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Psychology 101 Information, The Actions & Perspective From The School Of Psychodynamic Psychology By Freud

Updated on October 21, 2012

Looking for the best psychology information? Well, you have come to the right place if you are looking to understand what the school of psycho dynamic psychology is.  You might know this as psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

Founded by Sigmund Freud, his followers and predecessors expanded his ideas to what we know today in terms of therapy. These ideas are fundamental in psychiatric and psychological services.

Therapies like counselling would not be as effective without psycho therapy. Many of our mental health services have helped many people because of the psycho dynamic perspective. So, what are these ideas and where did they originally come from? Well, read on and be amazed and shocked... if you dare!


Psychology Definition

As this is a psychology 101 based article, I will, as always, start by providing a ‘working definition’ of psychology as a term:

‘Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour of humans and animals.’

Psychologists concentrate on what is observable and measurable in a person’s behaviour. This includes the biological processes in the body, although, the mind is central to the subject.

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What Is Repression?

So, what is repression?

This is the pushing down of unwanted ideas into the unconscious and keeping it there.

It is a defense mechanism that blocks out terrible memories, what we fear, what we don't want to think about.

It is worth noting that repression can take up too much energy, or libido, which can render people exhausted.

Psychoanalysis and Repression

The school of psycho-dynamic originally focuses on psychoanalysis. The job of the psychoanalyst is to trace back repressed issues from the past.

It is like tidying a messy wardrobe and clearing out the clutter, or cause, that is causing the distress. By tracing these troublesome traumas, the Doctor becomes an enabler who helps to bring these to the forefront (consciousness). This helps the client face up to what is causing him mental harm and enables him to deal with it effectively. By using reason, and realising the nature of the problem, may go some way to help to resolve the original physical manifestation.

Phobias and hysterical attacks have often been overcome, therefore, by using methods in psychoanalysis, including methods of counselling today.

If you relax, then we will begin.  'Tell me about your childhood!'
If you relax, then we will begin. 'Tell me about your childhood!' | Source

Who Is Freud?

The School Of Psychodynamic

Psychodynamic means 'active mind'. There is a mental struggle between the hidden unconscious mind.

Much of these Psychoanalytic theories derive from the ideas of Freud and his followers - Jung, Adler, Erikson and Klein, amongst many others.

Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) was the grandaddy who invented the term Psychoanalysis in 1896 to label his theories and techniques for investigating mental health issues in people.

He developed multiple and inter-related theories as a way to describe all human behaviour. Of course there is too much to cover in just this section, but briefly, the 'unconscious' is totally hidden and must not be confused with the subconscious. The mind can be broken down into 5 components, as listed.

Freud - 1. Conscious, Pre-Conscious & Unconscious Mind

  • The Conscious - Wakeful awareness.
  • The Pre-Conscious - The link between the conscious and unconscious, giving clues of thoughts and actions. For example, remembering a dream and the slipping of the tongue.
  • Unconscious - The place of secret desires for which is totally hidden and a place where we are unaware of such thoughts. It is a necessary locked door that is key to our survival that helps us to get on with our lives.

Freud - 2. The Libido

This is inborn energy, according to Freud. It motivates and enables survival - sex is a manifestation of it. Some people have more 'steam' than others and it is the libido that is dependant upon other factors, such as personality and activity.

Freud - 3. The Id, Ego and Superego

The mind might be thought of as three parts:

  • The Id - The pleasure principal which is selfish and wants immediate gratification (babies have this as fundamental).

  • Ego - The reality principal that battles with the id because it is concerned with reality and planning for the future (usually develops around the age of 2 years).

  • Superego - Influenced by parents, this is an overseer of above. It is about being moral, empathetic and altristic.

Freud - 4. The Stages of Psychosexual Development

  • Oral (0 - 2 yrs) - Contributor to personality development. The suckling instinct that helps to develop trust and an optimistic personality. A lack of this or early weaning can have a marked effect on creating distrust, cynicism and aggression.
  • Anal (2 - 3 yrs) - Contributor to personality development. Helps with independence as the child discovers bowel functioning. In how potty training is handled, this will have an effect on the outcome of personality. Strictness, for example, and forcing evacuation can lead to classic anal retention and miserliness.
  • Phallic (3 - 6 yrs) - Contributor to personality development. Oedipus complex (boys) and Electra complexes (girls) where same sex are jelous of same sex parent, but eventually learns to identify. There is a lot more to this, however, see resource box.
  • Latent (6 - 11 yrs) - the sexual energy is still present during this time of exploration.  This energy is directed into intellectual and social pursuits.  It is important in social, communication and self confidence development.
  • Genital (11+ yrs) - adolescent stage where curiosity for the opposite sex is developed.  If there has been 'normal' development, the child should be confident and caring.  He or she will use the libido energy to explore all areas of life.

Freud - 5. The Defence Mechanisms

Ways to unconsciously protect ourselves through:

  • Repression, Regression, Displacement, Sublimation, Denial and Projection.

According to Freud, the overuse of the defence mechanism can lead to Fixation and Identification.

Defence Mechanisms

We have already explained repression above, but what do we mean by regression, displacement, sublimation, denial and projection?

Regression means we go back to an earlier stage to give us comfort.  For example, thumb sucking, food or something in our childhood that we found pleasurable.

