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The Psychodynamic Approach


2. The importance of childhood experiences. The structure of the mind ... the unconscious (or subconscious). The conscious mind 'All we are aware of' ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Psychodynamic Approach

The Psychodynamic Approach
  • Key assumptions
  • 1. The importance of the unconscious mind
  • 2. The importance of childhood experiences

The structure of the mind
  • Freud suggested that we have three parts to our
  • the conscious
  • the pre-conscious
  • the unconscious (or subconscious).

The conscious mind
  • All we are aware of
  • What we are thinking about that we are aware of
  • Freud believed that we cannot know why we do

The pre-conscious mind
  • What we can be aware of
  • Material that will become conscious to us once we
    are aware of it
  • Thoughts that we can access memories, feelings

The unconscious mind
  • What we cannot be aware of
  • Not accessible to us
  • Contains inner drives
  • All conflicts take place here and must be released

  • The part of the mind that acts like the child in
  • Driven by instincts
  • Seeks satisfaction with no care as to whether it
    is appropriate (imagine a spoiled child)
  • Freud called it the pleasure principle
  • I want..

  • This is the part of the mind that acts like the
    caring parent figure
  • Tries to satisfy the needs of the id within the
    limitations of what is possible
  • Defends the id (the inner child) by using defence
  • Freud called it the reality principle
  • I cant..

  • This is the part of the mind that acts like the
    authoritarian adult in us (voice of
  • Pressures the ego to control the id in line with
    morals and rules
  • Consists of the egoideal what we wish we were
  • Part of mind where we set standards
  • But also gives us pride and guilt
  • I shouldnt.

Child Development
  • Babies begin life dominated by the ID
  • i.e. seek immediate gratification (scream to be
  • Ego develops through contact with the environment
    and the restrictions put on the child (have to
    wait until later)
  • Superego develops as a result of the
    internalisation of parental values (should be
    considerate to mother)

Defence mechanisms
  • Conflict between the id, ego and superego lead to
  • Defence mechanisms are coping mechanisms which
    allow id impulses to be expressed in ways
    acceptable to the ego and reduce anxiety.
  • They are often quite effective, especially in the
    short term.

Defence mechanisms
  • Denial not accepting truth
  • Sublimation e.g. exercise
  • Regression e.g. sucking thumb
  • Displacement e.g. kicking wall
  • Explain one of these to show how our hidden
    desires of the ID are disguised by the EGO

The importance of early childhood influences
  • From studying his patients, Freud became
    convinced that events from the past, often from
    early childhood, affect the personality of the
  • You could explain how the id, ego and superego
    develop through the early years of life

THEORY Freuds Personality TheoryPsychosexual
  • As babies grow older, the sexual drive (or the
    pleasure seeking drive) becomes focused on
    different areas of the body.

The oral stage
  • Birth to around one year
  • The source of pleasure is the mouth.
  • Two sub-stages
  • Oral receptive sucking, swallowing
  • Oral aggressive biting, chewing

The anal stage
  • From around 1 to 3 years
  • Focus is on excretion and urination
  • Two sub stages
  • the expulsion sub-stage pleasure is gained from
    doing a poo
  • the retention sub-stage pleasure is gained from
    holding it in

Phallic stage 3-5 yearsBoys - Oedipus complex
  • Boy notices that he is different to mother and
    same as father
  • Wants attention from mother
  • Wishes his father dead
  • Thinks father knows this and will punish him by
    castrating him castration anxiety
  • To please the father he models himself on the
    father and becomes male

Girls - Electra complex
  • Girl notices that she does not have a penis
    penis envy (penis power)
  • Blames mother for not giving her a penis (mother
    created her)
  • Hates mother
  • Feels guilt because she loves mother
  • Models herself on the mother to try and please
    her and becomes female

Latency and genital stage
  • Latency From 5 to puberty children turn away
    from sexuality and focus more on social
    interaction and intellectual development instead.
  • Genital at puberty the child focuses on his or
    her genitals as a source of pleasure and is
    interested in the opposite sex.
  • The five stages of development (with sub-stages)
  • Old Age Pensioners Love Gravy

  • Freud thought that many adult problems could be
    caused by passing through the psychosexual
    stages. Each stage involves frustration and these
    may lead to future problems.

Reaction formation
  • Where a child does the opposite of what it wants
    to do.
  • For example, during the oral stage, the child may
    show its dissatisfaction by spitting food out
    even though it is hungry.
  • During the anal stage, the child could become
    constipated because of anxiety about having an

Oral fixation
  • Oral receptive personality
  • Form relationships dependent upon others.
  • Interested in gaining information and knowledge
    and material goods
  • Gullible.
  • "will swallow anything"
  • Oral aggressive personality
  • Sarcastic
  • Argumentative
  • Seek to hold firmly to others
  • Aggressive in relationships with others

Anal fixation
  • Anal retentive personality
  • Delayed gratification
  • Always "save" for the future whether relating to
    money or other needs
  • Orderliness, stingy and stubborn.
  • Anal expulsive personality
  • Disregard accepted rules of cleanliness,
    orderliness, and appropriate behaviour
  • Control over others
  • Messiness, sloppiness
  • Aggressive destructiveness,
  • Temper tantrums, emotional outbursts and cruelty.

