The History of Psychodynamic Therapy

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Psychodynamic therapy is the branch of psychotherapy which attempts to help people understand the roots of any emotional distress they may be feeling. This is accomplished by exploring needs,Guest Posting unconscious motives and psychological defence mechanisms. It is an insight oriented method of therapy because therapists are looking for insights into the mind’s unconscious processes and how they affect human behaviour.

The main goal of this therapeutic method is to make patients aware of the influence that past experiences and events have on their current lives. It can help settle past conflicts as well as issues arising from past dysfunctional relationships. It is derived from the psychoanalytical method that Sigmund Freud researched. It was given the label “psychodynamic” by Dr. Freud. Freud felt that the human mind or psyche was made up of several different levels and that it is the unconscious mind which contains events from our past. He felt that forgotten experiences can still affect our present behaviour. In order to treat this, Freud developed a method by which memories and associations could be brought to the surface and examined in order to modify our current behaviour.

Although Freud was an early pioneer in the field, the actual principles of psychodynamics were first introduced in 1874. A German scientist named Ernst Wilhelm von Bruce published Lectures on Psychology in which he suggested that all living organisms are energy systems and that they are governed by the principle of energy conservation. The conservation of energy principle states that energy can change from one form to another but it can never be destroyed. Later that year, Freud adopted the concept and application of psychodynamics to aid his own concept of the human psyche. This was later developed further by Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank and Melanie Klein.

By the mid 1940’s and 1950’s, the application of psychodynamics was well established. In 1950, American psychiatrist Eric Berne revised Freud’s psychodynamic model. He focussed most closely on the “ego” or consciousness to develop a psychological method to examine human interactions. This was called transactional analysis. According to physician James R. Allen, this is a cognitive behavioural approach to treatment. Dr. Allen felt that this is a very effective way of dealing with internal models of self and others, as well as other psychodynamic issues.

In 1988 a psychologist named J. Horowitz wrote a book called The Introduction to Psychodynamics-a New Synthesis in which he stated his own interest in and fascination with psychodynamics which began in 1950. He took part in a radio discussion where he described neurotic behaviour and unconscious mental processes. He also linked the theory behind psychodynamics directly to everyday life.

The History of Psychodynamic Therapy

It was mentioned earlier that psychodynamic therapy is derived from the psychoanalytical theory established by Freud. There are four major schools of thought in the psychoanalytical method and each school has affected the understanding of psychodynamic therapy. Although there are differences, each school of thought is still rooted in Freud’s original theories. The four schools of thought are: ego psychology, object psychology, object relations and self psychology.

The Freudian model is also referred to as the drive or structural model. The base of Freud’s theory is that sexual and aggressive energies that originate in the id (or unconscious) are modulated by the ego. The ego is a set of functions which moderates the activities of the id using external reality. Defence mechanisms are constructions of the ego which minimize pain and maintain psychic equilibrium. The super ego (which forms during the latency period between the ages of five and puberty) operate to control the drives of the id through feelings of guilt.

Ego psychology is derived from Freudian psychology. Its proponents focus their work on enhancing and maintaining the function of the ego in accordance with the demands of reality. Ego psychology relates the stresses and an individual’s capacity for defence, adaptation and the ability to test reality.

Object relations were first articulated by several British analysts: Melanie Klein, W.R.D. Fairbain, D.W. Winnicott and Harry Guntrip. According to the object relation theory, human beings are shaped in relation to the significant others surrounding them. They believed that the struggles and goals in life that people set are focussed on maintaining relationships with others while at the same time differentiating themselves from others. They also believed that the internal representations of self and others that are acquired in childhood are later played out in the relationships we have as adults. Individuals will repeat old object relationships in an effort to master them and become free from them.

Self psychology was founded by Heinz Kohut, M.D. in Chicago during the 1950’s. Kohut observed that the self refers to a person’s perception of his experience of self, including the presence or lack of a sense of self-esteem. The self is perceived in relation to the establishment of boundaries and the differentiation of self from others.

Each of the four schools of psychoanalytic theory presents discrete theories of personality formation, psychopathologic formation and change, techniques you should use to conduct therapy sessions and indications and contraindications for therapy. Psychodynamic therapy is distinguished from psychoanalysis in several different ways.

The main difference is that psychodynamic therapy does not include all of the different analytical techniques and is not conducted by psychoanalytically trained analysts. Psychodynamic therapy is also conducted over a shorter period of time and with less frequency than psychoanalysis.

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