The praxis of Psychoanalysis, which Sigmund Freud began in Vienna, was later developed by psychoanalysts from all over the world. Some of those who work from a psychoanalytic orientation identify themselves as Lacanian, after the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981).

In psychoanalytic theory, each person (usually termed a ‘subject’) has thoughts, motivations, and desires that are barred from conscious awareness, which is to say, they are unconscious. There is no means of direct access to the Unconscious. Instead, psychoanalytic therapy deals with the subject’s language. Where language fails – and, at some point, it always fails – the Unconscious joins in the conversations by other means, such as dreams, slips of the tongue, bungled actions, and, particularly, symptoms.

A psychoanalytic treatment offers the patient (usually termed an analysand) an opportunity to speak freely with minimal direction in terms of content. A professional, considered trained in and familiar with the formations of the Unconscious directs the treatment. The analysand is encouraged to explore how their enjoyment, desire and fantasy are linked to the formations of the Unconscious and their symptom.

The length of time involved for an effective psychoanalytic treatment is dependent on the subject but as Freud said in his paper “On Beginning the Treatment” it always takes longer than one expects.