The psychodynamic approach and therapies to psychopathology.

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  • Created by: Livvi
  • Created on: 05-06-11 18:47

Mental disorder results from psychological rather than physical causes

Freud believed that the origins of mental disorder lie in the unresolved conlficts of childhood which are unconscious. Medical illnesses are not the outcome of the physical disorder but all of these psychological conflicts.

Unresolved conflicts cause mental disorder

Conflicts between the id, ego and superego create anxiety. The ego protects itself with various defense mechanism (ego defenses). These defences can be the cause of disturbed behaviour if they are overused.

Early experiences cause mental disorder

In childhood the ego is not developed enough to deal with traumas and therefore they are repressed. For example, a child may experience the death of a parent early in life and repress associated feelings. Later in life, other losses may cause the individual to re-experience the earlier loss and can lead to depression. Previously unexpressed anger about the loss is directed inwards towards the self, causing depression.

Unconscious motivation cause mental disorder

Ego defences, such as repression and regression, exert pressure through unconsciously motivated behaviour. Freud proposed that the unconscious consists of memories and other information that are either very hard or almost impossible to bring into conscious awareness. The unconscious mind exerts a powerful effect on behaviour, leading  to distress.


Abstract concepts- abstract concepts such as the id,ego and superego are difficult to define and research. Because actions motivated by them operate primarily at an unconscious level, there is no way to know for certain that they are occurring. As a result, psycho-dynamic explanations have received limited empirical support and psycho-dynamic theorists have had to rely…


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