The first century of modern psychotherapy began with Freud’s “discovery” of the unconscious and use of free association. We are at an auspicious time at the turn of the century in the field of psychotherapy; much has been achieved over the past century and many new developments are occurring. Although some believe that psychoanalysis has outlived its usefulness (Dumont, 1993), the discoveries of Freud and his followers have continued to spawn remarkable developments that have created an ever stronger amalgam of psychodynamic psychotherapy.
It is true that some aspects of psychoanalytic theory have not been empirically supported or clinically validated, most notable, the psychosexual theory of development and the view that wishes rather than trauma account for some forms of psychopathology. However, many constructs remain vital and central to present-day clinical practice (Magnavita, 1993b). Many of these constructs have evolved and continue to evolve as other clinicians/theorists have expanded, altered, and blended them, and as new breakthroughs in other disciplines have been made and incorporated.
For example, the incorporation of von Bertalanffy’s (1948) general systems theory has greatly expanded the range of psychodynamic conceptualization and treatment. The twentieth century saw various groundbreaking theoretical innovations.
Many of the cutting-edge theoretical and technical developments in the field today are presented in this volume. Schafer (1999), himself an analytic pioneer, comments: “In the second half of the 20th century, we have been witness to remarkable changes in psychoanalytic theory and practice” (p. 339). Prior to Freud’s discovery of free association, the use of hypnosis was the major technique for exploring and mapping the unconscious. With the advent of the technique of free association, a remarkable window into the unconscious process was opened. In this chapter, I review some of the essential developments and advances that have occurred in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy during the past century.
Now, the beginning of the twenty-first century, the field of psychoanalysis can be seen to be enormous and its influence on popular culture and lexicon widespread. This chapter refers to only a small fraction of the diversity of work that has evolved from Freud’s original conceptualization and approach to treatment.