IB Psychology Option PSD Theory: Historical and Cultural Influences on Psychodynamic Perspective

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Freud created his theory in the Victorian era, which was greatly influenced by Western culture. Freud's theory was primarily introspective but he used clinical data to support his theory making it mostly inductive. The assumptions he used as a foundation for his theory were influenced by various intellectuals of his time and past historical figures both philosophical and literary. He used Greek mythological characters and words to name different aspects of his theory. The wars at the time also had an impact on what Freud believed drove behavior. At the time, western culture was predominantly patriarchal and puritan in regards to sex, Freud felt society was suppressing their sexual urges. He was a trained physiologist and was adamant about his scientific approach to studying and explaining human behavior. He had many followers but due to his strong emphasis on sex as a primary motive of human behavior, many of his followers devised their own theories deemphasizing sexuality and are called Neo-Freudians.

The idea of the unconscious is one of Freud's most important assumptions. He borrowed the concept from the ancient Greeks and transformed it from a German philosopher and novelist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). Nietzsche believed that behind all human activity a "will to power" could be found, he also stated that this will was an unconscious process. Friedrich stressed that the "will to power" preceded the "will to live" posed by Schopenhauer. Many of Nietzsche's writings were about the irrationality of man and this convinced Freud that man was indeed irrational. However, Freud chose a more scientific approach to uncovering the irrationality of man. He claimed that most of our mental activity is unconscious and beyond our control and it made sense to him that the irrational man's behavior was driven by thing beyond his control. In his...