What Is the Purpose of Psychoanalysis? Goals & Uses

Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2022
What Is the Purpose of Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis aims to promote awareness of unconscious patterns of emotion and behavior to help a person address the root causes of their issues

Psychoanalysis aims to promote awareness of unconscious and recurrent patterns of emotion and behavior in order to help a person address the root causes of their psychological issues. 

By releasing repressed thoughts and emotions, this type of therapy may help treat depression and anxiety disorders. 

Many of the theories and methods of psychoanalysis originate with the work of Sigmund Freud, who believed that the unconscious mind contains buried thoughts, urges, or feelings that are unpleasant and can cause a person to experience distress or behavioral problems.

What are the components of personality?

According to Freud, personality is made up of three components:

  • Id: Primal aspect of the personality that includes basic, unconscious urges.
  • Ego: Rational part of the mind that helps control the urges of the id, deals with the demands of reality, and forces the person to fulfill their needs in ways that are realistic and acceptable.
  • Superego: Values and moral beliefs instilled upon a person that guides their decisions and behavior.

What are methods of psychoanalysis?

In psychoanalysis, a variety of techniques are used to gain insight into a person’s behavior. Common techniques include:

  • Dream analysis: Dreams may reveal unconscious desires and intentions that a person is too fearful or nervous to bring up in conscious life.
  • Free association: Free associations may reveal hidden memories or conflicts as a person is encouraged to talk freely about whatever comes to their mind.
  • Transference: Transference occurs when a person projects their feelings about someone else onto the psychoanalyst and interacts with them as the other person.

What is psychoanalysis used for?

Psychoanalytic therapy can be used manage conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Identity problems
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Self-assertion issues
  • Psychosomatic disorders
  • Relationship issues
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Sexual problems

What are the benefits of psychoanalysis therapy?

Potential benefits of psychoanalysis are that it:

  • Focuses on underlying emotions
  • Explores avoidance behavior
  • Identifies recurring thinking patterns
  • Explores past experiences
  • Explores interpersonal relationships
  • Helps recondition the brain from past traumas


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Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

McLeod S. Psychoanalysis. Simply Psychology. 2019. https://www.simplypsychology.org/psychoanalysis.html

Science Direct. Psychoanalysis. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/psychoanalysis