What is Psychoanalysis?

Sigmund Freud, the creator of psychoanalysis, defined it as the name:

    • Of a procedure for the investigation of mental processes which are almost inaccessible in any other way;
    • Of a method (based upon that investigation) for the treatment of neurotic disorders and;
    • Of a collection of psychological information obtained along those lines, which is gradually being accumulated into a new scientific discipline [‘Two Encyclopedia Articles’, 1923].

    This definition is still appropriate today, although as a treatment psychoanalysis is no longer confined to neurotic disorders; nowadays it also includes other disorders that contemporary psychiatric classifications have variously called ‘psychoses’, ‘developmental disorders’, ‘anxiety disorders’, ‘depressive disorders’, ‘sexual perversions’ and other forms of mental disturbance, as well as human conflicts and tragedies that do not fit exactly with psychiatric diagnostic categories. The therapeutic field of psychoanalysis has also been extended to the treatment of human beings of all ages who suffer from the most diverse conditions, including those that are typically associated with particular stages in life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, advanced age.

    Rather than the diagnostic categories as such, which are conceptual tools, psychoanalytic treatment is founded upon the work of exploration and analysis of the patient’s unconscious, which contains the representatives of those desires and forms of satisfaction that the patient rejects and of which he or she does not want to know, but which end up ruling his or her life in ways which are, as Freud points out in his definition, inaccessible to other forms of treatment and research into mental phenomena. In so far as those desires and modes of satisfaction remain under repression or some other form of psychical rejection, they undermine, and even cripple, the person’s efforts in his or her human relations and work. Psychoanalytic treatment is oriented by general principles and concerns problems that can be perceived in a great number of individuals; but it cannot be dispensed as a ‘standard’ clinical practice, since the workings and pathological effects of the unconscious are unique.

    The treatment respects and preserves the singularity of the patient: the patient’s situation cannot be reduced to any generalized abstraction or compared with the situation of any other patient. The unconscious is not only the cause of distressing and pathological mental products: it is also the source of creative endeavours and constructive human activities: the arts and scientific work, and all forms of social and cultural life that enrich human existence. A psychoanalytic treatment aims at facilitating the emergence and development of the creative capacity that all human beings have and which is thwarted by pathological processes and their combination with adverse, traumatic life situations. Psychoanalysis has also grown since Freud’s time in its applications to fields other than the clinical (although always retaining conceptual and practical links with the different forms of human suffering and their treatment).

    As a conceptual and methodological instrument, psychoanalysis is now firmly established in the work of social sciences, philosophy and the study of artistic creations. The training of psychoanalysts of the ACP involves supervised clinical experience and rigorous studies in psychoanalytic theory and practice and other relevant disciplines. But its most important component is the personal analysis of the psychoanalyst-to-be: a personal, intimate experience that enables the prospective analyst, as analysand, to learn from the unconscious and then work creatively with the unconscious in others.

    Purpose of the ACP

    • To regularly hold seminars, conferences and workshops, and promote ongoing research;
      • To publish and distribute psychoanalytic research;
        • To operate a Register of Practising Analysts;
          • To conduct training in psychoanalysis; and
            • To co-operate with similar organisations throughout the world.

            Governance of the ACP

            The current Committee of Management is:

            Silvia Rodríguez (President)

            Carmelo Scuderi (Secretary)

            Barbara Hübl (Treasurer)

            Julie-Anne Smith

            Veronica Sinclair

            Serena Smith

            Register of Practicing Analysts

            Inclusion in the ACP's register of practicing Analysts is pursued by members applying to the ACP Register Committee, and is dependent upon the Committee being satisfied that all components of a Psychoanalytic training have been adequately carried out, to the extent that the candidate can be recognised by the Centre as a registered practicing Analyst.

            Name Suburb State Telephone
            Lena Andary East Brunswick 3057 VIC 0417 533 536
            Dr Ofelia Brozky Bondi Junction 2022 NSW (02) 9389 2389
            Carmel Davis Northcote 3070 VIC 0402 123 349
            Dr Peter Ellingsen Carlton North 3054 VIC 0408 125 076
            Dr Esther Faye Northcote 3070 VIC 0408 733 738
            Dr Carmela Levy-Stokes St Kilda East 3183 VIC (03) 9527 1307
            Dr Belinda Mackie Brighton 3186 VIC 0413 309 886
            Dr Leonardo Rodríguez Carlton North 3054 VIC (03) 9349 3462
            Silvia Rodríguez
            Carlton North 3054
            (03) 9349 3451
            Dr Susan Schwartz
            Fitzroy North 3068
            0408 120 549
            Dr Carmelo Scuderi
            Carlton North 3054
            0438 281 789
            Dr Eleanor Sebel
            Woollahra 2025
            (02) 9327 3969
            Veronica Sinclair
            Carlton North 3054
            0438 182 818
            Dr Serena Smith
            Carlton North 3054
            0409 191 404


            The ACP invites applications for membership from those who demonstrate a sustained interest and participation in the Centre and Psychoanalysis. Members subscribe to the objects of the ACP Constitution and the Code of Professional Conduct. Applications, supported by two nominations, must be in writing and lodged with the Secretary of the ACP. People applying for membership are interviewed by members of the Committee of Management. Only members of the ACP are eligible to apply for inclusion on the List of Analysts In Training or for inscription on the ACP Register of Practising Analysts.

            Participation and Affiliation

            Anyone with an interest in the study of psychoanalysis is welcome to participate in the public activities of the Centre.


            The Centre’s Library is open to all ACP members and students.

              For further information contact: serena.smith@psychoanalysis.org.au

              Useful links

              International of Forums: School of Psychoanalysis of the Forums of the Lacanian Field (http://www.champlacanien.net/)

              Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (http://www.cfar.org.uk/)

              London Society of the NLS (http://www.londonsociety-nls.org.uk/)

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