views updated May 08 2018


Self-analysis consists of interpreting one's own preconscious and unconscious material (such as dreams, parapraxes, memories, fleeting thoughts, and intense emotions).

Psychoanalysis is to a great extent a result of Freud's self-analysis between 1895 and 1902. The analysis of his own dreams brought him confirmation of what he found in the dreams of his patients and, reciprocally, he better understood their dreams on the basis of his own. Freud's self-analysis only became systematic after the death of his father in October 1896, and that it complemented and sustained his project of writing a book on the interpretation of dreams.

The method of self-analysis developed by Freud included four steps: writing down the material obtained; breaking it up into sequences; free associating on each of the sequences; and finally, forging links based on the associations produced, these links thus taking on an interpretive significance.

In his first conception of psychoanalytic training, Freud assumed that what was needed was a preliminary experience of self-analysis based on his model. Later, he took the position that the experience of a personal analysis should be required of future analysts. The risk of self-analysis is that it favors narcissistic self-satisfaction or obsessional rumination. Self-analysis could never be a purely solitary mental activity: Freud developed it in the course of a scientific, emotional, and fantasy exchange with his friend Wilhelm Fliess from Berlin. An active self-analysis takes place within the context of interrelations (with family or patients, for example). Furthermore it presupposes a subjective commitment to remain in analysis despite the development of personal crises.

Self-analysis can be fruitful if it prolongs the psychoanalytic work of which it is an echo. The main difficulty is the neglect of transference/counter-transference relationships. One solution to this problem might be an introjection of the image of the analyst as an ideal object with whom an interior dialogue may then be pursued. This is probably what occurred in the case of Samuel Beckett after the interruption of his analysis with Wilfred Bion. His subsequent novels Mercier and Camier, Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable may thus constitute fictional sessions with a fictional analyst.

Didier Anzieu

See also: "Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis, A"; Freud's Self-Analysis ; Interpretation of Dreams, The ; Introspection; Jung, Carl Gustav.


Anzieu, Didier. (1986). Freud 's self-analysis (Peter Graham, Trans.). Madison, CT: International Universities Press. (Original work published 1975)

Barron, James W., et al. (1993). Self-analysis. Hillsdale, NJ, and London: The Analytic Press.


views updated May 11 2018

self-a·nal·y·sis • n. the analysis of oneself, in particular one's motives and character.DERIVATIVES: self-an·a·lyz·ing adj.