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By 1008851 Apr 17, 2013 1667 Words
Emily Ard
WarrenTech Health Sciences Technology 2 AM
September 5th, 2012

Psychodynamics, also called dynamic psychology, is the study and theory of the psychological forces that highlight human behavior, especially the active relationship between unconscious and conscious drive. It focuses on the interactions of things like desires, impulses, anxieties, and defenses within the mind. Sigmund Freud created the foundation of psychodynamics; his key concept is the depth psychology hypothesis, the idea that nearly all mental activity takes place unconsciously. Freud divided the mind into two levels, the perceptual conscious and the unconscious, those consist of the preconscious (normally unconscious but retrievable) and the unconscious proper, which contains things that are being and has been actively forgotten or repressed. Freud believed that free association would eventually let a patient retrieve memories from the unconscious, memories that are not ordinarily available, this kind of therapy can be useful for relieving internal conflict that is preventing a person to live life fully. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a less intensive, 1-2 session per week, the classical Freudian psychoanalysis treatment is slightly more intense with 3 to 5 sessions per week. Freud developed psychodynamics to explain the processes of the mind and how psychological energy flows in a brain. The main theories within psychodynamics are psychosexual which describes our mental development and the id, ego, and superego which explains how we make decisions and why we feel certain feelings. Freud is the father of psychodynamics, through the late 1800s and early 1900s he formed it combining most of his theories and from his clinical experience. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, started collaborating with Freud, Jung was crucial in helping define libido and incest. He also contributed core tendency toward wholeness and balance within oneself and the core characteristics of the self are the ego, the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, and archetypes.

Psychodynamics is the study of the motives, energy, and forces, spawned by the greatest of individual needs. Psychodynamics is generally the research of the interactions of "psychic energy" inside the personality. Freud later introduced this structural hypothesis to add to the depth of psychology hypothesis, it divides the mind into three forces; the id, ego, and superego; they are always interacting and often conflicting. The id is present at birth and operates entirely on the unconscious level, it is made up of primitive biological urges, including the libido, or sexual drive, which is the most important one; it establishes the basis of the psychic structure. The id functions on the pleasure principle and uses primary process thinking, it ignores reason, reality, and morality. If these needs are not met immediately it results in a state of anxiety or tension. The id is very important in early life because it ensures that a babies needs are met, if the baby is thirsty he or she will cry until the id’s demands are met. The ego develops a little bit later and referees between the id and the real world, it strives to satisfy the id’s wants in socially appropriate ways. It operates on the reality principle with concern for safety and it uses secondary process thinking which applies reasoning and logic to situations. The ego is the director of personality; it makes decisions about pursuing pleasure meeting safety needs, id's demand, and the morals of the superego. When the ego cannot deal with the demands of our desires we get anxiety. There are 3 types of anxiety; Neurotic (danger from id’s impulses), Reality (threat from the outside world), and Moral anxiety (guilt or shame caused by the superego). To deal with this anxiety we have defense mechanisms; repression, reaction formation, projection, displacement, regression, sublimation, denial, compensation, intellectualization, and fantasy. The superego, which develops last at age 4-5, represents the moral standards of society that your parents have raised you to believe. The superego is what people consider their “conscience” –our sense of right and wrong– and is meant to stop behavior that doesn’t meet your moral ideals. There are two parts of the superego; the ego ideal (the rules and standards for good behavior and if obeyed can lead to pride) and the conscience (includes right and wrong views and if disobeyed can lead to guilt or remorse). With all these competing forces it is easy to see how conflict arises between the id, ego and superego. Freud used the term ego strength to refer to the ego's capability to function despite these battling forces. A person with good ego strength can successfully handle these pressures, while those with too much or too little ego strength can become too firm or too disorderly. Freud’s theory of psychosexual development is one of his most widely known theories, but also one of the most controversial. Freud believed that personality develops through a series of childhood stages where the id seeks pleasure from body areas, or erogenous zones, that change throughout development. This psychosexual libido –sex drive– was described as the influential force behind behavior. If these psychosexual stages are successfully completed the outcome is a healthy personality. If they lack the required gratification during a stage or develop certain issues that do not get resolved at the appropriate stage, fixation can occur. Fixation is an ongoing focus on an earlier psychosexual stage and the individual will remain stuck on this stage until the issue is resolved. For example when a person is fixated at the oral stage they may seek oral stimulation by smoking, nail biting, drinking, or excessive eating. The problem(s) can possibly be identified and treated through psychoanalysis.

