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8) Psychological Therapies – Psychoanalysis

The therapies used within the psychodynamic approach are based upon the assumption that the patient isn’t aware of the repressed issues in their subconscious. The aim of the therapies is too remove these memories from the subconscious into the conscious, where they won’t cause problems anymore. This can be done in several ways:

Ink blot

The ink blot test was created by Rorschach. The patient will be asked to look at a blot of ink, and then say what they see. The therapist will then examine his answers, and come to a conclusion about what the problem might be. For example, if the patient sees signs of death, he or she might have repressed feelings about death.

Free association

This is where the patient will be asked to just talk about their life, without leaving any details out. The therapist will then infer from this data what might be causing the schizophrenia, in a similar way to the ink blot test.

Dream analysis

Freud said dreams were the “royal road to the subconscious”. He believed this because we don’t control what we dream about, so we can’t thing from our subconscious making their way into the dreams we have. A patient will be asked to keep a diary about their dreams, and explain them to a therapist. From this the therapist will attempt to work out what is being repressed in the subconscious.

All three of these methods rely on the therapist working out what is repressed in the subconscious. Once they have done this they will explain it to the patient. Freud believed that the realisation that these repressed thoughts were in your subconscious should be enough to symptoms of schizophrenia.

Evaluation of psychoanalysis

Gottdiener conducted a meta-analysis of 37 studies and found that overall psychoanalysis was an effective treatment of schizophrenia.

Also, the American Psychiatric Association recommends psychoanalysis, but only in conjunction with another therapy.

These are two strengths of psychoanalysis, but there are many weaknesses of this therapy. One key weakness is that the psychodynamic approach the therapy is based upon is quite invalid. For example, it is based upon abstract concepts such as the subconscious mind. This makes it hard to test, and therefore psychoanalysis is unreliable itself.

May (1968) found that patients treated purely with drugs responded better than those treated with drugs and psychoanalysis. This suggests that psychoanalysis could actually be damaged to aw schizophrenic.

All the techniques within psychoanalysis rely heavily on a well-trained therapist. This results in several problems. One problem is that it becomes a very expensive treatment, as the cost of one-to-on counselling will be very high. Also, the diagnosis of a patient depends entirely on the therapist opinion. This means that the result will often be subjective depending on what the therapist believes.


About Sam Cook

A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


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