Describe and Evaluate the Theories of Sigmund Freud

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Unconscious mind, Psychology Pages: 6 (2364 words) Published: June 3, 2013
Describe and evaluate the theories of Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic approach as an explanation of human behaviour. In the evaluation summarise and evaluate one other approach as an alternative explanation of human behaviour.

This essay aims to describe in detail the theories of Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic approach to the explanation of human behaviour. The writer will evaluate these theories and present them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. The essay will also include a brief description and evaluation of the behaviourist approach as an alternative explanation of human behaviour. Sigmund Freud was born Sigismund Freud in Freiberg, Moravia, now Pribor, Czech Republic, on 6th May 1856. He was born into a Jewish family although Freud himself was non-practicing. They moved to Vienna, Austria in 1860 where he began his education. (www.freudfile.org) When leaving school Freud studied medicine at Vienna University, he graduated in 1881 and in the following year began his medical career in the psychiatric clinic at Vienna General Hospital. Freud entered private practice in 1886 and specialised in treatment of nervous disorders. He was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923 after being a prolific smoker and underwent more than 30 operations to try and rid him of it. In 1938 Freud, his wife Martha and daughter Anna moved to London, shortly after the Nazis annexed Austria. The following year Freud died after a long battle with cancer. (www.bbc.co.uk/history) The writer will now describe Sigmund Freud’s theories in detail beginning with his belief that all humans have two basic instincts. He theorised that all humans are born with the basic instincts Eros, sexual drive or creative life force and Thanatos, the death force or destructiveness. These are based on mythical characters and are representations of the two primary outlets of biological energy. Freud proposed that the two forces were in a constant battle throughout the life span of the person. (Inkson, A, no date) One of Freud’s main theories was his model of the mind, this is also known as the iceberg analogy. Freud likened the human mind to an iceberg, the tip of the iceberg, visible above the waterline he described as the conscious mind. This is the part of the mind that we are aware of and contains perceptions, sensations and immediate thoughts. The pre conscious is the area of the iceberg on the waterline and contains stored information and knowledge. The information stored here is not immediately accessible but with time knowledge can move across into conscious mind if needed. Freud described the mass of iceberg below the surface of the water as the unconscious mind. He believed this part of the mind contains desires, wishes, basic instincts, repressed sexual feelings, aggression and violent motives. (Inkson, A; no date) Freud theorised that there were four “royal roads” to accessing the unconscious mind. He listed these as hypnosis, dreams, slips of the tongue and word association. Freud used hypnosis early in his career to access the unconscious mind and treat patients suffering from hysteria. He later abandoned this approach to concentrate on developing his own technique of psychoanalysis. (www.thevictorianweb.com) Freud argued that dreams have meaning and can be interpreted if examined closely enough. According to Freud (1900) “A dream is a fulfilment of a wish”. In some dreams the wish is obvious for example a dieter would dream of cream cakes and fast food. In other instances the wish is disguised and represented through symbolism for example a carrot would be a symbol for a penis and a box would be considered to be a vagina. Symbolism in dreams is not always as universal as this, the symbolic relationship would depend on the individuals own life experiences. (Inkson, A; no date) Freud proposed that slips of the tongue and lapses in memory originate in the unconscious mind and reveal an unconscious motive. When we make what is known as a Freudian...
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