Psychodynamic theory seeks to explain human behavior based on the concept that a person’s mind has two sections; the conscious part and the unconscious part. It also suggests that a person’s behavior is largely dependent on a child’s upbringing and the variables involved in the society.

According to Sundberg (2001), psychodynamic theory was an upgrade of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis theory. This paper explains the different facets of this theory. It bases its argument on human decisions like conflict resolution.

Structure of Personality

This theory proposes that a person’s personality has three subdivisions; the ID, the ego and the superego (Sundberg, 2001). These three are mutually dependent. An individual’s ID constitutes of dreams, aspirations and desires both good and bad. The superego is then believed to be the conscience; it, therefore, guides a person’s action by making it possible for them to differentiate between right and wrong. It is developed as one grows and it is largely dependent on one’s experiences, upbringing and surroundings.

On the other hand, the ego is believed to be the middle ground between the ID and the superego. It seeks to settle disputes that may occur between the ID and the superego. This theory posited that an individuals ID and the superego are in constant conflict with each other. According to this theory, an individual’s ID, which constitutes his or her innate desires, is carefree (Raphael-Leff, 2005). It is oblivious of the consequences that may arise due to its actions. However, the superego is aware of these consequences and will, therefore, intervene to try and stop the individual from doing anything that may cause harm.

This is, therefore, what causes the conflict between the two. The ego, therefore, tries to find a middle ground and resolve the conflict. This leads to the ego coming up with various coping mechanisms so as to seek balance between the two. It should be noted that if there is no balance between a person’s superego and ID the person may suffer mental illness. From this explanation, it, therefore, becomes obvious that the ego makes up the conscious part of mind while the ID and the superego make up the unconscious part.

Resolution of the Conflict

As mentioned earlier, the ego, in its quest to resolve the conflict in the unconscious part of the mind, comes up with various coping mechanisms which will be discussed. Repression is where the ego will try to suppress the innate desire especially if it is thought to be inappropriate, for example, sexual desires. The individual may, however, find other ways to express this desire sub consciously. Displacement is where the person will try to direct the unwanted urges elsewhere.

For example if a person is angry at their spouse they may take it out on a friend. Projection is where the individual will try and put the blame on someone else, or try and give explanations as to what is causing these urges. Regression, on the other hand, is where the individual will avoid the situation by regressing back to an inferior emotional phase, when things were easier.

Reaction formation is where one will avoid the problem by doing something that is in all aspects not related to what one is experiencing; for example reading a book when you have the desire to go shopping (Raphael-Leff, 2005).


Raphael-Leff, J. (2005). Parent Infant Psychodynamics – Wild Things, Mirrors, and Ghosts. London: Wiley. Sundberg, N.

(2001). Clinical Psychology: Evolving Theory, Practice and Research. England: Prentice Hall.


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