Evaluate the Methods Used by the Psychodynamic Approach

Charlotte King Orion 12 Psychology EXAM QUESTIONS Evaluate methods used by the psychodynamic approach. One of the methods used by the psychodynamic approach is case studies. Case studies are used to practice their therapy on to see if it actually works. The therapy created by Sigmund Freud, is called psychoanalysis. An example of one of the case studies would be the case study of Little Hans. Hans was at the age where he noticed he had a penis and therefore played with it a lot. His mother noticed this and told him to stop it otherwise she would call the doctor and get him to cut it off.

Hans later on developed a phobia of horses, so his father got in touch with Freud and told him about Hans’ strange behaviour and he suggested that he was scared of horses because of the large penis. Later on, Freud and Hans’ father discovered that he had a phobia of horses because he saw his father as a rival and he apparently had a large penis. He saw his father as a rival because he acquired the Oedipus complex which meant that he had a sexual desire for his mother and therefore wanted to get rid of the father.

Freud interpreted that the horses in the phobia were symbolic of the father, and that Hans feared that the horse (father) would bite (castrate) him as punishment for the incestuous desires towards his mother. With Hans feeling threatened by his dad, Freud thinks that he comes up with a defence mechanism known as ‘identification with the aggressor’. This is where Hans would bond with his father by adopting his mannerisms and actions, this way; he will not feel hostile towards him. Weeks after, Hans’ phobia improved and at the end of the phobia he had two fantasies. One of them being that his father was the granddad not the dad.

And the other about his bottom and penis being removes then being replaces with larger ones. After recovering from the phobia, Hans’ father reassured Hans that he had no intention of cutting his penis off. One weakness of the case study method is that it cannot set precedent for all cases with similar patients. For example, psychoanalysis might work on Hans but it might not work on someone else who has a phobia of horses. However, case studies over history of psychology have been able to provide clinicians with valuable information about different psychological illnesses.

Meaning, a particular study can be used as a means of insight into life with the illness. Another downside to the case study method is the completely open and uncontrolled environment in which it takes place. This eliminates its usefulness as an indicator of cause and effect since the variables in the study are uncontrolled. This makes it too difficult or presumptuous to state that one value correlates in any way to another. Instead, a clinician can develop a hypothesis on this relationship and use another research method to determine support for, or refutation for, their hypothesis.

This is why it was mentioned earlier that case studies can lay down the foundations for further psychological research. Another method is the use dream analysis. This is where dreams are looked into more depth to figure out their true meaning. Freud considered dreams to be the ‘royal road to the unconscious’ as it is in dreams that the ego’s defences are lowered so that some of the repressed material comes through to awareness. Freud distinguished between the manifest content of a dream (what the dreamer remembers) and the latent content, the symbolic meaning of the dream (i. e. the underlying wish).

The manifest content is often based on the events of the day. The process the underlying wish is translated into the manifest content is called dream-work. The purpose of dream work is to transform the forbidden wish into a non-threatening form, reducing anxiety and allowing us to continuing sleeping. Dream work involves the process of displacement, condensation and secondary elaboration. Displacement takes place when we transform the person or object we are really concerned about to someone else. Condensation takes place when we combine different factors into one aspect of the manifest content.

Secondary elaboration occurs when the unconscious mind strings together wish-fulfilling images in a logical order of events, further obscuring the latent content. According to Freud this is why the manifest content of dreams can be in the form of believable events. On 24 July 1895, Freud had his own dream that was to form the basis of his theory. He had been worried about a patient, Irma, who was not doing as well in treatment as he had hoped. Freud in blamed himself for this, and was feeling guilty. Freud dreamed that he met Irma at a party and examined her.

He then saw a chemical formula for a drug that another doctor had given Irma flash before his eyes and realised that her condition was caused by a dirty syringe used by the other doctor. Freud was no longer guilty. Freud interpreted this dream as wish-fulfilment. He had wished that Irma’s poor condition was not his fault and the dream had fulfilled this wish by informing him that another doctor was at fault. Based on this dream, Freud went on to propose that a major function of dreams was the fulfilment of wishes. Another method used in psychoanalysis is free association.

Free Association or the Talking Cure is based on the psychodynamic model of abnormality. Psychotherapy places great significance on childhood experiences, such as the psychosexual stages, and on repressed impulses and unresolved conflicts in the unconscious. The aim of psychotherapy is to bring repressed material into conscious awareness – ‘to make the unconscious, conscious’. During therapy sessions the patient is encouraged to relax on a couch and talk about whatever comes into his mind. The therapist listens and offers no judgement about anything the patient says.

It is hoped the patient will relax his internal censor and released repressed material from the unconscious. The therapist then helps the patient interpret the material and gain insight into the origins of the conflict. During the therapy the patient may also transfer his unconscious feelings and emotions onto the therapist. Psychotherapists help the patient deal with their recovered memories that came from the unconscious. Patients go through a cathartic experience called abreaction. Someone who experiences this will be cured of the disorder.

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