Evaluate the extent to which Freud’s theory of psychosexual development can help us to understand a client’s presenting issue In this essay we will look at Freud’s theory of psychosexual development in some detail, including an evaluation of the theory’s origin, criticism and strengths. We will be looking at its application, both through history and in current practice, leading to a more thorough discussion centred around its relavance when trying to understand clients’ presenting issues. The main themes of Freud’s work were centred on the significance of the first few years of a child’s life, in the subsequent development of personality. Freud believed that children experience emotional conflicts, and their future adjustment depends on how well these conflicts are resolved. Another theme with Freud’s work concerned the unconscious mind, the part of our mind we are not aware of.
This was also the first “real” form of psychology (i.e. studying people’s behaviours and looking for their causes), which lead to the gradual expansion of psychology as a study itself. One the most basic assumptions of this approach is that our experiences in early childhood determine particular personality traits of ours as adults, as well as our general behavioural patterns and ways of thinking. Another assumption would be that the majority of our behaviour and personality is determined by unconscious motives. It is the product of an unconscious mind being driven by its most basic desires and emotions in coaction with our traits determined by our early childhood experiences.
His work on sexuality and perversions led to the wider theory of sexuality whereby he differentiated the sexual aim (the desire for pleasure) and the object (the person or thing used to fulfil the desire). He asserted that sexuality is more than just genital copulation between adults and this work is the background to his theory on infantile sexuality. He emphasised particular erogenous zones as being of primary importance at different stages of infancy. Each stage impacts in three significant ways: physical focus where the child’s energy may be concentrated and their gratification obtained; psychologically through demands being made of the child by the outside world as he or she develops – either doing too much or not enough of what is ideal;
In evaluating the pros and cons of psychosexual theory and helps us to understand a client’s presenting issue, I will define and consider the relationship between the Id, Ego and Superego and the way in which these are in many ways representative of earlier experiences and of those early situations and conflicts we faced. I will examine some of the criticisms that have been leveled at the Freudian theory in order to evaluate it. I will discuss how his theory would help in therapy to ascertain what the problem was, as well giving my own views, whether it would be useful in practice and if it would be enough to go on to offer adequate therapy to a client. Freud created a new perspective on the study of human behaviour where he focused on the unconscious instinct and urges rather than the conscious. Freud suggested that human nature was focused mainly on desire rather than reason and that it was our past experiences that determined our future behaviour and the development of our personality.
Psychoanalytical theories of personality stress the individual’s unconscious motivations which can be identified through dreams, slips of the tongue and fantasies (McCrae & Costa, 2003; 21). “The psychoanalytical theory views personality as biologically based, relatively unchangeable and determined by the need to control sexual and aggressive instincts which are unconscious in nature” (Rust & Golombok, 1989, 131). Sigmund Freud was the founder of the psychoanalytical approach to personality although many academics have expounded on his research since then (Bernstein, 2001; 125). This contrasts with the humanistic theory which was adopted by leading 20th Century psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow (Nicholas, 2008; 226). Robert Ewen suggests that
There are different theories established by psychologists, which explain where personality originates. The highly important individual who played a role in the psychoanalysis theory was Sigmund Freud. Freud believed an individual’s personality was influenced by the unconscious, which there is no way to control. He based understanding of personality on analysis of patient’s dreams as well as his own dreams. Adler theorized that personality was motivated by the influence of society and fighting for triumph.
Sigmund Freud developed an approach on abnormality that highlighted how human personality and psychosexual development in childhood can cause abnormality. Freud proposed that the human personality is made up of three interacting elements: the id, the ego and the super ego. The id is our unconscious it releases natural pleasure seeking instincts and operates to satisfy these instincts through pleasurable activities. The ego represents our conscious self; it tries to balance the id with moral rules proposed by the superego. The superego is our moral authority this developed through identification of our parent’s moral rules and the social norms of society If the ego fails to balance the id and the superego this can lead to conflict and may result in a psychological disorder.
Freud believed that these first experiences formed solid foundations on which the developing client would structure the rest of their life. The adult personality was directly formed in childhood, according to the experience and treatment as a child. If the experiences in childhood were happy and balanced, then the child could develop into a normal, well balanced and adjusted adult. The psychodynamic approach places great emphasis on the years of childhood, investigating how the client comes to terms with and resolves any conflict conjured in this early period of life. It continues to help the client to understand and overcome this conflict.
One lens to view Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the psychoanalytic lens. This perspective, influenced greatly from the works and thinking of Sigmund Freud, stems from the idea that much of our desires, fears, and motives come from our unconscious. He postulated that most of these desires are repressed by the consciousness to reduce anxiety and dissonance, and emerge only in the disguised forms of dreams, language, and art. One of the most commonly repressed feelings, which Freud called the Oedipal complex, is the boy’s psychosexual desires towards his mother and his jealousy towards his father. According to Freud, the boy must identify with his father in order to resolve the “oedipal crisis” and develop into an adult with a healthy identity.
The psychodynamic approach evolved from psychoanalysis, founded by Sigmund Freud, who considered that people’s behaviours are influenced by their motives or dynamics. Psychodynamics has three distinctive features or assumptions. That the difficulty a client is having has an origin in their childhood. Secondly, the client is not consciously aware of these affecting their motives and impulses, and lastly that it uses the interpretation of the transference relationship between client and councillor (McLeod, p.91). This essay will now consider these features in more depth.