Psychodynamic Approach AS Edexcel Psychology

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  • Created on: 24-02-13 11:36

Describe Freud's theory of peronality.

Freud believed that there are three aspects of the personality; the id, the ego and the superego. The personality develops within the first five years of an individuals life. The id is the first aspect to develop and is based on the pleasure principles. The ego is the second aspect to develop and is the rational part of the personality, balancing the needs of both the id and the superego. The superego is the next aspect to develop and is based on the morality principle. The ego balances the needs of the id and the superego and if this balance is lost,  the individual will develop problems and different personality traits. To create this balance between the three aspects, some thoughts need to be stopped form becoming conscious. This can be done through defence mechanisms.

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What is Freud's theory of psychosexual development

Freud said that there were five stages of psychosexual development, three of which occur within the first five years of an individuals life. At each stage, the libido is focused on one area and this where the individual wishes to gain pleasure from. If a stage is not resolved, a fixation can occur. Normal development ccan only occur is the libido is not fixated at a stage.
The oral stage occurs from 0-18mths. The libido is focused around the mouth and therefore, the individual wishes to gain pleasure from here. FIxation at this stage can occur if nursing is stopped early or if it is not carried out at all. Over-indulgence at this stage would cause the adult to be optimistic, admiring of others and gullible.
The anal stage occurs form 18mths-2.5yrs and is the stage at which the libido is focused around the anus and so the individual gains pleasure from activities such as going to the toilet. Toilet training provides pleasure either through retention or expulsion of faeces. If the parent is not strict and the child remains untrained, this leads to an anally expulsive adult meaning that they are messy, unorganised and reckles. If the child refuses to go, the adult will develop to be anally retentive which means that they are stubborn, careful and precise.
The phallic stage occurs between 3-5yrs. At this stage the libido is focused on the genital region. Boys experience the Oedipus complex and girls experience the electra complex. An adult fixated at the phallic stage would be self-assured, vain and proud.
The latency period is when there is no sex drive. Children form same-sex realtions and focus on school and sport.
The genital stage begins at puberty and is when the libido is focused on the genitals; we find sexual interest in the opposite sex and remain fixated in this. If there is enough energy in the libido, we are able to form 'normal' relations.

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What is Freud's explanation of gener development?

Freud believed that gender was learnt during the phallic stage at around three years old. The oedipus complex is key to gender development in boys and the electra complex to girls. The oedipus complex is when the boys natural love for his mother unconsciously turns sexual. The boy wishes to possess his mother and see's his father as an obstacle. The boy begins to notice gender differences and fears castration from his father. Castration fear is stronger than the wish to possess his mother and so the desire is repressed. To stop this happening, the ego decides to identidy with his father in order to be accepted. The boy begins to copy his fathre. Freud believed that females realise that they do not have a penis and experience penis envy. They unconsciously wish to possess their father and as a result, adopt the behaviours of their mother. This is how a girl learns femal behaviour.

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Evaluate Freud's explanation of gender development

A strength of Freud's explanation is that in his time, there were little explanations for mental disorders. Freud's theories of personality, psychosexual and gender development offered an explanation as to the reason behind mental disorders. In addition, Freud tried to be scientific and rigorous in his work to increase the reliability and validity of his conclusions. He is said to be less subjective than we once thought, showing that he did not think all symbols had meaning. Freud developed specific methods to test his theory which have led to the development of treatment for disorders such as depression through free association and therapy sessions. A weakness of Freud's explanation is that all of Freud's methods required subjective interpretation, this could involve experimenter variables such as bias in drawing conclusions. Freud used case studies which have low reliability due to not being able to replicate the situation again to test for similar results. Freud's concepts are not measurable. Science requires data to be measured so that someone can replicate a study to see if the same results can be obtained.

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Describe Freud's study of Little Hans.

