Psychodynamic Model

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Psychodynamic Model

Psychodynamic Model


The name of any model helps us attach meaning to the method, but this name says more than most. The prefix psycho- means "mind", and the suffix -dynamic means "action". This literally is the study of the actions of the mind. Sometimes we don't see our mind as an active agent in the experiences of our lives, but proponents of this theory teach us that the mind not only plays an important and active role in everything we do consciously, it also has a significant role in things we do unconsciously(Salkind 2004:21).


This model originated with Sigmund Freud, and has been expanded upon and modified by Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Helene Deutsch, Karen Horney, and Eric Berne. It is sometimes called "the grandfather of models", because it is the first organized way of studying the actions of the mind, and all other models owe some concepts and principles to this model. Even though the ancient Egyptians and Greeks speculated on the mind as an active agent in our lives, Freud and the other psychodynamic theorists were the first to explore the process in a systematic and scientific way. Each man who followed Freud altered some concepts into what he personally considered a more accurate explanation of the process. For instance, Freud attributed a great deal of our dysfunctions to sexual conflicts within our personality, but Adler chalked them up more to our need to establish superiority over others(Gabbard 2005:32).

Some primary terms associated with this model are: Inner Conflict, Unconscious Mind, Defense Mechanism, Transference, Repression, Sublimation, Analysis, Free Association, Projective Testing, Dream Analysis, and Case Study.

The most basic theory at the heart of psychodynamics is that your personality and motivations are based on the interactions between three elements of your mind that were first identified by Freud. The Id is a childish aspect of us that wants only two things: Sensual Gratification (this is pleasure for any of our 5 senses) and Aggression Release. Early in our lives, these two desires occupy most of our sensations. We are happy when we get to eat, touch a soft teddy bear, or poop our pants. If we don't get our way, we scream and cry until our needs are met (don't let that diaper be dirty for too long). By sublimation, for example, the Ego turns the Id's desires into socially acceptable or valuable outcomes. You love Reese's Cups, but your Ego gets you to ask "Please" or buy them from the store, where your Id would just snatch up every one you saw. By repression, as another example, the Ego "holds down" the Id, basically saying, "You can't have what you want right now, so shut up!" You can see a chart that shows many common real-life examples of defense mechanisms if you click HERE. The third element is the Superego(Gabbard 2004:4). This aspect judges the struggles between your Id and Ego, and decides whether your Ego is doing a good job keeping the ...
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