Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component

Sigmund Freud proposed the idea of the unconscious, which formed the basis for his psychodynamic theory. He was one of the most influential (and infamous) psychologists we know today. The main assumption of Freud’s theory was the idea that the personality or psyche has a fixed structure consisting of the ego, the id, and the superego.

The personality is built throughout childhood, and the child goes through psychosexual stages of development. Internal, unconscious psyche conflicts (such as your sexual urges and aggressive feelings; unconscious defence mechanisms mediate anything that makes you uncomfortable).Freud believed that most of our everyday actions and behaviours are the product of the unconscious. The unconscious is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, drives, and memories outside of our conscious awareness. Overall, traumatic experiences can manifest in many different ways.The psychodynamic theory focuses on the unconscious, such as how past memories and traumas still affect you in the present, even if you are not fully aware of them.

Psychodynamic Theories Freud Brain StudySmarterUnconscious mind aspects, Flaticon

What is the basis of psychodynamic theories for offensive behaviour?

The main focus is on the superego in the psychodynamic explanation for offensive behaviour. The superego, often referred to as the morality principle, regulates behaviours based on rewards or punishments. It develops during the phallic stage.

The approach acknowledges the early life experiences and how this has impacted a child’s development through to adulthood. Freud established the idea of the unconscious mind and the three-part personality model, which may give us an insight into why offending behaviours occur, by exploring the moral component.

Freud’s psychodynamic theories of personality

What are the key elements of psychodynamic theory?

Traumatic memories from early development are repressed in the unconscious mind (hidden from your awareness). However, psychodynamic psychologists suggest that the events are never truly forgotten and can be explored through psychology.

Sigmund Freud stressed that the first five years of life are crucial to the formation of the adult personality. The Id must be controlled so that the child can satisfy social demands.

The development process is a process with five stages, generally referred to as the psychosexual stage model:

  • The oral stage happens between birth and one years old. The focus at this stage is the experience of pleasure perceived through the month.
  • The anal stage is an essential period for ego development. For example, this is the stage by which the child becomes aware of reality outside the home. It’s when the child starts leaving the nappies and going to the toilet. It is the phase that a child becomes aware of societal rules, for example, going to the toilet. The focus at this stage is the anus, and it happens between one and three years old.
  • The phallic stage is the phase that the superego develops. During this stage, the child goes through the Oedipus and Electra complex. It is an important moment for overcoming unconscious desires directed to the mother for boys, father for girls, identifying with their father to boys or mother to girls. The focus at this stage is the genitals, and it happens between three to six years old.
  • In the latent stage, the sexual energy drive from the previous stage becomes latent, so the child can focus on the world around them. The focus of this stage is hidden, and it starts around six years old and lasts until puberty.
  • The genital stage is the final stage, and it culminates with the psychosexual energy taking place in the genitals, to be directed towards the formation of adult relationships. The focus of this stage is about forming romantic relationships. It happens after puberty.

These stages are the driving force in child development. The driving force is vital when expressing our sexual energy or libido. Freud believed that living is about being in between tension and pleasure, linking it to unresolved adult conflicts which co-relate with fixations.

What are personality structures?

The structure of personality is divided into three parts as follows:

The id

The id operates in the most primitive parts of our personality and is also related to the unconscious mind. It contains the libido or the biological energy reproductive instincts created.

If a person is hungry, the id is demanding, and when it wants to eat, for example, it wants it now!

The id relies on the pleasure principle and demands immediate gratification regardless of the circumstances.

The ego mediates between the impulsive demands of the Id and the reality of the external world.

For example, it may delay gratifying the id until it is more appropriate to satisfy its demands.

It must also compromise between the impulsive needs of the Id and the moralistic demands of the superego.

The superego is driven by the values and morals of a society that are learned from childhood from the parents and others. It is characterised by the ‘inner voice’ that lets us know when we have crossed the line, behaving in a way that conflicts with our true self. The conscience is the internalisation of societal rules. It determines which behaviours are allowed and causes feelings of guilt when rules are broken.

Superego Psychodynamic Theories StudySmarter

Superego personality brain, Flaticon

Psychodynamic theory: criminology

One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id, we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.

Sigmund Freud New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1932.

The psychodynamic explanations for crime tend to focus on the superego because it is the part that reflects morality, and is also seen as the morality principle. The superego develops during the phallic stage when the child goes through the Oedipus or the Electra complex.

According to Freud, the sense of morality is developed through the internalisation of the same-sex parent. When a child develops a sense of right or wrong, they will learn it from their father or father figure and the girl from their mother or the mother figure. The child resolves the respective gender complexes during this stage by identifying with the same-sex parent and imitating them.

The explanations for crime revolve around the superego (Blackburn, 1993)

According to Blackburn, there are three different explanations for how the superego can lead you to criminal behaviour, based on the superego explanations that suggest that the superego is underdeveloped.

