Psychodynamic vs Behaviourist Theory

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Psychology is not just philosophical speculation and reasoning over the years it has evolved and it is now also recognised as a science, to understand what psychology is all about it is necessary to know it’s origins and the theorist who brought it out of obscurity, Sigmund Freud. He developed the Psychodynamic or Psychoanalytical perspective to enable better understanding of human behaviour these concepts will be discussed further later in this study. After Freud opened the gateway other perspectives and approaches have been developed, now with five main areas of psychology - Cognitive, Behaviourist, Biopsychology and Humanist approaches. For a comparison with the Psychodynamic theory, Behaviourist Theory will be discussed.

Psychodynamic theory is referred to in psychological literature more than any other. This is the stereotypical psychology - looking into your past, discovering hidden desires, rummaging through the unconscious. It is the most radical of the five theories, and by far the most criticised - accused of being sexist, seeing the human population as ill, and considering sex and hostility as the only motivation for human actions. However, this theory has proven to be one of the most influential forces in the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud believed that humans are driven from birth by two innate instincts Eros the life instinct - the self-preserving and erotic instinct and Thanatos the death instinct - the self destructive, aggression and cruelty instinct. These are controlled by a free floating sexual energy, the libido and is seen to be the single most important motivating force in adult life, driven from birth to enhance bodily pleasure. There is a lot more to the mind than meets the eye, much like an iceberg - only the very tip is showing. He is the one who came up with the concept of one's unconscious - the part of the mind where desires and memories are stored, unrecognised, only hinted at through dreams or slips of the tongue or the ‘Freudian slip’ as it is more widely known. Rallying between the conscious and unconscious are the id, ego, and superego - separate and conflicting forces, requiring a balance for mental health and normal behaviour. The id is a person's animal force, their need to satisfy basic psychological needs. The superego is the 'ideal' force, the civilised, competent figure the person strives to be. The ego sort of regulates the two, keeping the id satisfied while staying within the guidelines of the superego. The strength of each individual force is a factor in personality - if a person's superego is too strong, they are seen as rigid and guilty. If a person's id is too strong, they are seen as delinquent and antisocial (Boeree, 2000).

The psychodynamic theory also established the idea that what happens in a person's childhood is one of the most important factors in personality development, especially traumatic experiences. The theory states that children who go through such things repress their memories, and this is the cause of adulthood mental disease. In order to further understand how personalities are shaped during childhood, Freud thought up the psychosexual stages. This shows the development of the id and the establishment of pleasure-sensitive areas known as erogenous zones. This also brings about the idea of fixations. Such things are developed in the Oral stage of a child’s development from birth to eighteen months where the mouth is the source of nourishment and pleasure an example of this is seen in a nursing infant and if deprived of nourishment will fixate their pleasure seeking energies on this stage, the need to constantly stimulate the mouth through smoking, biting and chewing. The next is the Anal stage between eighteen and thirty-six months focus on bladder and bowl elimination and is seen as a source of pleasure when the child is able to control them, this is why toilet training usually happens around this age and if not mastered an adult would...
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