The development of psychoanalysis

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Psychoanalysis is defined as the transformation of unconscious thoughts into conscious thoughts through the use of methods such as dream recall, free associations, and repeated sessions to restructure symptoms and distorted relationships from the past and the forgetting (Hale Jr, 1995). As a result, psychoanalysis seeks to elicit suppressed emotions and experiences.

The development of psychoanalysis is credited to Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939). The confluence of ideas and information from various theoretical and clinical perspectives resulted in psychoanalysis. Freud's self-analysis was critical in the development of psychoanalysis. This lasted a few years, from the mid-1890s until the early 1900s. The self-analysis period is mostly delimited from the time Freud discovered important components of psychoanalysis, including Oedipus complex to the routine self- analysis he performed to keep tabs on his unconscious life. While unexpected aspects and inventiveness characterize the first phase, the second phase is more of an obligation deduced from the psychoanalyst profession. Freud emphasized that dreams are the disguised fulfillment of unconscious wishes. During psychoanalysis therapy, Freud would have a patient lie on a sofa and relax while he would take notes as they narrated their dreams and childhood memories. The process was usually a lengthy one and involved many sessions with the psychoanalyst. Due to Freud’s Jewish origins, he had to team up with other non-Jewish specialists to drive support for the psychoanalytic movement. Among the individuals who collaborated with Freud were Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Alfred Alder, and Sandor Ferenczi.

Psychoanalysis is regarded as both a theory and a therapy. The classic form of psychoanalysis is a lengthy process which can drag on for years due to the defense mechanisms associated with the unconscious in addition to the inaccessibility of deterministic forces. As such, a variety of tools is used to encourage the client to develop perceptiveness on their condition. These include ink blots, free association, Freudian slip, dream analysis, transference analysis, and resistance analysis. Freudian slips or parapraxes are the means by which unconscious thoughts and feelings can transfer to the conscious mind. Freudian slips are important since they provide an insight into the unconscious mind. Free association, on the other hand, involves a therapist reading some words and the client promptly replying with the first word that comes to mind. The rationale behind this concept is that in the course of free association, fragments of memories that are repressed will come forth. Free association usually results in emotionally intense and clear memories that feel like a relieving of the memory by the patient. Freud referred to flashbacks of stressful memories that it seemed like reliving the event as abreactions while disturbing memories during therapy that left the patient relieved after that were referred to as catharsis. Freud frequently used emotional association as a valuable tool in diagnosing the problems of patients. Dream analysis, on the other hand, helped Freud access the unconscious mind which is usually less alert when one is asleep. The result is usually the surfacing of repressed ideas.

The psychoanalytic structure of personality is a concept which Freud developed later in his career. Personality is a single entity made up of three facets: Id, Ego, and Superego. The facets are different processes that regulate and manage an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Id is usually the first personality structure that develops and is responsible for unconscious-level reactions, responses, and drives. Id is made up of two drives: Eros and Thanatos. The former is also referred to as the life instinct and helps direct activities that sustain life such as eating and respiration. The latter, on the other hand, is comprised of destructive drives that are present in all human beings. Thanatos, the death instinct, is usually manifested as aggression and violence. According to Freud, the capacity of human beings to survive rather than self-destruct was based on the fact that Eros is stronger than Thanatos. The Ego usually develops from one’s Id while one is still an infant. It is meant to balance the needs of the Id against what the society demands and expects of an individual. Ego operates not only in the unconscious mind but also in the conscious mind. Superego, on the other hand, develops throughout childhood and is basically a representation of rules, morals, and taboos of the society. It is responsible for motivating people to behave in a manner that is socially responsible and acceptable. Due to the incompatibility of the demands of the three facets of personality, Ego usually deploys a variety of defense mechanisms that prevent it from being overcome by anxiety. The defense mechanisms described by Freud include repression, denial, projection, displacement, regression, and sublimation.

Psychoanalytic therapy is essentially intended for individuals who have developed psychoneuroses as a result of conflicts between Id and Superego. It is usually used to treat anxiety disorders that include panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Psychoanalysis, in such cases, helps the client recognize their current anxiety in relationships in childhood that are now being relieved in adulthood. According to Shapiro and Emde (1991), depression could also be treated using the psychoanalytic approach.

Freud’s classic psychoanalytic theory has been reformulated severally by Jacques Lacan due to its inherent limitations. One particular area of criticism is the relationship between psychoanalysis and culture and society. According to Brown (2010), “Psychoanalytic theory has been criticized for neglecting issues of social context and identity and for privileging internal life over external realities of clients in psychotherapy.” However, the active relationship between psychoanalysis and cultural competence can be elucidated using the following approaches. First, expanding self-examination to include the exploration of the effects of historical trauma and neglect of sociocultural issues in psychoanalysis on the present and future psychoanalytic theory and practice. Second, recognizing clients’ and therapists’ indigenous cultural narrative as well as the conscious and unconscious meanings and motivations accompanying these narratives. Third, recognizing the role of context in the use of language and the expression of affect in psychotherapy. Next, attending to how client’s and therapist’s experiences of social oppression and stereotypes of the other influence the therapist, the client, and therapeutic process, and outcome. Finally, recognizing that culture itself is dynamic, and individuals negotiate complex, intersecting cultural identifications in both creative, adaptive, and self-damaging ways, as evidenced in the use of defense (Tummala-Narra, 2014).