Weak superego

This happens due to the absence of a mother or father figure during the child’s phallic stage. If the same-sex parent is not around when the child internalises morality, it can become an issue. Those with a weak superego may lack identity and be unable to make decisions on right or wrong, unable to internalise what is right or wrong and why.

Deviant superego

The internalisation of deviant values is absorbed from the mother or father figure. If the same-sex parent is present, and they are a criminal or have violent attitudes or anything considered deviant according to the social culture, these ideas will be passed on to the child, who will internalise a superego with immoral values.

Over-harsh superego

Satisfying the superego’s desire and need for punishment, the over-harsh superego causes crippling guilt for those involved, and criminal behaviours are enacted to receive punishment. If your superego is over-harsh, it is more likely to have unkind attitudes and overcritical parents.

So you are more likey to second guess, and devalue yourself, and be overly self-critical. It is also likely to be excessively punitive and create crippling guilt for behaviour, whether it’s worthy or not. In the case of behaviour that is deserving of guilt, someone with an overly punitive ego may feel even more guilt.

Having a negative and harsh internal voice can often drive people to try to escape that inner voice by using techniques that may be seen as immoral, such as alcoholism, drug use and impulsive, risky behaviour. People with an over-harsh superego may also turn to criminal acts because they are trying to satisfy their superego need for punishment.

Psychodynamic theories examples: offending behaviour

The psychodynamic theory of crime relies on ideas of the id, ego, and superego. Freud believed these forces exist in all humans, that the id represents our most basic desires and impulses, the superego represents morality, and that the ego was the understanding of societal norms.

Any conflict between these three forces or an imbalance between them could cause delinquent and deviant behaviour in a person. An approach called psychoanalytic criminology is drawn from Freudian psychoanalysis, which uses a method to study crimes and criminal behaviour.

We are going to explain the case of a serial killer, Ted Bundy, who had a traumatic childhood, and malfunctions during his development that may have led him to become a notorious serial killer.

Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component Ted Bundy Top Ten Fugitives list on February 10, 1978 StudySmarterTed Bundy was included in the top ten Fugitives list on February 10, 1978, fib.gov

Ted Bundy confessed to committing at least 30 homicides of females between 1974 and 1978. This number prosecuted him, but the police believe the number of victims to be higher than that.

Psychodynamic psychologists believe he could have had an issue with mistrust at an early age and that this kind of disorder starts in childhood when the child develops trust or mistrust towards their father or mother figure.

Ted grew up thinking that his grandparents were his parents. It might have been difficult for him to process all of that during such early stages of life.

Ted’s grandparents were also very aggressive with him and his brothers. Psychodynamic theorists claim that when a child is subjected to violent family or parental conflicts, it can create developmental disorders. Ted has mentioned the grandparents in a few interviews and has spoken well about them, especially his grandfather who has been a character with who he identified.

However, other family members have told the attorneys that Samuel Cowell, the grandfather, was a tyrannical bully who despised blacks, Italians, Catholics and jews, beat his wife and family dog, and would not respect even the neighbour’s pets.

With this information in mind, it could be that Ted’s environment played a significant role in his antisocial behaviours, affecting his superego development.

How does Bowlby’s psychodynamic theory support the case?

Bowlby has also contributed to the psychodynamic approaches with the maternal deprivation hypothesis. He claimed that infants deprived of a mother figure during the first early years of life will suffer severe and even permanent consequences, as it is a critical attachment period.

The consequences of a lack of attachment may vary from mental abnormalities, delinquency, affectionless psychopathology, depression and even dwarfism. This is covered in his 44 thieves study.

Evaluation of psychodynamic approach: unconscious motives behind criminal behaviour

  • Freud’s theory on the Oedipus and Electra complex has been heavily criticised. Freud argued that females were less moral than males. He would justify it by explaining the mechanisms of Oedipus and Electra complexes which says that boys fear the castration by the father for their immoral transgressive thoughts, and girls fear only to lose maternal love.

  • However, males typically commit more crimes than females do, which Freud would consider immoral. Still, family influence is undeniably a factor in criminality, and individuals with delinquent families are more likely to turn to crime.

  • Overall, the theory is heavily gender-biased.

  • The theory can also only provide an argument for correlation, not causation.

  • If we are to take Blackburn’s theory, for example, there is no evidence suggesting that a same-sex parent’s absence would cause a child to commit more crime.

  • There are rules to be followed so you will acquire good behaviour, but if these rules are broken, you are going to be punished for it normally. The idea of the over-harsh superego and the wish to be punished does not stand up to scrutiny.


Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component - Key takeaways

  • The main focus is on the superego in the psychodynamic explanation for offensive behaviour and the moral component. The superego, often referred to as the morality principle, regulates behaviours based on rewards or punishments.
  • The superego develops during the phallic stage. It is driven by the values and morals of a society that are learned from childhood from the parents and others. It is characterised by the ‘inner voice’ that lets us know when we have crossed the line, behaving in a way that conflicts with our true self.
  • This is when the child goes through the Oedipus and Electra complex.
  • According to Blackburn, there are three different explanations for how the superego can lead you to criminal behaviour: a weak superego, a deviant superego, and an over-harsh superego.
  • The explanations that psychodynamic theory focuses on the influence of early life experiences and their impact on your development.
  • People with an over-harsh superego may turn to criminal acts because they try to satisfy their superego’s need for punishment.
  • Bowlby has also contributed to the psychodynamic approaches with the maternal deprivation hypothesis.

Frequently Asked Questions about Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component

Psychodynamic theories focus on the psychological motives and forces that come from within, explaining human behaviour and personality. The theories originate from Sigmund Freud, who focused on the unconscious mind as the source of psychological distress and dysfunction.

The key element of psychodynamic theory and the moral component is that it attempts to explain crime through our behaviours having a causal influence, often related to childhood. Our behaviours originate in the unconscious mind, and these are the cause of our behaviours. The psychodynamic theory also relates our Internal processes and the external environment to contribute to our adult personality.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional imbalance. It is a self-reflection and self-examination process. 

Psychodynamic theory is a branch of study focused on the underlying causes behind human behaviours, examining our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours while acknowledging environmental influences. 

Theories that fall under psychodynamic approaches include the theory of personality, childhood development, and the moral components in offending behaviours.

Final Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component Quiz

Question

Who proposed the idea of the psychodynamic approach?

Show answer

Answer

Sigmund Freud.

Show question

Question

What are the three aspects of the psyche according to the psychodynamic approach?

Show answer

Answer

The ego, superego, and id.

Show question

Question

What is the id?

Show answer

Answer

The id operates in the most primitive parts of our personality and is also related to the unconscious mind. It contains the libido or the biological energy created by reproductive instincts. 

Show question

Question

What is the id based on?

Show answer

Answer

The Id relies on the pleasure principle and demands immediate gratification regardless of the circumstances.

Show question

Question

What is the ego?

Show answer

Answer

The ego mediates between the impulsive demands of the id and the reality of the external world. It must also compromise between the id’s impulsive needs and the superego’s moralistic demands. 

Show question

Question

What is the superego?

Show answer

Answer

The values and morals of a society we learned from childhood from our parents and others drive our superego. It is characterised by the ‘inner voice’ that lets us know when we have crossed the line, behaving in a way that conflicts with our true self. The conscience is the internalisation of societal rules. It determines which behaviours are allowed and causes feelings of guilt when rules are broken. 

Show question

Question

Where is the sense of morality developed, according to Freud?

Show answer

Answer

According to Freud, the sense of morality is developed through the internalisation of the same-sex parent. When a child develops a sense of right or wrong, a boy will learn it from their father or father figure and the girl from their mother or the mother figure.  

Show question

Question

According to ________, three superego variations could explain criminal behaviours. 

Show answer

Answer

Blackburn

Show question

Question

What are the three superego variations that could lead to criminal behaviour if they are underdeveloped?

Show answer

Answer

Weak superego

Deviant superego

Over-harsh superego

Show question

Question

What is an over-harsh superego?

Show answer

Answer

Satisfying the superego’s desire and need for punishment, the over-harsh superego causes crippling guilt for those involved. Criminal behaviours are enacted to receive punishment. If your superego is over-harsh, it is more likely you have unkind attitudes and overcritical parents. 

Show question

Question

How does Bowlby’s psychodynamic theory support the case?

Show answer

Answer

Bowlby has also contributed to the psychodynamic approaches with the maternal deprivation hypothesis. He claimed infants deprived of a mother figure during the first early years of life would suffer severe, permanent consequences, as it is a critical attachment period.  

Show question

Question

What is a deviant superego?

Show answer

Answer

The internalisation of deviant values is absorbed from the mother or father figure. If the same-sex parent is present, and have criminal, violent attitudes or anything considered deviant according to the social culture, these ideas will be passed on to the child, who will internalise a superego with immoral values. 

Show question

Question

What is a weak superego?

Show answer

Answer

This happens due to the absence of a mother or father figure during the child’s phallic stage. If the same-sex parent is not around when the child internalises morality, it can become an issue. Those with a weak superego may lack identity and be unable to make decisions on right or wrong, unable to internalise what is right or wrong and why. 

Show question

Question

What are the five psychosexual stages of development, according to Freud?

Show answer

Answer

The oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latent stage, and the genital stage.

Show question

More about Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component
60%

of the users don't pass the Psychodynamic Theories and The Moral Component quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.