Psychology is defined as the scientific study of human and animal behaviour which enables us to understand why living beings behave as they do. Psychology students usually spend most of their time studying different theories. Much of what we know about human thought and behaviour has emerged thanks to various psychology theories. For example, behavioural theories demonstrated how conditioning can be used to learn new information and behaviours. But some theories have fallen out of favour while others remain widely accepted. My chosen approaches to evaluate are behaviourist vs. psychoanalytic. I believe that it would be good to compare and contrast these two different approaches as these two areas have fascinated me.
Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism are two systems of psychology that both developed under unique social contexts. These systems reflect there origins by the ideologies and methodologies they use, as well as by the goals they try to achieve. Each system provides its constituents with different ideas of truth and each employ different methods to reach there goal. Even though these systems differ in so many respects the ultimate goal of both were similar to discover truth.
Psychoanalysis is the most intensive form of an approach to treatment called psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic refers to a view of human personality that result from interactions between conscious and unconscious factors. The purpose of all forms of psychodynamic treatment is to bring unconscious mental material and processes into full consciousness so that the patient can gain more control over his or her life.
Classical psychoanalysis has become the least commonly practiced form of psychodynamic therapy because of its demands on the patient’s time, as well as on his or her emotional and financial resources. It is, however, the oldest form of psychodynamic treatment. The theories that underlie psychoanalysis were worked out by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), a Viennese physician, during the early years of the twentieth century. Freud’s discoveries were made in the context of his research into hypnosis. The goal of psychoanalysis is the uncovering and resolution of the patient’s internal conflicts. The treatment focuses on the formation of an intense relationship between the therapist and patient, which is analyzed and discussed in order to deepen the patient’s insight into his or her problems.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a modified form of psychoanalysis that is much more widely practiced. It is based on the same theoretical principles as psychoanalysis, but is less intense and less concerned with major changes in the patient’s character structure. The focus in treatment is usually the patient’s current life situation and the way problems relate to early conflicts and feelings, rather than an exploration of the unconscious aspects of the relationship that has been formed with the therapist.
Not all patients benefit from psychoanalytic treatment. Potential patients should meet the following prerequisites:
The capacity to relate well enough to form an effective working relationship with the analyst. This relationship is called a therapeutic alliance.
At least average intelligence and a basic understanding of psychological theory.
The ability to tolerate frustration, sadness, and other painful emotions.
The capacity to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
People considered best suited to psychoanalytic treatment include those with depression, character disorders, neurotic conflicts, and chronic relationship problems. When the patient’s conflicts are long-standing and deeply entrenched in his or her personality, psychoanalysis may be preferable to psychoanalytic psychotherapy, because of its greater depth.
Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is the best known theories in psychology. The main subject that Erikson mentioned is the development of ego identity. According to Erikson, our ego identity constantly changes due to new experience and information we acquire in our daily life when we interact with others.
A sense of competence motivates our behaviour and actions according to Erikson. If we manage to control our behaviour, we feel a sense of mastery which is also known as ego strength but if we cannot control it, the individual will emerge with a sense of inadequacy according to the stage of the concept of Erikson.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Many of the theories of personality developed by researchers are still influential today including Erikson’s theory and Freud’s theory. Psychoanalysis opened up a new view on mental illness, suggesting that talking about problems with a professional could help relieve symptoms of psychological distress. While most psychodynamic theories did not rely on experimental research, the methods and theories of psychoanalytic thinking contributed to experimental psychology.
Freud’s theories overemphasized the unconscious mind, sex, aggression and childhood experiences. Many of the concepts proposed by psychoanalytic theorists are difficult to measure and quantify. Most of Freud’s ideas were based on case studies and clinical observations rather than scientific research.
Behavioural psychology known as behaviourism is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning. Behavioural theories dominated psychology during the early half of the twentieth century. Today behavioural techniques are still used widely in therapeutic settings to help clients learn new skills and behaviours. According to behaviourism, behaviour can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states.
There are two major types of conditioning:
Classical conditioning is a technique used in behavioural training in which a naturally occurring stimulus is paired with a response. Next, a previously neutral stimulus is paired with the naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke the response without the presence of the naturally occurring stimulus. The two elements are then known as the conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response.
Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behaviour. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between behaviour and a consequence for that behaviour.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Behaviourism is based upon observable behaviours, so it is easier to quantify and collect data and information when conducting research. Effective therapeutic techniques such as intensive behavioural intervention, behaviour analysis, token economies and discrete trial training are all rooted in behaviourism. These approaches are often very useful in changing maladaptive or harmful behaviours in both children and adults.
Many critics argue that behaviourism is a one-dimensional approach to behaviour and that behavioural theories do not account for free will and internal influences such as moods, thoughts and feelings. Behaviourism does not account for other types of learning, especially learning that occurs without the use of reinforcement and punishment. People and animals are able to adapt their behaviour when new information is introduced, even if a previous behaviour pattern has been established through reinforcement.
While behaviourism is not as dominant today as it was during the middle of the 20th-century, it still remains an influential force in psychology. Outside of psychology, animal trainers, parents, teachers and many others make use of basic behavioural principles to help teach new behaviours and discourage unwanted behaviours.
Implementing Psychoanalytical and Behavioural in today’s care setting
The best way to implement both theories in today’s care setting is in the form of group therapy. Group therapy consists of two or more clients working with counsellors. It is a very popular method used nowadays where many of us can learn from the experiences of others and offer advice. It has been proven to be very effective than individual psychotherapy. Group therapy helps clients, service users and other individual suffering from a mental illness by providing a peer group who suffers from the same symptoms or who have recovered similar problems. Members of the group can also provide emotional support to practice new behaviours. Kendra Cherry
To conclude, psychoanalytic approach and behaviourism may be in conflict, but both theories attempt to explain human behaviour and personality nevertheless. Whilst one adhere to reading deep into one’s past, the other is the study of our, as some might say, ‘animal behaviour’ and conditioning it; both extremely different things, yet equally bearing the same roots of foundation. I believe that despite the many differences, they both have provided useful insights towards the understanding and learning of our psychology’s past, present and future.