Psychoanalysis brings together a collection of theories, going back to the foundational work of Sigmund Freud in the late nineteenth century. A measure of Freud’s legacy is that the idea of the unconscious is now mainstream, though this was a revolutionary discovery in Freud’s time.
Other key thinkers include Jung, who encouraged us to look at myth, spirituality and creativity and introduced the idea of the “collective unconscious”, Bion, who encouraged us to think in another way about groups and to be particularly attentive to the “here and now” of the session, and Lacan, who encouraged us to look closely at language, which shapes how we think and speak about ourselves.
Psychoanalysis is sometimes thought of as paying lots of attention to childhood and to sex. Those things are important, because of their influence on how we are today, but understandings usually change in the course of the work. What matters is most what is going on in the present — not least in the present tense of our work together — this can also include aspects of people’s spirituality and creativity, and the stories we use to make sense of ourselves.