The Use of Psychoanalysis to Make Sense of Human Behavior Essay

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The Use of Psychoanalysis to Make Sense of Human Behavior

“Psychoanalysis offers a good story to make sense of behaviour, but it is a story the truth of which can never be confirmed.” Discuss.

Psychoanalysis is an approach to the understanding of human behaviour by Freud and other famous psychologists. It is a method of treating mental and emotional disorders by discussion and analysis of one’s thoughts and feelings. It relies on the therapist’s ability to make the unconscious conscious and to help guide the patients to resolve their underlying conflicts. It is based on past experiences, but there is limited empirical evidence that supports this theory as it deals with the emotional side of psychology and lacks scientific
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In the third stage, the ‘phallic stage’, (3 - 5 years) the child takes a greater interest in its genitals and feels a desire for the opposite sex parent. This makes them view their same sex parent as a rival and unconsciously they feel hostile which turns to guilt and so they try to identify with their same sex parent. The boy does this if fear of being castrated by his father. Freud uses this theory as a way of interpreting situations, emotions and feelings when he psychoanalyses patients. He believed that if at any particular psychosexual stage the demands for this sexual gratification were not met, when the child became adult it would demand gratification for the activity of that stage leading to a fixation or neurosis. However Freud’s case studies were all based upon adults, with one exception (below), leaving his theory in big trouble, as studies of adults can not contribute to a valid theory of child development.

Freud found evidence to support his theory when he analysed a phobia in a 5-year-old boy. This is called ‘the case of little Hans’. Hans had a phobia of being bitten by horses, especially ones that were white, with black around the mouth and wearing blinkers. Freud interpreted this as Hans’ fear of being castrated by his father. One time when Hans saw a horse collapse in the street he was very frightened. Freud said that when Hans saw the horse collapse, he felt guilty and afraid
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