Psychodynamic approach

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Relationship formation

The psychodynamic approach would emphasise the importance of forming healthy, early relationships, in order to be able to achieve the same later on in life. (If you do this your child will turn out like this).

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Childhood experiences (psychosexual development)

Different stages of psychosexual development and use idea of fixation to explain the nature of relationships in adulthood i.e over indulgence=unhealthy dependency

During phallic stage the superego, conscience and ego-ideal are developing, and fixation at this stage will result in an adult who is not capable of loving another person and entering into a relationship.

If this stage is successful then it will affect the later genital stage of development. (i.e. Oedipus complex (boys) needs to be resolved. In the phallic stage a young boy comes to desire his mum and regard his father as a rival, wishing the father was dead creates anxiety. It’s reloved when the boys comes to identify his dad and the resolution allows the boy, during genital stage, to develop normal and healthy friendships and heterosexual relationships. However, if the Oedipus complex is not successfully resolved, problems can occur- homosexuality).


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Defence mechanisms

They affect our overall personality and will inevitably affect our relationships.

Forming a relationship in adulthood may bring unpleasant emotions from the past so people may use ego defences to help them avoid anxiety.

For example:

A person who is in denial about their sexuality might try and form relationships which are not inline with their true feelings, resulting to the relationships being dysfunctional and breaking down.

Those who are being dishonest in a relationship (affairs) may deal with their guilt through rationalisation- ‘they deserve it as they don't pay me attention’).

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Example: parent-child relationships

Give an example explaining the formation of parent-child relationships

John Bowlby's study: 44 juvenile thieves.

  • Formed view that early unhealthy experiences shaped the behaviour of some children- affectionless character.

  • Found most of these affectionless thieves had experienced prolonged early separations from their mothers.

  • Maternal deprivation hypothesis (view that the ability to form meaningful social relationships in adulthood was dependent on a close, warm and continuous relationship with the mother (figure) in the first few years of one’s life.

  • Since this relationship acts as the prototype for all future relationships, its disruption would impair the persona’s ability to relate to others.


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