Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic theory is an alternative approach to how behavior is learned. Freud used observational techniques and case studies to construct his theories regarding what he believed the subconscious comprised of, and how the subconscious directs or motivates behavior.
* THE ID
According to Freud, the id is the first part of our personality to develop, and primarily consists of a pleasure drive that disregards consequences. He also proposed that it consisted of all genetic predisposition, including innate characteristics, along with instinctual drives of sex and aggression, as well as it being the central source of libido. And in one’s later years, the objects and events we picture in our dreams represent an attempt to fulfill some impulse of the id that is within our subconscious.
* THE EGO
The ego strives to impart balance and a middle ground between the id and the superego. It is the part of the personality that we most often see in a person’s actions. The ego bases his or her actions on both the id (his instinctual desires), paired against the superego (moral reasoning), and evaluates what would be a practical and workable solution in order to achieve satisfaction.
* THE SUPEREGO
The superego judges whether an action is right or wrong. It is the moral character that watches over both ego and id, and is based on morals of society and parental influence.
The superego is comprised of the conscience: all the things a child is punished for doing; and the ego-ideal: actions the child is rewarded for doing.
Freud claimed that together these three parts of the personality drive all behaviors that humans display or learn.
Freud is often viewed as the father of modern psychoanalysis. Apart from his theories on how personality develops, his ideas regarding the unconscious, and using free association in the revealing of the unconscious is perhaps the most significant contribution he made toward psychology.
There are numerous criticisms of Freud’s work, however. Namely, his small sampling of patients on which he based his theories, as well as the (sometimes, only) brief contact he had with a “patient” before drawing his conclusions and basing his theories upon. Other criticisms include allegations that he would project his own conclusions and project these onto his patients; and that his methods were not proven to be effective, as most of his “patients,” during his time of research, were not “cured” or restored to mental normalcy.
While Freud’s research methods have frequently been questioned, time and subsequent research has proven that the foundational concepts within Freud’s work remain valuable to understanding the human psyche.