The more you know

Freud’s theories

  • Freud is interested in studies on the human psyche.
  • The psychic process according to Freud rests on the neural system through which a charge of energy circulates in proportion to the quantity of stimuli that the subject receives.
  • Primary process: a motor action, a reflex in which psychic activity is identified that aims at the discharge that is unconscious.
  • Secondary process: psychic activity of the ego that binds and stores energy and introduces a delay between the stimulus and the satisfaction of arousal.
  • The psyche according to Freud is divided into three distinct provinces: the consciousness, the preconscious and the unconscious.
  • Conscious: part of the psyche linked through perception to the reality external to the subject. The conscious operates according to the reality principle (ie taking into account the costs and benefits of the immediate satisfaction to which the unconscious drive tends; this is linked to the primary psychic process).
  • Preconscious: part of the psyche that constitutes the antechamber of consciousness, that is, of those psychological contents of which the conscious ego can explicitly become the master at any time.
  • Unconscious: part of the psyche in which traumatic experiences that could be painful and therefore dangerous for the individual are rejected. From here such experiences can no longer resurface to the preconscious and to the conscious except in a dream form (dreams) or symptomatic (psychic pathologies such as neurosis).
  • The unconscious in turn is divided into: Es (the child instinctual part), I (the adult rational part) and the Superego (moral part from which the feelings of guilt arise).
  • I: a part of the unconscious that is open on one side to the external world, on the other to the internal one and its function is inhibitory and defensive (it removes from the preconscious images that could be traumatic and dangerous for the individual and rejects them into the unconscious so that they cannot resurface in consciousness).
  • Repression: how censorship in dreams (dream material) is a defense mechanism, of resistance (see above).
  • Therapeutic method: with this method Freud abandons hypnosis and asks the patient to consciously recall his own experience. In fact, hypnosis allowed easier re-enactments because it lowered the resistances of the ego, however it was unable to consciously regain its own experiences and therefore the archaic defense of repression remained active.
  • Neurosis: disease induced by psychic causes, rooted in the unresolved conflicts of the individual’s sexual development. It is divided into current neurosis (due to traumas of adulthood) and psychosis (disturbance of the relationship between the ego and external reality. Forms of neurosis are hysterias (phobias and somatizations) and obsessive neuroses (repetition of gestures, inhibitions in acting etc.).
  • Transference: process that describes how certain unconscious wishes, which date back to childhood, are actualized during the relationship between patient and analyst. It is related to free association.
  • Free association: the patient, during therapy, communicates thoughts to the psychoanalyst as they gradually emerge from her consciousness; during this phase we will have incomplete thoughts, memory gaps, inexplicable acts, denials which, being the result of censorship, of the resistances operated by the ego, will allow us to discover their pathological relationship with repressed experiences.
  • Free association is of central importance in the analysis of dreams.
  • Dream: acts as an expression of unconscious desires and needs, mainly of a sexual nature, but composed in a disguised form, compatible with the needs of consciousness and the ego’s defenses. Desires are expressed in dreams in representations that finally cross the threshold of consciousness, but only in a compromising way, which on the one hand fulfills the desire in a hallucinatory form, on the other it does not disturb the restful sleep of the body’s forces.
  • Latent content: it is unconscious, made up of the repressed desires.
  • Manifest content: it is incomplete, sometimes incomprehensible, due to the action of the censorship that the ego still exercises.
  • Through therapy it is possible to pass from latent to manifest content.


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