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Psychodynamic perspective, led by Sigmund Freud, emerged in first half of 20th century.

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Introduction

Psychodynamic perspective, led by Sigmund Freud, emerged in first half of 20th century. It is a wide group of theories that emphasize the power of mind by focusing on the influence of instinctual drives and the importance of developmental experiences in shaping human behavior and personality. The disciples of Freud, neo-Freudians, Ego Analysts, and Object Relation theorists, used Freud's theories and led to new directions. However, just like Freud, his disciples emphasized importance of childhood experiences that reflect our present thoughts and feelings. Among his followers, Alfred Adler particularly focused on importance of childhood experiences as Adler's theories are based on the assumption that people's present self are the produce of the past. Both Freud and Adler shared many similarities in their theories as Adler advocated theories of Freud, founding father of psychodynamic perspective, to develop his own theories. Freud viewed that much behavior are controlled by processed outside people's awareness which are structured by previous memories. He proposed a model consisting of three major parts, of the forces that make up our personality. According to his theory of personality, our personality is a product of a constant battle between Id, pleasure principle, and Superego, moral principle, which produces Ego, reality principle, to balance Id and Superego. Id, primitive principle present at birth, is life instincts, which according to Freud are Eros and Thanatos. ...read more.

Middle

Adler viewed that our behavior is the result of feelings of inferiority during the childhood. As a child, one will feel inferior to the adults or to other children when one is physically or mentally inferior, challenged, to others. He viewed that one would drive him or herself for better position than how one fell about self, causing drive for compensation. In other words, the life is a conscious struggle to move from "felt minus" to "felt plus" as one feel the urge to rise above own inferiority and to become "superior" to what one were in the past. When one does not resolve his feelings of inferiority, one will have superiority complex, exaggerating oneself. When one fails to resolve the feelings evoked by childhood experiences of helplessness, one would develop superiority complex, a response to feelings of inferiority complex, which one would attempts to mask weakness by adopting an attitude of exaggerated self-importance. Thus, his theory of what we are today clearly emphasize the importance of early childhood experiences as one will drive oneself to be better than what one used to be at past. Adler also emphasized the importance of birth order. He theorized that first born child in a family would have different upbringing compare to second, last, or only child in a family. ...read more.

Conclusion

As they used their own experiences to explain the present behaviors, both suffer modern criticism over validity of their theories. Freud, especially, had biased assumption over gender as he theorized that all girls would envy penis, male organ, which proved to be wrong. Also both had cultural bias in their theory as they used their own case to explain their theories. As both are raised in European family and Victorian society, their theories thus raise question whether their theory can be applied generally or not. Although psychodynamic theories are used frequently, they lack in several ways as they try to seek conclusion from qualitative study rather than from scientific studies. Both theories are reduction from childhood experiences, which ignore the importance of other factors. Also, both theories cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed, as they cannot be measured scientifically. Their theories are based on case studies which are biased and have no control over the situation and too small samples to validate them. However, despite these limitations, Freud and Adler's psychodynamic theories are widely claimed and play an important role in present psychology as they seek "big picture" of mind, which therefore emphasize the self-knowledge. It is true that both theorists are criticized by modern psychology and they may not explain all of our present personalities as it has limitations. However, Freud and Adler's theories clearly show the influence of childhood experience on human behavior and that our behavior and personality is the product of our past. ...read more.

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