Psychoanalytic Theory

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Psychoanalytic Theory
by: Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was born as Sigismund Schlomo Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939). He is psychology’s most famous figure, one of the most influential and controversial thinkers. He is a Viennese Physician who wanted to devote himself to medical research, but limited funds and barriers to academic advancement for Jews in Austria forced him into the private practice of medicine. One of his main interests was neurology, the study of the brain and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, a branch of medicine then in its infancy.

He attended a fellowship study with Europe’s most renowned neurologist, Jean Martin Charcot in October 1885, Freud acknowledged that the experience of the stay is one of the turning point in turning him toward the practice of medical psychopathology and away from a less financially promising career in research neurology.

Charcot’s approach on curing hysteria was through hypnosis. Freud tried to follow Charcot’s lead but he turned away from this approach and favoured the approach of free association and dream analysis.

In free association, in order to relieve patients of symptoms with no apparent physical cause, Freud asked questions designed to summon up long buried memories. This approach came to be known as the “talking cure”. The ultimate goal of this talking was to locate and release powerful emotional energy that had initially been rejected, and imprisoned in the unconscious mind. Freud called this denial of emotions “repression”, and he believed that it was often damaging to the normal functioning of the psyche and could also retard physical functioning as well, which he described as “psychosomatic” symptoms. With this approach, he was able to conclude that the source of emotional disturbances lay in repressed traumatic experience in early childhood.

The “talking cure” is widely seen as the basis of psychoanalysis.

The Psychoanalytic Theory

Developmentalists have come up with many explanations or theories about why people behave as they do. No one theory of human development is universally accepted, and no one theory explains all facets of development. Some theorists give more weight to innate factors (heredity/nature), others to environment or experience (nurture) --- though most contemporary theories acknowledge the interaction of the 2.

The Psychoanalytic Perspective or Theory, which focuses on human emotions, is concerned with unconscious forces that motivate human behaviour. It focuses on the unconscious motivations and conflicts. Psychoanalysis is a therapeutic approach aimed at giving people weight into unconscious emotional conflicts. The psychoanalytic perspective has been expanded and modified by other theorists, including Erik H. Erikson and Jean Baker Miller.

Freud theorized that personality is developed by the person’s childhood experiences or is formed in the first few years of life, as children deal with conflicts between their inborn biological, sexually related urges and the requirements of society. He proposed that these conflicts occur in an unvarying, maturation-based sequence of stages of psychosexual development, in which pleasure shifts from one body zone to another --- from the mouth to the anus and then to the genitals. At each stage, the behaviour that is the chief source of gratification changes --- from feeding to elimination and eventually to sexual activity.

Psychosexual Stages of Development.

The psychosexual development theory has 5 psychosexual stages. Of the five stages of personality development, he considered the first three ---- those of the few years of life --- crucial. According to Freud, in the psychosexual stages of development, there is a psychosexual energy or what he calls as the libido. The libido is described as the driving force behind human behaviour.

In his theory, there is often conflict between the child and parent. The conflict arises...
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