Psycho dynamic approach

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There are various ways to explain the mind. One is a pseudoscientific theory called the psychodynamic approach founded by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). The broad label of the psychodynamic approach is applied to all theories that consider the psyche as having a conscious and an unconscious part, and whose techniques or therapies deal with the effect of this structure on external relationships and the self. All the theorists of the psychodynamic approach offered lifespan theories. Each describes stages of life and the way the mind develops and is challenged at each stage.


[edit] Alternative To Brain-Based Explanations

The therapeutic technique that Freud founded that was a result of this approach is called psychoanalysis. Being the first most significant work on thinking of the mind in terms of anything other than the result of biological activity in the brain, the psychodynamic approach and psychoanalysis are the reason that we have so many theories of mind. Many theorists built upon Freud's fundamental ideas, including Anna Freud, his daughter, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, Karen Horney, Otto Rank, Erik Erikson, Melanie Klein, and Heinz Kohut.

According to traditional psychodynamic practice, schizophrenia is caused when the unconscious is disturbed by unresolved feelings of homosexuality or by a "schizophrenogenic mother”, depression is considered a narcissistic disorder, autism the result of bad parenting, anorexia nervosa and Tourette's syndrome, also are considered curable through the ‘talking cure’.

[edit] Basis of the Approach

The approach is built on clinical observation, research and reflections. It is based on the assumption that individuals are unaware of the many factors that cause their behaviour and emotions. These unconscious factors have the potential to produce unhappiness, which in turn is expressed through a score of distinguishable symptoms, including disturbing personality traits, difficulty in relating to others, or disturbances in self-esteem or general disposition (American Psychoanalytic Association, 1998).

[edit] Increased Respect

Specifically because of Freud’s work, behavior began to be understood as a result of factors that went beyond cultural boundaries. This was because there were explanations and therefore increased understanding and respect for behavior that was unusual. Difference became the more. Normal and abnormal became parts of the same continuum, and were not automatically equated with acceptable and unacceptable.

Most exceptional was the marked change in the way sexuality was viewed. Most notable was that it became an acceptable topic of conversation and that too because it featured as a part and parcel of healthy, well-adjusted living for even the very ‘normal’.

[edit] Kinder Cure

Anthony Storr : "Freud's technique of listening to distressed people over long periods rather than giving them orders or advice has formed the foundation of most modern forms of psychotherapy, with benefits to both patients and practitioners" (Storr 1996: 120).

[edit] Lack of Scientific Evidence

There is no evidence that can be considered strictly scientific, for the unconscious and the repression therein. Developing a memory requires extensive development of the frontal lobes. This does not happen through to early childhood. Making lasting memories requires encoding, this process too is weak at this time. Thus, Freudian psychodynamic theory is suspect because it assumes all psychic organization to have its basis in memories of infanthood.

There is evidence that conscious thought and behavior are influenced by memories and processes that are not conscious. These are called Implicit Memory. Implicit memories of abuse occur when a person is rendered unconscious during the attack and cannot encode the experience very deeply. For example, a rape victim could not remember being raped. The attack took place on a brick pathway. The words 'brick' and 'path' kept popping into her mind, but she did not connect them to the rape. She became very upset when taken back to the scene of the rape, though she didn't remember what had happened there (Schacter: 232). As there is no explicit memory, because the victim lost consciousness, it is unlikely that any therapeutic technique, however gentle, will retrieve the lost data.

[edit] Conceptual Leaps

It is hard to resign oneself to the belief that traditional psychodynamic theories have that all sexual experiences in childhood will cause problems in later life, or that all problems in later life, including sexual problems, are due to childhood experiences.

[edit] Not Useful To Predict Behavior

"So-called predictions are not predictions of overt behavior but of hidden psychological states. This is why they are so untestable" (Popper, 1986, p. 254). For instance, if certain childhood experiences, produce definite states of neurosis, given one, the predictability of the other should be certain. But this not being the case, the usefulness of the theory in terms of prevention and prognosis for mental health is poor.

Colby (1960) concludes that if analysts themselves cannot concur that a certain observation is an example of a certain theory, then the regulations that govern psychoanalytic interpretation are undependable (p. 55).

[edit] Steps Common To Psychodynamic Therapies

Step 1

The client speaks to the therapist as a result of free associations, results of transference, dream interpretation, and the patients' slips and parapraxes.

Step 2

Hypotheses are formed explaining the current psychological state based on the client’s past.

Step 3

The client is allowed to come to these conclusions themselves.

[edit] The Psychical Apparatus

The structure founded by Freud remains more or less consistent across the later theorists of the psychodynamic approach. The relationships between the components of the structure are described differently, but their existence is acknowledged in each theory.

The mind is considered to have three parts:

The id has the quality of being unconscious and contains everything that is inherited, everything that is present at birth, and the instincts (Freud, 1949, p. 14).

The ego has the quality of being conscious and is responsible for controlling the demands of the id and of the instincts, becoming aware of stimuli, and serving as a link between the id and the external world. In addition, the ego responds to stimulation by either adaptation or flight, regulates activity, and strives to achieve pleasure and avoid unpleasure (Freud, 1949, p. 14-15). The superego, whose demands are managed by the id, is responsible for the limitation of satisfactions and represents the influence of others, such as parents, teachers, and role models, as well as the impact of racial, societal, and cultural traditions (Freud, 1949, p. 15).

[edit] Sustainable Theory

A theory is considered sound when it can be applied in practical ways, fits with other theories, withstands the test of time, is falsifiable, able to be generalized, leads to new theories and ideas, and is recognized by others in the field. The Psychodynamic Approach and the theories based in it pass all the above tests.

[edit] Is it for you?

Refer to

  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Psychodynamic Diagnostic Model

[edit] See Also