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Psychodynamic Explanations of Behavior

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1125 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Psychodynamic Explanation of Behavior

Psychodynamic behavior like other approaches to personality is based on beliefs or assumptions on human behavior as well as functions. Consequently, the focus of the theory is founded on social functions which studies are including research techniques utilized in arriving at the theory. However, it is significant to underscore that assumptions used may determine the outcomes of the argument. In the case of psychodynamic explanation of behavior, Freud, who is the originator of the approach through psychoanalysis? It is from this premise that this paper seeks to highlight the psychodynamic approach through post Freudian theory, the application of its concepts in individuals and its personality explanation as presented by Timothy’s case.

A description of the main concepts within the theory

The psychodynamic theory does not strive to alienate other psychology approaches but seeks to include them to realize a functional human being. Like other theories, the psychodynamic theory has its designated areas of application that include gender role development, therapy, psychopathology, attachment, dream analysis, and aggression. To be complete as illustrated by Leichsenring et al. (2006), the theory seeks attachment to the unconscious mind, collective unconscious, defense and defense mechanisms, psyche, psychosocial as well as psychosexual development.

To realize Timothy’s complete therapy, it is important to underscore that the theory includes all theories that were founded on Freud’s ideas. To thrive as a theory, psychodynamic is based on various assumptions including

  • That human behavior, as well as feelings, are significantly affected by the unconscious motives
  • Human behavior, as well as feelings in adult life which include psychological problems, are founded in childhood experiences.
  • All behavior has an unconscious cause including slips of the tongue which means that behavior is determined.
  • That personality constitutes of tripartite or the three aspects that include the id, ego as well as the super-ego.

An explanation of how the main concepts of the theory may apply to the individual

According to Sigmund Freud, personality redevelopment is realized through conflicts that exist among the three fundamental human mind structures that include the id, ego, and super-ego. Individual personality is also seen according to this theory as the conscious and unconscious forces which include unconscious beliefs and desires. These forces are transformed through psychic energy to shape personality where the interaction of the innate emotional forces explains behavior.

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It is from the above that the main concepts of the theory seek to address the foundation as well as the development of the psychological process in individuals. To arrive at the individual and demystify psychodynamic therapy, individual emotions, early life experiences, thoughts as well as beliefs prove essential considering they form recurring patterns that facilitate avoidance of stress, perceptions, and development of coping defense mechanisms. It is from this perspective that Leichsenring et al. (2013) stress that this theory cannot realize intended objectives without individual involvement through speaking freely on desires, fears as well as emotions.

A description of the ways this theory explains this individual’s personality well and where it falls short

As indicated above, the theory relies on individual openness to throw light on their psychodynamic therapeutic needs. Unlike other methods, this approach takes into account both nature and nurture debate. Through its focus on individual character, it is essential in its areas of application as illustrated above. Its reliance on realistic attributes or key features makes a practical approach to therapy.

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However, a significant criticism on the theory is that the analysis of Timothy’s behavior is not scientific. Freud’s concepts are majorly subjective making them difficult to test scientifically. Other limitations include being too deterministic, use of case studies and placing much emphasis on psychological aspects while ignoring genetic or biological factors influencing mental health problems (Johansson et al., 2013).  Also, it ignores meditational processes such as thinking, and it is unfalsifiable or challenging to prove wrong and reductionist in simplifying the human mind. For example, it has a weakness in stressing that Timothy’s childhood experiences influence behaviors, thoughts, and emotions because this implies that humans have no conscious free will over behavior.


The psychodynamic approach presents an attempt to understand the human mind but like any other theory have its strengths and limitations. The theory holds that personality is explained through the conscious as well as the unconscious beliefs and desires. The related approaches emphasize that childhood experiences have a significant role in shaping individual character. However, there are apparent shortcomings such as the lack of supporting scientific prove. As a result Timothy’s case demands a post Freudian theory approach, and calls for careful consideration as a practical approach to explaining human behavior.



  • Johansson, R., Nyblom, A., Carlbring, P., Cuijpers, P., & Andersson, G. (2013). Choosing Between Internet-based psychodynamic versus cognitive behavioral therapy for depression: a pilot preference study. BMC Psychiatry13(1), 268.
  • Leichsenring, F., Hiller, W., Weissberg, M., & Leibing, E. (2006). Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy: Techniques, efficacy, and indications. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 60(3), 233-59. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213135027?accountid=1229
  • Leichsenring, F., Salzer, S., Beutel, M. E., Herpertz, S., Hiller, W., Hoyer, J., & Ritter, V. (2013). Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy in social anxiety disorder: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Psychiatry170(7), 759-767.


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