What is Psychoanalysis?

We are approaching Lockdown Dreams from a Psychoanalytically-informed perspective, but, what does that actually mean? What is Psychoanalysis?

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who first developed Psychoanalysis in the late 19th century, saw the unconscious as the store of our personal experience, with much of it remaining obscured by acts of repression. Freud believed that we can gradually gain access to this repressed part of our minds through talking to someone trained to listen.

Psychoanalysis begins with the understanding that our minds are composed of both conscious and unconscious elements. What Freud called the ego – that part that roughly corresponds to consciousness – has the task of mediating between our unconscious, and external reality.

“Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.”

Sigmund Freud Dream Psychology (1920)

Through acts of interpretation, the analyst can help us to better understand and relate to our unconscious thoughts and feelings. One of the ways this can be done is in interpreting the content of our dreams.

Our relation to our dreams is deeply personal, and part of the work of Psychoanalysis lay in understanding those elements that we would not ordinarily be in contact with – whether that be our feelings towards loved ones and those around us, to the complex narratives that determine how we see and interact with the world around us.

If you’d like to learn more about Freud and Psychoanalysis, you can find a wealth of information on the Freud Museum’s website – www.freud.org.uk

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