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Outline the major elements of the mechanistic, psychoanalytic, and humanistic images of mankind. In your answer, please indicate the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives.

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Question: Outline the major elements of the mechanistic, psychoanalytic, and humanistic images of mankind. In your answer, please indicate the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives. Introduction Psychologists are interested in the study of human actions and behaviour. Different psychologists have fundamentally different assumptions about what human is like. This is due to the different basis of perception which form the background of use of concepts, details of research and explanation. Three images of mankind shall be explored below, namely mechanistic, psychoanalytic and humanistic. Each of the following aspects will be studied : concept, assumption, and methodology. Their strengths and weaknesses will also be discussed. Mechanistic Image of Mankind The development of the image of man as a machine followed after the French philosopher and mathematician, Descartes', publication of his view. Descartes regarded body as a machine obeying laws of physics. The body, the skeleton and its muscles worked as levers and pulleys. The human mind however was not part of the mechanical system but was the switch that made all the levers work. When the machine went wrong, chemicals were injected into the machine transforming into energy. This was an allegation to a sick man taking medicine and recovered. SS101-TMA05 Marisa Lee 93512450 11 September 2000 Pg 2/12 The assumptions for this image of man as a machine were that man was controlled by the events in the environment and by the structures of the organism itself. Man was only partially conscious of the reasons for what they are doing and saying. Man was therefore primarily reactive by nature. He responded to external forces and was passive. ...read more.


Strength of Freud's psychoanalytic theory was that it provided a new, fresh and stimulating point-of-view of psychoanalysis and inspired a wealth of research on many aspects of emotional and social development in the study of child development. SS101-TMA05 Marisa Lee 93512450 11 September 2000 Pg 6/12 Weaknesses were psychoanalytic theorists were strongly committed to clinical approach that they failed to consider other methods. Freud's theory overemphasized the influence of sexual feelings in development. Some aspects of his theory were not applicable to cultures other than the 19th century Victorian society. There was the question of accuracy of the source of data as Freud did not directly observe, test or measure children during their years of growth. Validity of the retrospective interview as the source of evidence is questioned as there was no way to prove. Henry A. Murray (1938) extended Freud's psychoanalytic theory explaining the many facets of the psychology of personality. Murray put forward that a person's actions were the outcome of the interaction between needs and the environmental press. There were two types of needs, biological and psychological, both of which were innate. Biological needs arose from physical nature, giving mental satisfaction, and were under partial control of the mind. Psychological needs arose from psychological nature, giving mental or emotional satisfaction. Environmental press included environment, social groups and institutions. This represented outside forces which could be negative or positive. Murray also included Freud's id, ego and superego; conscious and unconscious. Methodologies adopted in testing and measuring personality included SS101-TMA05 Marisa Lee 93512450 11 September 2000 Pg 7/12 laboratory techniques, observation, questionnaires, asking people to write autobiographies, describe their childhood experiences, doing handwriting tests, and doing the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). ...read more.


The humanistic approach was notable for its concern for the individual's hopes and plans for the future, which was being neglected in many other theories. One other major strength of humanistic theory was its insistence on the importance of unique personal experiences. The insistence on the importance of unique personal experiences mentioned above had also become one of humanistic theory's weaknesses in that the unique experience made it imprecise when communicating the essence of one person's experience to another. The theory is lack of falsifiability as instrospection was the principal investigate technique. Humanistic psychologists were subjective in validating their theory. They trusted their own feelings and logic more than objective data. By concentrating on the self, other parts of an individual like bio-electrochemical nature, analytical abilities, memory systems were left untouched. Conclusions Psychologists while attempting to explain behaviour of individuals, adopted a varied basis of assumptions, and different images of mankind evolved. The concept that man acts like a machine and reacts to outside forces gives rise to the mechanistic view of mankind. Another concept that man's behaviour can be explained via bringing out their memories in the unconscious renders the psychoanalytic image of mankind. An alternative view that man seeks to aspire oneself by fulfilling the hierarchy of needs gives rise to the SS101-TMA05 Marisa Lee 93512450 11 September 2000 Pg 12/12 humanistic image of mankind. Man can be viewed differently but there is not a theory that explains all. To have a more comprehensive understanding of man's behaviour, a combined study of all the different images of mankind would be helpful. ...read more.

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