Psychodynamic Approach in Psychology

In this week’s blog, I am going to discuss the psychodynamic approach and I am going to explain how the other approaches think about the psychodynamic appraoch.

The psychodynamic theory is the most important approach in psychology. One of the key psychologits in the psychodynamic theory was Sigmund Freud. Freud obtained his evidence primarily from analsying the conversations he held with his patients. The converstaions were recorded as case studies. In psychology case studies are effective research approach to obtain a thorough analysis of a person, group or occurence. Many techniques involve personal and confidential interviews. Research also includes direct observation, psychometric tests, which is a procedure for measuring memory, intelligence and personality. Archival records are also used for analysis.

Freud studied the unconcious process and the ways in which the unconcious motivates an individual’s behaviour, personality and basic instincts. The two basic instincts are called Eros and Thanatos. In Freudian psychology, Eros also referred to in terms of libido, the life instinct innate in all humans. It is the desire to create life and favours productivity and construction.

According to Freud, personality is composed of three parts. They are called the Id, Ego and the Superego. The Id is the only part that is present at birth. The aspect of the personality is totally unconscious and includes instinctive and primitive patterns of behaviour. According to Freud the Id is the source of all psychic energy and therefore makes the Id the most important aspect of personality. The Id is driven by the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle attempts to satisfy an individual’s desires and requirements. Unsatisfied desires may produce a state anxiety or tension in an individual. For example, an increase in hunger or thirst should produce an immediate desire to eat or drink. The Id is very important from the start of an infant’s life because it ensures that an infants needs are met. The ego is part of the personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. Freud states that the ego develops from the Id and ensures that the sudden urge of the Id can be expressed in a way that it acceptable to the real world. The conscious, preconscious and the unconscious mind are part of the ego. The ego works with the reality principal and by doing this it helps the Id to satify our needs in a realistic way. The ego also ensures that this is a socially appropriate way to dea; with our urges. This principle ascertains the cost and the benefits of our actions before deciding to act or ignore impulses.The last part of the personality is the superego. The superego is the appearance of personality that grasps all of our moral standards and ideals that we obtain from both parents and society. The ideals and moral standards help an individual judge what is right or wrong. The superego forms guidelines for judgements. In Freudian theory the superego starts to emerge approximately around the age of five years old.

Freud came up with theories of the stages of psychosexual development, which we all go through in our lives. According to Freud we will go through five different stages, which are the oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latent stage and the genital stage. The oral stage, the anal stage and the phallic stage are very important.The oral stage occurs in the first twenty four months of birth; the mouth is the main source of nourishment in this stage. The baby automatically sucks for survival. Oral fulfilment builds up on trust and confidence. If the baby does not have enough of oral pleasure or if the baby is weaned too soon his/her behaviour might turn out to be negative, distrusting, sceptical or hostile. Oral fixation is what it is called if you are stuck in this stage.The second stage that we get to in live is the anal stage; this takes place during the twenty four and thirty six month period. The bladder and anus is the cause of gratification at this stage. If an adolescent stays in this phase of development he/she turns out to be furthermore disorganised or he/she becomes extremely controlled.During the years of three to six years old an individual reaches the phallic stage. At this stage children become alert of the genitals (playing with themselves) and sexual differences. The development is different to girls than it is boys. At this stage boys start having feeling for their mothers and start hating there fathers. If the child doesn’t have a father figure in their lives at this stage then the child will have a difficulty with authoritive figures. From the age of six years a child will grow to be inactive where nothing will take place in the stages of development. Finally, from the stage of puberty to adulthood, this is known as the genital stage. The individual’s personality fully develops at this stage.

Freud spoke to middle-aged Jewish women and he wrote up on their problems. He interpreted their dreams and gave them all meanings. Freud arrived at the theory that what took place in your youth was one of the most significant causes that will affect your behaviour. If an individual experienced a distressing incident in their childhood, memories will be withdrawn the individual will grow up to have a psychological illness.Freud used case studies to support the research he was trying to prove. The advantages of case studies are that they are about individuals and they assess how people behave in certain conditions, so there is a record of how different types of people respond in different situations. Case studies usually are not done in controlled surroundings, so the data collected maybe biased and not correct.Some of Freud’s findings are used by counselors today. They use the talking approach with their patients.

