The Psychodynamic  model is based on the mind and the existance of the unconcious. It was Sigmund Freud who was the first person to talk about the mind and highlight the effect of childhood experiences on later life; the model is largely based on childhood experience.

The 3 main parts to his theory are: the id, ego and superego, defence mechanisms and the psychosexual stages of development.

The Id, Ego and Superego

These are each thought to be a part of the personality.

  • The id is present from birth and is the pleasure drive. The ego is present from the age of 2 and deals with reality by balancing out the ego and superego. Finally, the superego is present from the age of 5 and is morality (knowing the difference between right and wrong).
  • If the ego is not strong enough to balance out the demands of the id and the superego then abnormality will occur.
  • For example, if a person’s id was stronger than their ego then this could lead to them becoming a rapist in  later life due to them having a stronger pleasure drive than morality.

Defence Mechanisms

These are short term methods to protect the ego from harm while it comes to terms with the reality of the situation. Abnormality occurs when these defence mechanisms become long term.

  • For example- repression is when harsh childhood experiences are supressed into the unconcious causing an imbalance of the adult personality.
  • The unconcious is where things from your past are sometimes stored due to repression. You cannot access these memories so do not deal with the experiences meaning they will motivate your adult behaviour.
  • Strength- We cannot scientifically test whether the unconcious exists or not, however clinicians offer treatment based on the existance of the unconcious.

The Psychosexual Stages of Development

This is the idea that between the ages of 1 and 6 and then to puberty everyone goes through a series of stages.

  • The theory states that if you receive too much or too little pleasure at one of the stages you will become fixated at the stage and regress back to it in later life.
  • Regression back to the stages may include things such as smoking, nail biting, homosexuality and sarcasm.
  • The stages are as follows:
Stage Age Range Features
Oral 0-18 months Satisfaction from eating and suckling.
Anal 18-36 months Satisfaction from the anal region. For example- excretion.
Phallic 3-6 years Genitals become a source of satisfaction.
Latency 6 years to puberty Boys and girls spend little time together.
Genital From onset of puberty Genitals are the main source of sexual pleasure.

Another small part of the psychodynamic model you should be aware of is the Oedipus Complex.

  • This is where a male child in the phallic stage unconciously sexually desires his mother. He therefore fears that his father will cut off his penis because of his love for his mother. In order to reduce the fear, he identifies with the father and takes on a male role.
  • Strength- the order, behaviour and age ranges of the psychosexual stages is thought to be correct.
  • Weakness- the Oedipus complex is totally discredited.
  • Weakness- too much emphasis of sex as a motivator for behaviour.

Overall evaluation points of the theory would include:

  • Strength- Freud was the first person to outline the role of the mind and childhood experiences in later life.
  • Weakness- Freud only ever worked with adults looking back on childhood experiences, he never worked with children. Therefore their could be problems with accuracy of memory and patients may lie.
  • Weakness- The assumption that only childhood experiences cause harm to the personality and that later experiences will not cause harm is simplistic and naive.