These approaches hold that humans have a conscious and an unconscious mind. Oftentimes, people struggle to acknowledge aspects of themselves that are not desirable. For instance, admitting that one's behavior is driven by feelings of envy or anger can be hard to admit. People are told that negative emotions are shameful and that they shouldn't experience them. As a result, these emotions are trapped in the unconscious mind and people may project them onto their relationships with themselves, others, and the world.

Feeling negative emotions is normal. These emotions have an important social and biological role in the human psyche. When society pathologizes these difficult emotions, people don't have the opportunity to process them in a healthy and constructive way. Then, they can become more aggressive and self-destructive. They may also struggle to acknowledge parts of themselves that contain talents, virtues, values, and vitality.

Carl Jung, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and founder of analytical psychology, believed that our shadow or dark side is composed of ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. This approach facilitates clients to explore their "dark sides" and find ways to transform parts of themselves that cause chronic feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem into creativity and purpose.

Sigmund Freud was a neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis. He taught defense mechanisms, repetition-compulsion, fixations, and many other human processes. This approach allows clients to understand chronic patterns of behaviors that can feel out of control and driven by external forces. Clients can gain an understanding of why they repeat certain situations despite painful consequences or why it is so difficult to eliminate certain chronic undesirable behaviors. Sometimes, people repeat the same relationship patterns and wonder why they feel attracted to certain people. The root of trauma re-enactment involves unconsciously recreating early trauma.

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