The psychodynamic approach is mainly hypothetically based. However it is still widely used in psychology and psychiatry today, despite the fact that many of Freud’s theories have been discredited. Freud did not really interview any adolescence to collect his data and on his theories on the human mind. Freud only interviewed middle-aged Jewish women. Humanists critiscised the Freudian appraoch to mental illness and all the negative characteristics of human nature, such as sadness, envy, detestation, dread and selfishness.





4 Responses to “Psychodynamic Approach in Psychology”

  1. I find this perspective an interesting part of Psychology. Many of Freud’s ideas were not measurable and so there is a lack of empirical evidence to support many of his theories. It is hard to test something that we cannot see such as explaining behaviour as a result of our unconscious thoughts. Due to the fact that you cannot empirically test any of Freud’s theories, this is done by Freudians that interpret explanations of behaviour through dream analysis, Freudian slips etc. Case studies were widely used by Freud, as a way of collecting information on an individual or small group over a period of time.

  2. The main problem with Freud’s theories is the lack of empirical evidence. This is due to the fact that a number of his theories were not measurable. It is not possible to test dreams, or a person’s unconscious mind. Researching these two topics has to be done through introspection, and cannot be measured.
    His claims are based on his own subjective interpretations of a patient’s dreams. They are hard to scientifically test, and so they cannot be proved to be right or wrong.
    Freudian slips for example cannot be tested as the theory is about the unconscious mind, and this is impossible to test.

    • A good grasp on the psychodynamic appraoch, I would of personally used an opposing approach in this blog to bring out it’s evaluation of good points and bad. Maybe the biological approach. My reasons for this is because Freud’s work wasn’t scientifically measured, as opposed to all the biological findings, which have been quantified and scientifically studied.

      More research of the psychodynamic view is from Erikson who adopts a more details stage development of human beings, all through their life span. For a more in depth knowledge of this, click the link below.

      Carl Jung too is also brings a new scope on things in the psychodynamic approach if you want to further your understanding of this approach.

      This approach sways psychology away from being scientific, however it provides we as psychologists with such a unique way of interpreting human thought and behaviour that we’ve never looked at in other approaches. Although risky, as it’s unabled to be falsified, it opens many questions and queries about the human mind that we never thought to think about.

  3. Although the psychodynamic theory is a very interesting part of psychology it is also seen as the least scientific due to the fact that it uses qualitative data and as previously mentioned, lacks empirical evidence however, this perspective is often used in clinical psychology due to the fact that it requires the patient to explain any problems and diagnoses can be made and support can be given for patients with symptoms of depression for example.

    Although I agree with much of Freuds theory such as the majority of behaviour is linked with early childhood, there are also various parts that I find myself questioning such as the fact that if this were true, humans would have no free will. This approach does not consider that what happens in a person’s life and social aspects can have an impact on a person’s behaviour and so this perspective uses reductionism rather than holism. In my opinion, these aspects should also be taken into consideration in order for the theory to be precise.

    I personally believe that the social perspective is the most relevant and current perspective as it implies that people learn behaviour through socialising and a persons behaviour can depend on surroundings. An example of this is feral children as they learn the behaviour of the animals around them (Beckoff 1972). There have also been many experiments to support this theory and an example of modelling is Milgram’s (1965) Stanford prison experiment where the participants took on the roles of either prisoners or guards.

    Overall, I believe it is important to consider all perspectives when looking at behaviour in psychology and although the psychodynamic theory is important, I have to disagree with you in saying that it is the most important approach as I believe the other approaches are just as important.

    Reference list
    Beckoff, M. (1972). The development of social interaction , play, and metacommunication in mammals: an ethological perspective. The quarterly view of biology, 47, 4. Retrieved from

    Milgram, S. (1965). Reflections onmorellis “dilemma of obedience”. Metaphilosohpy, 14, 190-194. Retrieved from

    Sammons, A. (2005) Psychodynamic approach: the basics. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: