Psychoanalysis is a method of psychiatric treatment for mental disorders founded in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. It is based on theories and therapeutic techniques (such as free-association, dreams, sexual fantasies) used to study the unconscious mind. Freud retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought, though it has come to mean any general psychiatric treatment where a therapist works to analyze and “translate” a person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions back to them. This stands in contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, where the therapist lets the patient lead on a cooperative journey of self-exploration and healing.
Franz Gabriel Alexander has been described on more than one occasion as the father of psychosomatic medicine. For almost 25 years, he was director of the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis, where he trained many of the leading students of emotional disturbances and psychosomatic diseases.
Sigmund Freud's concepts have become a part of our psychological vocabulary: unconscious thoughts and feelings, conflict, the meaning of dreams, the sensuality of childhood. But psychoanalytic thinking has undergone an enormous expansion and transformation since Freud's death in 1939.