Psychodynamic therapy is based upon certain distinct principles. Some of them include the greater importance of the emotional sphere over the intellectual; the significance of experience and its links with the present; the attention to avoidance practices; focus on personal relations and therapist relationships (Shedler, 2010). Regarding the analyzed patient, the three key features of psychodynamic therapy that would enable the treatment of Peggy are focused on past experiences (and recurring patterns), prioritization of emotions, and, finally, helping to create psychological capacities for change.
The first, experience, is critical for understanding the patient’s current mental state. Early childhood development has a tremendous influence on adults’ lives (Ringel, 2019). Psychodynamic therapy acknowledges the importance of past experiences and the way they shape the current reality (Shedler, 2010). Moreover, past experiences, especially those that are charged with powerful emotions, tend to recur.
This is another postulate of the theory: our past is stored in the subconscious and directly impacts people’s decisions and behavior (Freud, 1989). The second characteristic that emphasizes the applicability of psychodynamic therapy to this case is its preoccupation with the emotional element. It places considerable significance on the feelings and affections of patients (Shedler, 2010). Due to this, the therapy allows identifying emotions that are responsible for a current psychological situation. However, it is not always easy to uncover hidden feelings that make a person feel depressed. For instance, Peggy, undoubtedly, requires to dig into her emotional world and understand how to control it.
Finally, it is critical to help the patient mitigate emotional pain and acquire the necessary tools to deal with the problem once it appears. Psychotherapy aims to free the person from the crisis by establishing its root (Shedler, 2010). During such therapy, the psychologist builds a meaningful relationship with the patient. This allows exemplifies how to set up healthy relations between people. It would, therefore, be beneficial for Peggy to gain the capacities that would let her cope with overwhelming feelings.
Three types of data indicate that psychodynamic therapy would be an appropriate treatment for this case. Her vivid and blocked emotions facilitate depression; her childhood problems with her mother; her failure to cope with emotions. Firstly, the beginning of the study clearly shows an array of unaddressed emotions and her depressive symptoms. Her complaints to the doctor included: permanent woe, poor appetite, problems with sleep, tearfulness, and absent-mindedness. She also mentioned low self-esteem, lack of hope, and guilt. These are all depression symptoms that signify the deep emotional pain that she has. She recalled how she felt an immense fear after her husband’s first heart attack. She became scared of people, including her husband. Due to her anxiety, it became hard for her to stay focused at work and at home. The situation deteriorated as her husband started making decisions for her (even regarding shopping, and arranging meetings). Because of her extreme unease, she felt dysfunctional and unconfident. For this reason, psychodynamic therapy would be indispensable in disentangling those destructive and confusing emotions.
Secondly, understanding Peggy’s past is critical for identifying and solving Peggy’s current problems. Her troublesome relationship with her mum negatively impacted her. The girl complained that the mum spanked her every day for being a “trouble-maker” and the “runt”. Crucially, she described her mum as being “always” angry and discontent with her behavior. Because of that, the girl did not feel loved and appreciated. Childhood memories are filled with emotions such as fear, anxiety, stress, and lack of love (although she did receive kisses from her mother before she fell asleep). This influenced her to have an anxiety disorder that she developed after her husband’s heart attacks. Anxiety disorders are defined as “disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances” (American Psychiatric Association, A. P., & American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 189).
The patient experienced such symptoms over an extended period. The instances began to recur: after visiting a therapist for one and a half years, she started feeling better at first, yet, the depression symptoms and inner anxieties returned later.
Finally, Peggy cannot manage her emotions, which points to the need for psychodynamic therapy. Over the previous ten years, she experienced recurring emotional problems; nevertheless, she was unable to deal with them. After their husband’s first heart attack, she became overwhelmed with fear, having cruel nightmares and being scared of all people. Through psychotherapy, Peggy would learn how to act once such instances come. She would understand why these emotions appear in the first place (Shedler, 2010). Her therapy with a social worker was successful in the short term. The intensive work with the psychodynamic therapist would help her acquire valuable knowledge about her character and emotions that persist from childhood and how to rid of them.
Overall, Peggy’s case serves as an example of how psychodynamic psychotherapy can help a person. This work demonstrated that the therapy can be used in various ways and for different people. Its focus on the emotional part allows it to treat multiple conditions, proving it to be a universal psychological treatment method.
American Psychiatric Association, A. P., & American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (Vol. 10). Washington, DC: American psychiatric association.
Freud, S. (1989). The psychopathology of everyday life. WW Norton & Company.
Ringel, S. (2019). History and Development of Trauma Theory: Discussion of Main Concepts. In J. Brandell & S. Ringel (Ed.), Trauma (pp. 3-19). Columbia University Press. Web.
Shedler, J. (2010). The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy. American psychologist, 65(2), 98-109.