The Psycho dynamic perspective

This article deals with the psycho dynamic perspective,its beginning and advancement, the major figures and impact. Sigmund Freud was the prominent figure here and contributed significantly towards understanding of abnormal behaviour.

What is Psycho Dynamic Perspective?

Traditionally biologically oriented clinicians conceptualised mental phenomenon as products of neural activities. But with advancement of time, there was a growing recognition that the environment and personal experiences played important roles too.
The psycho dynamic perspective is based on the fundamental principle that thoughts and emotions are important causes of behaviour.This perspective assumes that observable behaviour is a function of intra psychic process.Sigmund Freud was the originator of the psycho dynamic perspective.

Freud and his perspective

Sigmund Freud,a Viennese neurologist(1856-1939),firstly studied the impact of psychological factors in mental disorders or abnormality.During Five decades of observation, treatment and writing , he developed theory of psychopathology which emphasised the inner dynamics of unconscious motives.

Freud's theory of personality

His theory of personality had two basic assumptions:
1.Psychic determinism : It stated that all overt and covert behaviour was caused by prior mental events.
2.The conscious-unconscious dimension : According to this dimension , the mental events which the individual was aware of was termed as the conscious aspect of mental life,content that couldn't be accessed easily at all was termed unconscious and content that was available but not fully was termed as preconscious.

Stages of psycho sexual development

Freud's theory of personality placed tremendous emphasis on effects of experiences that occurred during first five years of life.During this period , the child passes through different stages during which libido is focused on pleasure giving or erogenous zones- the mouth,anus and the genitals.These stages were:

1.Oral stage:During the first 2 years of life, mouth is the erogenous zone where the child sucks as the part of feeding.
2.Anal stage:From age 2-3 ,the anus provided the major source of pleasure stimulation during toilet training.
3.Phallic stage:From age 3-5or6 ,the source of pleasure was the self manipulation of the genitals.
4.Latency period:From age 6-12 sexual importance receded as the child was preoccupied with developing other skills.
5.Genital stage: Here after puberty,the satisfaction came from sexual relations.

Id , Ego and Superego

According to Freud, the mental life of an individual is divided into id,ego and superego.
Id: It is the source of Instinctual drives.It is unorganised reservoir
of psychic energy.It is selfish and pleasure oriented.Hence it operates on "Pleasure principle"
Ego:It is a problem solving agent.It maximises pleasure with constraints of reality.It operates on "Reality principle."
Superego:It represents the person's moral code and reflects social values.It uses guilt to keep id in line.It is basically our conscience.
Intrapsychic conflicts:The id, ego and superego when in conflict,strive to achieve different goals.These conflicts lead to mental disorders.

Anxiety and defence mechanisms

This concept Is of considerable importance in psychoanalysis.Freud describes its three types:
1.reality anxiety arising from dangers and threats.
2.neurotic anxiety caused by id's impulses.
3.moral anxiety due to real and complicated action.
Anxiety is a warning of impending dangers well as painful experience.

Defence mechanisms:
Freud believed that ego wasn't helpless in the face of the demands of the id.If anxiety can't be managed then ego initiates unconscious defences.This is known as defence mechanisms.These mechanisms help a person by pushing out painful experience from their consciousness.This method is also known as Repression.
Examples of Defence Mechanisms: fantasy , regression , undoing , identification etc...

Dream Analysis and Free Association

Freud developed the technique of free association which called patients to express their thoughts and feelings freely as possible during analysis.
Also , the method of free association was introduced in which patients recorded and described their dreams.These helped patients and the analysts to gain insights of emotional problems.

Impact of Psycho dynamic perspective

Freud's contribution greatly advanced our understanding of abnormality.
Firstly he developed techniques of free association and dream analysis.This helped in knowing:
(1)the extent to which unconscious motives affected behaviour.
(2)the importance of early childhood experience.
(3)the vitality of sexual factors in mental disorders.
Secondly, he demonstrated that certain behaviour occurred in attempt to cope with difficult problems.


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