In displacement, we divert our libido energy in other activities as a way of avoiding something that we don't want to do or can't do.

Sublimation is healthy displacement.  For example, going to the gym when you are angry as a release to stress.

Denial is a form of unacceptance of a situation or task.  This defence mechanism helps people to avoid the truth because it is too painful to believe it.

Projection is when you identify characteristics, traits and/or actions in others which are inherant within yourself.  You are projecting the truth of yourself onto others.

Oedipus Complex

Freud suggested that all boys unconsciously go through a sequence of stages:

  1. Develop a strong desire for mother
  2. Awareness of bond between parents like sleeping together
  3. Getting jelous of father, resulting in hating him
  4. Fear of father learning of his feelings and desires
  5. Fear of punishment where ultimately he will be castrated.

Penis Envy

Much of Freud's ideas was based around sex as a base instinctual desire. The id, or unconsious desires, therefore, craves immediate satisfaction and has to be controlled consciously by the ego or superego. It is these dimensions that make us more civilized.

Freud was highly critised for his ideas on sex as a fundamental to behaviours, especially on his ideas that when boys grow up they are jelous of their father's relationship with their mothers. This was formed on the basis that they had developed bigger penises (penis envy) than that of the son. Freud pointed out that the son's wanted sex with their mothers. He also suggested that it was the same for daughters with their fathers. Termed the Oedipus and Electra complexes, these view points were and are still very contraversial!

Freud highlighted that this was a natural stage of development and, once the boy or girl resolves these feelings, they can begin to identify with the same sex parent.

Freud's Evidence

It was through talking therapy that Freud formulated many of his ideas.

Patient's like Anna O, Little Hans and The Rat Man were all helped in order to combat their hysteria.

You can read more about these case studies by clicking on the links in the resource box.

Freud's methods cured many people despite his theories being just that - theories.

These methods, however, are used in psychiatry today but still prove contraversial and accused as being unscientific.

Many of Freud's followers took his ideas and developed their own theories from them. Carl Jung, particularly comes to mind.

These Jungian concepts included additional ideas into introversion, extraversion, complexes, archetypes and collective consciousness.

The School Of Psycho Dynamic Therapy - The Anna Freud Centre

Was Freud Right? The Anna Freud Centre Created From Psychoanalysis.

Today, psychologists would refute Freud's ideas on sexuality, but would not shy away from the notion of the importance of identification with parental role models.

Indeed, it has been a long held thought that girls tend to identify as 'daddy's girls' and sons as 'mummy's boys'.

It is only later that, as the child develops into adulthood, that they identify with the same sex parent or nearest role model.

You could say that Freud may have been right in his observations in child development, but the psychological world may have over-emphasised the sexualisation of his ideas, either that or Freud really did over emphasise sex in the concept of psycho-dynamic theory.

Whatever, Freud's ideas of every thought, feeling and dream could be brought down to the lowest common denominator of sexual instinct really did divide the school of psycho-dynamic psychology.

But it did help to provide some of the foundations where counselling and therapy derive from today.

The Anna Freud Centre is the pioneering centre of excellence for psychoanalysis in child psychology. Anna Freud, the last born child of six from Sigmund and Martha Freud, and Melanie Klein contributed to the school of psycho-dynamic theory and therapy. This has had a marked effect on people's life's today, as is demonstrated in the clip.

Whether Sigmund Freud was right or wrong is hugely debated. However, the fundamentals of his theories has helped many people today and enabled the evolution of psychology in many ways. If it wasn't for Freud's ideas, then the fundamentals of humanistic psychology would not be in place, for example.

Understanding human psychology is an immense task and there is no doubt that psycho dynamic theories has been forefront in these endeavors.

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Anna Freud and Melanie Klein's Contributions

A Final Word On The School Of Psycho Dynamic Psychology

Although contraversial, Freud definitely contributed in a huge way to psychology today. Without him, there would be no school of psychodynamic psychology and many people would not benefit from it's practice. Talking therapies like counselling would not exist and many people could be locked in misery that would be deep rooted in their sub-conscious. In understanding our complexities, we can leave past traumas behind in an orderly fashion and move on in our lives. Thanks to the school of psycho dynamic perspectives, people have the chance to live a fulfilling and happy life.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you TracieKins for your gratitude... people like you make it all worth while!

    • TracieKins profile image


      8 years ago from Scotland

      This is a really great piece the type of writing that cuts the crap and gives everyone exactly what they need to know and what they are seeking to read. Really impressed :) and will help me so much with my research and studies next summer Thank you for sharing :)

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you Dallas and very true. This is a growing project for me and what started out as one psychology article has turned into 17! Watch this space for Jung - he links in with my spirituality articles :)

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      10 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Life is dynamic. The systematic study and theory of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, emphasizing the interplay between unconscious and conscious motivation provides insight to our behaviors...

      Thanks for sharing.

      Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud, developed a variation of psychoanalytic theory called analytical psychology, which includes two well-known concepts.

      •The collective unconscious, in contrast with Freud's unconscious, contains latent memory traces from a person's ancestors.

      •Archetypes, emotionally charged images and thoughts that have universal meaning, may be manifested in a culture's symbols, art, religion, and so forth.

      Always an interesting topic to explore.... the various theories and approaches to why and who we are...

      Flag up


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