Edelson, Marshall Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:December 2020
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- Psychoanalytic theory
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A psychological theory; a form of psychotherapy, especially for the treatment of neurotic, character, or personality disorders; and a method for investigating psychological phenomena. Psychoanalysis is a discipline in psychology that investigates the relation of conscious and unconscious psychological processes. It encompasses both theoretical and therapeutic aspects. Historically, psychoanalysis was created and developed by Sigmund Freud (Fig. 1), who presented his method, clinical observations, and theory in The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and other major works, including The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), as well as in many of his case studies. In general, the case-study method is characteristic of psychoanalytic research. The arguments that can be used in case studies are analogy (the use of familiar or homely models in which postulated causes and mechanisms can be shown to exist); consilience (the convergence of inferences from different kinds of information on a common cause); and abduction (inference to the best explanation). See also: Brain; Mental disorders; Personality theory; Psychology; Psychotherapy
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