Psychoanalysis is a set of theories related to the study of the unconscious mind. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, established the disciplines in the early 1890s.
You must have seen some cartoons like the picture above: a character with a devilish incarnation of him or herself on the shoulder, and an angelic one on the other. According to psychoanalysis, although we can’t see those two little incarnations on our shoulder, we have them in our mind.
Central idea of psychoanalysis is that lots of human desires are beneath the level of conscious awareness. Those desires just spilling over as a neurotic tic occasionally. Also, sex plays a big role in this theory. We tend to deny some of our unacceptable desires with the repression mechanism. Freud believed a common source of psychic conflict comes from sexual fantasies in childhood. The most infamous example is the Oedipus complex, which I will explain in my next weeks’ post.
Critiques points that what psychoanalysis claims are untestable. But there are examples in today’s research showing that repression mechanism do exist.