The psychodynamic approach

  • The psychodynamic approach:
  • AO1:
  • Key assumptions of the psychodynamic approach:
  • Freud suggested that most of our mind is made up of the unconscious: a vast storehouse of biological drives and instincts that has a significant influence on out behaour and personality. Freud's psychoanalytic theory is an example of the psychodynamic approach. He suggested that the mind is made up of the conscious - what we are aware of, pre-conscious - memories and thoughts we aren't currently aware of but can be accessed during dreams or 'slips of the tongue' (Freudian slips) and the unconscious - we are unaware of the contents of the unconscious. 
  • The structure of the personality:
  • Freud saw the personality as having 3 parts:
  • The ID - the primitive part of our personality. It operates on the pleasure principle. Only the Id is present at birth, and throughout life the id is selfish and demands instant gratification. 
  • The Ego - works on the reality principle and is the mediator between the id and the superego. The ego develops at around the age of 2 and its role is to reduce the conflict between the 2 other parts of the personality. It does this by employing a number of defense mechanisms. 
  • The Superego - Formed at the end of the phallic stage - around 5. It is our internalised sense of right and wrong, based on the morality principle. It punishes the ego for wrong-doing. 
  • Psychosexual stages:
  • Freud claimed that child development occurred in 5 stages. Each stage is marked by a different conflict that the child must resolve before moving on to the next. Any conflict that is unresolved leads to fixation where the child becomes 'stuck' and carries behaviours…


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