On the other hand, the main problem of behavioural theories is that they cannot be applied to explain all cases of anxiety. Every person throughout their lifespan has experienced the feeling of anxiety. Fear and anxiety have become such strong synonyms that people are having a hard time differentiating between the two. According to Freud, anxiety is the fear of unknown, when a person cannot describe what they are afraid of.
When a person is able to describe exactly what they are afraid of, the term fear is used. Emotions affect our behaviour; every day we experience a lot of emotions most of which do not have a great effect on our behaviour. But when the intensity of emotions shifts up, they can have a huge impact on our behaviour [ 3 ].
The primary emotions are anger, fear, pleasure, sadness and disgust [ 4 ]. Emotions help us find balance in our surrounding, and they also help with adapting our behaviour to the situation we are faced with. They can be divided into two groups: positive and negative. Negative emotions express an attempt or intention to exclude. Strengthening one's own position at the expense of others.
Keeping bad stuff away, destroying what is perceived as a threat. Negative emotions are fueled by an underlying fear of the unknown, a fear of the actions of others, and a need to control them or stop them to avoid being harmed. Positive emotions express an attempt or an intention to include. Taking the whole into consideration. Working on learning more viewpoints, interacting more with others, enjoying making things better.
Positive emotions are fueled by an underlying desire for enjoyment and unity. Anxiety is a sign of life and experience, and it does not always have to be a part of an illness. Anxiety is a psychological, physiological and behavioural state induced in animals and humans by a threat to well-being or survival, either actual or potential. In biology, the term anxiety is associated with awareness and stimuli of the conscious on danger.
When a living organism faces danger, it reacts in only two ways: fight and flight. When a human faces danger, the first sign is anxiety. Anxiety can stimulate a human being to fight, retreat, exhibit hyperactivity and awareness. If anxiety activates awareness and readiness, then the person can overcome all the difficulties that they are faced with, in order to achieve their aim. This type of anxiety is called normal, and we benefit from normal anxiety.
It helps us become aware and ready for all the problems we have to deal with, and it also awakes a sense of satisfaction and joy when the task is complete [ 5 ]. To understand anxiety on the biological level, it is necessary to be familiar with the physiology and anatomy of the brain and neurotransmitters.
Pharmacological research shows us that in anxiety there is hyperactivity of the noradrenergic nuclei, locus coeruleus and noradrenergic pathways. Also it was noticed that lower levels of serotonin and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid GABA neurons cause anxiety disorders. Technical breakthroughs help us pinpoint certain regions and structures of the central nervous system which are responsible for conditioning and integrating the felling of fear and producing an adequate response.
These neuroscientific insights are based on the Pavlovian classical conditioning. Modern neuroimaging techniques have located Papez circuit, limbic system and the complex of amygdala nuclei, which is the primary structure responsible for the processes of learning and fear conditioning [ 6 ]. Glen Gabbard provides a modern understanding of the psychodynamic aspects of anxiety disorder [ 7 ]. It has been proven that there is a memory system for anxiety responses in the amygdala that processes stimuli without any reference to conscious memory.
Gabbard points out that panic attacks may not just happen without any reason but are more likely to happen because of stress memory activation which is specific to each patient. He also discusses panic disorders which find cause in childhood. These can be compared to scientific finding on animals which were separated in early life from their parents showing later in life as an anxiety prone adult animal [ 7 ]. The creator of the psychoanalytic paradigm is Sigmund Freud. The model is based on the assumption that human behaviour is determined by intrapsychical impulses, desires, motives and conflicts.
For Freud, there are three stages in the development of the concept of anxiety. The first period works between and is in connection with the neurosis of fear and its relationship with sex life [ 9 ]. In the second period between and , Freud elaborated the relationship between anxiety and repressed libido [ 10 — 13 ], and in the third period between and , he discusses the relationship of anxiety with the mental apparatus [ 8 , 14 , 15 ]. The alarm signal is a form of anxiety that occurs at provoking some old situations of danger and is a manifestation of the ego, which is used in order to start defensive measures against drives coming from the id or its representations.
