In Psychology, the term psychodynamics refers to the study of forces which influence human behavior. The term, psychodynamics, owes alot to several aspects of the works and research carried out by Sigmund Freud. Freud argued that the mind is divided into two parts (the conscious and the unconscious). The conscious mind controlling the mental processes that we think of rationally while the unconscious mind holds memories, thoughts and feelings outside conscious awareness (Gelfand & Kerr, 1992).
This view led to a debate about whether an individual has control over behavior (freewill), or whether behavior is determined by forces which the individual has no control over (determinism). Freud, as well as other psychoanalysts, strongly believes in determinism; an individual’s behavior is controlled by the unconscious. Freud also argued that the conscious mind accounts for a small portion of an individual’s personality, with the large portion of personality being driven by the unconscious mind, which holds bits of information recalled with minimum effort.
According to Freud, human beings are driven to reduce tension during anxious moments. Anxiety here refers to the state of worry that people try to avoid. Anxiety causes individuals to develop defense-mechanisms which they use to counteract anxiety (Gulerce, 2012). However, in some circumstances, the defense mechanisms can falsify reality, which leads to a life of denial. In the occurrence of such situations, the major goal of a psychologist is to understand the unconscious conflicts that underlie the psychological problem, and help the patient to gain insight. Therefore, working in a psychodynamic way can help treat an individual depending on their own history, experience, dreams and current situation.
Freud’s psychoanalysis work inspired several psychologists to expand on his research work (Moscovici, 2008). Freud was particularly influential in Erik Erickson’s theory on human development. For instance, Erickson’s theory contains age classifications similar to those used in Freud’s theory. Erickson’s theory also highlights how individuals thrive as adults if they acquire certain characteristics in every developmental stage. However, contrary to Freud, Erickson places an emphasis on an individual’s biology, and the carryover of the characteristics acquired at a certain stage to the next stage.
Most psychoanalysts, who followed Freud, accepted the basic tenets of the theory; however, with time, they disagreed on his viewpoint. Some of those researchers’ included: Alfred Adler and Dung. Alder was the first to attack Freud’s theory by introducing an aspect of social structure into psychodynamics (Gulerce, 2012). Other researchers, such as Honey, came up with a new angle in the ways of dealing with anxiety. All in all, psychoanalysts share the same platform especially with regards to resistance, trauma and attachment theory. Their main interest lies with the unconscious mind, and the importance of patient-psychoanalysts relationship. All the psychoanalysts rightly observe that a deeper understanding of the unconscious mind may help to unlock the patient’s conscious behavior and thoughts.
Gelfand, T., & Kerr, J. (1992). Freud and the History of Pyschoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge.
Gulerce, A. (2012). Reconfiguring Pyschoanalysis: Critical Juxtapositions of the Philosophical, the Sociohistorical and the Political . Basingtoke, : Palgrave Macmillan.
Moscovici, S. (2008). Psychoanalysis: Its Image and its public. Cambridge: Polity.