There are several key theories to understanding psychology thus understanding everyday life, why and how we act and respond the way we do. To compare strands isn’t straightforward because your comparing ideas and theories, using criticisms that are second hand. Psychoanalysis is the theory driven by key thinkers like Freud, and Erikson. The main input was into the unconscious mind, and the iceberg metaphor. Implying that only a small of amount of our mind is accessible to us.
This strand of thought is commonly used in therapy as it suggests that many of adulthood problems are a direct result of significant childhood events, like the psychosexual stages. A lot of Freud’s work is criticized due to its taboo context of applying such sexual intensity to children. The psychosexual stages, dream theories, and the unconscious mind, play a massive role in Freud’s participation to psychoanalysis. A problem with this work is due to it being based upon observations on clinical cases and cases studies, it makes it very hard to apply and generalise to wider society, or a wider population.
Freud was heavily influenced by urge and desire; he believed that all behaviour is driven mainly by our natural urges, represented by our ID. These urges being sexual (Eros), anger (Thanatos), the emotions we are taught to control. Freud applied the metaphor of the mind or psyche being similar to an iceberg. Being that only a small portion of it is visible; the rest of it is invisible. When applied to the mind he said that only 10% of it was visible which is represented by our conscious, but 90% is invisible, but not necessarily inaccessible, which are what dreams represent.
This iceberg metaphor is further broken down into what is accessible to us. The part visible to us is the Conscious and is what is availible to us. Below that we have the preconscious, which is what holds our memories and stored knowledge. But mainly we have the unconscious where it holds our fears, violent motive, immoral urges and other repressed thoughts. Next we move onto the Psycho-Sexual development stages. This theory explains the direct link between upbringing and adulthood.
It places a massive amount of understanding on childhood, this being very unreliable because it can’t be generalised, or even proved or falsified. The psycho sexual stages are 5 in total. Oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital. Freud suggests that any imbalance in the raising of these stages can produce serious effects. For example a child who was toilet trained harshly would be known to suffer from an anal fixation. This could result in the person being uptight, and very tidy.
Because Freud was so focused on the unconscious, he believed that dreams play a massive part in interpreting and understanding behaviour, thus providing a solution. A book called “The interpretation of dreams” defines meanings that dreams may subliminally carry. Psychoanalysis style approach to psychology mainly revolves around the heavy influence the unconscious mind provides to behaviour and characteristics. Key thinker Freud’s well known theory of the three elements of the mind. The id, the ego, and the superego.
We cannot deny that theories such as Defence Mechanism are heavy influences in the world of psychology and has a relevant bearing on our understanding on why people react to everyday issues in a certain way, and are able to label these reactions. This explained is a system made to help reduce anxiety, this done by the ego. Defence mechanisms are believed to be in place to help keep the mind safe from repressed thoughts and memories. However the flaws with this theory are that it assumes that emotional problems come from a significant experience from childhood experience.
Infantile sexuality, penis envy, anal eroticism. Scientifically untested, with repetitive reliance on test studies. Freudian theorists regularly distort data to suit their outcomes. Alongside this If it’s not testable and not falsifiable then it is not a science Freud placed a lot of focus on the unconscious mind, in fact Freud overemphasized this. This alongside sex, aggression and childhood experiences. Many of Freud’s ideas are hard to measure, it is impossible to measure dreams and psychosexual stages A lot of Freud’s evidence was based on case studies and no actually visible quantifiable data.
Psychoanalysis is criticized due it not being refutable or testable; Karl Popper accused this of being a pseudoscience In comparison to this we have Behaviourist theory “Behavioural psychology, also known as behaviourism, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. According to behaviourism, behaviour can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states.
The two main types of conditioning in the behaviourist theory are Classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical condition is a technique where a naturally occurring stimulus already has a response. Pavlov’s study on dogs and bells is a great example. A neutral stimulus becomes attached to the naturally occurring stimulus. So that in future the neutral stimulus produces the same response as the naturally occurring one. Example a dog hearing a bell every time it’s fed will be conditioned into salivating just at the sound of a bell
Operant conditioning is a rewards and punishment scheme that is used worldwide. When we do something right we get praised and rewarded, when we misbehave we get punished. This use of conditioning can entirely change behaviour. Skinners study on pigeons showed that even animals can be subject to operant conditioning. So a theory like operant conditioning provides a solution to early fixations like those proposed in psycho analytic, someone who sucks their thumb when they continue to get positive punishment should eventually drop the habit.
Criticisms of behaviourism would be that it isn’t a deep enough look at behaviour, operant and classical condition totally dismisses the idea of free will, and personal influences like personal ideas, feelings, perceptions, thoughts and so on. When we contrast this to psychoanalytical we see that it in fact goes very deep into the mind, accessing the sub-conscious, and has a meaning that holds more depth than lack of free will. In the eyes of psychoanalytical fixations during the psycho sexual stages are enough to influence the way someone reacts as an adult.
Alongside this it doesn’t provide any other approaches or explanations to the acquisition of learning. Not all behaviour is learned through reinforcement and punishments. Thirdly it dismisses the idea of change, people and animals alike change behaviour all the time due to different inspirations in life. Regardless of any previous schemas and patterns. However behaviourism is based upon clearly visible studies, which can be proven and falsified, this makes it much simpler when it’s time to collect information. In Skinners study the amount of responses was measured on a graph, and this is indisputable.
In the case of Freud and the psychoanalytical approach we see that he is heavily criticized for his lack of plausible evidence, and not just case studies and observations that lack the ability to be generalised or replicated to produce the same answer. Behaviourism is also known to be effective in therapy being able to change unwanted or harmful behaviours through simple conditioning. This treatment is effective in both children and adults. This treatment in comparison to psychoanalytic theory is very effective, psychoanalytic theory is described as longwinded, expensive, time consuming, and addressing issues that cannot be proved.
If the therapist says you have a fixation, the patient has to accept otherwise their demonstrating denial. The behaviourist therapy aims more for a solution than an answer to why and how. Psychoanalytic tend to use the why to answer. Example “causing someone to remember what happened to them as a child to fix a fixation they have today” “”Psychoanalysis pretends to investigate the Unconscious. The Unconscious by definition is what you are not 1conscious of.
But the Analysts already know what’s in it — they should, because they put it all in beforehand. ” In conclusion both theories provide different perspectives entirely in psychology. Whereas behaviourist focus upon the manipulation of behaviour and the production of behaviour, psychoanalytical focus on the sub-conscious and the effects of early childhood. In a comparable environment we know that behaviourist theory works well in therapeutic terms, it being quicker, more efficient, and having a clear goal. Whereas with psychoanalytical there are a number of unexpected things that could manifest themselves.