Both perspectives are dominant in our society today. If the public were asked to name a famous psychologist, more than likely Freud would be first! Psychoanalysis is used to treat neurotic disorders. The aim is to transfer repressed memories into the conscious so the patient can face up to the unresolved conflict. Techniques used in this therapy are free association, the client says the first thing that comes into his or hers mind, or dream analysis, describing their dreams. This often gives clues to what the unresolved conflict is. These treatments are both time consuming and expensive.
Psychotherapy is criticised, as it has to determine what the dream meant. The interpretation could be completely wrong, resulting in the therapy being unsuccessful.The social learning theory has made a major contribution to clinical psychology and personality theory. It has led us to see that human actions are related to the environment and the way our environment can be changed to modify our behaviour. In the health profession behaviourism plays a big part in treating phobias and anxieties, based on classical and operant conditioning. It is also widely used in our schools, helping us to understand children’s behaviour. However, the social learning theory does not explain the acquisition of new behaviours that have not previously been observed. They have been criticised for over emphasizing the importance of situational influences on behaviour and in the process losing sight of the individual’s personality.
Looking at the ethics of both perspectives does raise some issues. We could argue that the behaviourism perspective is quite controversial in that a lot of their research was carried out on animals. Behaviour therapy can be seen to be unacceptable, because it’s manipulative and demeaning of human dignity. For example if we look at the study of little Albert, (1920), a nine month old boy. Albert, healthy from birth had no apparent fears.
Watson conditioned him to show a fear response to rats.Watson used a hammer struck on a metal bar to make a loud noise. Albert showed a natural fear response to the noise. Unconditional response – the bar was struck when Albert petted the rat. Eventually, Albert associated the loud noise with the rat -conditional response. Watson’s theory to emotional responses did seem correct, but poor Albert.
The things we do in the name of science! As for the psychodynamic perspective we cannot complain about research on animals.However, therapists see themselves as “psychological midwives”, present during the “birth” and helping the patient to express his or her true self. All therapists of whatever persuasion (if they are at all effective) influence their patients. Both approaches comprise a situation where one human being (therapist) tries to act in a way that enables another (patient) to act and feel differently.There we have it two perspectives similar in some ways, yet clearly different in approach.
There is no doubt that both perspectives have contributed to better understanding both human and animal behaviour. Psychology is a dynamic science. It needs to be studied from many perspectives and it would be naï¿½ve to dismiss any single approach out of hand. Technological advances have had a knock on effect to the way the modern psychologist operates.
New theories, notions and experiments are conducted everyday. However, I believe the key to any approach is an open frame of mind. There may be no Holy Grail of psychology but as long as work is carried out and evaluated with an open-minded approach, we may yet discover the key to unlock the mysteries of the mind.