Date of last revision
January 31, 2012
"No body of knowledge approaches psychoanalytic theory in terms of its capacity to explain the mysteries of the human mind." - GLEN O. GABBARD on 'Psychoanalysis' in Kaplan & Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.
- Psychoanalytic theory was developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).
- Psychoanalytic theory revolutionized the understanding of mental
life and human behavior.
- Freud's theories helped in understanding
early development of sexuality and mental functioning in the infant and adult psychological illnesses.
Psychoanalytic theory includes:
- Structural Theory
- Libido (Drive) Theory
- Topographical Theory of mind
- Theory of Narcissism
"In mental life, nothing which has once been formed can perish…everything is somehow preserved and…in suitable circumstances…it can once more be brought to light.” (Freud, 1930)
- Freud's structural theory postulated the existence of the
id, ego, and superego.
- First to develop
- Completely unconscious
- Contains all drives
- Ruled by pleasure principle
- No awareness of reality
- Second structure to develop
- Operates on reality principle
- Mediates conflict among id, ego, and superego
- Provides reality testing
- Monitors quality of interpersonal relations
- Provides synthesis and coordination
- Carries out primary autonomous functions
- Defends against anxiety
- Third structure to develop
- Self-criticism based on moral values
- Self-praise based on ego ideal
- Most functions are unconscious
- Conflict is the main concept of structural theory.
- Libido theory assumes that biological “needs” (drives) fuel behavior.
- The aim of behavior is to gratify the drive.
- Drives are either sexual or aggressive in nature.
- The libido theory explains that the sexual instinct plays
an etiological role in the neuroses and that sexual stimulation
exerts a predominant force (which is called libido) on mental activity throughout
- The discharge of libido
is experienced as pleasure.
- Topographical theory explains three regions of mental functioning or
systems of the mind exist as defined by their relationship to conscious thought:
- the conscious,
- preconscious, and
- Conscious level of mind refers to the portion of mental activity and
content that is directly available to
- Preconscious level of mind refers to mental
content and processes that are not conscious
but can be readily accessed by
the direction of attention.
- Unconscious level of mind refers to a set of mental processes and content
that operates outside conscious awareness.
- Narcissism refers to excessive love or admiration of oneself or self-love.
- The term also refers to the erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one's own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development.
- Freud explained his theory of narcissism in his seminal paper "On Narcissism: An Introduction" (Freud, 1914 ).
- Freud explains primary and secondary narcissisms, which emerge in normal human development.
- Primary narcissism refers to a the state in which the desire and energy that drives one’s instinct to survive.
- Secondary narcissism occurs when the libido withdraws from objects outside the self, above all the mother, producing a relationship to social reality that includes the potential for megalomania.
- Problems in the transition from one to the other can lead to pathological narcissistic disorders in adulthood.
- Studies on Hysteria (1895) w/Joseph Breuer
- The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
- The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901)
- Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905)
- Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905)
- Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
- There have been many revisions and additions to psychoanalytic theories since Freud's time.
- Freud's theories explains the concepts of love, hate, childhood, family relations, civilization, sexuality, fantasy, conflicting emotions etc.
- Psychiatry, Third Edition. Edrs. Allan Tasman, Jerald Kay, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Michael B. First and Mario Maj.John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2008.
- Freud S.(1914). On narcissism: An introduction. SE, 14: 67-102.