Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Psychological Theories’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Psychological Theories’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Psychological Theories
- Essay on the Psychoanalysis-Freud’s Theories
- Essay on Structural Theory
- Essay on Libido Theory or Theory of Psychosexual Development
- Essay on Freud’s Theory of Dreams
- Essay on Behavioural and Cognitive Theories
- Essay on Social Theories
1. Essay on the Psychoanalysis-Freud’s Theories:
Sigmund Freud gained from many workers to evolve his final theories. The important ones were: Helmholz (from whom Freud learned to pattern psychological theories after physical ones and who particularly focused on matters of energetic distribution); Brucke (who also emphasized concepts of energy and conversation); Meynert (who bridged Freud’s interests in neuroanatomy and its behavioural consequences); Charcot (whose work in hypnosis and hysteria opened for Freud the path which would eventually lead to psychoanalysis); Hughlings Jackson (from whom Freud advanced a theory of dynamic association and of regression).
Early Theory of Defense:
Charcot has emphasized trauma itself caused hysteria in susceptible individuals but Freud stated that it was not the trauma itself, but rather the defense against the recollection of the memory of the trauma that caused neurosis.
Predisposition or susceptibility was deemphasized e.g., In hysteria, the affect could undergo ‘conversion’ to a motor or sensory symptom, which though determined symbolically by the memory’s ideational content, allowed the removal from consciousness of the idea itself.
Topographical Theory of Mind:
Freud recognized that the bulk of psychic life lay outside of consciousness (i.e., the importance of unconscious mental life) and also gave a concept of ‘psychic determinism’ (i.e., all mental events were causally linked to others in an associative network).
Topographical model introduces three ‘areas’ of the mind:
It is compared with the small visible tip of an iceberg i.e., a kind of sense organ of attention serving the function of awareness. It can accept external input from sensory perceptions of environmental stimuli and internal input from the preconscious portion of the mind. The latter contains wishes, ideas, memories and feelings that are accessible by an act of volition or attention.
The mental activities of the conscious and preconscious are called secondary process thinking and are characterized by systematic organization, respect for logical connections, low tolerance ‘for inconsistencies’, a tendency to delay instinctual discharge and efforts to conform to the demands of external reality and the individual’s moral values. It is governed by the reality principle and is responsible for logical thought and action in adult life.
It develops during childhood in parallel with the development of the ego. It can be reached by both the conscious and the unconscious. Contents of the unconscious can only gain access to consciousness by being linked with the words and via the preconscious.
The portion of mind contains material that cannot be made conscious by focusing attention. It contains repressed ideas, wishes and effects that can become conscious only by first entering the preconscious, which censors them and attempts to keep them unconscious. Repressed ‘Freudian slips’ of speech. Mental activity of the unconscious is called primary process thinking and is characterized by the following features.
Primary Process thinking makes frequent use of symbolization (in which one object or idea takes over the significance of another that it resembles in some way), condensation (in which several concepts become fused and replaced by a single symbol) and displacement (in which the effective component of an idea is transferred to a symbolic substitute). Primary Process thinking is characteristic of very young children, of nocturnal dreams and of severely regressive behaviour in psychosis or mental retardation.
A number of questions remained unanswered- Does the barrier between consciousness and the dynamic unconscious lie in the unconscious or within consciousness? What is the content of the unconscious? Does energy flow toward keeping things unconscious or does it flow toward keeping things conscious or does it flow in the same direction of pushing toward emergence in consciousness? Freud was soon dissatisfied with the topographical theory and eventually replaced it by structural theory of personality.
2. Essay on Structural Theory:
In 1923, Freud divided the psychic apparatus into three structures:
It represents the unorganized source of primitive impulses, as summarized in the sentence ‘It wants’. It contains basic drives, instinctive impulses as those concerned with survival, sex and aggression. Id demands immediate gratification and is illogical. It is non-verbal and does not enter consciousness (i.e. mainly unconscious).
It is the seat of the conscious, intellectual and self-preservative functions as summarized in ‘I will or I will not’. It acts as a mediator between the drives derived from the id and the outer world (i.e., reality). It is influenced by the superego. Some of the parts of ego (mainly defense mechanisms) are unconscious.
