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The assumption of the approach is that our behaviour comes from our unconscious mind, childhood experiences have affects on our behaviour in later life and very early experiences affect your mental health as an adult. There are 3 parts of the psyche. The Id is from 0-2 years and is the pleasure principle. The ego is from 2-4 years and is the reality principle. The superego is from 4-6+ years and is the conscience. Freud balanced that the 3 parts of the psyche are in conflict. Freud believed that anxiety at any of the psychosexual stages could have an effect on the behaviour of the individual.

At 0-2 years is the oral stage where they are obsessed with their mouth, such as putting things into it. Anxiety at this satge could mean spoilt, attention seeking, and mistrusting behaviour in later life. At 2-4 years it is the anal stage where they are really proud of their poo. Anxiety at this stage could mean that they show lots of emotion, are tight with money and organised in later life. At 4-6 years it is the phallic stage where boys are obsessed with their penis and girls want one. Any anxiety in this stage could mean they are jealous, very masculine/feminine in their later life.

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There are 6 ego defence mechanisms. Reaction formation, displacement, denial, sublimation, repression and projection. They are used to avoid anxiety and usually only work for a short term. Denial is when individuals refuse to acknowledge events or feelings. For example denying knowing something that you know is true to make yourself feel better about the situation. Reaction formation is behaving in a way directly opposite to your unconscious. For example when young boys fancy a girl they act in a mean way towards her. One strength to the approach is that psychoanalysis can work.

For example, Little Hans. Little Hans was a 5 year old boy with a strong phobia of horses. Freud worked with his through his father. Freud believed that the horse was a symbol of little Hans’s fear towards his father as his father looked similar to a horse. Another strength is that it identifies the importance of childhood. You need to make sure children have a good childhood or it could affect them in their later life. A well adjusted adult comes from a good childhood. This proves that children need nurturing when they are younger.

An example of this is the psychosexual stages, if anxiety happened at any of the stages it could have affect on the individuals behaviour when they are older. A weakness to psychodynamic approach is that it is unscientific. There are no scientifically tested experiments. Most of his ideas were based on case studies and observations and there was no scientific experiments used. There wouldn’t be enough weight in an argument against other approaches. Another weakness is that you can’t generalise. Most of his ideas came from case studies but everyone is different so it might not be the same for other people.

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