Psychodynamic Approach Essay

1376 words - 6 pages


Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influential - and controversial - minds of the 20th century.
Sigismund (later changed to Sigmund) Freud was born on 6 May 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor in the Czech Republic). His father was a merchant. The family moved to Leipzig and then settled in Vienna, where Freud was educated. Freud's family were Jewish but he was himself non-practising.
In 1873, Freud began to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After graduating, he worked at the Vienna ...view middle of the document...

After World War One, Freud spent less time in clinical observation and concentrated on the application of his theories to history, art, literature and anthropology. In 1923, he published 'The Ego and the Id', which suggested a new structural model of the mind, divided into the 'id, the 'ego' and the 'superego'.
In 1933, the Nazis publicly burnt a number of Freud's books. In 1938, shortly after the Nazis annexed Austria, Freud left Vienna for London with his wife and daughter Anna.
Freud had been diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923, and underwent more than 30 operations. He died of cancer on 23 September 1939.


•The main assumption of the psychodynamic approach is that all behaviour can be explained in terms of the inner conflicts of the mind.

•Freud highlights the role of the unconscious mind, the structure of personality and the influence that childhood experiences have on later life.

•Freud believed that the unconscious mind determines most of our behaviour and that we are motivated by unconscious emotional drives.

According to Freud our personality is composed of three parts (tripartite):

ID: it is the biological part (instincts and drives) of the personality. It is present at birth. The Id is motivated by the pleasure principle; it demands instant gratification of its needs.

EGO: develops around the age of 2 years. It is motivated by the reality principle. It mediates the conflicts between the ID and superego. It uses defence mechanisms to achieve this.

SUPEREGO: develops from 3 - 5 years (at the end of phallic stage). It is motivated by the morality principle. It represents the moral standards of the child’s same-sex parents and punishes the ego for “wrongdoing” through guilt.

To be mentally healthy the ego has to be able to balance the demands of the ego and the superego. If the superego is dominant, the individual might develop a neurosis e.g. depression. If the ID is dominant, the individual might develop a psychosis e.g. schizophrenia.


The mind is divided in three parts:

• The conscious: this is the part we are aware of and can access without any effort. It contains part of the ego.
• The preconscious: this a part of the mind that we cannot access without effort. It contains the ego and some of the superego.
• The unconscious: this part of the mind cannot be accessed without the help of a trained psychoanalyst. It contains the superego and the Id.

When unconscious conflicts between the Id and the superego cannot be resolved by the ego they create anxiety. To reduce this anxiety we use defence mechanisms such as repression.

• Repression: Is used by the ego to keep disturbing memories out of the conscious mind and in the unconscious mind where they cannot be accessed, e.g. sexual or aggressive urges or painful childhood memories.

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