Understanding Psychoanalysis and Human Motivation

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Sigmund Freud (1856—1939), a contemporary of Pavlov and Watson, also made a significant impact on psychology, but in quite a different direction. A Vienna-born physician and psychiatrist, Freud discovered that many of his patients had strong emotional feelings of which they were unaware and that when these feelings were released it was therapeutic. Freud came to the conclusion that the forbidden wishes of childhood, particularly sexual wishes, are pushed out of people's awareness, but that they still motivate people unconsciously; he believed that these wishes could only be understood by means of psychoanalysis—Freud's method for revealing the unconscious by analyzing thoughts, dreams, and fantasies. An imaginative genius, Freud developed a theory of the structure of personality, including the importance of early experience and the nature of a psychological cure—in short, a complete theory of consciousness and behavior! His psychoanalytic theory offers an explanation of love and hate, of dreams and nightmares, and of life and death. Although Freud's views, like Watson's, were quite controversial, some form of psychoanalysis was soon being practiced by therapists in every country of Europe and in the United States as well.

Freud's belief that people could be understood only by examining their unconscious motives was directly opposed to the behaviorists' emphasis on observable behavior. However, the very early behaviorists were not yet ready to apply their concepts to the needs of human beings directly, and their studies were largely aimed at understanding the simple problem-solving behavior of rats, cats, and pigeons. There- fore, almost all psychotherapists (whose concern is with people's emotional health and well-being) looked to Freud for answers until fairly recently. It should not be surprising that psychoanalysis is still important in the training and thinking of many clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.

Academic psychologists, on the other hand, were generally not willing to accept Freud's views in their entirety, but many saw that his propositions could be tested in some form, either in the laboratory or in the clinic.


If the ideas of Locke, Darwin, Wundt, Pavlov, Watson, and Freud formed the great rivers of psychological thought; there were also significant tributaries that contributed to the development of modern psychology. One of these was the demand for psychological measurement. Darwin had said that within a species individuals will differ in "fitness," and psychologists have long been interested in measuring these differences. Alfred Binet (1857—1911), a French psychologist, was commissioned by his government to prepare a test that would identify children who had special educational needs. Binet himself doubted that his test could measure an underlying trait of intellectual fitness, but the modern IQ test that later developed is obviously being used in that way. Comparable tests of mental fitness were soon being given to army recruits, would-be immigrants, applicants for executive positions, and children everywhere. These new 10 tests, which V were developed by psychologists, were soon being examined by other psychologists for the soundness of their execution and their underlying theories. Measurement-minded psychologists also developed personality tests and these, too, became as controversial as the IQ tests. The entire field of psychological testing is still hotly debated.

vir: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1940300/psychoanalysis_unconscious_motivation_pg2.html?cat=5