Sigmund Freud's Psychodynamic Theory and Crime

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Psychodynamic (Psychoanalytical) theory was developed by Sigmund Freud in the late 1800’s and has gained increasing popularity in the history of criminality (Siegel, 2005). Freud believed that every individual carries “[the] residue of the most significant emotional attachments of our childhood, which then guides our future interpersonal relationships” (Siegel). Freud theorized that the personality is a three-part structure made up of the id, ego, and super ego. These three components work together in creating a behavior. The id creates the demands, the ego put the demands created by id into a larger context using reality, and finally the superego suppresses the id and attempts to make the ego behave morally, rather than realistically. Psychodynamic theory is significant to criminology because it explains “criminal” or “abnormal” behavior is the result of irregular development of the psyche. The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which seeks immediate gratification of all needs, desires, and urges. The pleasure principle that drives the id strives to fulfill our most basic needs and primitive urges, such as hunger, thirst, emotions, and sex. When one or more of these needs or urges are not met, the result is a state of anxiety or stress. It is important to note that during infancy children are ruled entirely by the id, and as they age the other components of personality develop, allowing us to control the demands of the id and behave in socially acceptable ways (Cherry,
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