Theories In Action

Freud's laboratory did not consist of various apparatus like beakers, scales, or microscopes. Instead, his lab consisted of essentially one piece of furniture: the couch. Most who told their stories on his couch did so as if they were speaking to themselves, since Freud traditionally sat at the head of the couch, out of sight. Some say this therapeutic remoteness was necessary for objectivity; others claim it is evidence of his lack of warmth. Freud admitted to having less interest in treating patients and more passion for understanding the workings of the human personality. His patients were simply his subjects or the means by which to gather the data toward that end.

Despite the many critics Freud has garnered in the last several decades, he did create a number of important techniques that were repeatedly used with his patients and that were adopted by large numbers of followers in subsequent years. Traditional psychoanalysts still use some of these techniques in treatment, much in the same way Freud attempted them. Many others use modified versions that faintly resemble Freud's original work. The fact remains, however, that the discipline of psychology owes a large debt to this pioneer for how he challenged and contributed to our treatment of mental disorders.

The techniques of psychoanalytic therapy are designed to increase awareness, foster insights into the patient's behavior, and shed light on the meaning of one's symptoms. Following are some of the most important techniques that are associated with psychoanalysis.

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