The Psychodyanmic Approach - Model Essays:

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1. (a) Outline two assumptions of the psychodyanmic approach (4) - 5 mins:

The first assumption is that our behaviour is driven by the unconscious mind, so we are unaware of what motivates most of our behaviour. For example, a smoker may think that they smoke because they are nervous or to fit in, but the true reason is because of an oral fixation.

The second assumption is the importance of early childhood relationships to psychological health in adulthood. How sucessfully conflicts are resolved depend on the relationships we have with our parents. Furthermore, the relationships that we have with our parents are the basis for future relationships.

1. (b) Describe Freud's theory of personality development (8) - 10 mins:

Freud suggests that personality consists of the id, ego, and superego. The id is innate and dominates the first 15 months of life, operating according to the pleasure principle. This is the oral stage becuase the libido is focused on the mouth. If conflicts over weaning are not resolved, this may result in an oral fixation making them more likely to be alcoholic or develop eating disorders in adulthood.

After this comes the anal stage in which the ego develops - working on the reality principle. Failure to resolve conflicts over potty training may result in an anal fixation leading to problems with organisation. If the ego is weak, the id may dominate resulting in an antisocial personality or neurotice behaviour is the superego domiates. The defence mechanisms in the ego e.d. denial, repression protect the conscious mind from anxiety.

From 3 to about 5 years, is the phallic stage, when the child goes through either the Oedipus (boys) or Electra (girls) complex. By successfully resolving this conflict, the child internalises the values and moral standards of the same sex parent. This results in teh development of the superego (working on the anxiety principle). Failure to resolve conflicts during this stage may result in fixation, leading to characteristics such as vanity (narcissistic personality) or homosexuality.

Therefore, by the age of 5 or 6, the structure of personality is fully developed.

2. Describe how the psychodyanmic approach has been applied to either dream analysis or free association: (12) -

According to the psychodyanmic approach, mental health problems arise as a consequence of unconscious traumas and unresolved conflicts arising during childhood. However, Freud believed that we can assess these by interpreting dreams (the royal road to the unconscious). Therefore, the aim of dream analysis was to interpret the manifest content of a dream what the dreamer reports) in order to understand the 'latent content' - the real unconscious meaning of the dream.

Freud would ask his patients to keep a dream diary because he believed that even the smallest detail could be the key to understanding the dream. Because the true meaning is disguised by the ego defence mechanisms, the analyst needs to understand the 'dreamwork' (symbolism, displacement, condensation, etc) so that the dream can be interpreted. Objects…


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