Essay: Freud's Psycho Analysis and Psychoanalytic Object Relation Therapy

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Freud's Psycho-analysis And Psychoanalytic Object Relation Theory

The Development of Psychopathology

Psychopathology might be defined as the inability of the adult human being to function within his or her social world. Some internal element restrains the ability of such a person to effectively live a productive and happy life. There are a variety of theories with different explanations regarding the fundamental reasons for this. Sigmund Freud for example builds his theory upon the sexual aspect of human development, while the psychoanalytic object relations theory holds that any type of trauma during the early development stages is responsible for this. Both theories therefore to some degree depend upon development to expound their views.

Freud's theory includes two main psychoneuroses: hysteria and obsessional. To explain the abnormal behavior associated with psychopathology, Freud turned to his theories of sexuality, and most importantly how sexuality is repressed. For Freud, then, neurotic symptoms function as substitutes for sexual satisfaction. Hence the patient derives pleasure from these symptoms. Freud's theory connects with that of the object relations view in that he believes that the event causing the neurosis is most likely connected to some early childhood event, which affected the sexual development of the child.

The object relations view in turn focuses on a broader view of child development, which could include a sexual element, but is not based entirely upon how this element affects every other developmental issue. Instead, it is a more holistic view of psychopathology. The traumatic childhood event at the basis of some sort of psychopathology for example could be sexual in nature, such as sexual abuse, but it could also be any other form of abuse or trauma. Whatever form it takes, it results in a negative effect upon the child's development, which halts as a result of the event. The child grows into an adult with a weakened sense of self, who can suffer from any number of disorders, including schizoid, borderline, or narcissist disorders.

Transference

In psychoanalysis, transference is a term used to denote the unconscious redirection of feelings from one target person to another. A person might for example repeat behavior patterns from a past relationship in a present one, where the target of affection is used as an object of transference for previously unresolved feelings.

Those who are subject to transference often transfer their feelings from parents to partners or children. In a negative context, this could mean mistrusting a person who resembles a previous partner in some way, or being overly compliant to a person who is reminiscent of a past relationship to someone who held power over the individual.

In therapy, transference can be used to help the patient overcome past problems that have become a burden in his or her present life and relationships. The therapist does this by analyzing the redirection of the patient's feelings for a specific person to the therapist him- or herself. This transference can take many forms, including erotic attraction, rage, hatred, mistrust, parentification, and so on. The therapist can then use this redirection as a tool for analysis, where the manifest feeling is used to determine the underlying cause for the original tendency to succumb to transference. Often, it is used to reveal unresolved conflicts that date back to the patient's childhood.

Countertransference could also occur where the therapist's feelings are redirected towards a patient. In a counterproductive environment, this could lead to an inappropriate emotional entanglement with the patients. On the other hand, an experienced therapist would be aware of this, and use it as an instrument to understand his or her own need to regulate the therapeutic relationship. In addition, it can promote an understanding of the specific relationship the therapist has with the patient, and how the patient elicits the countertransference.

Frame

The concept of the "frame" in psychoanalysis refers to the boundaries experienced by a person within a certain context. When starting psychoanalysis, for example, an asymmetrical balance of power exists, where the analyst at first has a certain type of power over the person as patient. As such, the person exists within a certain frame of reference, where a condition defines the situation of analysis. The relationship therefore frames the situation, and the patient exists within certain boundaries; where he or she will at first be wary or reluctant to reveal all that could be helpful in the therapeutic context.

In addition to the psychoanalytic situation, the individual also forms psychoanalytic frames within their individual social realities. The aim is to cultivate an understanding of the internal, psychological reality that governs the individual's concept of self and his or her relationship with others. These frames are then used as constructs to be able to handle the reality experienced by the individual.

In some situations, constructed frames of reality could be harmful and in need of therapy. The therapist should then construct a frame towards this end. The frame is a place of safety where the patient should feel free to express his or her own experience of the social and internal world. The therapist's work is then to determine the symbolic nature of the frames that the individual has constructed. During this work, the therapist also constructs his or her own frame towards and understanding of the individual's particular symbolic frames of reference. These can then be used to help the individual construct new, better frames to provide a more realistic view of the world and others, and thus encourage the healing process.

In this way, the psychotherapist can then use frames in order to not only better understand the symbolic psyche of the patient, but also to lead the patient to a better view of the world.

Goals of Analytic Therapy

The initial goal of analytic therapy is to establish a therapeutic environment for the client. The client is to feel safe and able to honestly express his or her view regarding the situations to be discussed. By establishing a relationship with the client, the therapist achieves a sense of mutual trust, in which the client feels completely comfortable. This however takes time and targeted effort, often by means of several sessions. Client-centered theory expects the therapist to be able to retreat and provide a platform of speech for the client.

A second goal of analytic theory is that the therapist must work towards understanding the client and his or her concerns and problems. The client is facing certain situations and challenges that need to be addressed. The therapist must be sufficiently experienced to be able to identify these by means of asking questions and listening to the client's responses. This is best achieved on the basis of an established relationship of mutual trust. Once the underlying issues and difficulties are established, the therapist can communicate a plan of action with the client.

The ultimate goal of current analytic therapy is to provide the client with a therapeutic basis from which the person can solve his or her own problems. The client must be empowered in order to make enduring changes to his or her life. To do this, the role of the therapist is not so much to analyze the patient, but rather to provide a platform for self-analysis. This is done by means of providing a safe environment and by establishing a relationship of trust. After the therapist has communicated a plan of action with the client, the process becomes collaborative. The client works actively with the therapist to establish goals for his or her life.

This is somewhat removed from past analytic practice, where the client was to passively listen to the therapist while the latter provided information and advice. Today, the ultimate goal is self-reflection and resultant healing.

The Process of Working Through

The process of "working through" in the analytic relationship can mean several things. The basic goal of therapy is to work through problematic situations and challenges in order to reach a certain therapeutic goal. For each individual client, this would mean something different, as each client faces a unique set of challenges. The therapist is to identify these challenges and help the client work through them.

Working through can entail an intensely emotional process, such as working through grief. It could also be a cognitively challenging process such as working through transference issues to obtain insight into one's childhood or relationships. Whatever the focus, the process of working through is often a long, intense, and arduous one. The client therefore needs to have a collaborative relationship with the therapist in order to successfully work through his or her issues.

Goal setting is also important in this context. No difficult process will be completed without a focus on a certain goal. The therapist must work with the client to establish goals to be fulfilled at the end of the working through process. The process itself will often be unpleasant; goals will help to mitigate the effects of such unpleasantness. For grief, the goal can for example be the final stage of acceptance and fond memories rather… [END OF PREVIEW]

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