Book Definition: A clinical viewpoint emphasizing the understanding of mental disorders in terms of unconscious needs, desires, memories, and conflicts.

In Your Own Words

  • Gets to the back bone of the problem by the therapist asking about dreams and childhood experiences
  • Behavior arises from unconscious needs, conflicts, repressed memories, dreams, and childhood experiences.
  • Believes in dark forces in our subconscious that influence everything we do.
  • Refers to the mind as a mental boiler, holding pressure of unconscious sexual and destructive behaviors.
  • This is the idea that the mind (psych) is a reservoir of energy (dynamics).
  • Includes ALL theories of psychology.


  • A therapist helping an alcoholic uses leading questions to convince the patient that their problem is caused by their unconscious or childhood experiences.
  • Psychoanalysis: originally a medical technique devised to treat hysteria.
  • Takes into account the sexual drives that could arise from the unconscious
  • A person attends therapy because they have a history of abuse. The therapists claims repressed memories of this experience are the cause of their inability to have a healthy relationship with anyone.


- Dreams are often viewed as a window into the subconscious.
- Freud believed that dreams could help us gain understanding of our subconscious mind.

Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development

Oral Stage (1st year)
Desires: Oral stimulation by sucking, eating, crying, babbling
Challenge: Overcoming Dependency
Later Problems: smoking, nail-biting, chewing, gluttony (excessive eating and drinking), obesity, talkativeness, dependency, gullibility

Anal Stage (1-3 years approx.)
Desires: Anal stimulation by bladder and bowel function
Challenge: Toilet Training, Self control
Later Problems: Messiness, temper tantrums, destructiveness, cruelty, excessive cleanliness, stinginess, coldness, distance aloofness.

Phallic Stage (3-6 years approx.)
Desires: Stimulation of genitals
Challenge: Oedipus complex, erotic attraction to parent of opposite sex and hostility toward parent of same sex
Later Problems: Masturbation, jealousy, egocentric sex, sexual conquest, problems with parents

Latency (6 years-puberty approx.)
Desires: Repression of sexual and aggressive desires, including those involved in the Oedipus complex
Challenge: Consciously: Learning modesty and shame
Unconsciously: Dealing with represses Oedipal conflict
Later Problems: Excessive modesty, preference for company of same-sex, homosexuality

Genital Stage (puberty-adulthood)
Desire: Mature sexual relationships
Challenge: Displacing energy into healthy activities, establishing new relationship with parents
Later Problems: None

Additional Resources


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