Major Perspectives in Psychology-Psychodynamic Approach

The Psychodynamic Perspective: As per the Psychodynamic approach, human behaviour is an outcome of the role played by various psychological forces and early childhood experiences. The theory lays a lot of stress on the dynamics of relationship between the unconscious or conscious mind and also asserts that behaviour is an outcome of internal conflicts regarding which people have least awareness. The theory was propounded by a medical student Sigmund Freud in the year 1874. He expanded the concept of Psychoanalysis in which he suggested that psychological processes occur as a result of the flow of psychosexual energy called Libido in complex brain. Later, during the mid 1940s and 1950s, the theory of psychoanalysis was well established with contributions from eminent psychologists and researchers like Carl Jung, A. Adler and others.

The Important Role of Unconscious

Freud’s Psychoanalysis theory is based on two prominent assumptions:

  • Mental faculty of humans to a large extent is unconscious or beyond the awareness.
  • Past experiences or early childhood experiences, govern our lifetime behaviour or how we relate to each other and manage our feelings.

The theory which was postulated by Freud was based on his research findings and observation of the behaviour of his patients suffering from hysteria. According to him, our unconscious mind or repressed thoughts, affect our day to day behaviour and what we feel about ourselves as well as others.

The Id, Ego and Superego

Freud categorized personality into three distinct parts-Id, ego and superego. The id relates to the unconscious element, the ego relates to both unconscious and conscious elements i.e. reasonable and rational parts of the personality. Whereas, the superego relates to the conscience which is developed during the early stages of life and imbibed from parents, social network and teachers. Like ego, superego too has both unconscious and conscious parts.

According to Freud, an individual is expected to be in a state of mentally stable when all the 3 elements are in a stage of equilibrium. When the ego is in a state of clash or conflict with the id and superego, the outcome will be psychological stress or disequilibrium. As per him, we human beings just know very little about the mind or our thought process and rest remains hidden from us or is present in our unconscious mind.

Carl Jung’s Psychodynamics

Swiss Psychotherapist expanded the theory of Psychodynamics which was postulated by Freud in 20th century. He attempted to integrate the opposites, while still maintaining their individual entities. His version of Psychodynamics gave less attention to the conflict between the Id and the Superego; instead his focus was more on integrating different parts or shades of the personality.

Psychodynamics Theory in the Present Context and its applicability to Leadership and Organizational studies

In the present context, psychodynamics theory is considered as a multidisciplinary field which is in a continuous stage of evolution. The focus is on analysis and investigation of factors influencing human thoughts, pattern of responses and various other factors.

  1. Core Conflictual Relationship Themes or the concept of “Inner Theatre”: Mc Dougall (1985), focused on the concept of inner theatre and explained how our early experiences of childhood in association with our caregivers influence or govern our day to day behaviour or response patterns. Within our inner theatre, humans have a tendency of developing complex relationship themes over a period of time, which contribute in the development of our personality types, which is also regarded as CCRT or Core Conflictual Relationship Themes (Luborsky & Crits-Christoph, 1998). An analysis of Inner theatre or CCRT, will help us to understand the differences in the behaviour patterns of individuals and the underlying motivation, causes of conflicts both at workplace and in the personal front and provide appropriate solutions for strengthening the interpersonal relationship or improving productivity.
  2. Leader and Follower Relationship: The Psychodynamics theory aptly explains the essence of leadership, by analyzing various motives which govern the behaviour of a leader in an organizational context. The stress is on the relationship between leaders and followers for ensuring organizational success and prosperity, their motivational patterns, preference for individualism or working collaboratively in a group. The psychodynamic studies also analyze the dark facets of the leadership.
  3. Psychodynamics study helps in the analysis of the organizational undercurrents: The theory provides an answer to the causes of organizational undercurrents which could be an outcome of relationship issues, group communication problems & lack of motivation, leader’s behavioural problems or a complete organizational neurosis. Psychodynamics approach adopts a clinical approach or lays more focus on personal insight for resolving the root cause of the issues by creating reflective and responsible practitioners.
  4. Systematic Evaluation and a Comprehensive approach: The theory helps in systematic and in-depth investigation of the cause of relationship or behavioural issues in an organizational context by focusing on individual, group or entire community interactions. Various methods are adopted for investigating the cause of the issues like real life case studies, 360 degree feedback, coaching and in-depth interviews for analyzing various behavioural perspectives.

Limitations of Psychodynamics Theory

  • The theory of Freud has been criticized on the grounds of being too subjective and cannot be proven scientifically, as his work was based on analysis of the behaviour of the patients who were undergoing a treatment for mental issues and the focus was more on dysfunction or abnormal.
  • The theory fails to explain the solutions for fostering a behavioural reform in the individuals or leaders. The focus is more on improving self-awareness and thus cannot be practically associated with the field of training for changing the behaviour.
  • The psychodynamic approach lays a lot of focus on the individualistic aspects or on the leadership style or on the personality of a leader, as a result of which ignores the systemic issues or structural areas of concern.

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