This is how your past experiences influence your present mood and behavior.

Have you ever wondered why for no concrete reason you have a strong dislike for certain things? Let’s say being punctual, be it to meetings or project execution, psychologists — specifically psychodynamic psychologists — attribute this to foundational experiences. These are experiences from early childhood and can be as early as two weeks old.



What Is Psychodynamics?

The psychodynamic perspective is a theory of psychology that suggests our behaviors and preferences as adults is as a result of childhood experiences (especially early childhood), and our personalities formed as we face different forces in development from childhood to adulthood.

Psychodynamic theorists include Sigmund Freud (the founding father of psychodynamic theory and the propounder of the psychoanalytic approach), Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Anna Freud, among others.

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This perspective places the unconscious mind as the primary controller of an individual’s mental activities. Memories, feelings, motives are activities of the unconscious mind. The perspective also contends that early experiences are critical determinants of personality development and dynamics.

These experiences include losing a close relative at a very tender age and suffering abuse. The theory also posits that there is nothing like chance or casual occurrence. This means thoughts, feelings, motives, emotional responses and expressed behavior arise out of psychological processes and cannot be attributed to chance. The catch?



Blame It On Your Past Experiences

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Otto Kernberg, in his book ‘Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory, Techniques and Their Applications’ published in 2004, found that from an early age, we associate ‘objects’ with experiences. For instance, a baby associates the mother’s breast to food or nourishment just as adults associate fire to danger.

The study also expanded on object relations theory, a theory of the psychodynamic perspective that contends that personality can be understood as reflecting the mental images of significant figures (especially the parents) that we form early in life in response to interactions taking place within the family. This experience accounts for how an individual interacts with his family when he is older.

Freud, the propounder of the psychoanalytic theory which formed the basis of the psychodynamic perspective, proposed that physical symptoms are often the surface manifestations of deeply repressed conflicts.

Your dislike for fried fish could be attributed to fear associated with choking on fish bone as a child. Therefore, to rid oneself from unexplained phobias and fears, according to the psychodynamic perspective, one must revisit the past and resolve conflicts that have resulted into present fears.

Let us know if you have any childhood experiences affecting you today?


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Written by: Phoebe Addo, Mon, Feb 28, 2022.

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