This article is from the Psychology FAQ, by Rolf Marvin Bøe Lindgren firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
In his original theory of the neuroses, Sigmund Freud drew heavily on
his tutor Jean-Martin Charcot from the Salpétrière Hospital in Paris,
and Charcot's student, Pierre Janet.
Freud came to use hypnosis as the method of choice against hysteria in
his first years, as he had learned in Paris. Disappointed with the
results, in particular, in reppearences of the symptoms in his
clients, he introduced the method of free association and gradually
turned away from biological explanations of the neuroses.
Freud had his theoretical background from the psychodynamic schools of
psychology and psychiatry. Psychodynamicists base much of their ideas
about both normal and pathological mental functioning on the notion of
According to Freud, neuroses are manifestations or symptoms of
anxiety-producing unconscious matter. Some thoughts are too painful to
bear, but still they must find some expression. The psychoanalytic
method of curing neuroses, then, was introduced as an attempt to
unravel the intrapsychic conflict. The ``Royal Road'' to the
unconscious, where the causes of neuroses are buried, according to
Freud, was the interpretation of dreams.
The existence of the unconscious has been scientifically demonstrated
- we do have thoughts, emotions and ideas of which we are unaware but
which nevertheless affect our behavior and our conscious thoughts and
ideas. The existence of an unconscious in the psychodynamic sense has
been much more difficult to demonstrate.
In the United States and also in Europe, psychoanalysis gained a
strong foothold relatively fast. In the USA, psychoanalysis replaced
the Emmanuel movement as the most common treatment of nervous
disorders upon the first American tour of Freud and Jung in 1909 .