Psychotherapy and Freud Essay

Submitted By yurijanekim
Words: 994
Pages: 4

Avatar script, Unit 1A, Jenkins
The History of Psychotherapy

Hi, my name is Doctor Paul Jenkins and I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at National University. The history of psychology is one of my specialties, so I was chosen to talk to you about a topic in that field of study that may interest you. One of the most fascinating and misunderstood topics in psychology is psychotherapy. It has become such a common and pervasive method of psychological treatment in the modern world that we can easily forget that it has only been around for about a hundred years. Imagine a world where nobody ever goes to counseling or therapy and nobody talks about or jokes about therapy or therapists. That was our world up to the beginning of the twentieth century. So how did the method develop and why? First of all, it is important to note that just because there were no psychotherapists before the twentieth century, it did not mean people did not talk about their problems or seek help for psychological issues. In fact, the beginning of psychotherapy as a professional endeavor can be traced to the early attempts of doctors in insane asylums trying to calmly talk to their wards about what was bothering them. These efforts were part of a reform process that started in the eighteenth century and sought to treat patients with mental disorders more humanely. Those efforts dovetailed in the mid-nineteenth century with the work of a French physician named Jean Martin Charcot. He was fascinated with the work of traveling showmen who used a technique that came to be called hypnosis to entertain audiences. Dr. Charcot wondered if the hypnosis was real and if so, could its reputed power to increase the suggestibility of the person hypnotized be used to help psychiatric patients let go of their symptoms. He found it worked and put on professional demonstrations that were so popular that a Viennese physician named Dr. Sigmund Freud traveled to France to see them. Dr. Freud was a neurologist who had entered private practice and had patients with hysterical symptoms – those are physiological problems (such as paralysis of an arm) that are thought to be caused not by a medical disease but by the patient’s underlying psychological problems. Freud was impressed and brought Charcot’s hypnosis techniques back to Vienna with him and began using them with his patients. Freud soon learned that hypnosis had serious drawbacks, one of them being that the positive effects tended to be short-lived and his patient’s symptoms would soon return. In the meantime, Freud had a friend and fellow physician, Dr. Joseph Breuer who was experimenting with a patient with hysterical symptoms. He found that if he encouraged her to talk openly about her emotional problems, she would find relief from her symptoms. They called it “chimney sweeping”. Another development that was occurring at that time was that Freud was building a theory about how the mind works. He noticed that his patients had no conscious awareness of why they had their psychological symptoms, but under hypnosis many of them discovered long-forgotten memories of childhood trauma. Because of this, Freud surmised that the human mind has a level of functioning that is outside of our immediate awareness, and it seemed that helping a patient ‘retrieve’ information from the unconscious mind was helpful in relieving their symptoms. The weaving together of this different factors led to Freud develop the science and art of psychoanalysis. As his technique developed, Freud focused on unearthing unconscious material through various techniques, helping the patient integrate this knowledge in their conscious awareness, work through the emotional difficulties that had been unearthed, and thus transform their lives. At first, he did not even consider this a treatment, but rather an exploration to increase self-understanding. Together with his followers, however, he saw the