What Are Some Strengths and Weaknesses of Psychoanalytic Theory?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 12, 2020 8:46:47 AM ET
Val Loh/Photolibrary/Getty Images

According to Great Ideas in Personality, one of the greatest strengths of psychoanalytic theory is that it can be used to explain the nature of human development and all aspects of mental functioning. Critics of psychoanalytic theory claim that it grossly exaggerates and generalizes human behavior.

One of the strengths of psychoanalytic theory is that it gives patients the opportunity to talk about problems with a professional, which could help relieve symptoms of psychological illness, according to About.com. Despite this, most psychoanalytic theories are difficult to measure and often overemphasize the unconscious mind, sex, aggression and childhood. Psychoanalytic theory, or psychoanalysis, was developed by Sigmund Freud as a means of developing an understanding of the inner workings of the human mind. Psychoanalytic theory is concerned with the study of the id, ego and superego. The id refers to the quality of being unconscious and contains everything that is present at birth, including the instincts. The ego is responsible for controlling the demands of the id and the instincts and serves as a link between the id and the external world. The superego represents the influence of others, and the impact of racial, societal and cultural traditions. These three aspects of the human mind are tested using tools such as Rorschach ink blots, Freudian slips and free association.