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Freud's theory of unconscious conflict linked to anxiety symptoms in new brain research

• byUniversity of Michigan Health System
 Today at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, a University of Michigan professor who has spent decades applying to the study of psychoanalysis will present new data supporting a causal link between the psychoanalytic concept known as unconscious conflict, and the conscious symptoms experienced by people with such as .

Howard Shevrin, Ph.D., emeritus professor of psychology in the U-M Medical School's Department of Psychiatry, will present data from experiments performed in U-M's Ormond and Hazel Hunt Laboratory.

The research involved 11 people with anxiety disorders who each received a series of psychoanalytically oriented diagnostic sessions conducted by a psychoanalyst.

From these interviews the psychoanalysts inferred what underlying unconscious conflict might be causing the person's anxiety disorder. Words capturing the nature of the unconscious conflict were then selected from the interviews and used as in the laboratory. They also selected words related to each patient's experience of anxiety disorder symptoms. Although these words differed from patient to patient, results showed that they functioned in the same way.

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