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The five major perspectives in Psychology and their main strengths and weaknesses.

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The five major perspectives in Psychology and their main strengths and weaknesses In this essay I will outline and describe the major theories in Psychology and evaluate them. There are five major theories' these being, Psychoanalytic, behaviourist, cognitive, humanist and biological. The basis of Freud's Psychoanalytic theory is that human behaviour is controlled by the un-conscious mind, meaning we are unaware of why we behave the way we do. Freud felt that Psychologists should focus on understanding the mental process. Freud believed individuals to be in a state of conflict due to demands that are made from different parts of their personality, these being, ID, EGO and SUPEREGO. There needs to be a good balance between them to have the normality, however there will always be some degree of conflict between them. The ID is the demanding part and it is what responds to the instincts, e.g., the biological need for food, drink and warmth. It is determined by the seeking of pleasure and controls our behaviour when we act selfishly or on impulse. Freud explains this as: "It contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth that is laid down in the constitution- above all therefore, the instincts" (Freud, 1964) The EGO is the rational part of the personality, that does the planning and decision making. ...read more.


The use of animals and laboratory experiments are criticised by many as it is felt by others that experiments of this nature can only show artificial results rather than natural. The Humanist approach, originally developed in America in the early 60's, aimed to investigate all aspects of human experiences such as, love and hope. The approach came about due to dissatisfaction with all other perspectives. Humanists believe that all humans have the potential to grow and develop positively; humans are free to choose their behaviour and emotional responses to events in their lives. In the 1950's Maslow suggested that are a wide range of human needs, which he demonstrated diagrammatically within his triangular hierarchy of needs. Physiological needs such as food and water were at the bottom followed by safety (stability and being free from anxiety). This was then followed by belongingness, the need for love and acceptance. Above this Maslow placed self esteem, the self- confidence and respect that we require. The last one being placed on the top was the Self- actualisation which is the need to fulfil ones own potential. Maslow believed that the basic needs (those at the bottom of the triangle) need to be fulfilled to be able to fulfil the higher needs. People can be helped with their personal growth through client-centred therapy which was developed by Carl Rogers. ...read more.


In teenagers they are able to think hypothetically, i.e.; think about situations that they may have not yet experienced. Abnormal behaviour is shown in a person when they have unrealistic and irrational ideas with possible paranoia and are unable to control their behaviour through the appropriate cognitive process. The main treatment for any abnormal behaviour in this area is 'Rational emotive behaviour therapy' (R.E.B.T). Ellis (1962) was behind this treatment and was used to train the client to have more rational thoughts. In R.E.B.T the client is challenged to prove they are worthless and are directed to practise positive statements. Since the 1960's the Cognitive theory has had a dramatic affect on the study of psychology. This perspective has made many contributions to the field, such as: * An understanding of how cognition affects behaviour; where cognition has produced convincing evidence to explain the way we act and feel. * Strategies for improving mental abilities; where cognitive research as shown that we are not always rational people. The perspective makes us aware of our mental limitations and gives techniques to overcome them. This perspective has many strengths and weakness to it. It has investigated many areas of psychology that have been ignored by the behaviourism perspective. It uses more scientific methods to investigate and the approach has had many useful practical applications. However the approach has been critsed for being over simplistic and realistic in its ideas, ignoring other influences. ...read more.

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This is a difficult essay title since such a lot has to be covered. It means that the writer has to summarise succinctly the key points of each approach as well as mentioning the weaknesses and strengths. The writer, therefore, needs to be good at summarising and picking out the key, salient points of each approach. This requires practice. However, this essay has covered a great deal of detail and suggests that the writer has an understanding of each approach. More time could have been spent on the strengths and weaknesses but overall many of the key points have been mentioned.

Carl Rogers' humanistic work should be described too since he is one of the leading figures in this field.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

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