Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Psychodynamic Approach to Understanding Personality

1687 Words Mar 28th, 2011 7 Pages
Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Psychodynamic approach to understanding personality

The psychodynamic approach was proposed by Freud. This approach towards personality is based on the notion of underlying forces such as the id, ego and superego which are either present from birth or develop during childhood shape our behaviour and personality as such. Experiences in childhood are proposed to be the basis of human personality, according to Freud and as such Psychodynamic theory proposes that some undesirable unbalances between the id and superego can create the arising of ego defence mechanisms which explain individual differences in behaviour. Freudian theory has been adapted by neo-Freudians, however while psychodynamic
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In addition, the test produces illusory correlations: some of the apparent validity of the test has been due to illusion. For example, at the time homosexuality was regarded as a psychopathology. There were five signs interpreted as diagnostic of homosexuality. However, Chapmans surveyed 32 experienced tests but in reality analysis of results shows the heterosexual men are just as likely to report such signs.

The psychodynamic approach has also lead to invaluable treatment which is still often practiced today. Firstly free association is a method of treatment and assessment whereby patients are invited to relate whatever comes to mind during the sessions and not to censor their thoughts. This aimed to help patients learn more about their thoughts and feelings. This may lead to new personal insights and meanings.

However while psychodynamics has some strengths, the majority of evaluation in modern times comes in the form of weaknesses to Freud’s assumptions and methodology. Firstly the development of psychodynamic theory was strongly influenced by the time at which it was created. For instance, during this period Freud was brought up and living in a strong Christian society in which thoughts or urges, particularly in terms of sexual desires, where very much unacceptable. With this in mind, the highly and over emphasis on sexual desires which psychodynamics basis’ itself around was influenced by society at the time.

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