Most people unfamiliar with psychoanalysis get a glimpse of it in caricatured form through movies, television or books.
Save for the HBO show In Treatment or the movie Ordinary People, most other mediums present psychoanalysis as a stilted experience, where a couch-lying patient drones on about emotions and feelings to a stoic therapist who is busily taking notes. The other polar extreme is that the analyst, fatigued from his or her patient's narrative, falls asleep.
Misconceptions about psychoanalysis go even further. Health professionals often minimize the mechanics of psychoanalysis, dismissing it as if it were a singular homogenized school of thought. Many are not even aware that research and scientific studies have shown that psychoanalysis is a successful form of psychotherapy.
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Psychoanalysis is grounded on the observation that individuals are often unaware of many of the factors that determine their emotions and behavior. Sometimes these factors are slightly out of our awareness (subconscious) or are completely unknown to us (unconscious). Psychoanalytic treatment looks to uncover how these factors effect relationships and behaviors. Together with your analyst, you'd trace them back to their historical origins, learn how they've changed and evolved over time, and develop new skills to better deal with things.
Psychoanalysis has evolved over the last 100 years from Freud's initial model, and has grown to include many different and compelling schools of thought. In fact, Freud might not even recognize the more modern form of psychoanalytic sessions practiced nowadays.
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Psychoanalysis is a rich, deep and involved process - and needs to be celebrated as a viable option for the treatment of psychological symptoms.