Sigmund Freud and His Theoretical Framework - Research Paper Example

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Better known as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud was a renowned Australian psychiatrist owing to his development of an entirely new and fascinating approach to understanding the human personality. While in the realm of his career, Freud developed numerous theories that primarily provoked a new understanding of the human mind and for this reason, he was referred as one of the most influential and controversial minds of the 20th century (Rosenzweig, Jones, & Freud, 1960). Particularly, some of his theories were such as the conscious and unconscious mind as well as the Id, ego and the superego theories. Unlike most of the theorists of his time, Freud developed overly influential theories that were subject to substantial criticism both back in the day and up to the modern day today.

With regard to the history of his work, in the early 1890s, Freud developed the psychodynamic view of the human behavior which is a theory that is primarily centered on the principle that human behavior is as a result of internal forces. In his contention, Freud argued that individuals have little or even no control over these internal forces affecting their lives. Besides, Freud pointed out that hints and clues as to what an individual is really thinking about are mirrored in a persons dreams or even their occasional word slip. In a similar regard, he developed the theory that suggested that human beings are characterized by an unconscious mind in which aggressive and sexual impulses are said to be in perpetual supremacy conflict with the defenses working against them (Gross, 2013).

Having pioneered new techniques for understanding human behavior, it became clear that Freuds efforts resulted in one of the most comprehensive theories of both psychotherapy and personality that were ever developed in his time. This being the cases, Freud put the continued effort in the modification of his theory over a period of approximately half a century. Particularly, his psychoanalysis theory primarily focuses on the unconscious aspects of personality. In his approach, Freud likened the human mind with an iceberg since a majority of the time, the brain is usually hidden in the unconscious. In this regard, the theory contends that the conscious mind level of the human mind is similar to the tip of the iceberg which is usually visible (Glucksman, 2016). The unconscious level of the mind, on the other hand, is said to be similar to the rest of the iceberg since it is particularly hidden and hence mysterious. More specifically, Freud argued that all the aspects of the personality of which the person is unaware of are contained in the unconscious level of the brain. However, the theory also states that there is a level of the human mind which is referred as the preconscious. Usually, this level of the mind consists of that which is not in an individuals immediate awareness but unlike the unconscious mind; this level is easily accessible.

Despite the fact that Freud was well known as a highly original thinker, various diverse factors deeply influenced his thought. Like in the case of many theories, these different factors are both interconnected and overlapped with each other to shape the development of Freuds thought. Firstly, his self-analysis which mainly forms the core of Freuds masterpiece, The Interpretation of Dreams, is known to have originated from the emotional crisis that Freud faced, following the death of his father. Notably, this particular analysis revealed to Freud that both the admiration and the love that he had, right from the beginning, felt for his dad, were instead mixed with very contrasting feelings of hate and shame (Carrington, Rock & Stern, 2012). Concerning his theory of the Oedipus complex, Freud was primarily inspired by his own fantasy that he wished his real father was dead, owing to the fact that he was the greatest rival for his mothers affections.

In the same vein, another of Freuds most important influence of his theory came from the field of physics. Having been initiated by the formulation of the principle of the conservation of energy that was steered by Helmholtz, the second half of the nineteenth century saw significant advances in contemporary physics. This particular principle states that the total number of energy in any given physical system is always constant, that energy quanta can, however, be changed but not annihilated. Besides, when energy is moved from one part of the scheme, it must consequently reappear in yet another part (Helmoholtz, 1900). This being the case, the continued application of this given principle saw the monumental discoveries in various fields, among them electromagnetism, thermodynamics and also nuclear physics which are well known to have transformed our contemporary world. Therefore, owing to the fact that Freud initially worked under the direction of Ernst Brucke, he became fond of Brucke and also admired his application of this particular principle of energy. For this reason, Freud enthusiastically adopted the new dynamic physiology from which he grounded his psychic energy claim from which he developed his though that the human personality can also be considered as an energy system. However, based on this context, Freud argued that it is the function of psychology to investigate the transmissions, modifications and the conversions of this form of psychic energy within the human personality which shapes and determines it. Thus, in a nutshell, this psychic energy conception serves as the cornerstone of Freuds psychoanalytic theory.