It develops from the ego and fulfills such functions as those summarized in the sentence “You shall or You shall not”. It is mainly unconscious. Two aspects of superego have been identified.
The conscience-developed through internalization (introjection) and automatizations of the many prohibitions of early childhood. It is the conscious part of superego.
The Ego-ideal developed through identification with the attributes of those who are admired or envied.
The superego is labelled as the part of personality that is ‘soluble in alcohol’.
Functions of Ego:
1. Relationship with reality:
(a) Maintenance of a sense of reality
(c) Reality testing.
2. Regulations and control of drives (‘libido theory’)
3. Relationships with other people (‘Object Relations theory’)
6. Synthetic -the ability to hold together as a person.
7. Autonomous-derived from autonomous energies of the ego.
The various Ego’s defense mechanisms are given in Table 3.1.
Defense mechanisms can also be classified as Narcicistic (Projection, Projective identification, Primitive idealization, Splitting, Denial, Distortion), Immature (Acting out, Blocking, Hypochondriasis, introjection passive Aggressive Behaviour, Projection, Regression, Schizoid Fantasy, Somatization), Neurotic (Controlling, Displacement, Dissociation, Externalization, Inhibition, Intellectualization, Isolation. Rationalization, Reaction formation. Repression, Sexualisation) and Mature defenses (Altruism, Anticipation, Asceticism, Humor, Sublimation, Suppression).
3. Essay on Libido Theory or Theory of Psychosexual Development:
It includes a theoretical description of a characteristic maturational sequence of libidinal or psychosexual phases in development from birth to mature adulthood. The drive organization is subject to progression, fixation or regression determined in part by the extent to which the individual encounter normal, excessive, or frustrated gratification (See Table 3.2).
i. Oral Phase (0-1.5 Years):
It is the earliest stage of development and is associated with behaviour appropriate to the first year of life, particularly extreme dependency. Fixation at or regression to this phase of development is considered characteristic of schizophrenia, severe affective disorders and alcohol and other drug dependence. It consists of two phases of chewing (Receptive phase) and biting (Sadistic Phase when teething occurs).
ii. Anal Phase (1-3 Years):
Anal Phase of development implies the ability to give or to withhold and requires the child to learn to compromise between primitive wishes and the rewards obtained by conforming with the demands and expectations of significant adult.
“Anal” traits persisting in adults include excessive orderliness, miserliness and obstinacy. If present to a significant degree, they may be associated with the development of obsessive compulsive disorder. It also consists of two-phases—a destructive expulsive phase (child enjoys excretion) and a mastering retaining phase (child enjoys sphincter control).
iii. Phallic Phase (Oedipal Phase) (3-4 Years):
In this phase, the children display considerable sexual interest and curiosity focused on the penis or clitoris. The observed difference between male and female genitalia may lead to the childhood fantasy that the female genitalia results from loss of the penis.
According to Freud, the boy then develops a castration complex, fearing castration at the hands of his father in retaliation for his desire to replace his father in his mother’s affections. This leads to envious and aggressive wishes toward the father (the Oedipus complex, after the main character in Sophocles’ tragedy Rex, who killed his father and married his mother without knowing the identity of either).
It is resolved by identification with the parent of the same sex. A similar complex seen in girl is called Electra complex (from a Greek myth in which Electra connives at the death of her mother Clytemnestra who had murdered her father Agamemnon). Various forms of sexual dysfunction and deviation in both sexes are considered to have their origin in this phase of development.
iv. Latency Phase (6 Years until Puberty):
It is regarded as phase of sexual latency. At the start of this phase, the Oedipus complex has usually been resolved (but will be temporarily reactivated at the time of puberty) and the child has made a decisive identification with the appropriate parental figure and formed an effective superego (conscience and ego-ideal).
Intrafamilial relationships during the preschool years constitute a nucleus of knowledge about human society, which is now expanded in school and play activities, in relationships with adults outside the family and in competitive or collaborative interactions with peers. Old techniques of adaptation are repeated and reinforced or extinguished and replaced by newer techniques that are found more rewarded.
v. Genital Phase:
Genital Phase is initiated by puberty and leads to a reawakening of sexual interest that is now conscious, verbalized and acted on in accordance with mores of the peer group. There is an increasing desire to be freed from infantile dependency and to achieve adult status. The desire results in rejection of the standards and the validity of demands imposed by parents and other adult, with a tendency toward acceptance of the philosophy of the peer group.
