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Freud Sofa

Psychoanalytic theory

Id, ego, and super-ego
Psychoanalytic interpretation
Psychoanalytic personality factors
Psychosexual development
Psychosocial development

Schools of thought

Freudian Psychoanalytic School
Analytical psychology
Ego psychology
Self psychologyLacanian
Neo-Freudian school
Neopsychoanalytic School
Object relations
The Independent Group
AttachmentEgo psychology


Sigmund FreudCarl Jung
Alfred AdlerAnna Freud
Karen HorneyJacques Lacan
Ronald FairbairnMelanie Klein
Harry Stack Sullivan
Erik EriksonNancy Chodorow

Important works

The Interpretation of Dreams
Four Fundamental Concepts
Beyond the Pleasure Principle


History of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalytic training

Modern psychoanalysis is a specific sub-discipline in the field of psychodynamic psychologies. It is a treatment for relieving mental and emotional distress. Its aim is to heal through the simple technique of verbal interaction between patient and therapist. Dr. Hyman Spotnitz is usually credited as the original theoretician and practitioner of the technique. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Still alive in NYC, Dr. Spotnitz began developing the ideas and techniques which grew into Modern Psychoanalysis in the 1940's, when he taught social workers to use talk therapy to resolve psychological disturbances which, he believed, had their genesis in early pre-verbal life.

The psychoanalytic form of treatment for mental and emotional troubles was first developed by Sigmund Freud in the early part of the 19th century. Later psychoanalysts expanded on Freud’s work and enlarged the range of problems that could be treated. Modern Psychoanalysis, as expressed by Dr. Spotnitz, has gone "beyond Freud," and addresses modern needs, since it “...has been reformulated on the basis of subsequent psychoanalytic investigation.” This assessment, and indeed the status of Modern Psychoanalysis itself as a school of practice, is not without controversy among practitioners of psychoanalysis; that controversy is beyond the scope of the present article.

Modern Psychoanalysis is presented as utilizing a wide range of interventions including ego reinforcement, emotional communication and resistance resolution. The theory of treatment in Modern Psychoanalysis considers most emotional, mental and personal achievement problems to be reversible through these techniques.

The psychoanalytic therapist does not usually give lectures or advice about how the patient ought to manage his or her life. Instead, the analyst prefers to help the patient understand why he or she is unable to solve problems and internal conflicts that might be preventing one from knowing what to do in life.

See Hyman Spotnitz for more information.

Theory of techniqueEdit

The Modern Psychoanalytic treatment approach emphasizes the development of the narcissistic transference in which the patient relates to the therapist as if he were part of his own mind, rather than a separate person. The theory is that most neuroses and severe mental illnesses originate in the preoedipal period, before the development of language. The transference that develops with these patients then is largely enacted nonverbally through behavior, symptoms, symbolic communications and, importantly, the transmission of feeling states, otherwise known as induced feelings. The narcissistic defense is considered central to most mental disturbances and is characterized by self-hate rather than self-love. Aggression is directed towards the self in order to protect the object. Treatment then emphasizes helping patients to better metabolize their aggressive drives, by gradually being able to express their aggression in treatment. Dr. Spotnitz, the originator of the theory, emphasized initially joining with the patient's resistance, rather than challenging, and using the countertransference feelings of the therapist to help understand the patient. His central focus on the objective, and hence clinically useful nature of the therapist's countertransference was later taken up by self psychology and intersubjective approaches to psychoanalysis. Also foreshadowing later developments in other schools, in Spotnitz's approach the analyst's interventions are primarily intended to provide an emotional-maturational communication to the patient, rather than to promote intellectual insight.

Modern Group Psychoanalysis

Dr. Spotnitz was also one of the first psychoanalysts to advocate the use of groups. His approach to group treatment, also originally developed with schizophrenic patients, emphasized the therapist's use of his or her feelings induced by the group, and joining and reflecting rather than directly challenging group resistances. Spotnitz's work in psychoanalytic group therapy and in modern psychoanalysis in general has been continued and furthered by Charles and Deborah Bershatsky, Lou Ormont, Leslie Rosenthal, Phyllis Meadow, Michael Brook and Bob Unger, among many others.

See Hyman Spotnitz for more information.

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