Psychoanalysis is a system of psychology originated by the Viennese physician Sigmund FREUD in the 1890's and then further developed by himself, his students, and other followers. It consists of three kinds of related activities: (1) a method for research into the human mind, especially inner experiences such as thoughts, feelings, emotions, fantasies, and dreams; (2) a systematic accumulation of a body of knowledge about the mind; and (3) a method for the treatment of psychological or emotional disorders. Psychoanalysis began with the discovery that HYSTERIA, an illness with physical symptoms that occurred in a completely healthy physical body--such as a numbness or paralysis of a limb or a loss of voice or a blindness--could be caused by unconscious wishes or forgotten memories. (Hysteria is now commonly referred to as conversion disorder.) The French neurologist Jean Martin CHARCOT tried to rid the mind of undesirable thoughts through hypnotic suggestion, but without lasting success. Josef Breuer, a Viennese physician, achieved better results by letting Anna O., a young woman patient, try to empty her mind by just telling him all of her thoughts and feelings. Freud refined Breuer's method by conceptualizing theories about it and, using these theories, telling his patients through interpretations what was going on inside the unconscious part of their minds, thus making the unconscious become conscious. Many hysterias were cured this way, and in 1895, Breuer and Freud published their findings and theories in Studies in Hysteria. CLASSIC PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY Traditional psychoanalytical theory states that all human beings are born with instinctual drives that are constantly active even though a person is usually not conscious of thus being driven. Two drives--one for sexual pleasure, called libido, the other called aggression--motivate and propel most behavior. In the infant, the libido first manifests itself by making sucking an activity with pleasurable sensations in the mouth. Later similar pleasures are experienced in the anus during bowel movements, and finally these erotically tinged pleasures are experienced when the sexual organ is manipulated. Thus psychosexual development progresses from the oral through the anal to the phallic stage. (Phallic, in psychoanalytic theory, refers to both male and female sexual organs.) During the height of the phallic phase, about ages three to six, these libidinous drives focus on the parent of the opposite sex and lend an erotic cast to the relation between mother and son or between father and daughter, the so-called Oedipus COMPLEX. However, most societies strongly disapprove of these sexual interests of children. A TABOO on incest rules universally. Parents, therefore, influence children to push such pleasurable sensations and thoughts out of their conscious minds into the unconscious by a process called repression.
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