The Psychodynamic Approach

A summary of the main assumptions, methods, origin, treatments, and practical applications

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  • Created on: 01-12-13 11:30
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Psychodynamic approaches.
Our behaviour and feelings are powerfully affected by unconscious motives, therefore all
behaviour is determined.
Personality is made up of three parts (i.e. tripartite). The id, ego and super-ego.
Adult behaviour and feelings are rooted in childhood experiences.
Behaviour is motivated by two instinctual drives: Eros (the sex drive & life instinct) and
Thanatos (the aggressive drive & death instinct). Both these drives come from the "id".
Parts of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant conflict with the
conscious part of the mind (the ego).
The psychologists involved used many case studies.
Dream analysis was carried out on the studies.
Projective Tests- a type of personality test designed to allow a person to reveal hidden
Key psychologists- Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, Alfred Adler.
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic approach to
Methods of treatment
It is used to deal with patients chronic life problems.
Therapist Neutrality- where the therapist does not tell the patient how to solve the problem
or offer moral guidance allowing the patient to work out their own problems based on
revelations whilst talking to the therapist.
Free association- when the patients talk about whatever comes to mind, uncensored and lets
memories flow to reach regression.
Transference- Transference is the name that psychoanalysts use for the patient's repetition
of childlike ways of relating that were learned in early life. If the therapeutic alliance has
been well established, the patient will begin to transfer thoughts and feelings connected
with siblings, parents, or other influential figures to the therapist. Discussing the transference
helps the patient gain insight into the ways in which he or she misreads or misperceives other
people in present life
Interpretation- the analyst stays as silent as possible however, the analyst offers judiciously
timed interpretations.
Working through- "Working through" occupies most of the work in psychoanalytic treatment
after the transference has been formed and the patient has begun to acquire insights into his
or her problems. Working through is a process in which the new awareness is repeatedly
tested and experimentally appplied in other areas of the patient's life.
Practical Applications
Little Hans was a 5-year-old boy with a phobia of horses. Like all clinical case studies, the
primary aim was to treat the phobia. When Hans was almost 5, Hans' father wrote to Freud
explaining his concerns about Hans. He described the main problem as follows: `He is afraid a
horse will bite him in the street, and this fear seems somehow connected with his having

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Freud saw Hans' phobia as an expression of the Oedipus
complex. Horses, particularly horses with black harnesses, symbolized his father. Horses
were particularly suitable father-symbols because of their large penises. The fear began as
an Oedipal conflict was developing around Hans being allowed in the parents' bed. Freud
saw the Oedipus complex resolved as Hans fantasized himself with a big penis like his
father's and married to his mother with his father present in the role of grandfather.…read more


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