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Uncommon Ideas for Therapists

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Psychotherapy - Part 1

Development - Part 2

Sigmund Freud - Part 3

Client Centred - Part 4

Insight Therapy - Part 5

Solution Focused - Part 6

Psychological Problems - Part 7

Research - Part 8

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The Development of Psychotherapy In The West

The so-called 'Father of Western Psychotherapy' was Franz Mesmer, an 18th century Austrian physician who pioneered hypnotherapy as a cure for psychosomatic problems and other disorders of the mind. Whilst Mesmer's treatments and techniques were often very successful, his rather over-mystical rationale as to why they were effective tainted perceptions of hypnosis somewhat. He spoke of 'animal magnetism' and 'universal fluid', which were at odds with the rise of 'respectable' science during the eighteenth century.

Psychotherapy goes Freudian

Sigmund Freud is perhaps the most famous promulgator of psychological theory in more recent times. His way of understanding the mind is called psychoanalytic and until recently his ideas strongly influenced how people thought psychotherapy should be carried out.

Freud started off using hypnosis but was very eager to pioneer his own approach. He began his career by publishing a paper on cocaine as a 'cure all'. Freud asserted that cocaine could cure depression, gastric catarrh, indigestion, severe vomiting and morphine addiction, (Freud believed cocaine it self to be non-addictive). He commented on the 'gorgeous excitement' that animals displayed after being injected with the 'magical substance'.

After realising that cocaine had shortcomings, Freud then tried to establish the idea that nasal surgery might be an effective treatment for 'hysterical symptoms' and 'masturbatory symptoms' but after the near death of a female client who had been operated on by a friend of his, he changed his approach.

Unconscious Understandings

Freud believed that much of our behaviour is unconsciously motivated which on the face of it seems a reasonable assertion. However none of his theories were based on any kind of research so psychoanalysis cannot really be called a 'science' as it has sometimes been cited. For example there is no evidence that Freud himself ever helped anybody therapeutically or that psychoanalysis is at all effective in the treatment of psychological problems.

Freud proposed arbitrary divisions of the mind into ego, superego and id. He felt that infants pass through oral, anal and phallic stages and that one of these stages could become 'stuck' with dire consequences for the unfortunate individual who would have to then undergo very long term and expensive psychoanalysis.

He believed that little boys want to kill their fathers and have sex with their mothers (Oedipus Complex) and that they fear being found out and having their penises cut off (Castration Complex) He changed and modified his ideas so much that a study of his theories can be a little confusing. His ideas about the purpose of dreaming is naive and inconclusive compared to modern understandings. (see Joe Griffin's ' Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane or can drive us mad)

(In fact according to international guidelines for the treatment of depression, psychoanalysis is contraindicated as a treatment method.(1) )

Next, Sigmund Freud

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