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The Psychodynamic Approach to Explaining Abnormality Unconscious unresolved conflicts from childhood.

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Presentation on theme: "The Psychodynamic Approach to Explaining Abnormality Unconscious unresolved conflicts from childhood."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Psychodynamic Approach to Explaining Abnormality Unconscious unresolved conflicts from childhood

2 By the end of this topic, you should be able to: Describe the main assumptions of the psychodynamic approach to psychology Describe the three parts of the mind as proposed by Freud: the id, the ego, and the superego Explain how mental abnormality might arise from imbalances between the id, ego and superego Explain the difference between conscious, preconscious and unconscious thoughts, feelings and memories

3 Assumptions of the psychodynamic approach Much of our behaviour is driven by unconscious motives Childhood is a critical period in development Mental disorders arise from unresolved, unconscious conflicts originating in childhood Resolution occurs through accessing and coming to terms with repressed ideas and conflicts

4 Id: Pleasure principle Superego: Morality principle Ego: Reality principle Conscious: The part of the mind we are aware of – everyday thoughts and feelings Preconscious: Thoughts and memories not accessible at all times, but easily recalled Unconscious: The deep dark shameful part! Repressed thoughts, memories and feelings Freud’s tripartite model of personality

5 Are we born with an ego? Id is present at birth – a newborn baby is completely selfish Ego develops by the age of three – child becomes aware that other people have feelings and that it can’t always have it’s own way Superego appears around age five – sense of morality (conscience) passed on by parents – child internalises this

6 Proof of the unconscious? ‘Freudian slips’ “A Freudian slip is saying one thing and meaning your mother” m/watch?v=Mvxe04wG mTw&feature=related m/watch?v=Mvxe04wG mTw&feature=related

7 Summary Ego too weak – allows id and superego to dominate Id too strong – selfish, out of control, could become psychopathic Superego too strong – strict, anxious, obsessive – depression, anxiety, OCD How might bipolar disorder be explained using this approach?

8 By the end of this topic, you should be able to: Explain what defence mechanisms are Describe at least 3 common defence mechanisms Apply defence mechanisms to ‘real life’ examples Explain how over-use of defence mechanisms might lead to mental abnormality

9 Defence mechanisms The constant disagreements between the id, the ego and the superego can lead to a lot of anxiety E.g. You want that bar of chocolate but you know you’re meant to be on a diet – you feel guilty if you have it but unsatisfied if you don’t – anxiety either way! So the mind develops various methods of defending itself – for example you tell yourself that it’s ok to eat the chocolate because it’s good for you (rationalisation)

10 We all use defence mechanisms on a daily basis They are unconscious – we aren’t aware of what we’re doing But… if we over use them they can lead to mental abnormalities – psychosis?

11 Denial: You completely reject the thought or feeling My Ashley would never cheat on me…

12 Projection: You attribute your own socially unacceptable thought or feeling to someone else I can’t believe what Vernon Kay has been up to… what a cheating liar! How could he do that to his beautiful wife?

13 Suppression: You are vaguely aware of the thought or feeling, but try to hide it. Hmmm, perhaps Ashley isn’t as perfect as I thought. Can’t think about that now… got to go and buy some new shoes instead.

14 Displacement: you redirect your feelings to another target It’s not my fault my marriage is over. It’s the newspapers’. And those women for selling their stories… And Cheryl’s for not being there enough… And my mum’s for not breastfeeding me. I hate them all!

15 ‘m Regression: You revert to an old, usually immature, behaviour I’m going home to me Mam, so she can cook me beans on toast, and stroke me hair and tell me that everything is going to be alright.

16 Sublimation: You redirect the feeling into a socially productive activity e.g. art, poetry, sport I’m going to make another album, and learn how to tap dance, and take up scuba diving!

17 Rationalisation: You try to justify uncomfortable thoughts or feelings with socially acceptable motives I don’t hate women… I love them… that’s why I can’t keep it in my pants!

18 Reaction formation: You turn the feeling into its opposite I’m not at all upset or humiliated. In fact, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

19 By the end of this topic you should be able to: Describe the 5 psychosexual stages of development, including the Oedipus/Electra Complex Explain how fixation at each stage may lead to abnormality Evaluate the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology Discuss the free will vs determinism debate

20 Psychosexual stages There are a number of stages of childhood, during which the child seeks pleasure from a different ‘object’ To be psychologically healthy, we must successfully complete each stage Mental abnormality can occur if a stage is not completed successfully – the person becomes ‘fixated’ Freud believed that children are born with a libido – a sexual (pleasure) urge

21 The oral stage Birth to 18 months approximately The mouth is the main focus of pleasure during this stage The child enjoys tasting and sucking Successful completion of this stage is demonstrated by weaning – eating independently Oral receptive (not allowed to suck freely) – passive, needy, sensitive to rejection – overeats and drinks, bite nails, may smoke Oral aggressive (allowed to suck too often/too long) – hostile and verbally abusive, sarcastic

22 The anal stage 18 months to 3 years Defecation is main source of pleasure Successful completion marked by potty training Anally retentive - very tidy, stubborn, likes order and being in control Anally expulsive - generous but disorganised, doesn’t like to follow rules

23 The Oedipus complex Occurs during the phallic stage Around age 3-5 Boy wants his mother as his ‘primary love object’ Wants his father out of the way Fears that his father knows this and will castrate him as punishment Identifies with father to stop castration anxiety

24 The Electra (female Oedipus) complex A girl also desires her mother But she realises she doesn’t have a penis like her father! Becomes hostile towards her mother because she believes her mother has castrated her Develops attraction to father instead because she believes he can give her a baby, which will act as a penis substitute Eventually resolves feelings towards mother and identifies with her – doesn’t want to lose her mother’s love

25 The latency stage Age 6 to puberty approximately Sexual urges sublimated into sports and other hobbies Focus on developing same sex friendships No particular requirements for successful completion Lull before the storm of puberty!

26 The genital stage Puberty into adulthood Focus on genitals but not to same extent as phallic stage Task is to develop healthy adult relationships This should happen if earlier stages have been negotiated successfully

27 Old Age Pensioners Love Guinness! Oral stage Anal stage Phallic stage Latent stage Genital stage Now use your textbook to help you complete page 23 of your workbook (yellow cover)

28 Little Hans Freud believed that the case study of Little Hans supported his theory of psychosexual stages and the Oedipus complex in particular Work in pairs to read the information on p. 24 of your workbook, then complete p. 25 with his interpretation of Hans’ behaviour

29 Evaluation of the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology 1.Influential 2.Unscientific – how can it be tested? 3.Retrospective data – case studies 4.Doesn’t consider adult experiences 5.Blames parents! 6.Deterministic Is it a strength or a limitation? Is there any evidence to support this point? Is there a counter- argument? How might Freud have defended himself?

30 Free will vs determinism Determinism is the belief that everything – including human thought and behaviour – is predetermined by the law of nature (fate, God, evolution, etc.) Free will is the belief that we have total control over our own lives Psychodynamic theory is deterministic because it states that behaviour is controlled by the unconscious mind – something we don’t have control of

31 Using this in the exam… In pairs, you have 10 minutes to write a 6 point evaluation of the psychodynamic approach to abnormality This means either two points well explained, perhaps with examples OR three points briefly explained When you have finished, swap with another pair to mark each other’s answers


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