The psychodynamic approach assumes that experiences in our earliest years can affect our emotions, attitudes and behaviour in later years without us being aware that it is happening. Freud suggested the mind or psyche has three parts: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. Freud suggested that individuals can never be aware of the contents of the unconscious.
He also suggested that there is often conflict between the id and the superego in the unconscious. The id represents a person’s basic drives, such as the sexual drive, and the superego represents the conscience we develop by living in a society. These two parts of the psyche need to be managed by the ego. When this balance isn’t achieved, abnormal behaviour may result. For example, anxiety disorders may occur from an over-developed superego (conscience), when the person simply worries far too much trying to live up to external rules, perhaps those imposed by over-strict parents. Since these processes occur at an unconscious level, people cannot be aware of them.
Freud argued that childhood experiences play a crucial part in adult development, including the development of adult personality. Every child must pass through the so-called psycho-sexual stages; how a child experiences these stages plays a crucial role in the development of his/her personality. A child who becomes fixated at the oral stage may have an oral receptive personality and be very trusting and dependent on others, or he may develop an oral aggressive personality and become aggressive and dominating as an adult. The phallic personality type may be over-confident, vain and impulsive while the genital personality type become well-adjusted, mature, able to love and be loved.
Freud also suggested that emotional traumas and painful experiences in childhood may be repressed into the unconscious where they may produce not only abnormal behaviour and mental illness but also psychosomatic illnesses, such as asthma. The...
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