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Michels, R. (1994). Psychoanalysis Enters Its Second Century. Ann. Psychoanal., 22:37-45.

(1994). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 22:37-45

Psychoanalysis Enters Its Second Century

Robert Michels

One hundred years ago Breuer and Freud put the finishing touches on their “Preliminary Communication,” the paper that was completed in December 1892 and was to become the introductory chapter of Studies on Hysteria (1895). Only a few weeks earlier, Freud had begun what he called his “first full length analysis,” that of Elisabeth von R, the patient with whom he discovered resistance. Thus 1992 marks two distinct one-hundredth anniversaries, that of the clinical method of psychoanalysis, and that of the profession of psychoanalysis—the collaborative relationship of peers, in this instance Breuer and Freud, with their commitment to inquiry and to education as well as to clinical practice.

This paper will not address psychoanalysis as a theory of psychology (a model or set of models of the mind) or psychoanalysis as a method of inquiry (which may or may not be different from psychoanalysis as a method of treatment).

The clinical treatment known today as psychoanalysis is actually less than one hundred years old. Freud may have thought that he was conducting a full-length analysis, but by today's standards he was doing brief exploratory psychodynamic psychotherapy. It was only decades later with the shift of focus to the analysis of transference, resistance, defense, and character, along with the extended duration of the clinical process, that psychoanalysis proper and psychodynamic psychotherapy began to differentiate from their common origin. Freud's practice one hundred years ago was far more similar to contemporary psychotherapy.

Clinical psychoanalysis has continued to evolve in response to several stimuli. First, there have been changes in the type of person who seeks psychoanalytic treatment.

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