Facts About Psychoanalysis

by MLHeller


Psychoanalysis is a typology of the human mind. It explains how the mind works. Viewed as a tripartite body, it is comprised of a dynamically evolving theoretical compendium; the clinical practice informed by those theories; and a field of academic scholarship that includes specialized training institutes.

Not a monolithic, single theory, indivisible, unyielding and ritually administered, it is more like a philosophical tree of life with many theoretical branches emerging from a solid trunk with deep tap roots.

Rather than simply manipulating superficial external variables or behavior, analytic therapy explores the inner landscape and the mind-body more deeply. Integrative by nature, it explores feelings, thoughts and behavior. All aspects of self are acknowledged while conscious awareness and the capacity for self-reflection expand.


Psychoanalysis, developed by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th c, constitutes the origin(s) of all currently extant therapeutic modalities. While this is fairly well understood, what isn’t well known is that psychoanalysis has expanded and developed across the decades much as any other medical or scientific discipline.

While contemporary analytic theory owes a debt to its foundational beginnings, its theories and clinical practice methodologies have been refined and clarified significantly. Psychoanalysis now is comprised of many interwoven theories that have evolved naturally over time.

Incorporating this eclectic admixture of many flourishing theories, each psychoanalyst cultivates and refines his or her own practice, reflecting personal capacities, theoretical interests and specialties. First and foremost, psychoanalysis is a way of conceptualizing what is transpiring in the mind and then subsequently intervening.

Clinical practice:

Rather than simply employing loose gimmicks or techniques, psychoanalysis is the only treatment modality grounded firmly in theory, and these theoretical tenets guide treatment, informing the work from beginning to end. No other clinicians can claim to use theory more precisely and productively in the service of patient care, growth and adjustment.

Symptoms are understood as serving important psychological functions whose meanings are best examined and understood before they are eliminated. As a result of careful inquiry, the subjective experience of self is reconfigured, becoming more authentic. Simultaneously, the quality of interpersonal relationships and of life in general begins to shift spontaneously. The behavioral repertoire becomes more flexible and less reactive. Life feels more meaningful and rewarding. Rather than simply reliving the past repetitiously, an increased capacity to learn from experience facilitates healthier behavioral choices.

Inside Out Journal is published by Dr. Mauri-Lynne Heller, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Psychoanalyst in private practice in the Newport Beach area of Southern California. Learn more about Mauri or contact the author.

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