The Psychodynamic Model

The Psychodynamic Model

The Psychodynamic Model

Main assumptions:

Human Functioning is shaped by “Dynamic (interacting)” psychological forces.

Psychological disorders are caused by emotional problems in the unconscious mind.

The causes of these emotional problems can usually be traced back to early childhood.

The relationship between child and parents is a crucial determinant of mental health.

The symptoms of a disorder have a hidden meaning that can be decoded.

Levels of Mind By Freud:

The conscious.  The small amount of mental activity we know about.

The preconscious.  Things we could be aware of if we wanted or tried.

The unconscious.  Things we are unaware of and can not become aware of.

Id, Ego and Superego

healthy Psyche

The Id

The id consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of personality, including the sex (life) instinct – Eros (which contains the libido), and aggressive (death) instinct – Thanatos.

The Ego (or I)

Initially the ego is “that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world” (Freud 1923).  The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world.

The Superego (or above I)

The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one’s parents and others. It develops around the age of 4 – 5 during the phallic stage of psychosexual development.


Defense Mechanisms


  1. Used by ego to defend against anxiety
  2. Involves distortion of reality
  3. Operate unconsciously


—  Refusal to accept external realities because too threatening to enter awareness.


—  Internal impulses and memories too threatening so barred from entering awareness.

—  Projection

—  Attribute unacceptable thoughts or impulses onto others (project these inappropriate thoughts. etc onto others)

—  Displacement

—  Shifting attention from one target that is no longer available to a more acceptable or “safer” substitute.

—  Sublimation

—  Healthiest defense mechanism.

—   Compromise.

—  Takes socially unacceptable impulses and turns them into something positive & acceptable.

—  Rationalization

—  Explaining an unacceptable behavior in a way that overlooks present shortcomings or failures.

—  Reaction Formation

—  Converting unacceptable and dangerous impulses into something positive to reduce anxiety.

—  Regression

—  Reverting to behavior that is characteristic to an earlier stage of development when confronted with stress or anxiety.

—  Identification

—  Affiliation oneself psychologically with a person, group or institution.

—  Wearing T-Shirts or jackets with sports teams.

—  Undoing

—  Trying to undo an unacceptable act.

—  To nullify a negative activity.

—  Intellectualization

—  Also called isolation of affect.

—  Ponder topics such as death and separation without the negative emotions.

—  Isolation

—  Refusing to deal with or encounter unpleasant objects or situations.

—  Defense Mechanisms(contd)

—  Compensation

—  Covering up weakness.

—   Bald people wearing hats.

—  Fantasy

—  Gratifying frustrated desires.

—  Such as day dreaming.

—  Emotional Insulation

—  Coping with stress by engaging in actions rather than reflecting on internal feelings.

—  Aim Inhibition

—  Accepting a modified form of the original goal.

—  Such as becoming a basketball coach rather than a professional athlete.

Freud’s Psychosexual Stages

Oral            (0-18 months)

Pleasure centers on the mouth-sucking, chewing, biting

Anal            (18-36 months)

Pleasure focuses on bowel and bladder elimination; coping with demands for control

Phallic         (3-6 years)

Pleasure zone is the genitals; coping with incestuous sexual feelings.  Oedipus and Electra Complex Zone.

Latency       (6 to puberty)

Dormant sexual feeling

Genital        (puberty on)

Maturation of sexual interest

Therapeutic Techniques of Psychoanalysis

—  Free association.

Patient says whatever comes to mind.

Catharsis: Expression of emotions that is expected to lead to the reduction of disturbing symptoms.

—   Slips of tongue (“Freudian slip”).

—   Jokes

Freud believed that unconscious desires and unfulfilled wishes are expressed through jokes and slips of the tongue.

—  Therapeutic Techniques of Psychoanalysis

Dream analysis

    The royal road to the unconscious and Guardian of Sleep

◦       Manifest content (what it Appeared to be)

◦       Latent content (repressed Thoughts Seeking Expression)

According to Freud’s(1955) dream symbolism theory, dreams contain objects that depict male and female sexuality.

