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Should Freudian theory be abandoned?

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IP1/E3/1 Should Freudian theory be abandoned? Sigmund Freud was a Viennese psychiatrist who collected a body of data from his patients about their feelings and emotional experiences, especially relating to their childhood. He then developed his ideas to explain human behaviour into a theory: Psychoanalytic Theory, and a form of therapy: Psychoanalysis. His psychoanalytic theory is the best-known psychodynamic approach today. He believed that unconscious internal forces controlled an individual's behaviour. Psychoanalytic theory seeks to explain human development and behaviour in terms of an interaction between innate drives (such as the desire for pleasure) and early experiences (the extent to which early desires were gratified)(Eyesenck & Flanagan, 2000). Freud assumed that the mind is made up of three parts. All three parts are used for most behavioural decisions. First, there is the id. The id is made up of natural biological instincts and urges. These instincts and urges lie in the unconscious and are thought to be sexual and aggressive. They are all self-serving, impulsive, and irrational. The id runs according to the pleasure principle, with the emphasis being on immediate satisfaction. Second, there is the ego. This develops during the first two years of life and is the rational and conscious part of the mind. ...read more.


18). When considering the decision-making processes of humans, it would be presumptuous to assume that unconscious thoughts and instincts are the sole source of motivation. Decisions maybe solely based on instincts in emergencies, when a quick, gut reaction is required. Whereas, in everyday decisions, such instinctual reactions play a lesser role of simple aiding an individuals logical reasoning. An average individual takes into account a variety of points prior to making a decision rather than simply relying on instinct. Freud's belief that every act or behaviour a human being generates generally originates from the unconscious suggests that human beings are literally incapable of any logical reasoning or thought. Another assumption of Freud that can be criticised is that the unconscious is larger than the conscious. Everyday, every hour that an individual is awake, he/she is functioning in the realm of awareness. This suggests that a vast amount of information is required to function effectively on a daily basis. Thus, it is difficult to believe that the unconscious would contain more information than what is accessible to function daily. Out of his Id-Ego-Superego theory, Freud developed his theory of psychosexual development, which consists of four stages: oral, anal, phallic, and genital. In each stage, he believes that a "child derives pleasure from different body parts" (Muus, p. ...read more.


There is also the thought that, since he is studying so much of the unconscious, isn't it true that he might unconsciously overlook something, or unconsciously focus too much on one aspect? After all, he is a human being with a mind just like the human beings in which he studied. Also there are many other theories and explanations of human behaviour which maybe more feasible and more universally acceptable such as Learning Theory developed by the likes of Pavlov (1849-1936), Thorndike (1874-1949, Skinner (1904-1990), Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1965), Cognitive or Information Processing theory developed in the 1950s and so on. It is true, however, that Freud's theories do make sense in observation to abandon them completely. Freud himself put a lot of time into all of his studies, and was an observer himself. He inspired many others to follow in his footsteps, elaborate on all his theories, and use his methods even today. Freud also frequently revised his work, and seemed to let every possibility come into perspective. As far as proofs, experiments, or tests, Freud, like any other psychologist, has little strength. Banyard, P. & Hayes, N. Psychology: Theory and Application. London: Chapman & Hill. 1994. Cardwell, M. The Complete A-Z Psychology Handbook. Second Edition. Hodder & Stoughton. 1996, 2000 Eyesenck, M.W. & Flanagan, C. Psychology for AS Level. Psychology Press Ltd. 2000. P12-15. Muus, R. Theories of Adolescence. New York: McGraw Hill. 1996. http://www.free-cliffnotes.com/data/ga/pko136.shtml http://web.rollins.edu/~gvaliante/ClassMaterials/Critique9%20Freud.pdf ...read more.

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