Outline and evaluate the psychodynamic approach to abnormality
The psychodynamic approach assumes that experiences in our earliest years can affect our emotions, attitudes and behaviour in later years without us being aware that it is happening. Freud suggested the mind or psyche has three parts: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. Freud suggested that individuals can never be aware of the contents of the unconscious.
Freud argued that childhood experiences play a crucial part in adult development, including the development of adult personality. Every child must pass through the so-called psycho-sexual stages; how a child experiences these stages plays a crucial role in the development of his/her personality. A child who becomes fixated at the oral stage may have an oral receptive personality and be very trusting and dependent on others, or he may develop an oral aggressive personality and become aggressive and dominating as an adult. The phallic personality type may be over-confident, vain and impulsive while the genital personality type become well-adjusted, mature, able to love and be loved. Therefore, the psychodynamic approach suggests that mental illness occurs as a result of psychological problems, not physical problems as suggested by the biological approach.
A strength of the psychodynamic approach is that it reminds us that experiences in childhood can affect us throughout our lives without us being aware that it is happening. Some experiences in childhood may be so emotionally painful that the only way the child can cope is by repressing the memory of these experiences into the unconscious. Therefore, the approach accepts that everyone can suffer mental conflicts and neuroses through no fault of their own. The approach also offers a ‘cure’ for abnormality through psychoanalysis by reaching the underlying causes in the unconscious, making them conscious, and releasing the patient from the emotional pain...