Abnormal behaviour is difficult to define as there are no single characteristics that apply to all instances. A model of abnormality offers a complete and coherent explanation for the origins of abnormal behaviour. First we discuss the psychodynamic model/approach along with Freud’s psychosexual development stages and defence mechanisms. Next we will look at multiple personality disorders and how Freud’s psychodynamic theory explains it.
The paper will then move onto the biological model/approach and how this explains abnormal conditions. We will then look at schizophrenia and how the biological theory explains what causes it. The psychodynamic model of abnormality was the first major challenge to the biological model. Freud and others developed this model through clinical work with mentally disordered patients. Freud believed that problems arose from dynamics of the personality (psyche), rather than from physical problems.
Freud believed that the mind had both conscious and unconscious areas. The unconscious is the biggest part of the psyche and is dominated by the ‘id’. Id is a primitive part of the personality and pursues only pleasure and gratification. It is only concerned with its desires being satisfied and is not interested in social rules. The second area is the conscious and it’s ‘ego’. This is the part of the mind which gives us contact to the outside world and works on the reality principle. The ‘ego’ considers the consequences of an action.
The third part of the mind is the ‘superego’ which develops around the age of four. It contains our moral values which we learn from our parents and society. It contains our social conscience and sense of right or wrong. According to Freud the ego and superego dwell largely in the conscious mind while the id is in the unconscious area. Freud saw humans having two drives or instincts. The first one is ‘Eros’ the sex drive and represents our drive to live, prosper and produce offspring. When this drive is high the id demands gratification and determines to carry out such behaviours that will result in sexual or sensual gratification.
The second is ‘Thanatos’ the aggression drive and represents our need to stay alive and stave off threats to our existence, our power and prosperity. It raises our feelings of aggression towards others and towards our self. (Haralambos & Rice, pg 139) According to psychoanalytic theory each person experiences conflict between the three different parts of the psyche. The reason for this is for society to exist our unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses have to be kept in check. This results in us being torn between our desires to fulfill our impulses, and our wish to live in a peaceful, ordered society. (Freud, 1930)
Another key aspect to Freud’s theory is that people move through a series of development stages. There are five stages and are often known as the psychosexual stages. Each stage is characterized by a focus on a different part of the body. Freud believed the ‘libido’ or sexual drive is fixated on a certain part during particular periods of development. The first stage is the oral stage which occurs from birth to around one and a half. At this stage all a baby can do is use its mouth for. Therefore libido pleasure is centered on the mouth and its activities such as sucking, feeding and crying. The second stage is the anal stage where the libido focuses on the anus. This is when the child is around 18 months to three years as the ego develops. The child develops a sense of control over their own body and finds they can control the action of their bowels.
The child comes to derive pleasure from retaining and releasing faeces. The third stage is phallic stage when the child is around three to five years. The dominant site for the libido is the genitals. This is the first time children become strongly aware of sexual differences between boys and girls. The fourth stage is the latency period and is between five to eleven years. The libido is less engrossed in parts of the body and little development occurs. The child is more concerned with friendships and learning. The final stage is the genital stage which begins in puberty and lasts for the rest of the individual’s life. The libido again focuses on the genitals but the aim is to have sexual relations with someone else. (Haralambos & Rice, pg 538)