Fixation at the Phallic stage
  • Males
  • devote life to sexual promiscuity in quest for
    sexual gratification not gotten as a child.
  • Or he might get attracted to men.
  • Females
  • Become daddys girl
  • Freud believes that female superego develops less
    completely than males poorer moral standards

Psychodynamic Approach 5
  • Therapy used in the psychodynamic approach

Key assumption
  • Key assumption role of the unconscious mind
  • Freud claimed that we cannot access the
  • All of our conflicts take place in our
    unconscious we need to access them to resolve
    the conflict

Dream analysis
  • Freud suggested that dreams represent unfulfilled
    wishes from the id, which try to break into
    consciousness and seek satisfaction while we are
    off guard (asleep).
  • Can use free association

  • The manifest content the part of the dream that
    is obvious what the dream seems to be about
  • The latent content the part of the dream that
    contains the disguised wish what the dream is
    really about

Dreamwork the way Freud analysed dreams
  • The point is to see the dream not simply in terms
    of either its manifest or its latent content.
  • Rather it is to understand the processes by which
    the dream comes into being.
  • This is what Freud calls the dream-work.

Dreamwork - 1. condensation
  • Condensation Two or more latent thoughts are
    combined to make up one manifest dream image or

Dreamwork 2. displacement
  • Displacement Emotion or desire is transferred
    or displaced onto a meaningless / unrelated
    object in the manifest dream.

Dreamwork 3. symbolism
  • Symbolism Where complex or vague concepts are
    converted into a dream image.
  • Possibly a similar sounding (more recognisable)
    word instead or use a similar looking less
    intrusive object.
  • According to Freud, dream symbols are mostly

Dreamwork 4. secondary revision
  • Secondary RevisionThe final stage of the dream
  • According to Freud, this is where the dream loses
    'the appearance of absurdity and incoherence.'
  • Can be thought of as the ways in which the dream
    work covers up the contradiction and attempts to
    reorganise the dream into a pattern in sync with
    the dreamer's experience of everyday life.

Dreamwork what does it do?
  • Dream-work transform a latent (unconscious) set
    of thoughts into the manifest content (the
    dream), which is a disguised version of those
  • Applying the key assumption of the role of the
    unconscious (latent content)
  • Applying the key assumption of the structural
    model of mind (desires of the id being repressed)

Oedipus complex
  • The case study of Little Hans

Recap the Oedipus / Electra conflict
  • The analysis of a phobia of a five year old boy
  • (Sigmund Freud 1909)
  • This is the ONLY case study of a child undertaken
    by Freud
  • Freuds ideas about infant sexuality were based
    on his work with adult women(and his own self

Little Hans
  • The CASE STUDY (psychoanalytic therapy) was
    carried out by correspondence and interviews with
    Hans father
  • First reports when Hans was three
  • Hans was interested in his widdler
  • His mother told him not to play with your
    widdler .. or else she would call the doctor to
    come and cut it off
  • Hans mother threatened to leave him

Little Hans
  • Hans baby sister was born - he was told the
    stork had brought the baby
  • Early jealousy of sister
  • Continued interest in his widdler, according to
    father his dreams and fantasies were of widdlers
    and of widdling

Little Hans
  • When Hans was five his father wrote to Freud
  • Hans is afraid of horses, afraid a horse will
    bite him in the street, this fear seems to be
    connected to his being frightened by a large

Little Hans
  • Freud father try to make sense of what Hans was
    experiencing and to resolve his phobia of horses
  • Freud noted that Hans fear of horses developed
    after the child had anxiety dreams of losing his
    mother AND after he has been warned not to play
    with his widdler

Little Hans
  • Hans dreams about a giraffe were explained as
    fear of big penis
  • long neck big penis
  • Freud theorised that Hans fear of horses was
    really fear of father
  • Horse symbolic for father

Little Hans
  • Freuds conclusion
  • Little Hans phobia of horses was really fear of
    father (castration fear) during resolution of
    the Oedipus Conflict
  • Fear resolved when Oedipus conflict resolved

Little Hans Criticisms
  • Hans is analysed by the father who is emotionally
  • Father is biased as he already admires the work
    of Freud and may have believed that the boy was
    in the Oedipal (phallic stage)
  • Father put words into Hans mouth

Hans words?
  • Daddy, in my dream, I was in the bath and the
    plumber came and unscrewed it. Then he took a big
    borer and stuck it into my stomach
  • Interpretation
  • Hans remembers his father having intercourse with
    his mother while he was in the womb

  • The plumber came and first took away my behind
    with a pair of pincers and then he gave me
    another. Then the same with my widdler. Then he
    said let me see your behind and I had to turn
    it around and he took it away and then he said
    let me see your widdler.
  • Interpretation
  • Hans has identified with his father

HANS Words?
  • Hans said he would like to be like granddad so
    that he can marry mum and have children.
  • Much of this was Hans agreeing to his fathers
    leading questions

Little Hans evaluation
  • Freud dealt with real people and their problems
  • Not neat tidy but has ecological validity
  • Unlike adult case studies
  • No searching through past memory Hans father
    simply asked Hans!

