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How useful is psychoanalytical approach to understanding a person? Choose one of Freud's case studies. How credible and useful do you find Freud's way of making sense of this person's problem? Which, if any, limitations of the theory do you see?

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Introduction

How useful is psychoanalytical approach to understanding a person? Choose one of Freud's case studies. How credible and useful do you find Freud's way of making sense of this person's problem? Which, if any, limitations of the theory do you see? Much controversy surrounds the psychoanalytical approach to personality. The psychoanalytical approach is primarily based of on Sigmund Freud's (1856-1939) theory of personality. Freud was, and still is, a great figure in personality psychology; he was one of the first to state a personality theory. He suggested that unconscious regions of the mind exist and aid in everyday living, this is somewhat supported through cognitive psychology (Cooper). His theory primarily explained the workings of a patient with 'hysteria', but was later noticed to be a broad theory which could explain a variety of behaviours. The psychoanalytical theory was based on the idea that internal forces drive human behaviour. The two main drives were known as Eros (life drive) and Thanatos (death drive). The Libido was thought to control the life drive and depending on the personality could be very different from person to person. This drive was assumed to determine all behaviours, depending on the people present and the ideas presented to the individual. Freud focused a lot of his workings on childhood development and split the development into stages. ...read more.

Middle

Unlike the Id this shows delayed gratification through rational means and involves problem solving and realistic thinking. Daydreaming also occurs primarily through the ego. The superego occurs later in development, around three to four years. This looks for the ideal rather than the real. In the 1880's, Freud travelled to Paris and took in interest in the work of a neurologist named Charcot. Charcot was investigating hypnosis. Freud found great similarities between Charcot's participants and his patients who suffered from 'hysteria'. 'Hysteria' was classed as any disorder which had no reasonable physiological cause, for example memory loss or convulsions (Cooper). Also these people were completely unaware of the causes of their behaviours. He figured if he could hypnotise his patients he could find the root of their problems and therefore rid them of their certain disorders. On discovering that, he went back to Vienna and began work with Breuer. They began the 'studies in hysteria'. This is where the psychoanalytic theory is based. He reported remarkable cures of hysterical symptoms through hypnosis; "When she had related a number of these phantasies, she was as if set free, and she was brought back to normal mental life....." (Freud, 1959) This was also when Freud's theory became a broad theory for personality rather than a theory for 'hysteria' patients; this was because he believed these findings to be universal. ...read more.

Conclusion

Freud thought that Dora looked towards him as a father figure and felt that this may have distorted the 'healing' process; "did not succeed in mastering the transference in good time....At the beginning it was clear that I was replacing her father in her imagination, which was not unlikely, in view of the difference between our ages" (Freud, 1905) This is Freud's way of explaining why he failed Dora, he believed that he did not fully understand transference. Transference is the way in which feelings from a previous relationship are transferred onto a new relationship (Stratton & Hayes). This happens recurrently during psychoanalysis. I did not find this a very useful way of approaching Dora's problems as the analysis was very vague and Freud did not get to the root of the problem which could have been solved a physiologist or a doctor. All of Freud's theories were based on the idea that women's problems progressed from inner sexual desires. All his theories were very vague and sexually orientated. They were gender specific and did not give a true insight into the patients' problem. I feel his workings were appreciated at the beginning of the century, but in mainstream psychology these days, Freud's views are behind times and need a lot of investigating. This is due to the fact that very few of his theories can be empirically tested, which means that there are major flaws in his workings. ...read more.

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Response to the question

The answer given here is in response to a number of questions orientating around the psychoanalytical approach, it's usefulness to modern Psychology and the limitations of it. The answer is wholly accurate in it's identification of the psychoanalytic approach to ...

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Response to the question

The answer given here is in response to a number of questions orientating around the psychoanalytical approach, it's usefulness to modern Psychology and the limitations of it. The answer is wholly accurate in it's identification of the psychoanalytic approach to Psychology, but the answer is not entirely valid is this is not what the question asks for. The candidate spends over half of the answer going to exceptional levels of depth of description and explanation of the psychoanalytic approach and appropriately draws upon a case study (The Case of Dora), but they do not explicitly address what the question is asking until well over half-way through their answer, meaning that whilst the first half would be a very strong A grade were it what the question asked, it score very few points as it is surplus. It is imperative that candidate adhere to the question at all times, and only dabble in extraneous information so long as it strengthens the answer. It is not however, advisable to spend over half the answer talking about something that the question does not ask for. It is extremely easy to get side-tracked in exams, which is why candidates must pay attention to the command words in each of the tasks set. Nowhere in the questions is there the word "Describe", "Outline", or "Explain", so the description of the psychoanalytic approach, while necessary in a far lesser quantity of words, does not score many marks.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis, when it adheres to the question, is very good. There is a sound analysis of the applications, or the limitations therein, of the psychoanalytic approach and the candidate also shows a good understanding of why the approach is not best received in today's society. A better conception of the idea that society might completely disregard the idea of intergenerational family romances could be touched on, as Freud's theory is not best welcomed by a great number, owing to it's limitation in acceptance as a real theory. There is however, a good knowledge shown to suggest that the candidate understands the importance of empirical evidence in the supporting of a theory, especially one so developed and detailed as Freud's.
There could be a better elaboration on the usefulness of the theory though, such as a method of retrospective therapy and how, by addressing elements of a person's past, psychologists can interpret and cure behaviours that early experiences shaped the present personality.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication is very good. There is an excellent use of specialist terminology which shows a great interest and adherence to the argot required to analyse Psychology. A better use of more challenging punctuation would help the flow of the quite fragmented sentence structure, but this is not something that the candidate would be penalised for as it does not compromise their clarity of written expression.


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