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The Psychodynamic approach to
The psychodynamic was suggested by Freud. Freud believed that the origins of mental
disorders lie in the unresolved conflicts of childhood which are unconscious. Freud was born in 1856
and died in 1939 so he lived towards the end of the Victorian era.
The Structure of behaviour:
Freud suggested that the personality is made up of three elements:
The id: this is the irrational part of the personality. It is present from birth, demands
immediate satisfaction and is ruled by the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle is an
innate drive to seek immediate satisfaction. An important part of this is the libido; this is
sexual energy, which is a main component of the instinctual of the id.
The ego: this is the conscious and rational part of the personality. It starts developing when
the infants are one year old, as a child interacts with constraints of reality. It is governed by
the reality principle; this is where the ego tries to balance the id and superego in the face of
demands in the real world.
The superego: this develops in the infant between the ages of three and six and is like our
conscience and sense of right and wrong. This is where the child internalises, meaning that
the child takes in the moral attitudes of the parent, which make up the child's superego.
If the ego fails to balance the demands of the id and superego, conflicts may emerge and may result
in a psychological disorder. Dominance of the id may lead to destructive tendencies, pleasurable acts
and inhibited acts. Dominance in the superego may lead to an individual not letting themselves
experience any pleasurable act, they become too worried and over-think.
In order to protect itself from anxiety (which is caused through conflict), the ego has to try and
maintain balance; to do this Freud called ego defence mechanisms. Here are a couple of examples:
1. Repression: threatening impulses are repressed into the unconscious. They do not
disappear but the individual becomes unaware of them. Repressed conflicts emerge as
symptoms of anxiety or other emotional disorders.
2. Displacement: this occurs when an unacceptable drive such as hatred is displaced from its
primary target to a more acceptable target. For example, hatred towards your mother may
be socially unacceptable so the child displaces it, maybe on to a sibling.
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Denial: this occurs when an individual refuses to accept a certain event. For instance a
surviving partner of a long, happy marriage may continue to live as if their husband or wife
were still alive.
A part of psychodynamic therapy is to break down these defences and reveal the underlying
conflicts. Defence mechanisms protect our unconscious selves from anxiety caused by unresolved
conflicts. If they are unsuccessful anxiety may reveal itself through clinical disorders such as phobias.…read more
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This is the stage lasts until the infant is 4 or 5 years old. This focuses on the genitals and gratification
comes through genital stimulation. This is a key stage in sexual development as gender differences
are noticed and psychosexual differences are noticed between sexes. An important feature of this
stage is the Oedipus complex. Freud developed this in relation to boys, suggesting that their sexual
curiosity and close sexual contact with the mother leads to affection and desire for the mother.…read more
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It is hard to prove or disprove the ideas in this theory, just like religion.…read more