IB Psychology/Options/Psychodynamic psychology
- 1 Introduction to Psychodynamic Psychology
- 2 Theories
- 3 Application
Introduction to Psychodynamic Psychology
Historical and cultural context of the development of the psychodynamic perspective
Contributions of developments in the natural sciences to psychodynamic theory
The following concepts were popular during the emergence of the psychodynamic perspective, and thus formed the basis of its initial theories:
Determinism is a scientific perspective which specifies that events occur in completely predicatble ways as a result of natural and physical laws. Darwin's theory of evolution greatly influenced Freud's thinking and his theory of psychological conflict between the id, ego and superego. It also influenced the psychoanalytic idea that human motivation is based on biologically based innate drives (e.g. sex and aggression) that are crucial to survival. These instincts and impulses were passed down from our ancestors and remain a part of our lives, though masked by centuries of civilization. This notion was deterministic as it specified that the drives occur in completely predicatable ways as a result of natural laws, in this case evolution and survival.
These drives were thought to derive from the unconscious brain, hence the idea of materialism in psychoanalysis. Materialism is the idea that the world is made up of tangible material; in this case, all thoughts are derived from a tangible thing, which is the brain.
Mechanism, the knowledge of how things proceed the way they do, also played an important role in psychoanalysis, influenced by Helmholtz. As he studied heat and how it may be transformed to another type of energy, such as kinetic and thermal amongst others, psychoanalysis studied psychic energy caused by innate drives, which is transferred and expressed in human behavior.
The idea of using case studies in psychoanalysis was born through empiricism, the determaination of reality through study that shows causation. For example, a patient would lie on a couch and recount anything, and the reality of his/her stress or disorder would be deduced by making relations, examining how one event caused another to occur, and consequently the psychic problem.
The psychoanalytic approach grew as an attempt to solve the problems prevalent in the repressed Victorian society, although it also contained the biased elements of the Victorian society. Society was still stratified though education was now not merely exclusive to the 'blue blood', but also to the common man. Thus the common man could learn, earn money, and the middle class dominated.
Despite this, society continued to be conventional and rigid, lacking in open thinking. There was a presence of education, yet only men could grab this opportunity; women were encouraged to stay home, obey their husbands, and raise babies. Large families and constant pregnancy was normal. It was a highly sexually repressed era, especially for women. Hence sexual repression was the central issue psychoanalysis addressed.
An example of this was the case of Anna O., who suffered a great number of hysterical symptoms. Through hypnosis, she told of unsettling past experiences and felt much better after each experience was unlocked. This supported the psychoanalytical idea of the dominant unconscious and the effect it has on people's lives if it is totally repressed, as was the case in Anna O., and other women who suffered from hysterics.
However, though the theories of the unconscious were formed in order to explain the repression in society, these theories were largely influenced by the society.
Cultural and gender bias
Gender bias in Victorian culture influenced the theories of the early psychodynamic approach. A good example of this is Freud's penis-envy theory. He claimed that little girls envy boys' penises and this envy can only be overcome through the girls submitting themselves to a man. He believed that libido was masculine whether found in a male or female, which implied that females who experienced sex drives were not normal. Sexual repression, especially amongst women, was the cause of hysteria that the psychoanalytic approach attempted to explain, yet the theories grew from this bias and claimed that women should not experience libido; instead they should do household tasks and take care of their children.
It was also believed that women cannot sublimate their primitive instincts and so have no hope of reaching their full intellecual potential. On the contrary, women could not reach their intellectual potential in Victorian society because education was exclusive to men; the psychoanalytic theory took a biased turn through this observation because it did not say that women did not reach their potential due to these causes, but because they couldn't.
Techniques for Research
Structure and functioning of the personality in Freudian psychoanalytic theory
The conscious forms only a small portion of our mind that is accessible to us.
The subconscious includes the preconscious and unconscious mind. The preconscious is material that is unconscious, but can easily be brought into awareness; it is material that moves back and forth easily between the unconscious and conscious.
The unconscious is completely outside our awareness and can produce anxiety if made conscious.
Freud's structure of the mind operated on the principles of the id, ego and superego. The id is the most primitive and operates on the pleasure principle (or idealism). It seeks pleasure through instant gratification. The ego operates on the reality principle and reasons that instant gratification is not always possible or wise, but it also knows that id gratifications have to be met in some ways. It is the working part of the mind. Lastly, the superego operates on the moral principle by providing feelings of guilt and shame when something we do or think is contrary to the society's rule.
For example, picture a situation where a child longs for candy in a shop but has no money. The id part of his/her mind would simply want to grab the candy and run, and thus satisfy the need for candy. The superego would tell the child not to take the candy and simply walk away. The ego would be torn between the needs of the id and superego, and may reason for the child to go home, get money, and buy the candy. The way the child has been brought up or the emotions of the child at that particular time determines which part of the mind is successful.
Freud called babies pure id. By this he meant that the baby is dominated by its instincts and seeks instant gratification: for example if he is hungry, he will cry. It is not yet in touch with reality and the society, so the superego and ego is not yet developed, thus the baby is controlled entirely by its id. The superego is similar to conscience; people develop conscience from their childhood (restrictions, punsihments and rewards from parents) and the rules of society. If the do anything against this conscience they feel guilt and shame. A strong ego is necessary so that the person is able to balance his/her instincts with his conscience, otherwise psychological turmoil would occur and the person would experience depression and anxiety.
According to Freud, we experience changes in the id's desires as we pass through different stages in life, namely the oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital stages.