Stage one of psychosexual development is the oral stage, the erogenous zone is the mouth and age range is birth to 1 year. As an infant their primary source of interaction is through the mouth where they receive pleasure from oral stimulation from things like tasting and sucking. Because infants are completely dependent on their caretakers they develop a sense of trust and comfort through this stimulation. Fixation at this stage can occur during the weaning process where the child must become less dependent on their caretakers, if fixation does occur they could have issues with dependency or aggression and oral stimulating habits. At age 1-3 they enter the anal stage where the erogenous zone is the bowel and bladder control. At this stage the major conflict is getting toilet trained and learning to control bodily needs, which can lead to a sense of accomplishment and independence. According to Freud success at this stage is reliant on how parents approach toilet training; parents who praise and reward the child for using the toilet help the kids feel capable and productive (Freud believed this kind of positive experience is the foundation to competent, productive, creative adults), but parents who punish, ridicule, and shame the child for accidents can result in negative outcomes. If a parent is too lenient they can have an anal-expulsive personality where the individual is messy wasteful and destructive. If a parent is too strict or begins training too early anal-retentive personality develops where the individual is orderly, rigid, and obsessive. When the child reaches 3 they begin the phallic stage where the erogenous zone is the genitals. The primary focus of the libido is on the genitals, children start to discover the differences of males and females. Freud also believed in the Oedipus complex where males start to compete with their fathers for the mother’s affection viewing him as a rival, but the boy gets castration anxiety where they fear being punished by the father for these feelings. Electra complex is a similar set of feelings experienced by girls, although he believed girls instead have penis envy. To resolve these conflicts the child identifies with the same sex parent, however it is thought that females never fully resolve this issue and all women remain somewhat fixated. Once they reach age 6 children start the latent stage that lasts up until puberty, at this stage the erogenous zone is inactive sexual feelings. This period is calm and libido interests are suppressed. Children start school and become more concerned with hobbies and relationships, the sexual energy is still present but is directed to areas like social skills, this is important because here the develop self-confidence and communication skills. At puberty the last stage starts; the genital stage. During this time your sexual interests mature and individuals develop strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. Earlier stages were focused on individual needs but now concerns for others grow, the goal of this stage is to create a balance in life areas. If all the other stages were successfully completed the individual should be caring, balanced member of society. Psychodynamics is not currently a practical theory, but it did open doors to the psych world and made crucial contributions to twentieth-century thought. Psychodynamics theory was the first theory to explain behavioral and mental disorders in terms of the individual's emotional history, it focused our attention on inner life, enabling the mentally disturbed to be treated as human beings, and it also started the concept that most of our mental contents are in our unconscious mind. Current psychodynamics is an evolving multi-disciplinary field, it studies human influences, though process, and response patterns. Any current psychodynamic psychotherapists use this theory of the unconscious to lighten patient’s mental tensions. There are other current blends of psychodynamics that adds these concepts with others like cognitive and neuroscience to get a more sensible theory.

Dennerstein, M. (n.d.). Psychodynamics growth through insite. Retrieved from McLeod, S. (2007). Psychodynamic approach. Retrieved from Psychodynamic definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from Psychodynamic perspective definition -sigmund freud's theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from Schwartz, H. (n.d.). Psychodynamics of political correctness. Retrieved from

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