Little Hans Other explanations
  • Perhaps Hans dreams about widdlers widdling
    were caused by his fear that his mother might cut
    off his penis?
  • But - Freuds theory was that mothers were the
    primary love object of little boys, (not that
    Mother could be feared)

Psychodynamic approach
  • Methods

Case study
  • A case study is an in-depth clinical analysis of
    an individual
  • Freud used case studies in his analysis Anna O,
    little Hans
  • Case study looks at all aspects of the
    individuals life
  • Medical records
  • Interviews
  • Interview family members
  • Observations
  • Produces qualitative data

Subjective analysis
  • Subjective interpretation is affected by the
    person doing the analysis
  • Freud could only see the behaviour through his
    eyes (male, middle-aged, Victorian) which is also
    affected by his own life experiences
  • If Freud was looking for a theory, then his
    analysis would be made with this theory in mind
    cannot be unbiased

High Validity
  • Qualitative methods are high in validity
  • Validity measuring what you think you are
  • High validity you are measuring how people act,
    think and feel in their real life rather than in
    a laboratory or controlled environment
  • Freud knew what he had written in his diaries and
    had experienced his patients first hand so the
    interpretation has high validity

  • If we study large groups of people, we can assume
    that their behaviour is typical of he general
    population this means we can generalise the
    findings of a study
  • If we do a case study, we only see how one person
    behaves so we cannot generalise the findings to

  • If we carry out a study again and find similar
    results, we can say the method has high
  • Reliability can be repeated / replicated and
    similar results achieved
  • Case studies are unlikely to find similar results
    with different people so it has low reliability
    as a method

The scientific approach
  • Stage 1 Data collection
  • Stage 2A Theory building defining patterns
  • Stage 2B Theory building identifying causes
  • Stage 3 Theory testing
  • Stage 4 Advancement of knowledge
  • How does Freuds methods follow a scientific
  • He produced a theory and collected data to prove
    his theory

Psychodynamic Approach
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the psychodynamic

Strengths and weaknesses of the psychodynamic
  • One strength of Freuds Psychoanalysis is that
    there is recent supporting evidence for his idea
    of the tripartite personality.
  • Solms (2000) used PET scans to provide support
    for the concepts of id and ego.

Solms (2000)
  • During REM sleep
  • rational part of the brain (ego) appears to be
  • memory and motivation are very active (id).
  • This is clear evidence for these separate parts
    of the brain working independently.

Adams et al support for reaction formation
  • Using psychoanalysis, Adams et al assessed male
    participants for homophobia.
  • two groups homophobic and non-homophobic
  • showed videos of homosexual sex to the two
  • He found that 80 of those in the homophobic
    group were sexually aroused by the videos
    compared to only 33 of the non-homophobic group.
  • This is a form of Freuds reaction formation
    defence mechanism (where someone conveys an
    attitude that is the exact opposite of their true

Refuting evidence from Fisher and Greenberg
  • They reviewed studies of anal and oral
  • good evidence to support these distinct types in
  • No evidence that these types related in any way
    to early experiences in childhood or so called

Further criticism of Freud
  • Unreliable methodology
  • Open to researcher bias (the interpretation of
    Freud )
  • Freuds explanations are not falsifiable
  • He cannot be wrong
  • If you accept his interpretation, he is right
  • If you deny his interpretation, you are using a
    defence mechanism (denial, repression etc.) and
    he is still right!

Strengths of the approach
  • Brought the exploration of the mind to the lay
  • First theory of developmental psychology
  • Freuds ideas are inbuilt into modern society
    (dream meaning, unconscious)
  • Stressed the importance of childhood
  • Idiographic approach

Weaknesses of the approach
  • Not scientific
  • Reductionist
  • Deterministic
  • Unfalsifiable
  • Very little supporting evidence
  • Relies on untested observations
  • Poor methodology (small number of case studies,
    non-representative sample)
  • Subjective analysis (open to bias)

Answering the question
  • Remember to study TWO strengths and TWO
    weaknesses in depth (three would be better to
    make sure you can remember two)
  • Explain each strength and then say WHY it is a
  • Explain each weakness and then say WHY it is a
    weakness or limitation

Possible questions
  • 1. a. Explain TWO key assumptions of the
    psychodynamic approach (4 marks)
  • b. Describe Freuds theory of personality
    development (8 marks)
  • 2. Explain how the key assumptions can be applied
    to either Dream analysis OR Free association (12
  • 3. a. Explain and evaluate two strengths of the
    psychodynamic approach (6 marks)
  • b. Explain and evaluate two weaknesses of
    the psychodynamic approach (6 marks)
  • 4. Explain and evaluate the methodology of the
    psychodynamic approach (12 marks)
  • 5. Compare and contrast the psychodynamic
    approach with the
  • ___________ approach in terms of similarities and
    differences (12 marks)