Prior to the development of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, there had been decades of change in cultural and societal factors that led to psychologists formulating theories to explain events. The second industrial revolution led to the emphasis on individuality, especially regarding gender consciousness. Psychologists were already researching the nature of sexuality. Freud’s cracking of the gender code in the late 19th century was an illustration of the spread of the liberal Western culture. Psychoanalysis came in to help explain individual unconscious wishes which made available a range of experiences (Zaretsky, 2004). Psychoanalysis has developed over the years and can now be regarded as inseparable from the culture of the Western world. Its effect can be evidenced in art, the media, literature, theater, and humanities. Freud’s contribution in the form of concepts such as fantasies and unconscious thought, motivation, and the psycho- sexual developmental stages are part of everyday life in the modern world.


Behaviorism is a psychological approach characterized by an emphasis on empirical methods that are scientific and largely objective. This is achieved without recourse to inner mental states. Behaviorism is based on the assumption that free will is illusive and that the environment influences all behavior through either reinforcement or association. The development of the behaviorist school of thought ran concurrently with the development of psychoanalytic psychology in the 20th century.

The doctrine is committed in its fullest and most complete sense to the truth of the following three sets of claims: psychology is the science of behavior; psychology is not the science of mind as something other or different from behavior; behavior can be described and explained without making ultimate reference to mental events or to internal psychological processes. The sources of behavior are external (in the environment), not internal (in the mind, in the head). In the course of theory development in psychology, if, somehow, mental terms or concepts are deployed in describing or explaining behavior, then either these terms or concepts should be eliminated and replaced by behavioral terms or they should be translated or paraphrased into behavioral concepts (Moore, 1981).

The main influences in behaviorism were I. Pavlov, J. B. Watson, and B.F. Skinner. Other important contributors to behaviorism are E.L. Thorndike and A. Bandura. Pavlov investigated classical conditioning, while Watson sought to restrict the study of psychological concepts to experimental laboratory methods. Behaviorism is a wide field which is characterized by differing emphases. While some behaviorists argue that the observation of behavior is the best way of investigating psychological processes, others believe that observation is, in fact, the only way of investigating such processes. Methodological behaviorism, on the other hand, is concerned with the objective study of third-person behavior. In this case, the data of psychology must be verifiable within the realm of a variety of subjects with no theoretical prescriptions. Radical behaviorism is usually associated with Skinner. It ignores the internal states of mind and concentrates solely on the behavioral approach to psychology. Teleological Behaviorism, on the other hand, is Post-Skinnerian and is goal-directed, closely related to microeconomics. Theoretical behaviorism, which is also post-Skinnerian, accepts internal states.

Psychology, according to the behaviorist, is a branch of natural science that is solely based on objective experimentation. As such, the theoretical goal of the behaviorist is to predict and check patient’s behavior. “The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and animal. The behavior of man only forms a part of the behaviorist's total scheme of investigation (Watson, 1913).

The development of behaviorism was influenced by the scientific culture that was popular at the time. Logical positivism was already being encouraged in biology, chemistry, and physics, and the notion was to make psychology a natural science like the aforementioned. The scientific culture going around at the time was responsible for the popularity of behaviorism around the time of its development.

The place of behaviorism in the society has been a case of concern by proponents the mid-20th century. This could be attributed to the fact that it is almost five decades since without the perspective producing any substantial change. The science of behavior analysis is not advanced enough to have a significant impact on the society. The society’s growing mistrust of science also means that behaviorism has suffered as a result. The science of human behavior has also faced problems since it challenges the beliefs, assumptions, and personal experience of most human beings. “As a consequence, there has been not only a limited response to behavioral approaches but also strong pushback from organizations and individuals, many with solid intellectual credentials who view behaviorism as a form of mind control” (Krapfl, 2016).


Humanism, as a school of thought, came into being as a response to the limitations of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. It is person-centered and is based on the wide assumption that every human being has a unique way of understanding and making sense of the world around them. This translates to the subjectivity of the school of thought unlike the case in behaviorism thus rejecting the use of empirical methods in the study of human psychology. Humanism endorses the concept of free will as imperative for an individual to be regarded a human being.

The field of humanistic psychology has, over the years, developed due to the contributions of a variety of psychologists. Carl Jung (1875- 1961) is an influential figure in psychology, and his contribution to humanism is apparent in his concepts of active imagination, consciousness, and self. Rollo May (1909- 1994) is also an important figure in humanistic psychology with his assertion that human nature can only be comprehended by subjectively focusing on an individual and their experience. Abraham Maslow (1908- 1970) is renowned for the hierarchy of needs. He radically changed the field of humanistic psychology by focusing on concepts such as human motivation and self- actualization. Carl Rogers (1902- 1987) is regarded as a pioneer when it comes to therapy centered on the client. His concepts of self, actualization, and core conditions are major theoretical aspects of humanism. Other influential theorists in humanism are James Bugental, Erich Fromm, Roberto Assagioli, Jacob Moreno, Fritz Perls, R.D. Laing, James Hillman, Viktor Frankl, Ram Dass, Ken Wilber, Stanislav Grof, and George Kelly (Hiles, N.d.).

