Compare and contrast the Psychoanalytic, Behaviourist and Humanist explanations of human behaviour.
The Three main forces in psychology are psychoanalysis, behaviourism, and Humanism. They attempt to explain human behaviour in different ways but some common threads exist throughout. This essay examines what effects human personality and free will, the importance attached to early development by the three theories and the methodology adopted by each.
In psychoanalytic theory human behaviour is defined by unconscious conflict between the Id containing primitive drives and emotions, the conscious super ego which contained ideals, morals and values and the Ego which was mostly conscious steering between the two extremes. In his 'three essays on sexuality' (1915) Sigmund Freud outlines five stages of development from birth to puberty. During each progressive stage the child is fixated on different areas of its body as a focus for pleasure. A proper resolution of the conflict leads the child to progress past one stage onto the next. If there is no resolution the child becomes fixated in that stage causing personality and behavioural disorders. These fixations often manifested them selves as physical symptoms without physical causes. Freud believed that it was unconscious psychic forces that determine human personality and we have little self control or free will.
Eminent behaviourist B.F. Skinner believed, like Freud that we flatter ourselves into thinking we are independent and able to freely will our own actions when in fact free will is an illusion and the mind (unconscious or otherwise) is not worth studying. Whilst Freud thought the cause of human behaviour is the unconscious mind, Skinner believed all human and animal behaviour can be explained by conditioning and the environment. Consequently rat's dogs and pigeons became a major source of research. When a species is presented with a stimulus you receive a predicted response. These responses can be observed and...