Defence mechanisms of the ego, no matter how much unskilled they are, condition the symbolic activity of a similar opinion. Freud elaborated the relationship between anxiety, pain and grief for the object. Pain is a personal reaction to the loss of an object, while anxiety is a reaction to the danger that implies that loss and, through shifting, a reaction to the threat of the loss. The loss of the object causes the pain to penetrate insurmountable amount of excitation to the ego, which is experiencing anxiety because of fear of helplessness.
In order to prevent this occurrence of pain and fear of helplessness, anxiety signal precedes the disaster and warns ego to employ defensive measures that will be able to cope with danger [ 14 ]. Functional anxiety is determined by two aspects:.
Psychodynamic Theories of Personality
As a universal reaction of the human being, anxiety frequently occurs as a situational conditioned disorder, and only further observation usually allows us to distinguish normal, neurotic and psychotic anxiety. Without this theory, we would not be able to explain the necessity to communicate with other individuals [ 16 — 18 ].
Object relations theory stresses the importance of the earliest interactions with other people from our surrounding as a building stone in the construction of the id, ego and superego. More specifically, from birth onwards, our relations with others are highly influenced by strong emotions which form specific memories and integrate us in the society by our behaviour. Positive experience helps us form ourselves as mature individuals, and the same goes for negative experience. Each experience is individually processed and stored in our memory [ 19 ].
Simply put, we can say that we are born with a certain capacity of perception, memory and establishing a representation of our perception and to gradually develop symbolic thought, or the capacity of abstract thinking and intelligence. Let us imagine that the ego is a computer that absorbs, stores and integrates information and learns how to sort and classify the specific pattern of priorities.
It also has to distinguish the important from the unimportant, good from bad. Gradually, we learn and differentiate what is inside from what is outside, and so, overtime, our inner world is built. The largest part of it remains in the unconscious memory, or preconscious area reservoir of information that we do not use all the time, but can access , while only a small part goes into the realm of conscious.
The rest is stored in an even deeper level, the dynamic unconscious or id [ 20 ]. Neurochemistry is the only way to understand and cure anxiety disorders. Pharmacological treatment is based on neurochemistry. Neurons communicate with each other with neurotransmitters; at least three neurotransmitters can be associated with anxiety. In recent studies, there is a sign that certain large neurotransmitters also play a role in anxiety and they are called neuropeptides.
This neuropeptides are not only used in communication between neurons, but can also regulate them and cause hormonal misbalance. This is because of their chemical structure which biologically has a strong effect on the human body. Research on neuropeptides is still at its beginnings, so it will not be mentioned any more through this chapter because there is no clinical finding which can be used to help us. For now, we will base ourselves on gamma-hydroxybutyric acid GABA.
When this neurotransmitters balance is disrupted in the body, we can note a relationship with anxiety. Benzodiazepines, drugs that exert their effect through GABA receptors, are used to help people suffering from acute anxiety [ 21 ]. Serotonin is greatly important in anxiety. It is a monoamine neurotransmitter involved in controlling a wide range of behaviours by affecting the neural system. These behaviours include emotions which are connected with fear and anxiety.
How Our Helpline Works
All serotonin neurons emerge from the raphe nuclei. The raphe nuclei have a part called median raphe which acts as a connection with the septo hippocampal system as well as the cortex. Because of these connections, it has an important role in emotional cognition [ 22 ]. Studies on animals have successfully proved the connection between different neurotransmitters and anxiety. These types of studies are called knockout studies, because a certain receptor in the animal genetic code is knocked out. Animals which have had their serotonin re-uptake transporters knocked out show in case studies abnormal response to fear and anxiety in a number of behavioural conflict tests.
This confirms the role of this receptor in modulating anxiety [ 23 ]. On the other hand, animals which had their serotonin receptor knocked out showed an increased heart rate and anxiety in a large variety of tasks such as eating and locomotion. Foot shock on animals with the serotonin receptor removed showed longer freezing and increased tachycardia. Together these data show the importance of serotonin in modulating the levels of fear and anxiety in our brain.
