What Is Psychodynamic Psychology?

By Jack Powell

Psychodynamic psychology is an approach to psychology developed by Sigmund Freud in 1900. The goal of psychodynamic psychology is to get into a person's head to find out why she does the things she does and how she views the world. Although Freud originated the idea of psychodynamic psychology, another psychiatrist by the name of Carl Jung also contributed to the field.

Freud's Assumptions

Freud developed his theories based on information his patients provided during therapy sessions. His theories are based on several assumptions. His assumptions include the theory that all adult behavior and feelings stem from childhood experiences. Freud also believed that there is a cause for all behavior, including accidental statements. He theorized that a person's personality is comprised of three parts: the id, the ego and the superego. Freud's other major assumption was that two drives motivate human behavior. One drive was responsible for sex and life and the other was responsible for aggression and death.

Jung's Contribution

Although Jung studied Freud's theory of psychodynamic psychology, he eventually developed his own theory on the subject. Jung's theory differs from Freud's in that Jung did not believe that sex and aggression were not that important as motives. Jung also divided the unconscious mind into two parts: the personal and the collective. While the personal side of the unconscious mind was in keeping with Freud's theory, Jung's collective unconscious is made up of archetypes, which are patterns of thought or symbolic images derived from a person's previous experiences. According to Jung these archetypes help a person's ego in its goal to achieve psychic wholeness.


The goal of modern psychodynamic psychotherapy is to determine the sources of conflicts in a patient's life. As the patient works with the therapist to figure out the source of these conflicts and tensions, the overall goal is to eliminate the conflict and heal the patient's mind.

Cognitive Psychodynamics

The field of cognitive psychodynamics combines psychodynamic psychology with neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that studies how people think and solve problems, as well as how they perceive things, while neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. Combining these three disciplines provides a working explanation of the structure and function of the human mind.

© Demand Media 2011