Theoretical Framework

Basic Concepts

Like a majority of theories, there are various key concepts in Freuds psychoanalytic theory. According to this particular theory, there is a series of stages through which human personality is said to develop. Besides, each of these personalities is characterized by an individual psychological conflict. Based on this context, it is therefore evident that one of the key concepts of this theory by Freud is his view that human nature is deterministic. According to Corey (2009), the interpretation of this basic concept is that our behavior is usually determined by various irrational forces, biological drives, and also unconscious motivations, among others. This, in essence, explains the Freuds notion that the activities of a human beings mind are never by accident and also the fact that the future events in our lives are as a result of our previous actions. Basically, these actions that happen in a human beings life are as a result of what we are environmentally exposed to which may include our friends, family and also the society at large.

Moreover, another basic concept of Freuds psychoanalytic theory is that the unconscious level of the human mind is said to be a state of the mind that we are unaware. The unconscious level of our mind is considered a storage space for what we consider our feelings, thoughts, memories, and urges, among many others. With regard to this concept, scholars such as Raymond and Danny (2008) contend that despite the fact that the concept of the unconscious level of mind predates psychoanalysis, one of the greatest contributions by Freud was discover how this particular concept can be applied to understanding the treatment of related psychological problems. Also although the basic concept of the unconscious was central to Freuds view of the human mind, he believed that this level of the brain makes up only a small amount of an individuals personality. In his account, the reason as to why this was said to contribute to only a little part of our brains is the fact that as human beings we are only aware of the small tip of the iceberg, which is usually what is actually going on in our minds. Based on this context, Freud introduced the third level of the human psyche which he referred to as the subconscious or rather the pre-conscious mind. Notably, this part is said to be the one that although human beings are not consciously aware of it at all times if prompted, various memories and information can be retrieved.

Examples of Clients Issues and how the Concepts will help the Client Change

In the modern day today, Freuds psychoanalytical theory is used in solving numerous clients problems. For instance, a good example of a clients issue is described in the following scenario.


Julia, a 24-year-old lady, went to a psychiatrist complaining of excessive checking. According to her these symptoms dated back to when she was a child when she used to spend a majority of her time on her homework since she needed to have each page correctly written. Also, she spent hours arranging her room and ensured that it was in perfect order before going to sleep. By the time Julia was enrolling for high school, she had serious problems completing her assignments, and this barred her from participating in extracurricular activities. This continued through her high school study up until when she joined college. During this time, she developed some unusual rituals where she always checked to ensure that she did not cause harm both to herself and to anyone around her. Some of these rituals involved checking electric appliances in her house for fear that she could cause a fire, door locks for fear that she could have left the door open and many other rituals. With time, these rituals began to consume too much of her time to a point where she would be late for class or entirely miss to attend the class. Besides, her bedtime rituals gradually stole much of her time until she could have no time to study or sleep. Her moods and appetites too plummeted, and she could no longer attend class, she, therefore, left college and returned home where her parents enrolled her in a psychiatrists therapy. Upon treatment, Julia was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and the psychiatrist was dedicated to restoring normalcy to her so that she could be able to return and complete college.

With regard to the basic concepts of Freuds psychoanalytic theory, it is evident that Julias case is based on the core concept that there is a series of stages through which an individuals personality develops. In this case, using the psychoanalytic theory, Julias case is to be linked with most of her childhood experiences which brought about a form of separateness from family, friends and the society as a whole. Based on this concept, her inability to come to terms with this fact left her prone to depression in her later years. According to Freud, the aim of the psychiatrist in cases like this is to help the client to become less dependent and to develop a more functional way of both understanding and accepting various changes in their lives.

NASW Code of Ethics (2008)

i. Importance of Human Relationships

Usually, social workers have the understanding that the relationship that one keeps between self and people is a key vehicle for change. Thus, with reference to this particular scenario, for the psychiatrist to accord Julia, who was depressed and deprived of a social life, the best treatment, they ought to have engaged her other people. Some of these people could be the patients family, social groups, friends, and organizations among many others. Thus, in a nutshell, while in the course of the helping process using this particular psychoanalytical theory, the therapist seeks to strengthen relationships among people so as to restore, promote and even maintain an individuals wellbeing.

ii. Dignity and worth of the person

Usually, the ethical principle that social works need to observe under this particular value is to respect ones inherent value and worth. Particularly, during the treatment process, the social worker, in this case, the psychiatrist, should treat each per...

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