psychoanalysis, name given by Sigmund Freud to a system of interpretation and therapeutic treatment of psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis began after Freud studied (1885–86) with the French neurologist J. M. Charcot in Paris and became convinced that hysteria was caused not by organic symptoms in the nervous system but by emotional disturbance. Later, in collaboration with Viennese physician Josef Breuer, Freud wrote two papers on hysteria (1893, 1895) that were the precursors of his vast body of psychoanalytic theory. Freud used his psychoanalytic method primarily to treat clients suffering from a variety of mild mental disorders classified until recently as neuroses (see neurosis). Freud was joined by an increasing number of students and physicians, among whom were C. G. Jung and Alfred Adler. Both made significant contributions, but by 1913 ceased to be identified with the main body of psychoanalysts because of theoretical disagreements with Freud's strong emphasis on sexual motivation. Other analysts, including Melanie Klein and Jacques Lacan, also have contributed greatly to the field. Psychoanalysis and its theoretical underpinnings have had an enormous influence on modern psychology and psychiatry and in fields as diverse as literary theory, anthropology, and film criticism.
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