As stated above, the median raphe nuclei MRN provide the necessary input to the neural circuits within the brain causing fear and anxiety modulation. In human research, it was found that people with short serotonin transport acquired faster fear than people with longer serotonin transport. All these findings are consistent with the findings in animal models. However, the best proof of the function of the serotonergic system in fear and anxiety is the pharmacological evidence. Drugs that change the function of serotonin have beneficial effects on various forms of anxiety.
The best pharmacological treatment of anxiety is serotonin re-uptake inhibitors which allow greater levels of serotonin to accumulate and in that way help in treatment of anxiety [ 22 ]. Noradrenalin is also an important neurotransmitter in anxiety. Neurons which carry noradrenalin rise from the locus coereuleus LC , and these are also a centre associated with warnings or alarms.
The LC secretes directly into the brain causing immediate response. Increased levels of noradrenalin cause higher levels of anxiety. In pharmacology, noradrenalin blockers lower the levels of noradrenalin and do the same to a patient as do serotonin re-uptake blockers. Among adults, agents that alter noradrenergic functioning are powerful anxiolytics. Similarly, agents, such as yohimbine, that increase firing of the locus coeruleus are potent anxiogenic compounds [ 25 ].
At the beginning of the twentieth-century, scientists have identified the hypothalamus as a key structure in the control of the autonomic nervous system [ 26 ]. Based on these assumptions, there was a so-called hypothalamic theory of emotion, which contained three main strands: first—the hypothalamus in a way valued events in our environment; second—the expression of emotional response is proportional to the outbreak of the pulses from the hypothalamus in the brain stem; and the third—hypothalamic projections into the cortex allow conscious perception of emotion [ 27 , 28 ].
American neurologist James Papez in proposed that the circuit connecting the hypothalamus to the limbic lobe was the basis for emotional experiences. Papez circuit or medial limbic circuit is a neural circuit for the control of emotional expression [ 29 ].
Papez theory was later reconceptualized and expanded by an American neuroscientist Paul D. Overtime, the concept of a forebrain circuit for the control of emotional expression has been modified to include the prefrontal cortex. In this work, he tried to explain the causes of clinical manifestations of the Kluver-Bucy syndrome a set of behavioural disorders due to the bilateral damage to the temporal lobes usually after temporal lobotomy.
Weiskrantz suggested that the main cause of such a clinical picture is just the damaged or removed amygdala. For years after its publication, numerous studies have focused on the amygdale function and its relationship with other parts of the central nervous system; however, greater progress in understanding the role of the functions of the amygdala and its link with emotions, including fear, has been in the 70s and 80s, when the scientists returned Pavlov method of classical conditioning [ 31 ].
Evolutionary man has developed a number of coping mechanisms, some of which are based on the ability to anticipate and avoid dangerous, potentially life-threatening situations. Neural circuits involved in the processes of memory and processing emotions play a key role in these mechanisms; each new stimulus is incorporated and based on the nature of that stimulus and appropriate behavioural, psychological and somatic reaction that, in addition to character, must match the intensity of the resulting stimulus.
The scientists used this knowledge in research of pathways related to emotions, while the main tool used was the simple method of classical conditioning, similar to that used by Pavlov in his experiments. In it he explored the mechanisms by which animals predict a dangerous or a pleasant event. In these studies, emotionally related stimulus unconditioned stimulus , which was the unpleasant, threatening, associated with fear, or rewarding, and reward-related event, preceded by an emotionally neutral s conditioning stimulus, mainly sound or light pulse [ 32 — 35 ].
After a period of learning conditioning , animals are using these conditioned stimuli to predict the magnitude and time of occurrence of the desired or undesired events. In further analyses of conditioned fear, the researchers were able to map the entire neural path from the input of sensory stimuli to output behavioural responses [ 36 — 38 ].
