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Evaluate and Compare Two of the The Five Major Approaches to Psychology

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Author: CiarÐ"ÐŽn O'Sullivan

Five Pages 1205 Words

In this essay I hope to give a brief outline of the history & critiques levelled at the

Psychodynamic and the Behaviourist approaches to psychology and then attempt to offer a



Sigmund Freud's early work in psychoanalysis was the precursor to the psychodynamic

approach. His theories were later modified by others including Alfred Adler and Carl Jung.

The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that see human

functioning as based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person,

particularly unconscious conflict between the different structures of the personality.

(Barker, 2003)

Freud posited that the mind consisted of three areas the conscious, the unconscious and the preconscious

and that within that framework the personality of a person existed. Freud further

divided the personality into three parts. The ID a selfish unconscious area that operates on the

pleasure principal, the Ego a conscious area that operates on the reality principle and the

Superego where a persons concept of right and wrong exist. Freud used Dream analysis and Free

association (Talking therapy) as a means to gain access to a patients unconscious thought.

Freud believed that the personality has five 'Psychosexual Stages' of development that must be

experienced and resolved in order to avoid later neuroses. “Failure to resolve the oral stage

would lead to oral fixation (such as smoking, excessive drinking, or eating disorders), and

failure to resolve the anal stage would lead to excessive control and hoarding (obsessive

compulsive disorder).” (Field, 2003).



parts of the personality conflict Ego Defence Mechanisms are unconsciously employed to

protect the self from anxiety. For example, “we speak of people as 'repressed' if they appear not

to show their emotions and as 'in denial' if they refuse to accept unpalatable facts.” (Jarvis, 2003)

While Freud is where psychodynamic theory originated other theorists have added to it and

modified aspects based on their own observations. Alfred Adler saw birth order as being

important in the development of a person’s personality. Jung had the theory of a collective

unconscious based on the experiences of our ancestors and reflected in cultural myths and

symbols. Jung also saw people as being born with an �introvert’ or �extravert’ personality type.

Criticism has been levelled at how data is gathered by practitioners of the psychodynamic

approach. That it is based on qualitative rather then quantitative data, primarily single case

studies and the analysts own interpretation of each case rather then large scale recreatable

experiments making it unfalsifiable or not rigorously scientific. But despite these issues, the

approaches and terminology used in psychodynamic theory have entered the public arena and is

regarded by many, weather right or wrong, as the common sense approach to therapy.


The ground work for the field of Behaviourism was developed simultaneously by Ivan Pavlov

and John Watson at the beginning of the 20th Century. The basic assumption of the behaviourist

is that the mind is a black box that can not be studied and all that can be studied is a subject’s

observable response to a stimulus.



1913 Watson in his so called “Behaviourist Manifesto” printed as the article “Psychology as

the behaviourist views it.” laid out the framework for the future behaviourist. This document

stated that:

l Psychology must be purely objective, excluding all subjective data or

interpretations in terms of conscious experience.

l The Goals of psychology should be to predict and control behaviour.

l Human behaviour is simply a more complex form of the behaviour of other

species. (Gross, 2005)

While giving an address to the American Psychological Association in 1915, Watson discussed

his recent 'discovery' of Ivan Pavlov and his work on reflex responses, or classical conditioning.

While studying gastric reflex in dogs, Pavlov discovered that a salivary response could be

activated in the dogs by a conditioned stimulus (CS) such as a bell ringing, if this stimulus was

linked to a previously unconditioned stimulus (UCS) like the presentation of food. When the

dogs where given food they naturally produced a salivary response this is the unconditioned

response (UCR). With the linking of the UCS to the CS the dogs learned to expect food when

the bell rang. They would start to



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