A Brief Discussion of the Psychodynamic Model

A Brief Discussion of the Psychodynamic Model

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

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Psychodynamic theories are founded on the work of Sigmund Freud.

One of the better-known psychological models is the psychodynamic model. Psychodynamic theories are founded on the work of Sigmund Freud. The psychodynamic model is founded on psychodynamic theory. The psychodynamic theory describes personality and behavior in terms of the mind being divided into three functional areas. Psychodynamics assumes that the mind is constructed into the functional areas known as the id, ego, and superego. These areas of the mind are described in terms of the id being the instinctual area of the mind; the ego is described as the rational or logical control area of the mind; and the superego is described as the area of the mind that provides moral standards and values (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). The psychoanalytic theory posits that personality and behavior are a function of the interaction of these three functional areas (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). This is described in terms in which “behavior is ultimately determined by unconscious sexual and aggressive drives and by the complex intrapsychic conflicts that arise in daily life” (McAdams, 2009). This model of personality and behavior is based almost entirely on the underlying forces and conflicts between the id, ego, and superego. This position is problematic because it is based on an enormous amount of assumptions.

What is so troublesome about the psychodynamic model is the fact that it is based on a large amount of conjecture from Freud. Freud’s theory is founded on highly speculative and subjective reasoning. Mostly this work is based on a case study analysis of his patients. Freud formed his ideas of the mind based on observations of patients and as a result, there is no empirical evidence to support that the Id, ego, and superego even exist. For a theory that has gained so much attention and is still used today, the psychodynamic model is based on little evidence to support its efficacy.

Another troublesome area in the psychodynamic model is the fact that psychoanalysis is an extremely subjective practice based on loose sets of practices. The idea behind psychoanalysis is that by discussing one’s issues, the unconscious conflicts can be uncovered thereby leading to a solution for the individual. For example, if a person who is homophobic discusses his feelings (with a counselor who is leading the person through questions) the patient may find that he is harboring homosexual feelings. This would be considered a breakthrough in psychoanalysis (Kowalski & Westen, 2009).

The problem with psychoanalysis is that it is difficult to measure and quantify its efficacy. In order to test it, specific practices must be taken into account but these can change depending on the professional in question. This cited to Clarkin (2012), most studies of psychotherapy typically focus on symptoms rather than the problems of personality such that problems continue to manifest themselves but indifferent personality and behavioral aspects. As well, “the personality disorder criteria and symptoms change over time, often all by themselves while their interpersonal dysfunction does not change very much at all” (Clarkin, 2012). This means that psychoanalysis may not have the efficacy that it shows in trials since it is only treating the symptoms such as cognitive errors such as deflecting or lying.

Therapy should not simply alter the manifestation of the disorder but should treat it directly. Without some form of standardization for treating the primary issue of personality or behavior, this leaves a broad area of interpretation for professionals. If psychoanalysis is going to be a primary tool in psychology, then it would stand to reason that it should be standardized more in order to identify its levels of efficacy.


Clarkin. J.F. (2012). “An integrated approach to psychotherapy techniques for patients with a personality disorder.” Journal of Personality Disorders vol. 26 (1) 43–62

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

McAdams, D. P. (2009). The person: An introduction to the science of personality psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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Vincent Triola. Wed, Jan 06, 2021. A Brief Discussion of the Psychodynamic Model Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/a-brief-discussion-of-the-psychodynamic-model

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