Studies have shown that just amygdala, a complex structure of the temporal lobes, plays a key role in the coordination of behavioural and psychosomatic reactions associated with fear [ 37 — 42 ]. When sound neutral stimulus arrives to organ of Corti to signal danger, impulse to the amygdala comes from two ways.
The second path, which leads from the sound region temporal cortex to the amygdala, is slower, but also more complex because it integrates functions of the higher centres of the central nervous system. Electrophysiological studies have shown that conditioned stimuli that preceded those unfavourable fear conditioning, then the fear associated, strengthens synaptic connections between the auditory thalamus and lateral nuclei of the amygdala. The stimulus is passed into the central amygdala nuclei that project axons to different regions of the hypothalamus, activating the sympathetic system and inducing the secretion of stress hormones such as CRH corticotropin-releasing hormone.
The secretion of CRH in the periventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus results in an increased secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH in adenohypophysis and consequently increases the secretion of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex, by which the body leads to a catabolic state. The central nucleus of the amygdala plays an important role in emotional behavior. Nociceptive inputs through the spino-parabrachio-amygdala pathway probably contribute to pain-induced changes in affective behavior, and the projections of the amygdala to the PAG-RVM rostroventromedial medulla circuitry may be involved in mediating the influence of emotions on pain.
Stressful situations like physical exercise, exposure to extreme temperatures, fight, fear and pain may induce a decrease in pain sensitivity. Learn more. Through his psychodynamic theory of the psyche, Sigmund Freud asserted that our behavior and the mental issues that we suffer can be traced beyond our conscious self-control - that our subconscious mind , and the innate impulses that we may not be aware of, are what influence the way in which we behave. Freud was an early adopter of talking therapy , which supposes that by talking about a problem with a psychoanalyst, a person can identify any issues which may have occurred earlier in life and in turn, overcome the current internal conflicts of their subconscious mind.
In this article, we will look at Freud's unique approach to the human psyche and the case study which shaped it. We will also explore the psychodynamic approach and consider its implications for modern psychology. In Depth Psychodynamic Approach How Freud's theories of the human psyche seek to explain the influence of our subconscious.
Psychodynamic Approach - Psychologist World
The development of Freud's theories of the mind occurred through his observation of patients whilst he was a practitioner. One of his earliest influences was the case of Anna O, a year-old woman whom Freud never actually met, however. A client of Freud's friend, Josef Breuer , Anna was suffering from what was at the time referred to as hysteria. She experienced paralysis on one side, restricting the use of one of her arms, and had developed an aversion to water hydrophobia , restricting her ability to drink for days at a time.
In addition to these symptoms, Anna suffered from involuntary eye movements and other issues which doctors were unable to attribute to a physical condition. Breuer was interested in the relationship between the events which had occurred earlier in her live and her present conditions. Upon investigation, Anna revealed an occasion when she had been sat next to her father, who was himself ill in bed. In a dream, she saw a black snake coming towards him, but was unable to prevent the snake from travelling closer because she was unable to move one of her arms. This traumatic experience had clearly profoundly affected Anna, and was attributed to her current bouts of paralysis for which no other cause could be found.
After ongoing sessions, Breuer found that Anna's other symptoms could be also traced back to specific experiences earlier in her life. On one occasion, she has been offered a glass of water but had witnessed a dog walk upto the glass and drink from it before she had been able to sip it. Breuer reasoned that this had again affected Anna and had lead to her being unable to drink water later on.
Anna O 's sessions with Breuer over a period of time were productive, and after regressing to these anxious moments, she found that she was able to understand their relation to her present irrational symptoms and in turn, overcome them. She referred to this therapy as 'chimney sweeping' and a 'talking cure' - a term which would become synonymous with psychoanalysis. Freud took note of the case of Anna O and referred to her in his collaborative work with Breuer, Studies on Hysteria Freud and Breuer, , a book whose attribution of subconscious memories and anxieties to hysteria would lay the groundwork for his psychodynamic theory of the mind.
Freud's interest was in the dynamics of the mind - the conscious and its subconscious influences. He felt that the energy in the psyche was a constant value, and so instead of disappearing from the conscious, it would build up in the subconscious and cause increasing inner tension until it was addressed. For example, if something angers you, the energy of your anger does not expend itself if you internalise it.
