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In psychology, psychodynamics is the study of the interrelationship of various parts of the mind, personality, or psyche as they relate to mental, emotional, or motivational forces especially at the subconscious level. Roughly speaking, "psycho-dynamics" is a blend of psychology and thermodynamics. A focus in psychodynamics is the connection between the energetics of emotional states in the id, ego, and superego as they relate to early childhood developments and processes. Psychodynamics attempts to explain or interpret behavior or mental states in terms of innate emotional forces or processes.


Psychodynamics was born with the 1874 publication of Lectures on Physiology by German scientist Ernst von Brucke who supposed that all living organisms are energy-systems governed by the principle of the conservation of energy. During this year, at the University of Vienna, Brucke was also coincidentally the supervisor for first-year medical student Sigmund Freud who naturally adopted this new “dynamic” physiology. Later, the theory of psychodynamics was developed further by those such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Melanie Klein.


The central premise of psychodynamics is based on the first law of thermodynamics, which states that the total amount of matter and energy in any system under study, which undergoes any transformation or process, is conserved; meaning, essentially, that experiences, especially early childhood experiences, in theory, are conserved in the unconscious. Subsequently, conserved experiences later in life must either remain buried in the mind or find their way to the surface, i.e. the “conscious” level. This, in the former case, results in psychological states as neurosis and psychosis.

Jungian psychodynamics

Building on the work of Freud, Carl Jung advanced the framework of psychodynamics. According to Jung, the mental sphere, having conscious and unconscious parts, is divided up into a number of interactive relatively closed systems. The total set of such mental systems takes in energy via sensor input, which energizes the person; however, the dynamic distribution of these inputs among the various systems is governed by two principles:==References==

  1. Principle of Equivalence – if the amount of energy consigned to a given psychic element decreases or disappears, that amount of energy will appear in another psychic element.
  2. Principle of Entropy – the distribution of energy in the psyche seeks equilibrium or balance among all the structures of the psyche.

Jung modeled these psychological energetic principles on the first law of thermodynamics and the second law of thermodynamics, respectively. The key concepts in Jungian psychodynamics are psychic energy or libido, value, equivalence, entropy, progression and regression, and canalization.==References==


Presently, psychodynamics is an evolving multi-disciplinary field which analyzes and studies human thought process, response patterns, and influences. Research in this field provides insights into a number of areas, including:

  1. Understanding and anticipating the range of specific conscious and unconscious responses to specific sensory inputs, as images, colors, textures, sounds, etc.
  2. Utilizing the communicative nature of movement and primal physiological gestures to affect and study specific mind-body states.
  3. Examining the capacity for the mind and senses to directly affect physiological response and biological change.


  1. Template:NoteHall, Calvin S.; Nordby, Vernon J. (1999). A Primer of Jungian Psychology. New York: Meridian. ISBN 0452011868.
  2. Template:Note ibid (pg. 80).
  3. Freud, Sigmund (1923). The Ego and the Id. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393001423.
  4. Horowitz, Mardi von (1988). Introduction to Psychodynamics – A New Synthesis. Basic Books. ISBN 0465035612.
  5. Raphael-Leff, Joan (2005). Parent Infant Psychodynamics – Wild Things, Mirrors, and Ghosts. Wiley. ISBN 1861563469.

See also

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