Psychodynamic Approach to Psychology


Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham are known as famous philosophers who made significant contributions to the development of legal studies and criminology in the eighteenth century. Speaking about Beccaria, it needs to be said that he is regarded as one of the founding fathers of criminology in Europe. Being a member of an Italian family of rank, Beccaria was provided with extended opportunities to acquire an education, and he demonstrated his versatile talents: among the subjects that interested him, there were mathematics, economics, science of law, and philosophy.

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The most famous work written by Cesare Beccaria is called “On Crimes and Punishments”; in the discussed work, the author expresses the range of ideas concerning possible improvements to the current system of justice in Europe, and it is necessary to say that his views tend to be unusual for that period of time. Criticizing the common practices related to the punishment of offenders that were used in the middle of the eighteenth century, Beccaria voiced his protest against the use of physical mistreatment and punishment of death. His thoughts on the principle of legality are still appreciated in many countries where people support humanistic values. As for Jeremy Bentham, he was a person supporting the principles of liberalism.

The contribution that this man-made to the development of philosophy in England is difficult to overestimate as he is supposed to be one of the founders of utilitarianism, a popular theory based on the superiority of pleasure and maximal utility of any action. Despite the fact that these two philosophers were working in different fields, it is important to note that both of them contributed to classical criminology which is a system of assumptions surrounding crime and punishment in the eighteenth century. In his work, Beccaria introduced the concepts of the assumption of innocence and adequacy of punishment. As for the latter, this idea was also supported by Bentham. These concepts and other ideas proposed by the philosophers became the basis for classical criminology.


Trait or dispositional theory is a term that is used in the context of psychology to denote the range of studies related to the nature of the human personality. Considering the importance of the given topic, it is obvious that there were a great number of researchers trying to shed light on the mysteries of personality. As for the early theories proposed in different countries, it is necessary to remember the works by Allpolt who introduced the idea about cardinal and central traits, Leary who proposed the model of the interpersonal circle, and Lombroso.

As for the latter, his attention was focused on personal traits of criminals; analyzing physical characteristics and behavior of people committing crimes, he concluded that there were a few signs predicting an inclination to aggression and that the behavior of these people could not be improved. Discussing this theory, it is important to note that it was criticized by many researchers as they believed the author to have used his subjective judgments and preconceptions in order to prove the connection between physical appearance (atypical features such as the unusual shape of the skull) and inclination to commit crimes. When it comes to modern trait theories that are used by psychologists all over the world, it is important to pay attention to the so-called five-factor model which was proposed almost thirty years ago.

According to the theory, there are the basic factors that need to be taken into account while assembling a psychological profile of a person. These factors include the readiness to gain new experience, the ability to reduce oneself to discipline, extraversion, compliance, or the desire to please others and follow the rules, and the tendency to have and display a range of negative emotions. In general, newer theories tend to systemize the knowledge on the human personality even though the appropriateness of the use of these categories also remains a controversial question.


The psychodynamic approach to psychology is different from the behavioral approach as the former does not involve the focus on the ideas confirmed by correct experiments; instead, those researchers who use the psychodynamic approach on subjective and personal knowledge of patients which serves as the basis allowing to solve their problems and inner conflicts. Speaking about the founders of the psychodynamic approach, it is extremely important to discuss the ideas introduced by Sigmund Freud who studied psychoanalysis. Reflecting on the nature of the human personality and, more importantly, on its basic structure, Freud distinguished three components of the personality: the superego, the ego, and the id.

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As for the first component that is mentioned in his psychodynamic theory, it is believed to be responsible for moral values, taboos, and the perceptions of appropriate behavior in the human personality. The id is the term used to denote the so-called negative unconscious intentions such as the sexual instinct and the inner aggression which have an impact on the actions of people. As for the ego, this term denotes the part of the human personality which enables an individual to live in society and use the knowledge and previous experience. The way that information flows between these three spheres is the major problem stated by Freud; psychoanalysis aims at retrieving the problems of a patient which are already processed by the subconscious and letting a person realize them.

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