Sigmund middle class Jewish women, therefore they were

Sigmund Freud created Psychoanalysis from his own perception of the systems and theories that make motivation and drive central concepts of human life. Thanks to his work we now have a clearer view of how neurosis and other forms of psychopathology affect individuals. Eysenck (1995) cites Bergin (1971) as debating that the success rate for Psychoanalysis was as high as 83% which compares very favourably with a spontaneous recovery rate of only 30%. (Perspectives on Psychology, 1995, p. 20).

Freud also acknowledged that personality and behaviour were not just a response to instinct or environmental stimuli but to unconscious forces. There is strong evidence today that a considerable amount of information processing is pre-conscious. From this he concluded that abnormal behaviour, although difficult, could be altered and his belief that balance is the key ingredient in personality development still holds true. Freud’s dream interpretation therapy proposed that the forbidden urges or wishes of the id, repressed during waking, resulted in their surfacing whilst dreaming.

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This signified disturbances relating to early experiences. The results of many, more recent clinical and laboratory studies show that dreams are actually more perceptual, a mixture of things seen and heard rather than just unconscious thought. But they still involve a significant amount of emotion although this is more dependent on recent and current experiences not just past ones. (http://encarta. msn. com/”Dreaming” (c) 1997-2002 Microsoft Corporation).

Freud’s theories when first published during the Victorian era were revolutionary as not only were they based on the taboo subject of sexuality but also dared to suggest that infants experienced sexual feelings and were capable of sexual gratification. His contributions are now more appreciated, we are all familiar with and accepting of the fact that childhood experiences play a part in determining adult behaviour. In contrast though, he based his Psychosexual theory on children but he only studied adults and mostly middle class Jewish women, therefore they were not a representative sample of society.

The theories of Psychoanalysis are not scientific and as such are difficult to prove or disprove. Evaluation Humanism Humanism incorporates some aspects of both Behavioural Psychology and Psychoanalytic Psychology but rejects the idea that only internal or external forces control human behaviour. In addition it emphasises that humans have the unique ability to make choices and exercise free will so is relevant to our attempts to realise our potential. Client centred therapy is used and not the opinion of the therapist as with Psychoanalysis. This is now very popular in counselling for psychological disorders and within education.

Maslow recognised all levels of human compulsion in his hierarchy of needs (1954) that emphasises individual choice and responsibility. A flexible framework is provided because it considers a person in the context of their environment and in conjunction with their personal feelings and perceptions making it much more comprehensive than other perspectives. We can see the importance of growth motivation, as even when basic needs are met some of us may still become anxious or depressed, so by pursuing self-actualisation happiness can be attained. Therapy has proven to be effective in the treatment of mild psychological disorders.

Humanism recognises the unique qualities of human nature and therefore did not use animals for experiments but observed human beings in their natural environment. On the other hand, it can be argued that authentic and real experiences are almost impossible to verify, making research unreliable and therefore unscientific. Science commands objectivity, which Humanism can not offer. In western society personal growth is encouraged, but not everyone is motivated towards this, and those that appear to have achieved it in one sense, may lack it in others.

This does not fit in with the self-actualisation notion and suggests that it is not only dependent on internal needs but also the external demands of society. Conclusion Psychology has a bearing on all of us in every day life from birth to death whether conscious or unconscious. Our understanding and interpretation depends largely on the society in which we live and our cultural and religious beliefs. It is therefore a subject where right and wrong is very difficult to determine.

Because of this and the fact that we still can not categorically state which of the various perspectives is closer to the truth, psychology is an ever changing and fascinating subject and each paradigm has something unique to contribute to our understanding.


Atkinson, R. L. , Atkinson, R. C. , Smith, E. E. , Bem, D. J. (1993). Introduction to Psychology Eysenck, M. W. (1995). Perspectives on Psychology Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd. Goss, R. (1996). The Science of Mind and Behaviour London: Hodder & Stoughton. Reber, A. S. , Reber, E. (2001). The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (3rd Edition). London: Penguin Books Ltd.