- All behaviour can be explained by sexual inner conflicts in
- A person’s childhood and relationship with their parents is
mainly responsible for their later personality.
Relevant Studies - Little Hans
Oedipus complex: inner conflict within Hans’s mind.
- Freud thought a boy develops a sexual attraction to his mother during the
- Indicated by sleeping with his mother and inquiring about her ‘widdler’
“Mummy do you have a widdler too?”
- Freud believed the boy saw his father a rival and thus wanted to get rid of his
- Indicated by hitting his Dad whom returned from a business trip.
- The boy has a castration anxiety which is caused due to his father being more
powerful than him, and the boy feels like his penis will be cut off if the father
discovers his sexual attraction to his mother.
- Indicated by a horse, white indicated his fathers hair and black patches
indicated his spectacles.
- The boy uses a defence mechanism known as “identification with the
aggressor” which means he acts like his father and thus his father won’t harm
Relevant Studies – Thigpen and Cleckly
Eve’s multiple personalities: derived from her childhood
- Eve initially had 1 personality, then 2 (White/Black) and then 3 (Jane).
- She experienced the death of her Grandma at the age of 6 and a traumatic
- Freud believes this childhood event caused her stress and caused her to
create multiple personalities to handle the situation.
- This links back to the second assumption of the psychodynamic
Relevant Studies - Bandura
Children’s aggression levels: psychosexual stages of development
- Children were split into groups of aggression. (level 1-5)
- So prior to this it would have meant that the children’s aggression level
was determined by their childhood events and relationship with their
- Freud would claim that the determinant for their levels of aggression or
passivity was down to the oral stage in the Psychosexual stages of
- If they were too aggressive it meant that they didn’t put enough objects
in their mouth and aggression is a consequence of this restriction.
- Freud would claim that the children who are more aggressive have a
higher Libido (sexual desire)
- Freud would have claimed that pre-existing aggression levels in the Bandura
study were determined by their Libido and Thanatos.
- Libido is sexual drive and Thanatos is aggression/destruction.
- Children who has a higher aggression level had a higher Thanatos.
- Freud said that these needed to be in balance for a healthy personality. If
there is too much Thanatos then someone will have a destructive/aggressive
personality. Too much Libido would lead to someone being obsessed with sex.
- The ID, Ego and Super Ego are also responsible for people’s personalities. The ID
is the selfish human desire, the super ego is morality and the ego is the reality of a
person, balancing the two to live in a society appropriately.
- These ideas occur in the unconscious mind, a problem is that it can’t be
proven to exist so the validity is questionable.
- Projective Tests used by Thigpen and Cleckley on Eve White/Black:
- Ink blot tests
- Interviews with friends and family members
- Freud’s dream interpretation – expressive sexual desire through dreams: A
man (participant) on a boat with a woman going under a bridge would
symbolise his Libido mother.
- Alarm clock = part of the dream until dreamer realises it’s real life (china
smashing for too long, acknowledges reality)
- Falling = Giving in to sexual desire or referring to childhood fall and being
assisted by a parent.
- Hats = representative of genitalia.
- Structures = Stairwells, mine shafts, a small building located in a narrow
recess, locked doors, and so forth frequently have repressed sexual
Basic Strengths and Weaknesses
- Helps us understand how our early relationships can effect our adult
- It’s the first approach to try and explain mental illness in psychological
terms and massively influenced how it’s understood and treated.
- Freud bases his findings of case studies on a single individual (whom
possess unique characteristics) so there are problems with generalisation.
- Freud didn’t take into account cultural variations, most research was done
on White, middle class people. Every class and culture condones
themselves differently, ergo his findings can’t be generalised to all cultures.
- Subjective interpretation of research methods leads to unreliable
Quiz Time ^_^
1. What are the 2 assumptions of the psychodynamic approach?
2. What are the 3 relevant studies and how are they relevant?
3. Name a research method and what is the strength/weakness of that