Core Assumptions

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Unconscious mind, Psychology Pages: 5 (1555 words) Published: February 28, 2013
What are the core assumptions and key features of the biological and psychoanalytic perspectives in psychology? In what ways are they similar and how do they differ? When comparing the biological and psychoanalytic approach to psychology, you are able to see that they are different from one another. For example, the biological approach assumes that the mind and behaviour originate from the functioning of the body and that behaviour is driven by biological instincts. Whereas the psychoanalytic approach claims behaviour is driven by instincts such as the unconscious processes as well as the conflict between unconscious desires (pleasure and reality principle). Additionally, both approaches have a common feature of being reductionist, deterministic and materialistic. This essay will look at the biological and psychoanalytic perspective and identify the core assumptions and key features, as well as comparing them both. One of the main core assumptions in the biological perspective is that all behaviour can be explained through biological functions and it has a physical root. (materialism). It has a structuralist view point since behaviour is studied in terms of the underlying structure. Three of the major features in the biological perspective include evolutionary adaption, brain function and biochemistry. In terms of evolutionary adaptation, it is claimed that a lot of behaviour patterns are based on genetics due to humans evolving over a long period of time in order to adapt to their environment. It also suggests that genes are hereditary as they are passed down from one generation to the other through natural selection. This feature can be seen as deterministic as it claims that certain psychological traits are inherited or pre-determined leaving no space for the environmental influence, cognition and experiences a person may encounter. This also makes free will not important to this approach as it claims that genes are hereditary which means we have no control over them. According to the brain function theory, activity of the brain determines behaviour. It is specific areas in the brain that are held responsible in enabling specific behaviours. Therefore we are able to assume that abnormalities in individuals are due to abnormalities that lie within the brain structure. Leborgne, a patient of Paul Broca, is an example that supports this as he was unable to produce words or phrases (expressive aphasia). An autopsy of the brain was carried out after the death of Lesborgne and they found a large left-frontal lobe lesion. After conducting similar research on speech disorder patients, Broca found consistency in the location on the brain and came to the conclusion that the speech production was localised in this area, naming it the Broca’s Area. (Fancher, Raymond E, 1990) When looking at biochemistry, it is suggested that behaviour is a result of chemical imbalances. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that transmit messages along neurones. Differences in the concentration of neurotransmitters can have an opposing effect on mental psychological wellbeing. Depression is an example of this. Teuting, rosen and Hirschfield (1981) carried out a study where they tested the levels of noradrenaline and serotonin related compounds in depressed and non-depressed patient’s urine. They found out that the urine of depressed patients contained smaller amounts of compounds related to serotonin and noradrenaline, which in turn suggests that depressed patients have lower levels of serotonin and noradrenaline. A strength of this approach is that once some of the physiological basis of behavior is known, then we are able to treat the problem using drugs. This could solve the problem is there was a simple chemical imbalance. But also when using advanced technology such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans we are able to diagnose brain damage which is highly useful. The psychoanalytic perspective derives from the work of Sigmund...
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