The Minor in Psychoanalytic Studies was established in 2015 and is one of only about a dozen such programs in the entire country. Its purpose is to offer students the chance to learn about the history, theory, and practice of psychoanalysis, from its beginnings with Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century to the present. While many of Freud’s discoveries concerning the unconscious, the dynamic structure of the mind, the significance of dreams and fantasies, the lasting importance of early childhood experience, the complexities of sexuality and gender, the advantages and disadvantages of psychic defense mechanisms, and the treatment of various forms of mental illness remain foundational to the field, psychoanalysis has continued to grow and develop in many ways.
Diverse “schools” of psychoanalysis–including object relations, ego psychology, interpersonalism, Lacanianism, relationalism, intersubjectivism, and neur0psychoanalysis–have continued to emerge, often by radically revising or departing from some of Freud’s insights and ideas. These different “schools” of psychoanalysis also encompasses a wide variety of treatment methodologies, involving a range of techniques, that offer the possibility of substantial and lasting relief from illnesses such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, bi-polar illness, psychosis, and even schizophrenia, as well as from non-pathological barriers to vitality and flourishing.
Psychoanalysis is inherently interdisciplinary, and the courses in the Minor are sponsored by many different department and programs, including Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Comparative Literature, Economics, English, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Political Science, and Social Work. Many of these courses are team-taught, by a member of Penn’s standing faculty and a professional psychoanalyst.