As proposed by Freud, classical psychoanalysis is a detailed and comprehensive theory, developed in the early 1900s, of the totality of human nature. Many of Freud' s ideas are out of date; however , contemporary psychoanalyst Drew Westen (1998) argues that they should be out of date; after all, Freud died in 1939 and "he has been slow to undertake further revisions" (p. 333) of his theory . Westen goes on humorously to note that "Freud, like Elvis, has been dead for a number of years but continues to be cited with some regularity" (p. 333). Whereas many of Freud's ideas have not stood the test of time, others have and have been incorporated into a contemporary version of psychoanalysis. Today, psychoanalysis is probably best thought of as a theory containing ideas variously inspired by Sigmund Freud but modified an advanced by others.
Westen (e.g., 1990, 1998) is one of the most active proponents of contemporary psychoanalysis. Writing on the scientific legacy of Freud, Westen notes that contemporary psychoanalysts no longer write much about ids, superegos, and repressed sexuality; nor do they liken treatment to an archaeological expedition in search of forgotten memories. Instead, most contemporary psychoanalysts focus their attention on childhood relationships and adult conflicts with others, such as di ficulties becomin intimate or readily becoming intimate with the wrong kinds of persons (Greenber g & Mitchell, 1983). Westen (1998) defines contemporary psychoanalysis as being base on the following five postulates
1. The unconscious still plays a lar ge role in life, although it may not be the ubiquitous influence that Freud held it was
2. Behavior often reflects compromises in conflicts between mental processe such as emotions, motivations, and thoughts.
3. Childhood plays an important part in personality development, particularly in terms of shaping adult relationship styles.
4. Mental representations of the self and relationships guide our interactions with others.
5. Personality development involves not just regulating sexual and aggressive feelings but also moving from an immature, socially dependent way of relating to others to a mature, independent relationship style.
This neo-analytic viewpoint has wider currency and better empirical support, in some cases, than Freud's original ideas. To start our coverage of contemporary issues in psychoanalysis, we will begin with a discussion of repression and memory .
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