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Outline and evaluate one psychodynamic explanation of personality development

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Outline and evaluate one psychodynamic explanation of personality development Freud's psychodynamic model of personality development focuses on what drives us to behave in particular ways. It is primarily concerned with the role of past experiences, particularly those from childhood, and internal processes such as innate drives. Freud believed that the mind was split into three conflicting parts: the id, the ego and the superego. He described the id as being innate, unconscious and concerned with immediate gratification of needs or desires (the pleasure principle). The ego is conscious and operates on the reality principle, which balances the desires of the id with social restrictions by turning such desires into socially acceptable desires, or blocks them out completely. The superego does not develop until about the age of five, and is described as the internalised voice of the child's parents. It consists of two parts: the conscience and the ego ideal. The conscience reflects the image of what the person would like to be, and rewards matching behaviours, and the ego ideal is what the person feels like they ought to be, punishing the person by making them feel guilty should they deviate from their moral path. Freud outlined three different personality types which derived from one of the three components of the psyche being more dominant than the other two. ...read more.


According to Freud, the �dipus Complex develops as the boy develops a desire for his mother. He sees his father as a rival, and as a result becomes scared that his father will castrate him, but resolves the conflict by identifying with him and adopting many of his traits and morals. The Electra Complex is developed when a girl realises she has no penis, and believes she has already been castrated. This leads to penis envy and subsequent blame of the mother, and affection is drawn towards the father, who has a penis. The penis envy is then resolved by a desire for a child. Resolution of conflict is a significant part of Freud's theory. He identified several 'defence mechanisms' which are used to resolve conflict. For example, if a traumatic event occurs, the victim's ego may push the memory into the unconscious: this is called repression. Another example of a defence mechanism is intellectualisation, whereby the ego acknowledges what it is doing by stripping it of any emotional content and justifying it by other means. For example, a doctor performing surgery justifies cutting open a body by noting that it is in his/her profession and he/she has been trained to do such procedures in order to save lives. Freud's theory has received much criticism. ...read more.


For example, Myers (2000) described a 'repressive coping style', whereby people who feel the need to bee social accepted and show low levels of anxiety are slow to report negative memories, and were good at forgetting when asked to do so. Myers and Brewin (1994) found that female repressors are likely to have had experience hostility from their fathers at a young age. Also in support for this is a study by Williams (1994), who found that 17 years after sexual abuse, 38% of the victims had no recollection of the incident(s), and even more reported that there had been a time when they could not remember. Freud also had an ideographic approach to understanding the way people think and feel: he developed his theories by using in-depth case studies. It is also undeniable that Freud's theories have contributed a lot to psychology: it showed that the mind is complex and that some mental processes are unconscious, for example, which also takes the factor of guilt away from mentally ill patients (though it arguably shifts guilt to the parents). It also showed that childhood experiences can have a lasting effect on a person's personality, and that children mature through a series of stages, which both can be supported by research into attachments, for example by Bowlby, Ainsworth, and Schaffer and Emerson (1964). Indeed, Freud's theories have lasted for a long time, and continue to offer suggestions as to why people develop in the ways that they do. ...read more.

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