Good Parenting and the Psychodynamic Theory

The Psychodynamic theory, founded by Sigmund Freud explains human personality as an assimilation of human behavior, feelings, and emotions. Each of these is guided by psychological forces which are derived from a complex relationship between the unconscious and conscious mind. Childhood experiences are responsible for how this relationship develops; therefore an understanding of the psychodynamic theory can help parents raise their children in a better way.

According to the psychodynamic theory, the unconscious mind comprises of two opposing psychological forces: “id” and “super ego”. The conscious mind is driven by the psychological force termed as the “ego”.

The id refers to the part of the unconscious mind that is characterized by instinct and irrationalism. It is based on the “pleasure principle” and is the only psychological force that is functional since birth. The id is responsible for the needs and desires of every individual. For example, feelings of hunger, sexual desire and aggression are all products of the id’s functioning. Psychologists believe that the minds of criminals, delinquents and psychopaths are controlled by the id, which causes them to try and achieve their goals (wants and desires) by any means. The id will ensure that the individual gets what he wants irrespective of whether his acts are rational and ethical.

The super ego is the force that develops as a result of the values and morals that one picks up or is taught as his mind begins to gain consciousness. The unconscious mind learns concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, as well as feelings such as shame and pride. All these form what is commonly known as one’s “conscience.” The super ego is what causes people to feel guilty after committing a crime or sin. Psychologists believe that people who tend to be too pious, or are very stringent and hard on themselves have over-powering super egos. If the super ego is allowed to reign supreme, anxiety issues are likely to develop. The stress inflicted on the mind by the super ego may result in depression and other mental disorders and those who commit suicide as a result of being too self reproachful are believed to have dominating super egos.

The “ego” is the force that tries to reason with the id and super ego. The conscious mind functions on the basis of the ego. A well developed ego creates a healthy equilibrium in the elements of the unconscious mind by trying to please both the id and super ego. It will try to achieve what the id wants by incorporating the beliefs that are put forward by the super ego. In doing so, it prevents feelings of guilt while ensuring that the id is content. Thus the individual does not experience stress from deprivation or sin.

Since the relationship between the id, ego and super ego is primarily developed in early childhood, psychologists encourage parents and secondary care givers to focus on the development of the “ego.” At every developmental stage in life, it is essential to help children understand that desires are natural; they are not wrong because they are a part of their being as created by the Higher Powers. However desires do need to be tamed. Often parents try to reinforce concepts of morality and ethics beyond what is necessary. Alternatively some parents never say “no” to their children and this encourages the id to reign supreme. A healthy upbringing is one in which a delicate balance is maintained between correcting/controlling your child and allowing the child to follow his/her heart.

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