Little Hans was treated as a case study including dream analysis, the information about him came from Hans' father who was a a firm believer and follower of Freud. Hans' parents documented his behaviour to be interpreted by Freud. Little Hans showed interest in his 'widdler' which his mother told him off for as he played with it. Hans dreamed about widdlers and wiping childrens bottoms. Freud suggested that when he watched his mother bath his younger sister, he wished that she would drown and Hans agreed with this suggestion, he also had a fear himself about drowning and Freud said that this represented his wish for his sister to die. He was visibly jealous of his sister and feared his own head going under the water. Hans also showed fear towards white horses that had black around their eyes and mouth after he and his mother had witnessed a horse fall down whilst drawing a bus. Hans said when playing with dolss that he had had babies with the doll representing his mother and that his dad was the grandfather.

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What is the case study analysis of Little Hans?

Hans had repressed his attraction to widdlers, the dream about wiping bottoms suggested that he was fixated in the anal stage of development. He wished his father would leave or die so that he could possess his mother- the same goes for his siter dorwning in the bath. Hans' fear of white horses represented his fear of his father as the black parts represented his fathers glasses and moustache. The dolss represented that Hans had resolved the Oedipus complex.

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Evaluate the case of Little Hans.

A strenght of the study is that the data is valud to an extent as the information was gained from Hans himself and only reported by his father. Freud also worked on information gained directly from Hans. Freud's findings led him to develop therapies and methods of psychoanalysis. This was helpful in the treatment of mental illnesses. A weakness of the study is that the parents were supporters of Frued's work and as a result, the reported information may have been biased. The interpretation of the data and the theme gained are open to subjectivity as a result, freud may have only looked for information that supported his theories. Freud's methods were not scientific as they cannot be measured. This reduces reliability sa it cannot be re-tested. In addtion, the results cannot be generalised as the stufy only used Hans, one child cannot be said to represent all development.

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Describe Axline's case study of Dibs.

Dibs was a five year old boy that would not speak or interact with others and could be aggressive and have violent outbursts. Axline wrote up a case study for Dibs and his play sessions. Dibs did not want to go home after school. His teachers reported only ever seeing his mum picking him up from school and never seeing his father.
Dibs showed that he was actually a gifted child who could read, spell and understand complex concepts. he used dolls and soldiers in the play room calling one of them 'papa' and burying him in the sand. He did not like locked rooms or walls and he was angry with his family. Axline went to Dibs' school and observed, interviewed and gained detailed recordings from his mother and teacher. His mother agreed that he could attend play therapy sessions once a week. Axline waited for Dibs to speak and would feedback what he was asking about in the hope that interpretation wouldnt affect natural behaviour. Axline also waited for Dibs' mother to come to her to speak rather than asking her before she was ready.

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What is the case study analysis of Dibs?

Dibs worked out his anger through play and seemed happier for this. He had an overcontrolling superego and this is why he was quiet. His ego was not able to manage the demands of his superego. His father used to lock him in rooms, explaining why he was scared of locked doors and rooms. Play therapy is obviously an effective method as Dibs portayed his feelings successfully. Using toys helps children to demonstrate their feelings and make them physical.

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Evaluate the case of Dibs.

Axline triangulated her data gathering from multiple sources e.g. teachers and parents. This increases the validity of her data. Her methodology is considered to be reliable as play therapy has been used successfully and the technique has been extensively developed. It has applications that can help sort childhood development issues or distress in children in a safe and ethical manner. The study cannot be generalised as the situation is unique, a factor if it being a case study. It may also be unreliable as the situation cannot be repeated.

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Describe the key issue.

The issue is whether such psychoanalysis is suitable for normal cluents, abnormal clients or those who have certain abnormalities only. Freud needed his patients to be able to have an insight into their problems, so they needed to be nomral enough to work with the analyst. Freud treated people with neuroses such as hysteria but not those with psychoses so he only looked at certain sorts of abnormality. Psychoanalysis is also sought out by normal people who want to have greater insight. However, concepts from the Psychodynamic approach such as the id and the unconscious are not measurable. Effectiveness of the therapy is not easily measured either, as it has to do with whether a patient has developed an analytic process, which is very hard to judge.

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