In this process, there is often partial identification with others of the same sex who are just slightly older than the individual and who are admired by the peer group. Ideally, the gradual emancipation from parental control is accomplished by increasing responsibility and mature genitality based on respect for the rights of others.
4. Essay on Freud’s Theory of Dreams:
Freud regarded dreams as ‘the royal road to the unconscious’.
He laid down three basic principles in dream interpretation:
i. The function of the dream is to preserve sleep.
ii. There is a latent as well as a manifest content and it is frequently the former which is more significant.
iii. It represents the gratification of an unfulfilled wish which is usually infantile.
Efforts to disguise the dream are called dream work and Freud describes four mechanisms whereby it operates:
Dramatization where abstract ideas are given solid or concrete shape with the free use of symbols representing the repressed activities or experiences.
Condensation a form of abbreviation or shorthand which conceals from the dreamer some of the latent content by omission or by using a part, sometimes a very small part, to represent a whole or by the fusing of a variety of latent elements sharing a common feature into one piece.
Displacement is the replacement of the latent content by a remotely associated element which is no more than an allusion or oblique reference or shifting the accent so that latent content is barely recognizable.
iv. Secondary Elaboration:
Secondary elaboration which occurs just as full consciousness is regained and continues for a time during the waking state, thus making the dream appear more rational. As secondary elaboration is ego-inspired, it is advisable to get the patient to write down his dreams immediately on waking before his distortion begins to operate.
School of Analytic Psychology:
Jung, an early associate of Freud but after a few years broke with the psychoanalytic movement.
He described that there are three levels of psyche:
Conscious includes the persona. Personality is regarded as the persona or mask worn by Roman actors and was therefore that part of consciousness exposed to the gaze of the world.
ii. Personal Unconscious:
Personal Unconscious those aspects of mental life which are denied in consciousness develop in the unconscious and form the personal unconscious or shadow, which plays an important part in dreams.
iii. Collective Unconscious (Racial, Universal):
Collective unconscious (racial, universal) Jung described the persona the outer crust of the personality, which is the opposite of the personal unconscious on dimensions of:
iii. Extrovert/introvert (related to direction of flow of mental energy)
Archetypes are the generalized symbols and images within the collective unconscious and include:
i. Animus-the unconscious, masculine side of the woman’s female persona.
ii. Anima-the unconscious feminine side of the man’s male persona
Complex is a group of interconnected ideas which arouse associated feelings and affect behaviour.
He was first of Freud’s associates to break away. He expressed his basic tenet: To a human being means the possession of a feeling of inferiority that is constantly pressing towards its own conquest. He was strongly influenced by Nietzschean philosophy and terms such as ‘organ inferiority’ with striving to overcompensate for this inferiority and the ‘will to power’ are frequently referred to.
He explained that the helplessness of the child gives it an inferiority complex which can be accentuated by an organ inferiority in three ways:
i. By successful compensation as for example, Beethoven with his deafness and Demosthenes with his stammer.
ii. Defeat is followed by retreat, which is regarded as the normal pattern in some cultures.
iii. Compromise for over compensation, the former being a tendency to attribute the failure to the physical inferiority while the latter is a ridiculous protest against it. Over compensation can result in decompensation and neurosis.
5. Essay on Behavioural and Cognitive Theories:
The learning theory that arises from the laboratory setting of experimental psychology, generating applications for the clinical situation, in contrast to psychoanalysis and dynamic psychiatry, which arose in the treatment setting and rely on that same setting for confirmation.
Learning is itself an inference based on the observation of changes in the behaviour of an organism. Learning may be inferred from permanent or quasi-permanent changes in behaviour which occur under specific circumstances. An organism is influenced by the effect of its behaviours and its responses reflect that bearing. If behaviour leads to states which the organism will repeat the behaviour to attain of if a behaviour leads to states which the organism will stop that behaviour in order to avoid, learning may be said to have taken place.
