Psychoanalysis is a comprehensive theory about human nature, motivation, behavior, development and experience. And it is a method of treatment for psychological problems and difficulties in living a successful life. As a general theory of individual human behavior and experience, psychoanalytic ideas enrich and are enriched by the study of the biological and social sciences, group behavior, history, philosophy, art, and literature. As a developmental theory, psychoanalysis contributes to child psychology, education, law, and family studies. Through its examination of the complex relationship between body and mind, psychoanalysis also furthers our understanding of the role of emotions in health as well as in medical illness.
The psychoanalytic framework stresses the importance of understanding: •that each individual is unique,
•that there are factors outside of a person's awareness (unconscious thoughts, feelings and experiences) which influence his or her thoughts and actions, •that the past shapes the present
•that human beings are always engaged in the process of development throughout their lives
Psychoanalysis (Freudian psychological) reality begins with the world, full of objects. Among them is a very special object, the organism. The organism is special in that it acts to survive and reproduce, and it is guided toward those ends by its needs hunger, thirst, the avoidance of pain, and sex. A very important part of the organism is the nervous system, which has as one its characteristics sensitivity to the organism's needs. At birth, that nervous system is little more than that of any other animal, an "it" or id. The nervous system, as id, translates the organism's needs into motivational forces called, in German, Trieben, which has been translated as instincts or drives. Freud also called them wishes. This translation from need to wish is called the primary process. The id works in keeping with the pleasure principle, which can be understood as a demand to take care of needs immediately. Just picture the hungry infant, screaming itself blue. It doesn't "know" what it wants in any adult sense; it just knows that it wants it and it wants it now. The infant, in the Freudian view, is pure or nearly pure id. And the id is nothing if not the psychic representative of biology. Unfortunately, although a wish for food, such as the image of a juicy steak, might be enough to satisfy the id, it isn't enough to satisfy the organism. The need only gets stronger, and the wishes just keep coming. You may have noticed that, when you haven't satisfied some need, such as the need for food, it begins to demand more and more of your attention, until there comes a point where you can't think of anything else. This is the wish or drive breaking into consciousness. Luckily for the organism, there is that small portion of the mind we discussed before, the conscious, which is hooked up to the world through the senses. Around this little bit of consciousness, during the first year of a child's life, some of the "it" becomes "I," some of the id becomes ego. The ego relates the organism to reality by means of its consciousness, and it searches for objects to satisfy the wishes that id creates to represent the organism’s needs. This problem-solving activity is called the secondary process. The ego, unlike the id, functions according to the reality principle, which says "take care of a need as soon as an appropriate object is found." It represents reality and, to a considerable extent, reason. However, as the ego struggles to keep the id (and, ultimately, the organism) happy, it meets with obstacles in the world. It occasionally meets with objects that actually assist it in attaining its goals. And it keeps a record of these obstacles and aides. In particular, it keeps track of the rewards and punishments meted out by two of the most influential objects in the world of the child - mom and...