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The psychodynamic approach to abnormality

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Etain Dobson Psychology – 12A‘Freud’s views on the origins of abnormal behaviour and ways of treating it had a great impact on psychology.’ Outline and evaluate the psychodynamic approach to abnormality.(12 marks)The psychodynamic approach to abnormality is one that assumes that both the unconscious desired and memories from past events or childhood. This theory claims that a person personality is developed during childhood; Freud named this the 5 stages of ‘psychosexual stages’. This theory suggests that too little or too much pleasure at one of the stages can lead to fixation and abnormal behaviour. An example of one of the stages is the ‘oral stage’ where pleasure is gain from sucking or eating and occurs from children up to eighteen months old. Weaning is one the most important achievements during development. If a child was to remain at this stage and was malnourished it would lead to eating disorders such as Anorexia or in the opposite case would lead to Bulimia. Freud’s psychodynamic approach also suggests that the mind is divided into three separate parts; this is called the ‘Tripartite Personality’. The three supposed parts of the mind are; Ego, Superego, Instinctive drives. The Instinctive Drives are split into 2 parts; Eros and Thanatos. The Eros is the motivating drive where as Thanatos is the death instinct that motivates the mind towards more aggressive thoughts. Whereas the ego and superego worktogether with the superego acts as the sense of right and wrong and the ego being the part of the mind that balances the subconscious demands and the Id. Abnormality can be caused by an imbalance between all of these parts. An example of this would be an overly strong superego which often leads to anxiety. This idea links into Freud’s other theory of ‘defence mechanism’. When the super ego is overly strong the ego needs to defend itself and in order to do so will use ‘defence mechanisms’ but they can be both healthy and unhealthy. A good example of this would be denial, if a person refuses to accept the reality of a situation and the subconscious fears are then transferred to ‘safer’ objects, explaining phobias. Freud’s psychodynamic approach towards mental health has had an enormous influence on modern day health practices. Freud was the first to establish the model named the “talking therapy” which is an acceptable form of treatment in mainstream mental health practice. From this we have now developed treatments such as; counselling, and cognitive behavioural therapy. This was a huge leap forward in treatment as before Freud historically the treatments for mental health were extreme such as trepanning. This shows that Freud’s psychodynamic explanation has influenced aspects of modern day treatment and so had a positive impact on society. Freud’s theory coincides with determinism as it talks of early relationships having an influence on later life. For example if a parent is too strict with their child during their early development they may be prone to developing OCD or in reverse ADHD. OCD is likely toEtain Dobson Psychology – 12Adevelop if a child gets used to a strict environment or after a pregnancy. Therefore, the psychodynamic approach does offer an appropriate explanation of some mental illnesses. Freud’s psychodynamic theory relies on retrospective data. In his interviews Freud would askpatients to recall childhood memories. However, we know that memory from childhood is potentially unreliable as not all people are able to remember this far back. Therefore we know this data is also potentially unreliable causing a knock on effect of the overall theory being


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