This essay compares and contrasts how the psychodynamic and humanistic perspectives address depression. Depression is a widespread mental health condition that is typified by low motivation, low mood, as well as loss of concern in activities that are typically considered to be pleasing. Depressive symptoms differ in their intensity and are conditional on the severity of the depressive occurrence. It is often perceived to be as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain (Glassman and Hadad , 2013). In comparing and contrasting how the psychodynamic and humanistic perspectives address depression, it is imperative to discuss the two perspectives’ conceptualisation.
Psychodynamic approach lays emphasis on the function of internal processes, for instance motivation, in determining personality, and therefore behaviour. Sigmund Freud is considered as the most important proponent of the psychodynamic theory, whereby his theory of personality focuses on explaining behaviour in terms of the different dynamic correlations of the id, ego and superego. The id, according to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality involves the personality constituent that entails the unconscious psychic drive that endeavours to gratify basic needs; the ego – the component of the mind which intermediates between the is and superego; and superego – the part which represents the conscience of the individual (Glassman and Hadad , 2013).
According to Leichsenring and Leibing (2004), psychodynamic theories such as Freud’s psychoanalysis, depression is considered to be a patient’s experience of rejection or loss. Rather than communicating their frustrations, patients with depression are inclined to absorb their sorrow and resentment inwards. Depressed persons struggle in perceiving a healthy notion of relationships, and their interaction with other people is usually weighed down. These patients hold a sensitive need for encouragement which consequently normally triggers rejection from other persons who feel encroached upon. As a result, this reinforces the depressed person’s conviction that they are unworthy of affection. The psychodynamic perspective lays emphasis on a person’s unconscious thoughts which emanate from experiences during childhood and their impact on their present conduct. The impulses that drive people originate from the unconscious mind, and they also drive the individual’s repeat behaviour patterns.
According to Churchill et.al, (2010), humanistic approaches lay emphasis on self-determination, personal growth, as well as the realization of human potential. Humanistic perspectives consider depression to be disorder in a person’s capacity to develop to their complete potential. All persons hold the solution to their individual capacity to facilitate change if presented with the appropriate circumstances for development and self-actualization. In this context, a person with depression may be assisted in the event that the primary situation of empathy, unconditional positive regard, as well as congruence exists. Every depressed person is perceived as an individual with their special exclusive set of circumstances. If presented with the appropriate interpersonal atmosphere where genuine contact can occur, the patient is capable of overcoming depression as an attitude of self-worth and self-acceptance form. The humanistic perspective lays emphasis on the notion that individuals are born with an inherent capacity for psychological development if external conditions become permissible. Patients become alienated from this self-actualizing predisposition through assimilating the evaluations of other persons, and thus treating these evaluations as though they were theirs. The therapy environment is one of compassion, empathy and openness. When patients feel respected and appreciated, they are better placed to understand who they are, and as a result, they can reunite with their true personality.
In comparing the similarities involving the humanistic perspective and the psychodynamic perspective, there are a number of aspects linking the concepts of the self-actualizing tendency, as well as the self-concept to Freud’s hypothesis concerning personality formation. The id, as well as the organismic self represents that part of the psyche that is normally repressed. The self-concept and the super-ego show ethical values that have been instilled upon an individual by other significant external factors including people (Shedler, 2010). Also, both perspectives’ points of view state that people cannot justify their own particular actions on the grounds that the causes are to a great extent unconscious. Consequently, both perspectives assert that explaining one’s conduct depends, not on the individual who is behaving, but on the evaluation of an theorist (Glassman and Hadad , 2013).
In contrast to the psychodynamic perspective, the humanistic perspective lays emphasis on the conscious mind, as well as its present situation. On the other hand, the humanistic perspective lays emphasis on the subconscious mind, and focuses on early childhood occurrences to scrutinize unsettled conflicts that may also be the cause of the current depression. In this context, Freud’s theory highlights the need to regulate defences, to decrease the tension from the superego in order that the patient may become less anxious of the superego, and as a result build up the ego. In the treatment of depression, the focus of the humanistic perspective is self-actualisation, while the
focus of the psychodynamic perspective is insight. The humanistic perspective lays emphasis on the positive conviction in the human capacity to self-actualize, while the psychodynamic perspective lays emphasis mainly on the negative aspects (Dryden, 2002).
In the humanistic perspective, it is considered to be a personal process for the patient to be in a healthy relationship. On the other hand, in psychodynamic therapy the therapist is a blank slate unto which the patient can pour out feelings. In psychodynamic therapy, transference is critical in the process of change, whereby understanding and interpretation is mandatory. On the other hand, in humanistic therapy, the past occurrences in a patient’s life are disregarded unless such occurrences affect the patient’s conditions of significance (Churchill et.al, 2010).
In conclusion, the importance given to subjective experience, the individual’s present experience point of view, as well as the openness and unconditional regard the client is treated with, differentiates the humanistic perspective from the psychodynamic perspective, which attempts to interpret the individual’s behaviour only through the lens of past traumas.