Outline and evaluate how psychoanalysis is used to treat psychological disorders (12 marks)

12 out of 12 essay on psychoanalysis

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Outline and evaluate how psychoanalysis is used to treat psychological disorders (12 marks)
Psychoanalysis is based on Freud's psychodynamic model and believes that treatment should be
oriented at identifying the nature of any unresolved conflicts and resolving them. This treatment
usually takes place 4 to 5 days a week for several years. One method used is a projection test. A
client is required to project their own thoughts and associations on a particular stimulus. For example
a patient is presented with a series of ink blot shapes. They are asked what the shape means to them
and by repeating this with a sequence of different blots, particular themes and anxieties may
emerge. Another method is dream analysis. Freud believed that dreaming was `the royal road to the
unconscious' as during dreaming ego defences are lowered, allowing repressed thoughts and
desires to arise. According to Freud, dreams have an obvious content that the clients can
recall-manifest content. Beneath the manifest content lies the true meaning of the dream that can
only be revealed through the therapist's interpretation-latent content. A final method is free
association which involves a patient lying on a couch and just saying whatever pops into their head.
The therapist listens and makes sure they don't react in a negative way. Using this technique allows
the internal censors of the unconscious to relax, thus allowing unconscious material to emerge,
possibly symbolically.
One strength of psychoanalysis is that there is positive evidence for its effectiveness. Bergin found
that 80% of the 10000 patients he reviewed had benefitted from psychoanalysis. However there is
much contradictory evidence which means that the therapy is unreliable or its effectiveness depends
on the disorder. Another strength of psychoanalysis is that the long length of the treatment
correlates with the effectiveness of the treatment in the long term. Tschuscheke et al found that the
longer the treatments were, the better the outcomes were, suggesting that it takes motivation and
effort from the patient for the treatment to be truly effective. Another positive of psychoanalysis is
that it can be administered outside hospitals, reducing the risks of institutionalisation. One limitation
of psychoanalysis is that some therapists are not helping patients to recover repressed memories of
sexual abuse or even alien abduction. Another limitation is that it lacks scientific validity as free
association and dream analysis cannot be scientifically tested. A final limitation is that psychoanalysis
raises ethical concern as its usage can produce distressing emotional insights and thereby not
protecting the patient from harm.


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