Psychoanalysis different ways of achieving that gratification.
Psychoanalysis offers a good story to make sense of behaviour, but it is a story the truth of which can never be confirmed. Discuss.Psychoanalysis is an approach to the understanding of human behaviour by Freud and other famous psychologists.
It is a method of treating mental and emotional disorders by discussion and analysis of ones thoughts and feelings. It relies on the therapists ability to make the unconscious conscious and to help guide the patients to resolve their underlying conflicts. It is based on past experiences, but there is limited empirical evidence that supports this theory as it deals with the emotional side of psychology and lacks scientific rigour, partly because there are too many variables involved to enable it to be a controlled study.
But that doesnt mean to say that it is not true, it is just extremely difficult to confirm. This essay discusses whether the story of psychoanalysis, used to make sense of human behaviour, can ever be confirmed as a story of truth.Freuds psychoanalytic theory showed how the mind can be seen as three parts, the id (the primitive unconscious part of the personality that deals with pleasure), the ego (dominates the conscious mind and carries out secondary process thinking) and the superego (social conscience). He then went on to develop the theory of psychosexual development, in which the child goes through various stages, each characterised by different demands for sexual gratification and different ways of achieving that gratification.
The first stage is called the Oral stage (birth 15 months old), in which the child governed by the id and gains gratification through the mouth, sucking, feeding, crying and such. The second stage is the Anal stage (15 months 3 years), where the child experiences pleasure from the elimination of faeces. In the third stage, the phallic stage, (3 – 5 years) the child takes a greater interest in its genitals and feels a desire for the opposite sex parent. This makes them view their same sex parent as a rival and unconsciously they feel hostile which turns to guilt and so they try to identify with their same sex parent.
The boy does this if fear of being castrated by his father. Freud uses this theory as a way of interpreting situations, emotions and feelings when he psychoanalyses patients. He believed that if at any particular psychosexual stage the demands for this sexual gratification were not met, when the child became adult it would demand gratification for the activity of that stage leading to a fixation or neurosis. However Freuds case studies were all based upon adults, with one exception (below), leaving his theory in big trouble, as studies of adults can not contribute to a valid theory of child development.
Freud found evidence to support his theory when he analysed a phobia in a 5-year-old boy. This is called the case of little Hans. Hans had a phobia of being bitten by horses, especially ones that were white, with black around the mouth and wearing blinkers.
Freud interpreted this as Hans fear of being castrated by his father. One time when Hans saw a horse collapse in the street he was very frightened. Freud said that when Hans saw the horse collapse, he felt guilty and afraid as it reminded him about his death wish against his father. Freud believed that Hans saw the horse as representing his father because his father had a moustache, which resembled the black part around the horses mouth, and he also wore glasses, which resembled the blinkers, that the horse wore.
Also he thought that the things that Hans used to say were a good indication of this. For example, one time Hans said Daddy dont trot away from me, suggesting connotations that his father was like a horse, and on another occasion he said Daddy you are lovely, youre so white which suggested that Hans saw his father as being white like the horse that he feared. Freud thought that as the father and child had often played horses, with Hans riding on his fathers back that it indicated further that Hans saw his father to resemble a horse. Hans said that the time his phobia began was when he saw the horse collapse as it gave him such a fright but Freud and Hans father ignored the plausible explanation and believed that Hans wanted to bed his mother and saw his father to be a rival.
However it was actually the mother who made the threats of castration not the father. One day she said if you do that (touch his penis) I shall send for doctor X to cut off your widdler. And then what will you widdle with? (Mother, Gross, p601). Even so, this is a classic example of a good, psychoanalytic analysis used to make sense of behaviour, but is a story, the truth of which can never be confirmed. It can never be confirmed because it has an awful lot of criticisms and it is Freuds only case study on a child that supports the oedipal theory. Freud needed some evidence to support his theory and it seems he had already made up his mind what was wrong with little Hans and interpreted the data to fit what he believed (experimenter bias), also Hans father originally made the Psychoanalysis, as he was a big follower of Freuds theory, and the two men conferred on the situation. So Hans would have been susceptible to his fathers suggestions, it was very difficult because they were emotionally involved, making it hard for the father to be objective about the situation and in actual fact Freud himself only ever met the boy on one or two occasions.
It is a shame really, because without the criticisms the interpretation of the phobia would have been quite feasible. Freud also found some examples of the Oedipus complex in adults, of whom he psychoanalysed. One of these was a female patient who had an erotic attachment to her father, which Freud said, started before her puberty.
She said that she was far too ill to marry but Freud said that he suspected that she became so ill on purpose so that she couldnt marry, enabling her to stay with her father, suggesting that she was fixated with a part of her past. This seems to make good sense of her behaviour but it has no empirical evidence, to support the interpretation of her behaviour, except one mans word, which is not enough, preventing this quite likely story from being confirmed.Another part of Freuds work, that offers a good story to make sense of behaviour, included using psychoanalysis on patients dreams to explain their meaning, often finding symbols of hidden needs, wishes and fears stored in the unconscious.
One example of a dream that Freud psychoanalysed was a dream by a woman patient who lived with her sister. Her sister had two sons, Charles and Otto. The patient was courting a professor but the relationship ended and so she turned her affections to Otto, the son of her sister. She loved the little boy very much but one day he died. Following his death she dreamed that her sisters other son Charles died too.
Freud asked her if she connected Otto’s death with the professor. She answered yes, she said that she had not seen the professor for a very long time until he turned up at Otto’s funeral to offer his condolences. Freud realised that if the other boy died too then the patient would have another chance to be reunited with the professor and interpreted the dream as a wish, that the she was fighting inwardly, to see him again. Freud suggested that a death scene was in fact the egos way of sneaking the erotic fulfilment of the wish past the super ego. He said that the last thing, consciously, a person would associate sexual yearning with would be a childs funeral and so it offered a brilliant disguise.
This seems to be a very good, insightful interpretation but it is unscientific and there is no evidence to support it so that it can never be confirmed, even though it sounds like a story of the truth.Psychoanalysis is a good theory at accounting for and interpreting how what has already happened in the past can affect a person, but it is unscientific in most areas is not always easy to accept or confirm. Fisher and Greengerg, (1977) argue:Psychoanalytic theory cannot be accepted or rejected as a total package, it is a complex structure consisting of many parts, some of which should be accepted, others rejected and the rest at least partially reshaped.(Gross, The Science of Mind and Behaviour, p915)This essay has discussed and reviewed the story of psychoanalysis and in conclusion to all of the above evidence, it suggests that you cant confirm psychoanalysis but you dismiss it either. As we have no way of showing that psychoanalysis is wrong then nor do we have the grounds for accepting that it is totally correct. It is difficult when dealing with feelings and emotions to say that anything is certain, as all people are individual and they all think, feel, develop and behave in different ways. Another point is that Freuds theory makes use of concepts which can not be directly observed, only inferred.
Psychoanalysis is a good story to make sense of behaviour but it really is a story, the truth of which can never be wholly confirmed. Bibliography:BibliographyCardwell, Mike. PSYCHOLOGY for A Level. Collins Educational. 1996.Flanagan, Cara.
Letts study guide: A Level Psychology. WM Print Limited. 1997.Gross, Richard. PSYCHOLOGY: The science of the mind and behaviour.
Hodder and Stoughton Educational. 1992.