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Describe and Evaluate the Psychodynamic approach to Abnormality

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Describe and evaluate the Psychodynamic model of abnormality Freud (1856 - 1939) and others developed the psychodynamic model in the later part of the 19th century through their clinical work with mentally disordered patients. They challenged the biomedical view that mental disorders had physical origins. The psychodynamic model views abnormal behaviour as caused by unconscious, underlying psychological forces. Freud believed that all behaviour, normal and abnormal, derived from unconscious forces that psychopathology arose from the dynamic working of the personality (psyche), rather than from physical cases. In other words, psychopathology is psychological in origin. According to Freud, the psyche consists of three interrelated structures, and the id and the superego are bound to conflict. Therefore the ego has a vital role to play if a healthy personality is to develop. Psychological disturbances in adulthood are assumed to be the result of unconscious, unresolved psychological conflicts and experiences that date back to childhood. The ego may be unable to balance the competing demands of the id and the superego. Freud maintained that these internal conflicts occur at an unconscious level, so that we are unaware of their influence. ...read more.


Distressing feelings around traumatic events do not disappear, however, simply because they are repressed. They find expression in dreams and irrational behaviour and may eventually erupt and express themselves in psychological disorders such as depressions. In order to balance the demands of the id and superego and to protect itself, the ego employs 'defence mechanisms'. These mechanisms distort or deny reality and are essential ways of protecting the ego from distress and allowing the person to cope with life. They have a powerful, yet unconscious, influence upon our behaviour, and everyone uses them. Freud said that they are perfectly natural and normal and offer a way of satisfying the demands of the id without upsetting the superego. Whilst useful for protecting the ego, however, they do not offer a long term solution, and if defence mechanisms are adopted too frequently, or get out of proportion, they themselves can create psychological problems of their own. According to Freud, the behaviour of people is to some extent 'abnormal', in that none of us is free from the dynamic conflicts caused by our unconscious drives and repressed memories. ...read more.


However it is important to understand that retrospective data collected during interviews (i.e. information from clients gathered years after the event) may be unreliable. The psychodynamic model claims that abnormal behaviour results from unconscious psychic conflict related to innate, biological drives. The model also claims that early relationships with parents are important to psychological development. For these reasons, it has been claimed that the theory is deterministic, that is, individuals are portrayed as having very little conscious involvement in their own personal development. Freud's psychoanalytic approach has been criticized for underestimating the importance of current difficulties that clients might be facing. Even if repressed childhood experiences contribute to adult disorders, it is still important to take account of factors (such as loss of job or relationship break-up) that might be contributing to the person's psychological problems. Later psychodynamic approaches take adult experiences into account. The implicit assumption of the psychoanalytic model is that people are not to blame for their own abnormal behaviour, but may be partially responsible for the development of abnormal behaviour in their offspring. This may prove a heavy burden for parents who feel they have 'done their best' and, according to the model, may also be grappling with their own inner emotional conflicts. Amir Aourarh ...read more.

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