to do this. Some of them are quite famous, for example, by getting you to talk about whatever comes into your head, or by investigating your dreams.

This all seems quite strange to most people, but psychoanalysts argue that the unconscious mind is quite strange, and doesn't operate according to the rules of common sense. That's often why, so they say, you cannot work out by yourself why you've not been able to sort out your own problems yourself.

What Types of Psychoanalysis are there?

There are quite a few different types of psychoanalysis. Some therapists work in a way that sticks very much to the ideas of Freud, while other tend to use ideas from other people who have followed in Freud's footsteps (e.g. Carl Jung, Melanie Klein). Whichever, type of analysis is done, they all conform to the same idea that the answer lies in your unconscious.

How Long does Psychoanalysis go on for?

Psychoanalysis usually goes on for years. Because it is more about a voyage of self-discovery, it usually takes a long time for people to get to know themselves really well. It usually runs for between 50 minutes and an hour, 5 days a week, so it is a major commitment both on your time and your money.

There are shorter versions of psychoanalysis, which are quite similar but generally more focussed on particular problems that you might have. These are known as Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic Psychotherapies.

Does it Work?

A lot of people say that it does, and many people argue that it is the only therapy which really seeks to delve into the bottom reaches of your mind, warts and all, to help you work on fundamental aspects of yourself like your own personality.

However, not everybody likes it, and there are a number of criticisms of it. These include things like, it is only suited for educated people, and that it is too harsh and unforgiving. But as in all therapies, we would encourage you to find out more about it, and if you want, give it a go. There is nothing stopping you giving it up at anytime. But be aware, it is a very powerful treatment, and you are likely to experience strong feelings about it and your analyst as part of the experience of going through it.

How do you get into Psychoanalysis?

All Psychoanalysis is done privately, it is not available in the UK on the NHS because it would be too expensive. Also, medical insurance does not tend to cover people for treatment by this method, so generally most people have to pay for it out of their own pockets. Although analysts sometimes offer reduced rates depending on your ability to pay and often trainee analysts will see you at cheaper rates. Don't worry about trainees being too inexperienced, they are usually fully trained experienced health professionals (e.g. Psychiatrists, Psychologists), who are under the guidance of a psychoanalyst. All analysts and trainees have undergone their own psychoanalysis, so they have a good understanding of what it is like for you.

Most people get into analysis by having some sort of contact with someone working in the mental health field who knows someone you could speak to or see about it. Alternatively, private analysts do advertise, as do collections or groups of analysts working together at centres. There are also various organisations you can contact.

Another way you can contact an analyst is by going to our Worldwide Index of Services which should have the names of analysts working in your area.


If you are interested in going into even more depth, the following book(s), sold by Click Here to go to Amazon are recommended by us.

Each is followed by a rating for ease of reading (1-3).

1 = Simple and Easy to comprehend.
2 = More Complex, but still a good read.
3 = Very Complex, really for professionals/those studying to degree level.

"Clicking" On a Book will take you to Amazon where if you "Click" on the shopping basket you will be able to buy it.
Save £1.60

Dictionary of Psychoanalysis (Rycroft)

Price £6.39 Save £1.60

RATING = 2 This book is a dictionary that explains the jargon used in psychoanalysis.
Save £1.60

Freud for Beginners (Osbourne)

Price £6.39 Save £1.60

RATING = 1 It is as the title says, although don't expect this or any of the following books on influential people in psychoanalysis and their theories to provide much detail as to how psychoanalytic therapy actually works.
Save £1.60

Jung for Beginners (Platania)

Price £6.39 Save £1.60

RATING = 1 These books follow an almost comic-strip style with pictures added into the text.
Save £1.80

Melanie Klein for Beginners (Hinshelwood, Susan & Zarate)

Price £7.19 Save £1.80

RATING = 1 On Melanie Klein, particularly dealing with child psychotherapy.

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