The Neo-Freudians: Carl Jung’s Analytical Psychology

The Personal and the Collective Unconscious.

Jung shared, yet rejected, many of Freud’s beliefs.

Jung believed in the importance of the unconscious and the power of dream analysis.

Jung favored spirituality and the notion of psychosocial rather than psychosexual energy.

The Personal and the Collective Unconscious

Jung referred to the personal unconscious as a collection of personal experiences

Coined the term ‘complex’ to reflect personal tension.

Referred to a collective unconscious to reflect spiritual influences, composed of various archetypes, that are inherited and universal.

Specific Archetypes

—  The “mandala” refers to the goal of a developing unified self that is a unique process (individuation)

—  The “anima” refers to the feminine side of males, whereas the “animus” refers to the masculine side of females

—  The “shadow” archetype refers to the dark side of humanity

—  Introversion–Extroversion

—  Jung was the first person to make the extroversion–introversion distinction

—  Jung viewed extroversion as energy habitually directed outward and introversion as energy habitually directed inward

—  Jung viewed extroversion and introversion as different cognitive states that affect attention and objectivity

The Neo-Freudians:
Alfred Adler

—  Adler’s perspective views each person as unique, and he represents a movement called individual psychology

—  Adler refuted Freud’s notion that sexual urges motivate people

—  Adler believed that people try to overcome a sense of inferiority that arises from a biological weakness (organ inferiority) or from a psychological weakness

—  Styles of Life and the Meaning of Life

—  Styles of life are unique patterns of life expression that are the result of early life experiences

—  Meanings that are “gravely mistaken” result from situations that involve organ inferiority, pampered children, and neglected children

—  Styles of Life and the Meaning of Life

—  Organ inferiority contributes to humiliation and defensiveness from social comparisons, but can be overcomed

—  Pampered children feel prominent and may react when they no longer feel this way

—  Neglected children may become cold and hostile due to their mistrust of others

—  Styles of Life and the Meaning of Life

—  Adler’s focus in therapy was on discovering prototypes (early memories) called old remembrances that determine adult styles of life

—  Adler outlined four styles of life:

—  Ruling Type: desire for control

—  Getting Type: dependent on others

—  Avoiding Type: avoidant and isolated

—  Socially Useful Type: self-control and social interest

—  Social Interest

—  Social interest develops in childhood and is influenced by the interaction with the mother

—  Adler referred to the superiority complex to describe persons having more interest in personal goals than in social interest, and overcompensating for feelings of inferiority

—  Research has reported low intercorrelations among measures of social interest

—  Birth Order

—  Adler supported a link between birth order and personality and outlined several types:

—  Only children are pampered and lack social interest

—  First-born children are conservative and obedient

—  Second-born children are best adjusted

The Neo-Freudians:
Karen Horney

—  The Importance of Culture and Social Interactions

—  Horney believed that cultural factors influence personality and individual differences

—  Horney identified three contradictions for all people:

—  Success vs. Love

—  Idealism vs. Frustration

—  Independence vs. Situational constraints

—  Basic Anxiety and Basic Hostility

—  Horney asserted that behavior is directed by basic anxiety (helplessness, fear of abandonment)

—  Horney asserted that children develop basic hostility as a result of parental neglect

—  Horney suggested that a basic conflict arises from contradictions and is central to neurosis

—  Moving Toward, Against, and Away From People

—  For Horney, neurosis stems from opposing desires to move toward, against, and away from others which she called attitudes

—  The Neurotic Needs

—  Horney outlined ten neurotic needs that reflect personal maladjustment in moving toward, against, and  away from people.


Psychodynamic Assessment Techniques

The Rorschach Inkblot Test.

—  The Rorschach Inkblot Test consists of color and back-and-white inkblots of ambiguous stimuli.

—  A participant is presented with 10 inkblots and required to state what is seen in each stimulus.

—  Personality is thus projected onto the inkblot.

Presentation on Psychodynamic Model      

December 8, 2013 / by / in ,
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