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discuss freud's psychodynamic theory and compare and contrast to the humanistic theory

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Jennifer Hoult This is an essay about Sigmund Freud's psychodynamic perspective. It will be discussing Freud's theory and the contribution it made to our understanding of human behaviour. Also included in this essay will be the theories put forward by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers for the humanistic perspective. It will then compare and contrast to the psychodynamic approach. Sigmund Freud began his researches into the workings of the human mind in 1881. He focused on internal factors. Freud thought that the main motivating force in human beings eros, the life instinct which is the libido. This is an innate force which is a persons sexual energy. He then argued that another instinctive drive was aggression and he called this thanatos which is the self destructive and cruelty instinct. According to Freud we are born with these two instincts and therefore childhood is an important time for personality development. (Hayes & Orrell, 1998) He developed his theories around this and built a theory of how human personality and abnormality develop from childhood. According to Freud the human mind is split into different levels of consciousness. The conscious is our awareness when we are awake and deals with present thoughts. ...read more.


(Mussen & Rutherford 1963 cited in Eysenck 1996 ) The other stages of Freud's psychosexual development are latent between ages six and eleven, where children ignore the opposite sex and the genital stage from eleven onwards where we desire the opposite sex. Freud put forward that problems at any of these stages could lead to fixation and unresolved conflicts could lead to problem in adulthood. When faced with problems we use defence mechanisms. Freud talked of defence mechanisms as strategies that the ego adopts in order to protect itself against threat. (Hayes & Orrell 1998) Displacement diverts energy into another act when we cannot or don't want to do something. Repression pushes unwanted memories, fears and wishes into the unconscious. Freud's theories have been used to treat mental illness and involved accessing the conflict in the unconscious mind and coming to terms with the repressed memories. The humanistic perspective which was developed in the 1960's adopted an unscientific view of the mind. It focuses on the individual with a large emphasis on conscious experience which is the complete opposite to Freud's theory of the unconscious. The humanistic theorists concentrated on positive aspects of the human mind such as happiness and ecstasy, whereas we can see that Freud's theory seemed to focus on the negative aspects such as jealousy and fear. ...read more.


(Hayes & Orrell 1998) The humanistic theorists showed that there is potential to change in later life with unconditional positive regard whereas the psychodynamic theory saw personality as fixed and unchanging once the person had reached adulthood mainly in the first five years of a person life and we see the basis of this in Freud's psychosexual theory. Another large contradiction is that Freud said that the unconscious affected the way that a person acted and felt but the humanists argued that it is human experience that affects the ways that a person acts and feels. As we can see there are many differences between the psychodynamic and the humanistic theory, however, they both share a big similarity as many of the theories in each perspective are difficult to test. Freud's theory of the unconscious and the personality have made a great impact on our understanding of human behaviour. The humanistic approach has different ideas about how the personality is formed and totally disagrees with Freud's theory of the unconscious but although the theories contradict each other in many ways, Rogers and Freud both developed useful methods to treat patients with psychological and mental disorders. ...read more.

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