Psychology - Psychodynamic - Summary

  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 05-05-16 15:31

Psychodynamic approach - Assumptions

Tripartite personality

  • Id (pleasure principle), ego (reality principle), superego (conscience and ideal self).

Levels of consciousness 

  • Conscious, preconscious and unconscious mind. Unconscious is related to ego defences, e.g. repression, displacement.

Early childhood 

  • Young children greatly affected by anxiety, therefore ego defence act. Psychosexual stages have great influence.
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Psychodynamic approach - Personality development

Core of personality

  • Id, ego, superego managed by strength of ego.

Psychosexual stages 

  • Oral, anal, phallic (oedipus conflict or penis envy), latent, genital stages.

Personality types

  • Oral aggressive or recepetive, anal retentive or expulsive, phallic and genital characters.

Ego defences

  • May lead to mental disorders
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Psychodynamic approach - Dream analysis

Primary-process thought

  • Dreams are expression of id thoghts (irrational, instinct-driven) that are unacceptable to the conscious mind.

Wish fulfilment

  • Dreams are unconscious fulfilment of wishes denied by the conscious mind.


  • Latent content transformed to manifest through condensation, displacement, representation, symbolism and secondary elaboration.
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Psychodynamic approach - Strengths and weaknesses


  • Nature and nurture - an interactionist approach.
  • Usefulness - importance placed on childhood, value as a therapy and explanations of behaviour.
  • Reflects complexity of human behaviour - reductionism prevents true understanding.


  • Reductionist approach - behaviour simplified to mechanics of id, ego, superego and importance of childhood.
  • Determinist approach - behaviour determined  innate forces and childhood.
  • Cannot be proved wrong - a 'good' theory should be falsifiable.
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Psychodynamic approach - Methodology

An idiographic approach observing one case in detail

  • Strengths: true insight because reater time spent with participant, rich qualitative data, emphasises uniquesness of individuals.
  • Weaknesses: lacks generalisability, subjective nterpretations, unrepresentative sample.

Clinical interview 

Interviewer starts with fixed questions and then adapts to responses from patient.

  • Strengths: facilitates patient/interviewer relationship, therapist can acknowldge non-verbal bahviour, qualitative data.
  • Weaknesses: lacks generalisability because qualitative data is hard to summarise, interviewer bias leads to subjective findings
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