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What is Psychodynamics


WHO Freud
WHAT - Freud’s theories included psychodynamics which refers to the internal conflict between the different aspects of the self and the defence used to deal with them. The self has three aspects: the id which is concerned with getting biological needs satisfied and the seeking of pleasure; the ego which forms after a child has developed perceptual and logical capacities and is concerned with tempering the goals of the id with reality and the superego otherwise known as the conscience which represents the introjection of values and morals gained from others (particularly the father figure). This conflict is unconcious but leads to anxiety (angst) which is allieveated through unconscious defence mechanisms such as repressions (pushing the impulse out of the consciousness altogether), displacement where anxiety may be displaced onto someone or something else (such as dreams).
WHY: Intrapsychic conflict is of major importance in freuds theories. The ways in which the conflicts between the id, ego and superego are played out and the defences used are all material for psychanalytical therapy - i.e. the breaking down of the defences and bringing about change.


What is defence mechanism(s)


WHO: Freud
LOCATION: Psychodynamic theory
So…. In Freud’s psychodynamic theory, intrapsychic conflict creates anxiety (angst). To protect against this Freud believed we use unconcious defence mechanisms. Freud proposed 9 though later psychoanalytical theorists including his daughter Anna added others.

The most significant of these is repression. Repression is simply the shutting out of the consciousness anything that is disturbing (often these are sexual or aggressive feelings). Repression of the libido was is known as sublimination. Freud felt that this resulted in socially acceptable non-sexual goals such as creative activities or the caring for others. Another is displacement, where the impulse is redirected onto a less threatening target, such that fear or anger towards a parent might be displaced onto a relative or teacher. In projection the unacceptable impulses are ‘projected’ onto another and finally reaction formation is where the opposite impulse to what we are feeling is exaggerated so as to counter the impulse.

Defence mechanisms are not pathological, rather they are everyday mechanisms used by us to ‘forget’ dentist appointments or ‘cope politely’ with someone we dislike. There is some experimental evidence in support. Myers & Brewin found that repessive copers were likely to have had troubled childhoods.

WHY IS IT USEFUL. The concept that we use unconscious methods to cope with conflict is central to Psychoanalytical theory and is key to psychoanalysis. Defences are seen as rooted in a person’s part and become part of the individual’s character. Indeed Personality is seen as part related to the defence mechanisms a person typically uses.


What is the Oedipal Conflict


WHO Freud
LOCATION: Part of Psychoanalytical theory - specifically the psychosexual stages.
PA theory claims that all children go through a series of psychosexual stages focused on different body parts for pleasure. The Oedipal Conflict, so named for Sophocles play in which a son kills his father and marries his mother arises during the phallic stage at around 5 years old. The source of pleasure is the penis and Freud believed that a young boy’s affection for his mother became sexualised. He desires his mother and thus sees his father as a rival leading him to become hostile towards him and in turn fear him - in particular experiencing castration anxiety. To resolve this anxiety the boy identifies with the father figure (taking on his role and characteristics) and introjection (adopting his father’s perceived values and attitudes). It is during this process that the superego develops.
WHY IMPORTANT: Childhood experiences are central to Freud’s theories and the Oedipal conflict is seen as a cruical development stage for boys in particular for their moral development with implications for their adult personality. However it is know seen that rather than being universal the Oedipal Conflict is a reflection of Freud’s particular upbringing where the father is aloof but dominant. Equally current thinking also sees Freud’s female equivalent version of Penis Envy as also being due to cultural practises than anatomical concerns.


What is Self-Actualisation?


WHO: Maslow and Rogers
LOCATION: Humanistic psychology. Part of Maslow’s theory of motivation. It refers specifically to the drive towards self motivation - to develop one’s potential and to thus ‘become everything that one is capable of’.

It is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarcy of needs. This starts with physiological, safety, love and belonging and esteem - all these are known as deficiency needs. Self-Actualisation resides above all these and is termed as a being need - i.e. an end in itself.

Carl Rogers also had self-actualisation as a key concept and it is part of person centred counselling. How this need is expressed differs from individual to individual and includes being artistic to being a good mother.

Both Maslow and Rogers believed that as long as the conditions were right that Self-Actualisation would occur spontaneously

Maslow supported his ideas with a list of probable self Actualizers including Einstein and Thomas Jefferson whom he believed had achieved this state. Maslow felt that they would be creative, spontaneous, be involved in a cause outside of themselves that they loved, be capable of deep and intimate relationships but be also happy on their own but could also be seen as cold, ruthless and impersonal.

IMPORTANT. Maslow’s study was one of the first to explore the idea of healthy personalities when most around were focused on unhealthy, and highlighted the possibility of change and development. His study has however been subsequently criticised for his value based judgements and limited sample size. Yet that said Positive Psychologist have recently picked up his idea of looking at healthy personalityies and look to using psychology to enhance well being at both community and individual levels.


What are Personal Constructs


Who: Kelly
LOCATION: Humanistic Psychology:

These constructs are bipolar discriminations that are used by people to make sense of their world eg friendly - cold. Different people use different constucts thus constructs are unique to individuals. To uncover these constructs kelly used a repertory grid which also shows the relationships between the constructs used.

The client is asked to list people who play a role in their life i.e. father boss freind etc. These are the elements. Different combinations of three of these elements are then selected and the client is asked to describe how 2 of them are alike and how 1 is different. This is then repeated until the client is no longer able to provide different constructs. Finally each element is given a rating for the construct. Where the values are similar across different constructs this suggest that these different constructs are being used similarly.

The value of the repertory grid is in comparing th subjective experiences of different individuals or groups. It is also important within therapy - if the constructs are too rigid (known as impermeable) the person may be unhappy and difficulties making relationships. Fixed role therapy can then be used to help the individual develop new ways of makeing sense.

The idea of personal constructs is also vital for its emphasis on the possibility of change - constructive alternativism.