Discuss How Concepts of the Psychodynamic Approach Can Assist in Understanding Mental Health Issues.

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The psychodynamic approach assumes that mental health issues can be resolved by psychoanalysis. Various psychoanalytic methods can be used to bring repressed feelings into conscious awareness where they can be dealt with. The concept of defence mechanisms suggests that the displacement of unconscious anxiety onto harmless external objects can be used as a coping mechanism by some. Freud believed that sexual fears within the id were repressed; leaving the person with an irrational fear that had no conscious explanation. This may help us to understand the occurrences of phobias. An example of this is the case study of Little Han’s which was used in support when Freud theorised that whilst in the phallic stage of development Han’s suffered from the Oedipus complex with regard to his father, and displaced this onto a fear of horses. The difficulty with case studies is that there is little empirical evidence in their support and therefore the behaviourist’s explanation of classical conditioning, that if you see a horse fall it may be enough to engender fear, could be just as reasonable a theory. Within the psychoanalytical approach psychoanalysis may include dream therapy, the discussion of symbols within dreams, leading to discussion of their interpretation and therefore the resolution of the initial anxiety. The explanation of anorexia nervosa, the prolonged and deliberate self denial of calorie intake leading to the loss of the majority of body fat to an extreme degree, loss of menstrual cycle and distorted body image, calls to the fore object relations theory. This model suggests that there is an unconscious psychosexual immaturity leading to an effort to remain pre-pubesant, that an early traumatic experience is regressed and later expressed via the eating disorder. Bruch suggested a number of years later that there is mutual gain for mother and daughter within this model. Seeking proof of this theory is also problematical as there is little scope for...
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