Was it Freud?

Today I speak of the Psychodynamic approach to psychology. It may not be regarded as empirical, the idea of subconscious drives and the like, but when I hear that being said, I can’t help but feel it has something to it. Do you have full control over your thoughts? Has anything ever ‘just’ popped in to your mind that you did not at all summon? There is definately something beyond our consciousness that has a say in the content of our minds.

So, along came Freud back at the turn of the 19th century, and made some sensational suggestions, to which science gave a tolerant smile before moving on to behaviorism, the cognitive approach and others. But recently, a new approach has been constructed towards these psycho dynamic principles.

The origins of this approach come from Bowlby and Ainsworth, who suggest that instead of subconscious drives, perhaps for food or sex, which become satisfied from contact with the mother, the bonding known as attachment theory, comes from the needs of protection and security (Fonaby, as cited by Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005).

A recent study used modern methods to carry out psychodynamic research, using methods of subliminal unconscious priming, followed by tests in which participants had to discern whether a string of characters formed a word or not, where reaction time was measured. This test found that proximity related words were discerned with a faster reaction time (suggesting higher accessibility) (Mikulincer, Birnbaum, Woddis & Nachmias, 2000, as cited by Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005).

Another method employed to study accessibility, used either a lexical task, or a Stroop colour-naming task, during which a subliminal threat or neural prime was presented. The ability to recall names of people whom participants considered as providing security were recalled quicker during this time (Mikulincer, 2002, as cited by Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005).

Both of these studies suggest the workings of a subconscious thought, and provide evidence in a useful light. Admittedly, the results are by some means vague. At most, they suggest the presence of subconscious activity, and point us in the direction of some of its applications. A report by Shaver and Mikulincer (2005) does say that much of the psychodynamic work is still done through careful and strategic introspection.

I heard it said that if we could develop a computer that could perfectly simulate the brain, we have no further need to study psychology. Indeed, empirical studies readily answer questions based on variables comprehend-able to human-kind. But the reason people have psychological issues is because they don’t quite understand  the brain. Such empirical studies provide essential foundations for psychology, however a lot can be done for applied psychology using psychodynamic paradigms.

3 thoughts on “Was it Freud?

  1. In the consideration that mere remnants of Freud’s theories remain not ostracised, the psychodynamic approach – his inheritance – lies with it’s strengths and weaknesses. With clarity and structure, said factors were conveyed through the mention of emerging approaches, their methods and an urban fortification of the psychodynamic perspective. Initially, however, a label to the ‘new’ approach referred to within the entry likely would have been preferred, in order to permit further independent research and simply, promotion of interest for your readers. In relation to the aforementioned study by Bowlby and Ainsworth, the notion of Maslow’s hierachy of needs proliferates in my mind; the physiological needs of food and sex precede protection and safety (Maslow, 1943). Perhaps, Maslow’s theory was used as a tentative foundation, yet to an extent, considering food and sex (in consideration of attachment theory) are merely not applicable if protection is of a priority, irrespective of the duration of time, in which the preceding two may never be attained. – In other words, the underlaying levels of conciousness/subconcious drives are not afflicted within such a situation if protection, tangible and readily available, would suffice. The word association test, a psychology classic, certainly promotes the progress of the psychodynamic approach if perpetuated with the aforementioned modern methods and thus, I agree to the relevant extent . In regards to the third study, perhaps recollection may be hindered within instances of distress? Or, equally, facilitated at a faster process as we would seemingly resort to primitive functions/mentality, only able to utter a name? Where we may lie at variance, however, concern two of your assertions: 1. Introspection, as we learn, is replete with flaws that may instead hinder the progress, including the participant succumbing to demand characteristics, indefinite sources of bias and subjectivity, with results of questionable authenticity. 2.The lack of understanding of psychological issues and their perpetuated existence are of a most contingent correlation: despite understanding certain illnesses and their relation brain, with forms of treatment and subsequent medication, they persist regardless. Further, chemical imbalances within the brain (for example, ADD) ensue the pertinent psychological illnesses, despite being utterly understood to their core. Irrespective, however, your blog provided a refreshing insight of the perspective that simply, started such endeavours. Thank you.


  2. Freud did a lot for psychology, although his initial theory is no longer accepted as credible in the majority of minds some of the concepts, expecially the focus on the mind have stuck and been developed much further. And ideas like the subconcious are still looked into expecially in the psychological realm, it was a key concept and it helps to explain quite a lot which we don’t understand about ourselves, random thoughts or slips of the tongue where words come out which we didn’t intend to say, it’s interesting and although a little farfetched, easily understandable and justifyable to believe.
    Freuds theory came from somewhere, it was just taken to a strange conclusion and lost quite a lot of credibility, and although I’ll admit I’m not a firm follower of the psychodynamic theory, as I’ve said, I think there’s something in there, mainly the ideas of there being a subconcious which can influence us and is influenced by our surroundings or feelings.

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