This is known within learning theory as Thorndike’s ‘law of effect’. States associated with behaviours can become reinforcers. A positive reinforcer is the occurrence of an event which will increase the probability that the antecedent behaviour will be increased a negative reinforcer is the occurrence of an event which will decrease the probability that the antecedent behaviour will be increased. Punishment is an example of negative reinforcement. If in positive reinforcement, the reinforcer is removed, it will lead to ‘extinction’.
In classical conditioning, (Pavlovian) a stimulus not intrinsically or ordinarily associated with a response may be used to induce that response. The organism ‘learns’ to take the once-neutral stimulus and respond according to the conditioning.
Operant or instrumental conditioning (by Skinner) occurs as the organism learns that behaviours are associated with positive or negative events. Behaviours in operant conditioning are initiated by the organism and associated events are less directly linked to immediate physiological reflexes than in classical conditioning.
In behaviour therapy, psychopathology is seen as persistent habits of learned unadaptive behaviour acquired in anxiety-generating situations.
One group of learning theorists (e.g., Tolman, Bandura, Dollard and Miller) believe that learning is more than reaction to association by contiguity. They believe that organisms form “cognitive maps” of the environmental situations by means of internal representation in the form of thoughts, signs and symbols.
Behavioural theorists focus their therapeutic strategies on the pathological behaviour themselves, using a variety of techniques to unlearn maladaptive behaviours, to inhibit unwanted states like anxiety and to introduce new learning through such techniques as shaping, modeling and creating through careful application of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction, new chains of habit, and adaptive behaviour.
Cognitive theorists believe that the beliefs and patterns of thinking is the cause and maintenance of psychiatric disorders. Particular attention is given to depression (and also anxiety neurosis). According to it, low mood leads to a number of changes in the pattern of thinking e.g., faulty generalizations (e.g., I did badly in that interview therefore I am useless and stupid) Cognitive therapy is aimed at confronting patients with the irrationality of their thoughts and seeking to change the pattern of thinking.
6. Social Theories:
Faris and Dunham first observed that schizophrenia has a higher prevalence amongst people of lower social class. Two alternative theories have been proposed to explain for such association. The first is that the lower social class is a factor in causing schizophrenia (the generation hypothesis). The second is the having schizophrenia has led to a drift towards lower social class (the drift hypothesis).
In the case of depression, however, the explanation for the higher rate in women of lower social class cannot be accounted for by the ‘drift hypothesis’. In this case, the depression appears to be caused by the lower social class. Brown and Harris proposed a model of the social causes of depression. Depression is seen as the result of a provoking agent acting on a vulnerable person.
The other social factors important in aetiology include:
i. Life Events:
Life events (e.g., changes in job, personal relationship etc.) have an important role in the causation of a psychiatric illness. Some of these factors act as vulnerability factors e.g., the absence of a close, intimate and confiding relationship: the loss of mother before the age of 11 years; unemployment.
ii. Role of Communication:
There is a long history of interest in the possibility that poor communications between family members can contribute to schizophrenia. Some of these factors include over-involvement, critical comments and hostility.
Family communication and relationships have been studies extensively with regard to child and adolescent problems and family therapy, in which change is brought about in the way family members interact with each other, is now a major form of treatment.
These factors interact with precipitating factors to result in mental illness. Predisposing factors determine an individual’s susceptibility to mental illness.
These factors are grouped into:
i. Biological e.g.., heredity, constitution, endocrinal, metabolic and biochemical abnormalities, physical defects and illnesses etc.
ii. Psychological e.g., personality type, temperament, abnormal parent-child relationship, psychologically traumatic experiences during childhood, pre adolescence and adolescence.
Precipitating factors describe as “stress” may precipitate a mental illness in predisposed or vulnerable individual.
These factors are classified as:
i. Physical factors e.g., migration, starvation, natural calamities (e.g., war, famine, earthquake, floods, cyclones, fire, urbanization etc.)
ii. Physiological factors e.g., pregnancy, child birth, menopause, puberty, involution, fever, drugs etc.
iii. Psychological factors e.g., strained interpersonal relationship, family and marital disharmony, sexual maladjustments, occupational and financial difficulties, political upheavals and social crisis, death of a family member etc.).