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Psychodynamic Theories

Diposting oleh belajarpsikologi on 26 November 2010
The theory of psychosexual development enunciated by Sigmund Freud (1905/1953) aroused both contemporary controversy and continued discomfort among younger psychoanalysts and students of personality development. Most analysts did not question the importance of biological drives in behavioral functioning but, at the same time, many believed that interpersonal relations rather than vicissitudes of the libido are the major vectors of personality development. Even among those analysts who were comfortable with libido theory were some who thought that insufficient attention had been given to psychosocial experiences in personality development. Indeed, several psychoanalysts made the case that athough mother–child relationships seem to be responsible for early individuation, ego development reflects relationships with other children (compeers) as well. 
Harry Stack Sullivan (1953) constructed a general theory known as the “interpersonal theory” of psychiatry. According to these views, biological needs drive the individual toward satisfaction (absence of tension), whereas interpersonal relations are aimed at achieving security. In the earliest stages of development, a self “dynamism” comes to be organized around the “good me” and the “bad me,” a differentiation that emerges largely from mother–child interaction. Parental approval and disapproval remain paramount in early childhood, resulting in the acquisition of basic norms and knowledge about one’s culture. 

Beginning with the juvenile era, which follows, children make sharper self–other distinctions and become preoccupied with comparisons involving compeers. Social skills necessary for cooperation and competition, and a sense of “reputation” emerge based on interaction with other children. But it is only during preadolescence that most children locate a chum (usually of the same sex), and it is this event that produces real sensitivity to what matters to another person (empathy) and abandonment of the egocentric orientations of earlier childhood. Preadolescent chumships were likened to love, recognizing that this is “isophilic” love, that is, love of one’s own kind. 
These “integrating tendencies,” as Sullivan called them, give children new expansiveness in interpersonal relations; they can express themselves freely to their companions, experience intimacy without fear of rebuff or humiliation, and discover “consensual validation” (agreement with their friends) on many aspects of normative behavior and attitudes. Still buffered by institutions such as the family and the school, preadolescents now have the chance, with friends, to explore interpersonal relations in ways that will be needed in adulthood. Development during adolescence itself is marked by the emergence of what Sullivan called the “lust dynamism,” which transforms the adolescent’s social networks so as to center on opposite-sex peers but with intimacy and empathic needs intact.
Other than the relationship between mother and child in infancy, close relationships do not appear in Erik Erikson’s (1968) theory of personality development until young adulthood. Best known for the formulation of ”psychosocial stages” that parallel the well-known stages of psychosexual development (even going beyond them into old age), this theory expands on libido theory rather than replaces it, postulating a series of crises, tensions, or polarities that the child must resolve during each stage to confront and assimilate the demands of succeeding stages. Erikson regarded preadolescence as dominated by work, mastering the cognitive and social skills needed in the real world and school, acquiring competence in self- regulation, and developing talents that are gratifying and useful in one’s culture. Preadolescents learn much from peers and may develop close affiliations with them, but these relationships and the accompanying challenges are not the main developmental tasks: 
Those remain “industry” required for mastery in home, school, and community, and, subsequently, “identity.” In his volume, Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968), Erikson asserted that close relationships with others are not possible until identity development is complete,  because intimacy requires knowing and sharing the self. Thus, relationships with friends and romantic partners during this period are ultimately in the service of identity exploration. Once again, the needs for intimacy and reciprocity are linked to success in lose relationships. Note, however, that Erikson believed that the relevant events occur a decade later in the individual’s development than was thought to be the case by Harry Stack Sullivan.


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