The Aim of Psychoanalytic Therapy

In this article, we will discuss The Aim of Psychoanalytic Therapy. So, let’s get started.

The Aim of Psychoanalytic Therapy

At one point, Freud gave as the purpose of psychoanalysis to help the patient attain greater self-knowledge and hence self-control (“Where id was, let ego be”) Elsewhere he spoke of facilitating the patient’s capacity to love and work.” In these and other phrasings an essential theme emerges, namely, the purpose of therapy is to undo the neurotic process and thus allow the patient to move further toward psychological maturity. But what is maturity in Freudian theory?

From infancy onward, development involves increasingly greater freedom
from the pressures of primitive drives, notably sex and aggression, and consequently greater self-regulation. From the beginning, there is a clash between biological urges and the demands of social reality–the pleasure principle versus the reality principle–and compromises are required, first for survival and then for civilized living. Mechanisms develop by which the child is able to delay gratification and control impulse. In time, parental and social expectations are internalized. Thus, ego, superego, and associated mechanisms of defense form and guide behavior. Neurosis, however, results from childhood experiences which weaken the effectiveness of these controls and/or intensify instinctual demands. The most visible sign of a neurotic problem is the existence of anxiety, which signals the faulty operation of control mechanisms and the potential flooding of the personality with dangerous impulses. In this view, the essential task of therapy is to increase ego strength and/or reduce the pressure of denied impulses, so that the patient will be free to run his own life.

It is notable that Freud, who most made modern psychology cognizant of the unconscious and irrational in human affairs was himself a rationalist and, indeed something of a puritan. If man can know and direct his inner needs, he will be happier and society the better for it. The concept of “insight was centrale Freud’s notion of therapeutic change. Although in his early work on hysteria we have just noted, his initial emphasis was on emotional abreaction and catharsis, as his thinking matured, insight supplanted catharsis as the vehicle of cure. Today, there is widespread appreciation of the critical necessity for patients relive emotional experiences the corrective emotional experience in Alexader’s (1946) phrase), Still, self-knowledge remains high in the values of psychoanalysts, often as a necessary if not sufficient condition of therapeutic change.

In one of his last writings, Freud (1937) made his point of view clear when discussing the conditions under which psychoanalysis could be terminated.

An analysis is ended when the analyst and the patient cease to meet each other for the analytic session. This happens when two conditions have been approximately fulfilled: first, that the patient shall no longer be suffering from his symptoms and shall have overcome his anxieties and his inhibitions, and secondly, that the analyst shall judge that so much repressed material has been made conscious, so much that was
unintelligible has been explained, and so much internal resistance conquered, that there is no need to fear a repetition of the pathological processes concerned.

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