The insistence that people have free will is a key concept in humanism. This actually sets humanism apart from other schools of thought. Since humanism concentrates on the whole person, nurture is usually favored by nature due to its influence on the experiences and way of thinking of an individual. This contributes a great deal to the holistic approach to human psychology without necessarily breaking down behavior. The ideographic approach associated with humanism can be attributed to the emphasis on the uniqueness of each human being.

The relationship between cultural and societal factors and humanism can be traced back to the development of the school of thought. According to Grogan (2008), “the establishment of humanistic psychology in 1962 was meant to address broad questions of individual identity, expression, meaning and growth that had been largely neglected by post-war American cultural institutions and by the discipline of psychology.” The holistic school of thought that is driven by the theory of the self, enabled the society to connect with humanism, unlike psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Humanism played a great role in cultural phenomena of the 20th century such as groups agitating for women liberation and the human potential movement.

Case Study Analysis

A psychoanalyst would attempt to help Judy gain insight into the causes of her feelings of worthlessness and shame due to her inability to perform as well as she used to. As such, the psychoanalyst would explain that factors outside Judy’s conscious awareness are responsible for the anxiety. The process may take a couple of years during which Judy would see the therapist regularly. The use of the free association technique would enable the therapist figure out the repressed ideas in Judy’s thinking. A disturbing memory could explain Judy’s need for overachievement to fill an inherent void. A behaviorist would use empirical techniques to explain Judy’s behavior. Using the Little Albert Experiment method would help the behaviorist figure out Judy’s fears which could explain the behavior being observed. A humanist, on the other hand, would try to understand Judy’s behavior by explaining choices Judy has made throughout her life and their consequences. By analyzing this and considering growth and fulfillment in life, the humanist would use the results to explain the current state of Judy’s mind.

Neither of the three methods is foolproof so it is necessary to analyze strengths and limitations of each school of thought in relation to Judy’s case. While psychoanalysis can help reveal hidden memories that affect one’s happiness, therapy consumes a lot of time and is unlikely to provide answers quickly. The discovery of painful memories from the past could also cause more distress rather than help the situation. It is also important to realize that psychoanalysis does not necessarily work for all disorders. Behaviorism is objective and highly applicable in terms of therapy. However, it is too deterministic and reductionist, thus does not view an issue holistically. The focus on the whole individual by humanistic biology is an obvious strength. It also satisfies most people’s idea of humanity and gives a holistic insight into behavior. However, humanism ignores biology as well as the unconscious mind and is unscientific.

In Judy’s case, humanism offers the most appropriate means of solving the situation. It is a person-centered approach so it offers the greatest chance of understanding patient’s problems as in the Judy’s case. In her case, the abnormal behavior could be a result of her failure to trust experience which results in a distorted or inaccurate view of the self. Through the person-centered approach, Judy would be able to gain self-understanding and self-acceptance by expressing warmth, empathy, and the unconditional belief that despite all that has happened, she is still a worthwhile person. Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs could also help Judy out. According to Maslow, psychological problems usually result from a difficulty in fulfilling self-esteem needs which prevents self-actualization. Judy’s therapy would correct her inaccurate view of herself and help improve her self-esteem which would enable her to continue pursuing self-actualization. Humanism effectively covers the limitations of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. The uncertainty associated with psychoanalysis which leads to years of therapy is not a problem with humanism since the person-centered approach helps reach the conclusion faster. The strictly scientific nature of behaviorism puts of some clients. However, with humanism, the patient is an integral component and participant in their therapy.


Brown, L. S. (2010). Feminist therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Grogan, J. L. (2008, May). A cultural history of the humanistic psychology movement in America (Thesis). Retrieved from

Hale Jr, N. G. (1995). The rise and crisis of psychoanalysis in the United States: Freud and the Americans, 1917–1985. Oxford University Press.

Hiles, D. (N.d.). Pioneers of Humanistic- Existential Psychology. Retrieved from

Krapfl, J.E. (2016). Behaviorism and Society. Behav Anal, 39(1), 123- 129.

Moore, J. (1981). On mentalism, methodological behaviorism, and radical behaviorism. Behaviorism, 9(1), 55-77.

Shaffer, J. B. (1978). Humanistic psychology. Pearson College Division.

Shapiro, T., & Emde, R. N. (1991). Introduction: Some Empirical Approaches to Psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39, 1-3.

Tummala- Narra, P. (2014). Cultural competence as a core emphasis of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 32 (2), 275- 292.

Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-178.

Zaretsky, E. A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

April 19, 2023

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