Psychodynamic theory

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Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi, at: Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Psychodynamics or psychodynamic theory refers to a group of ideas that are the same in one way. These theories say that many things that can change how people act and feel are not things that the people know about and can easily talk about. These fears, wishes, or conflicts are said to be unconscious.

If people know about a thing and have words to talk about it, we say that they are conscious of that thing. If someone did not have words, but could draw a picture of something, we would also say that they are conscious of that thing. Something is called unconscious in psychodynamic theory if it changes how people act and feel but the people cannot say why they are feeling the way they feel or acting the way they act.

Babies and young children cannot talk to other people or to themselves. Because they do not have words until they grow up, they do not remember many things that happened or that made them feel bad. Some psychodynamic theories say that things that babies and young children want, but do not get, stay in their minds as unconscious wishes. Some psychodynamic theories say that things that upset or hurt babies and young children stay in their minds as unconscious fears.

Unconscious wishes and unconscious fears are some of the kinds of unconscious things that these theories say can make people feel bad.

Some important psychodynamic theorists were Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Anna Freud and Melanie Klein. Sigmund Freud believed that issues in adulthood were the result of not completing one of his stages in childhood. This is also known as psychosexual development. There were five stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious thought processes which manifest themselves in a client's behavior. The approach seeks to increase a client's self-awareness and understanding of how the past has influenced present thoughts and behaviors, by exploring their unconscious patterns(1).

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