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– Psychodynamics, also known as dynamic psychology, in its broadest sense, is an approach to psychology that emphasises systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, feelings, and emotions and how they might relate to early experience. It is especially interested in the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation.]
The term psychodynamics is also used by some to refer specifically to the psychoanalytical approach developed by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) and his followers. Freud was inspired by the theory of thermodynamics and used the term psychodynamics to describe the processes of the mind as flows of psychological energy (libido) in an organically complex brain.]
– History of The Psychodynamic Approach:-
* Anna O a patient of Dr. Joseph Breuer (Freud’s mentor and friend) from 1800 to 1882 suffered from hysteria.
* In 1895 Breuer and his assistant, Sigmund Freud, wrote a book, Studies on Hysteria. In it they explained their theory: Every hysteria is the result of a traumatic experience, one that cannot be integrated into the person’s understanding of the world. The publication establishes Freud as “the father of psychoanalysis.”
* By 1896 Freud had found the key to his own system, naming it psychoanalysis. In it he had replaced hypnosis with “free association.”
* In 1900 Freud published his first major work, The Interpretation of Dreams, which established the importance of psychoanalytical movement.
* In 1902 Freud founded the Psychological Wednesday Society, later transformed into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. As the organization grew, Freud established an inner circle of devoted followers, the so-called “Committee” (including Sàndor Ferenczi, and Hanns Sachs (standing) Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Max Eitingon, and Ernest Jones
* Freud and his colleagues came to Massachusetts in 1909 to lecture on their new methods of understanding mental illness. Those in attendance included some of the country’s most important intellectual figures, such as William James, Franz Boas, and Adolf Meyer.
* In the years following the visit to the United States, the International Psychoanalytic Association was founded. Freud designated Carl Jung as his successor to lead the Association, and chapters were created in major cities in Europe and elsewhere. Regular meetings or congresses were held to discuss the theory, therapy, and cultural applications of the new discipline.
* Jung’s study on schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, led him into collaboration with Sigmund Freud.
* Jung’s close collaboration with Freud lasted until 1913. Jung had become increasingly critical of Freud’s exclusively sexual definition of libido and incest. The publication of Jung’s Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (known in English as The Psychology of the Unconscious) ted to a final break.
* Following his emergence from this period of crisis, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical Psychology. Jung’s concepts of the collective unconscious and of the archetypes led him to explore religion in the East and West, myths, alchemy, and later flying saucers
* Anna Freud (Freud’s daughter) became a major force in British psychology, specializing in the application of psychoanalysis to children. Among her best known works is The Ego and the Mechanism of defense (1936)..
– In the treatment of psychological distress:-
psychodynamic psychotherapy tends to be a less intensive, once- or twice-weekly modality than the classical Freudian psychoanalysis treatment of 3-5 sessions per week. Psychodynamic therapies depend upon a theory of inner conflict, wherein repressed behaviours and emotions surface into the patient’s consciousness; generally, one conflict is subconscious..
– Psychodynamic Approach Assumptions:-
* Our behavior and feelings are powerfully affected by unconscious motives.
* Our behavior and feelings as adults (including psychological problems) are rooted in our childhood experiences.
* All behavior has a cause (usually unconscious), even slips of the tongue. Therefore all behavior is determined.
* Personality is made up of three parts (i.e. tripartite). The id, ego and super-ego.
* Behavior is motivated by two instinctual drives: Eros (the sex drive & life instinct) and Thanatos (the aggressive drive & death instinct). Both these drives come from the “id”.
* Parts of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant conflict with the conscious part of the mind (the ego).
* Personality is shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in childhood (during psychosexual development..
– Psychodynamic Approach Criticisms:-
The greatest criticism of the psychodynamic approach is that it is unscientific in its analysis of human behavior. Many of the concepts central to Freud’s theories are subjective and as much impossible to scientifically test.
For example, how is it possible to scientifically study concepts like the unconscious mind or the tripartite personality? It this respect the psychodynamic perspective is unfalsifiable as the theories cannot be empirically investigated.
However, Kline (1989) argues that the psychodynamic approach compromises a series of hypotheses, some of which are more easily tested than others, and some with more supporting evidence than others. Also, whilst the theories of the psychodynamic approach may not be easily tested, this does not mean that it does not have strong explanatory power.
Nevertheless, most of the evidence for psychodynamic theories is taken from Freud’s case studies (e.g. Little Hans, Anna O). The main problem here is that the case studies are based on studying one person in detail, and with reference to Freud the individuals in question are most often middle aged women from Vienna (i.e. his patients). This makes generalizations to the wider population (e.g. the whole world) difficult.
The humanistic approach makes the criticism that the psychodynamic perspective is too deterministic – leaving little room for the idea of personal agency (i.e. free will).