Psycodynamic approach, Freud personality theory WJEC PSY1

I teach A level psychology and these are notes made for my students. They cover everything need to know in detail including strengths, weaknesses, methodology and theory. Also has some practice questions. Hope it helps! Everything you need to know to achieve an A*

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  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 20-12-12 15:23

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Psychodynamic Approach

What is the Psychodynamic Approach?

The Psychodynamic Approach was founded by perhaps the most famous psychologist, living or
dead, Sigmund Freud (1856 1939). Interestingly, he was not a psychologist but a neurologist, and
understood how the nerves in the body worked. He became interested in psychology because he…

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Ideas behind the psychodynamic approach
The main assumption of the psychodynamic perspective is that all behaviour can be explained in
terms of the inner conflicts of the mind. For example, in the case study of Little Hans, Freud argued
that Little Hans' phobia of horses was caused by a displaced…

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Parts of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant >conflict with the
conscious part of the mind (the ego).

Personality is shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in
childhood (during psychosexual development).

Freud's Theory of Psychosexual Development

Freud was a physiologist,…

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Anal The anus, withholding, Potty training Messiness and
expelling and playing generosity or
with faeces obsessiveness, tidiness
and meanness

Phallic The penis or clitoris. The Oedipus and Vanity and
Masturbation ekektra complexes. selfcentredness
Superego and gender anxiety and selfdoubt
identity are created

Latent Little or no sexual Acquiring knowledge

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Stage 5 (Genital) (Puberty to 18 years)
The libido focuses once again on the genitals but this time is more mature. For individuals who can
progress through the last stage without fixating, they will become mature and be able to love and be

If a child progresses normally through…

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Projective Tests

A projective test is a diagnostic test which designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli.

Rorschach Ink Blot Test

Perhaps the most famous projective test, which takes a psychodynamic approach, is the Rorschach
Inkblot Test. This test was developed by Rorschach in 1921 and consists of…

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· Psychodynamic conflict: there are 3 parts to the personality (id, ego, superego) and these are
in conflict with the ego suffering the anxiety of this conflict. Overuse of ego defence
mechanisms can lead to mental illness.

Criticisms of Freuds studies

Masson (1989) criticised Freud's work and thought there were…

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of his phobia and Thigpen and Cleckley were providing psychotherapeutic help to Eve White who
was diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality disorder.
Freud's study of Little Hans consisted of collecting lots of qualitative data gathered from
conversations between Little Hans and his father, whereas Thigpen and Cleckley collected

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By looking in depth at the history of individuals rather than researching with a vast number of
participants, Freud could collate a great deal of information about his patients and could
understand their problems very well.

Psychodynamics has been scrutinised for placing too much emphasis on sex, but the

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The research is correlative, i.e. there are two variables, childhood experiences and adult
personality, and there is no certainty how one causes the other. Some of the core ideas,
such as that boys fall in love with their mothers (Oedipus complex) still haven't been proved.

Freud could be very unclear…


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