What is Psychoanalytic theory?
Everyone has their own personal experiences during their childhood, some they want to forget and some that they want to cherish. What some people might not know is that these valuable experiences can change who they are in the present, for better or worse. This is the essence of the Psychoanalytic theory that Sigmund Freud developed during the 19th century. The psychoanalytic theory is, “childhood experiences provided the foundation for later personality development. When early experiences result in unresolved conflicts and frustrated urges,
these emotionally charged memories are repressed, or pushed out of conscious awareness” (Discovering Psychology, 582). For example, someone not be willing to open up and trust people around them, spouse, family, friends, etc. because they were betrayed in the past by someone in the past (being cheated on, lied to, left, etc.), or someone working harder after being told they would get nowhere in life. Amongst Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is also his belief that personality is made of these 3 things: Id, ego and superego. The id is our instinctual needs, that’s “completely immune to logic, values, morality, danger, and the demands of the external world” (Discovering Psychology, 422). The ego is one’s conscious awareness and the superego are one’s morals and regulates the id. Although widely criticized, Freud’s theory lead to many advancements within the psychological field, and is still being used seldomly today in the form of therapy.
Psychoanalytic theory impact
Freud used the psychoanalytic theory as basis of our psychoanalysis therapy, also known as talk-therapy. Psychoanalysis therapy looks to help people maintain healthy relationships, improve a person’s quality of life, get rid of and identify causes for bad behavioral traits, treat psychological disturbances, etc. by understanding the unconscious thoughts of their patients. Therapists attempt to understand the unconscious mind by allowing the client, according to Freud, “Talks, tells of his past experiences and present impressions, complains, confesses his wishes and emotions. . The physician listens. . . .gives him explanations and observes the reactions of understanding or denial which he calls forth in the patient” (A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, 11). Although not as prevalent today, psychoanalysis therapy was still effective to a certain degree, despite being long term. It could still solve psychological problems that clients faced, in an experiment an 8 year old boy named Peter received psychoanalysis therapy for his psychological problems and “was guided in exploring his anxieties and defences and labelled his feelings, which enabled Peter to gain some feelings of mastery. . . these tools for mastery seemed to have stayed with Peter” (Gaskin, 7) because of psychoanalysis therapy, Peter was able to solve his psychological problems, which guided him through his life. Overall, the psychoanalytic theory helped develop psychoanalysis therapy which is still used today to treat some patients who wants to better their life but cannot due to a psychological problem.
The psychoanalytic theory is effective in that it lead to other psychological advancements and lead to the development of many types of therapies which also helped improve the lives of people. I liked how this theory emphasizes the importance of memories and experiences that people have had in the past, whereas some people might be quick to disregard their past and not look back to it as they believe that it has no importance to their lives today. I also liked how this theory can explain why some people might have different personality traits than others, as everyone go through different experiences in life that can shape who they are, whether good or bad. Although this theory was fundamental in the development in psychology and had a positive impact of psychology as a whole, it’s not perfect. This theory does not take into account all factors that might lead to someone’s psychological problem in their adulthood, it focuses too much on someone’s childhood experiences, but does not talk about external factors such as environment growing up, cultural habits, etc. I also find that Freud does not tie in Id, ego and superego although it appears to be relevant to the theory, he does not explain why it’s important, these personality traits seem more like a philosophical theory rather than psychology. On top of that, this theory is not falsifiable in anyway, the psychoanalytic theory impossible to prove scientifically. Overall, this theory is effective in that it helped advance psychology as a whole by introducing a form of therapy, but also not very effective because this theory does not really help science and is impossible to prove scientifically.
In retrospect, this theory should apply to every culture and race as it introduces a broad topic; childhood experiences, which is unique to everyone. Although everyone has their own experiences which can be applied to this theory, some cultures might not accept it, or look down upon it. The psychoanalytic theory is used to treat personality disorders through therapy. In American culture, people are encouraged to seek therapy when they have some sort of psychological distress or problem, whereas in Asian culture, research shows that people are less likely to seek therapy as they tend to lean towards more conservative and tend to keep to themselves, or seek out alternative solutions such as acupuncture to solve their problems because they do not believe that their problems are caused by psychological factors (Benson, 2007). On top of many Asian’s disbelief in psychological methods, it’s also frowned upon by Asians to seek help, according to Dr. Stanley Sue, “In the Asian American community, a stigma is often attached to any discussion of personal problems. Seeking counseling can be seen as a public admission of a mental disorder.” Psychology is simply not as widely received by Asians as it is to Americans and Asians would rather keep to themselves rather than share private information. According to Dr. Kim Hyong-Soo, “Talking openly about emotional problems is still taboo.” Although many stress related problems can be fixed by talking to a therapist and using psychoanalytic theory to make life happier, Asians simply do not seek help despite having higher suicide rates due to stress related issues. On average, 30 South Koreans commit suicide everyday due to stress related issues stemming from work to school, but has rejected psychology as a solution to their problems (McDonald, 2011). Due to the Asian population being more conservative, psychology is often rejected as a form of legitimate treatment.
In the future, regarding this theory, I would like to learn more about the personality traits that Freud left out in this theory, as the sources I have read doesn’t go into depth about how it relates to the psychoanalytic theory at all. I would also like to know why childhood experiences might unconsciously have affect on how someone behaves and although this theory does not cover environmental impacts, I want to know how the environment can also impact someone’s mental behaviors and such, as Freud’s theory seems to be a bit one dimensional and does not cover external factors.