Introduction to Psychodynamic Theory

Topics: Object relations theory, Adoption, Donald Winnicott Pages: 10 (3881 words) Published: November 18, 2012
The psychodynamic theories that I have been studying this year have been nothing short of fascinating and as a result, I now view life in a very different way. I can see many of these concepts in both my own life and in my client work. I was relinquished by my mother and adopted when only a few days old and although my adoptive parents made me aware of my situation from an early age, I did not understand or accept the magnitude of this early life experience until much later in life. Many of the theories I am studying this year relate to early infancy and the importance of the mother and these theories have proved challenging for me, on a personal level. We have only briefly touched on the work of Sigmund Freud this year. I am very interested in working with both the conscious and unconscious processes and this was championed by Freud. Many of Freud’s concepts come in pairs: conscious and unconscious, ego and id, internal and external, Eros and the death instinct and can bring conflict; the urge to love and the urge to destroy. Freud was one of the first to use dreams as a tool in psychoanalysis, stating that dreams are the ‘royal road to the unconscious.’ (Freud 1899) One of the concepts that I feel particularly drawn to is what Freud called the repetition compulsion. I understand this to mean the need people seem to have to create for themselves repeats of earlier difficult or uncomfortable situations and relationships from childhood. ‘we have come across people all of whom human relationships have the same outcomes: such as the benefactor who is abandoned in anger after a time by each of his protégés, however much they may otherwise differ from one another, and who thus seems doomed to taste all the bitterness of ingratitude; or the man whose friendships all end in betrayal by his friend; or the man who time after time in the course of his life raises someone else into a position of great private or public authority and then, after a certain interval , himself upsets that authority and replaces him by a new one; or, again, the lover each of whose love affairs passes through the same phases and reaches the same conclusion.’ Freud, S (1920 p 22) I have seen this phenomenon in many of my clients who seem determined to replicate difficult past relationships in the here and now, leading to more frustration and disappointment. This compulsion appears everywhere and therefore can also play out in the relationship between therapist and client and can be of immense use to the therapist if correctly identified. I have often wondered if my early childhood experiences of being raised in a family that were not biologically my own, with all the subtle references about not truly belonging and frequently having to ’fit in’ may have led me to marry into a black West Indian culture, so vastly different to that of my own white British culture, thus satisfying my repetitive compulsion to sustain a relationship that does not feel like a natural fit but requires hard work and compromise. The comfort of the discomfort is familiar to me. We have studied Object Relations theories this year and my understanding of these developmental theories based on the early mother/child relationship essentially looks at relationships between people (objects) and parts of the self or others. (part objects) The individual's interpretation of these earlier relationships- both conscious and unconscious- becomes the basis for later relations with others, e.g. friendship, marriage, and raising a family. When looking at the work of Melanie Klein, at first it felt uncomfortable and difficult to conceptualise. I struggled to understand her ideas in the context of babies and young children but could identify them more clearly in an adult context. I believe many of Klein’s contributions are vitally important and I frequently recognise them in my client work. Klein saw the new baby as relating to the world via its physical...
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