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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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
had a number of, mainly middleclass female, patients, who showed symptoms of paralysis that did
not match what he knew of the structuring and functioning of the nervous system. In 1855 Freud
went on a travelling fellowship to Paris where he worked with Jean Charcot, who specialised in the
study of hysteria, and its treatment with hypnosis. Freud dropped hypnosis as a method and used
Free Association and Dream Analysis.
Freud also worked with Dr. Josef Breuer, who developed the 'talking cure' which has become the
basis for modern psychoanalysis. Together they treated Anna O. who had many problems including
visual disturbance and paralysis in the absence of anything physical. She was diagnosed as being
hysterical and was griefstricken over the death of her father, and how she felt she treated him during
his illness.
Carl Jung was another psychologist that worked with Freud, but who left because he did not agree
with Freud's insistence that sex and incest lay at the root of all psychological problems. Jung went on
to develop his own branch of psychology (Analytical Psychology) that involved a 'collective
unconscious' and 'archetypes' which led Jung to explore Eastern and Western religions and many
forms of myths from different cultures.
The Psychodynamic Approach revolves around the idea that in our unconscious, different parts of
our personality are struggling for control. This Approach came before the Behavioural Approach,
and you should be able to see clearly the differences between the two approaches.
Development of the Psychodynamic Approach
The psychodynamic perspective includes all the theories in psychology that see human functioning
based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person, particularly unconscious between
the different structures of the personality. Freud's psychoanalysis was the original psychodynamic
theory, but the psychodynamic approach as a whole includes all theories that were based on his
ideas, e.g. Jung (1964), Adler (1927) and Erikson (1950) The words `psychodynamic' and
`psychoanalytic' are often confused. Remember that Freud's theories were psychoanalytic, whereas
the term `psychodynamic' refers to both his theories and those of his followers.
Freud's psychoanalysis is both a theory and a therapy. Sigmund Freud (writing between the 1890s
and the 1930s) developed a collection of theories which have formed the basis of the
psychodynamic approach to psychology. His theories are clinically derived i.e. based on what his
patients told him during therapy. The psychodynamic therapist would usually be treating the patient
for depression or anxiety related disorders.
The Psychodynamic Approach became very popular during the 1950s and 1960s, dominating the
work of psychotherapists and entering popular culture. Since this time it has continued to develop,
but takes a more interdisciplinary approach, combining aspects of physiological and cognitive
psychology in the treatment of inner conflicts and enabling selfawareness.

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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 fear of his father.
This approach regards personality as being something dynamic and focuses on what drives us to
behave in a particular way.…read more

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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, yet was more a philosopher than a psychologist. Nonetheless, he was one
of the earliest `psychologists', working to try and understand what was going on in the `mind'.…read more

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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
motivation and understanding of
the world
Genital The penis or vagina. `normal' adult
Heterosexual personality and
intercourse sexuality
These are the psychosexual stages we go through.…read more

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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 the stages, his adult personality will be healthy. If difficulties
are encountered in a specific stage, Freud believed that you would become fixated to this stage
which would affect your personality. e.g.…read more

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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 10 pictures shown in
order, half black and white, half colour. The pictures are ambiguous and whilst the subject being
tested examines the pictures, the therapist writes down everything they say or do.…read more

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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 three flaws:
First, Masson emphasised that the power of the analyst who was interpreting the patient's
thoughts and dreams could lead the patient to accept the interpretation.…read more

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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
qualitative data (e.g. the interviews and hypnosis) and quantitative data (e.g. psychometric tests).…read more

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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
Victorian Age suppressed sex therefore it may have been very relevant at the time. More
recent NeoPsychodynamic ideas focus more on the importance of the impact of society on
behaviour.…read more

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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.…read more


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