This approach is based on the belief that behavior is motivated by inner forces over which the individual has little control. It tries to understand the inner person.

Sigmund Freud is called the father of psychoanalytic school, which advocates that the inner energies that help us act lie in the unconscious, it is these unconscious urges and motives that drive us to action. Each and every behavior has an unconscious basis. As such, the unconscious forces are to be uncovered so as to understand different forms of behavior.

This approach emphasizes the understanding and the treatment of abnormal behaviors. We often notice people engaging in irrational behaviors of which they later feel guilty and ashamed. These behaviors are the primary focus of study for the psychoanalysts.

Freud argued that the early childhood experiences and hereditary instincts fully determine the adult personality. Abnormal behaviors can be treated by resolving the early childhood conflicts. The psychoanalysts use free association, dream analysis, and hypnosis to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.


The psychoanalytic model takes a negative view of human nature. Yet the approach has a very powerful appeal even for the non-psychology students. The psychoanalysts have contributed significantly to the understanding and treatment of mental disorders.