Rather, it may be transferred to the subconscious, and lead to a repressed resentment which you may be unaware of on a conscious level. Freud claimed that the human psyche consisted of three separate areas - the id , ego and superego - which compete against one another for control over our behavior. The id meaning 'it' in Latin represents our most impulsive, untamed desires, and pay no regard for what is acceptable or reasonable. Innate instincts such as the need for food, water, warmth and sexual desires originate in our id.
In a sense, the id is our 'inner child' - it drives our instinctive behavior from birth and expects its demands to be met immediately, regardless of any consequences.
Psychodynamic Perspectives on Personality
The id abides by the Pleasure Principle , which asserts that we seek to maximise pleasure and avoid pain wherever possible. Also contained within the id is the death drive, a self-destructive impulsiveness which drives us to the end of our life. The second element of the psyche is the ego , which acts as an intermediary between the unreasonable demands of the id and the outside reality.
It tries to satisfy the needs of the id as much as is practically possible without necessarily understanding why some demands might be unreasonable. The ego remains self-centered and does not give consideration to other people's needs or wishes. It acts based on the Reality Principle , which, in contrast to the Pleasure Principle of the id, accepts the limits of what can be obtained from the outside world.
The third component of our psyche is the superego. This feels compassion for others and again tries to satisfy the needs of the id, but understands that some of those needs may adversely affect others. It acts as a filter for our behavior and maintains our conscience , leading to an understanding of other people's emotions and to emotional guilt.
One way of understanding the id, ego and superego is to consider how they dominate our behaviour during the different stages of the life cycle. Freud identified numerous stages of psychosexual development which we experience, including:. When newborn and in the first few months of our lives, we have a need nourishment. As we feed with the mouth, Freud referred to this as the oral stage. We expect our need to feed to be satisfied as and when we require food.
If it is not satisfied, we begin to crying as we possess no concept of patience or understanding when nourishment is unavailable. This stage, during the first year of our lives, is dominated by the id component of our psyche, as the ego and superego have not yet developed.
As we grow older and begin toilet training, defecation becomes a focus of our needs. During this anal stage, we realise that our needs will be met as they are required, but that we might have to wait such as waiting to eat whilst food is being prepared. Within reason, we might wait a while for it to be prepared before we resort to crying. During this second stage of our lives, the ego develops and is in regular conflict with the impatient demands of the id. At the age of around three, our experience with the outside world has helped to develop the ego.
At this point, we recognise our physical existence during what Freud describes as the phallic stage. A recognition of sexuality, Freud claimed, leads to a demand for the attention of the mother in males, in competition with the father. In Greek mythology, Oedipus competes for the attention of his mother, Jocasta, and kills his father, Laius, in the process, and Freud named this jostling for affection the Oedipus complex.
In girls, a similar process occurs in relation to the father, and is known as the Electra complex. As a result of such complexes, we recognise that our needs are unreasonable and may feel guilt for experiencing such desires - feelings resulting from the development of the superego. Learn more about the Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development here.
One other way in which the subconscious reveals its desires is through unintentional slips of the tongue in conversation. These mishaps have come to be known as Freudian slips, named after Sigmund Freud. Throughout our lives, the subconscious drives of the id dictate our desires and behavior, whilst the ego and superego lead us to temper such behavior. Aside from feelings of guilt when we realise these desires, we may repress them so that we do not need to recognise that we experience them. Freud believed that this tension between the demands of the id, ego and superego, and the repression of desire in the subconscious mind, can disrupt the equilibrium of the psyche and lead to feelings of anxiety and other problems, such as in the case of Anna O.
One way to resolve this imbalance is to bring repressed feelings and memories into the conscious so that we can rationalise and understand them. The explanation of the mind that the psychodynamic model provides gained traction among psychoanalysts during the early 20th Century. However, numerous psychologists have since questioned how effectively it can be used to understand a person's condition.