Assessment in Freud’s Theory

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

Everyone dreams, but how many can make sense of it? Sometimes the dreams have content that can be very confusing, or the dreams are very messy, and people cannot decipher what they mean. People have slips of the tongue when talking to someone, but does that mean they are thinking something unconsciously, and that is why they happen? Some people might have had a troubled childhood, and the after-effects of that childhood are there when the person grows up. However, the question is how one can recognize or find out what might have caused such behaviors or how they are affecting them now. All of this was answered by psychodynamic therapy.

Freud’s Theory

Sigmund Freud is known as the father of the psychoanalytic school of thought. Freud hypothesized that all actions and behaviors are guided by childhood experiences, repressed traumas, and memories. Psychodynamic and psychoanalytic are common, but psychoanalytic is a subpart of psychodynamics. Psychodynamics includes all theories given by Freud. Freud theorized that our personality consists of 3 components, the Id, Ego, and Superego.

  • The ID is the unconscious part that drives the personality. It works on the pleasure principle, which means that it needs instant gratification for its needs. The Id does not care about societal expectations or the difference between wrong and right; it only wants the instant satisfaction of its needs. Freud stated that ID is motivated by sex and aggression.
  • The Superego works according to societal expectations and opposes the Id. For example, a boy sees a lollipop and wants to eat it without asking. The ID is asking for the immediate gratification of needs. However, the Superego does not allow us to eat it before asking anyone, as it works according to what is right in society.
  • The Ego is the rational one that works according to the reality principle and looks after both the id and the Superego's gratification. It will do right by both. In the above example, the ego knows that the boy would be punished if he ate the lollipop without permission, as the ego would make him realize that he needs to ask for permission and then eat it.

Many of the problems, according to Freud, had their roots in sex. He believed that past traumatic sexual experiences caused problems in adulthood. He believed that instincts modulated behavior and that the behavior one possessed helped him or her to satisfy those instincts.

Assessment in Freud's Theory

Freud believed that most maladaptive behaviors resulted from childhood traumas or memories that had been repressed. The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to bring these repressed memories to the conscious level of the brain and deal with them. For this, he used certain techniques like free association, dream analysis, and hypnosis.

Free Association

In Free Association, Freud asked his patients to lie down on a couch and start speaking about everything and anything. It is like daydreaming out loud. They were instructed not to let anything hinder them from speaking. They were allowed to speak anything and freely associate one thing with another, even if that did not make any sense. This lets the patients speak freely and also brings out things that were kept hidden in their minds. The setting for such a technique was that Freud sat behind the patient as he did not want his patient's thoughts to be influenced by his expressions. This setting helped create a judgment-free environment.

The free association did not provide the patient with ready answers but instead focused on uncovering the dark thoughts that may have disguised themselves. The main idea of free association was to reach a point where the psychoanalyst gained a breakthrough and could guess the pattern of thoughts. Freud also observed that there was sometimes "resistance" from the client's side, which indicated that the therapy was going in the right direction as the client could now bring those unconscious things into the light.

Dream Analysis

Freud believed that the unconscious, desires, and conflicts were represented in the symbolic form of dreams. The content of the dreams somehow represented the unconscious desires. Dreams are a "window" to the unconscious mind. In his book, " The Interpretation of Dreams," he stated that dreams had sexual content. Children, for example, represented genital organs; playing with children represented masturbation; the king and queen represented parents; elongated objects, such as a snake; sticks represented male genitalia; and many more.


Freud initially used hypnosis to uncover the unconscious desires of his clients but soon dropped it and started using free association. Freud used two primary uses of hypnosis: the power of direct suggestion and regressive hypnosis. When working on the client through Hypnosis, Freud would tell the client to focus on the two fingers of the physician and observe their bodily actions. However, soon he considered abandoning hypnosis as a way of treatment due to many reasons, such as the fact that sometimes he was not able to hypnotize the client or felt that the client could lose touch with reality, or he feared that they might become addicted to the regular use of hypnosis. Such reasons led Freud to abandon hypnosis and use free association.


Sigmund Freud is the father of the psychodynamic approach and has made immense contributions to psychology. He believed that the root cause of the maladaptive behavior was childhood trauma or repressed memories. However, his theories and his style of treatment have been criticized. A case study was the primary tool for studying the client's history, but it was argued that Freud was opposed to taking notes during sessions because it distracted the therapist from the client and was easier to write down later. This was controversial, as memory could have lapsed, and the therapist might miss something. Also, his theory of the Id and the Superego was criticized, as he focused too much on the unconscious and something that was not observable. Even though many studies did support Freud's hypothesis of repressed trauma, on the other hand, it was still questioned as false memories could be created or memory lapses could be covered by events that did not happen, thus questioning the credibility of repressed trauma. Apart from criticisms, some of Freud's theories still hold value.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47