Etiology (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The study and investigation into the root causes of a psychological disorder so that it might be resolved.
Psychological etiology refers to the scientific investigation into the origins of a disorder that cannot be explained biologically. Etiology is complicated by the fact that most disorders have more than one cause. Early etiological theories were the Freudian and post-Freudian psychoanalytic beliefs. Sigmund Freud attributed mental or neurotic disorders to deep-seated or hidden psychic motivations. The unconscious played the primary role in Freud's approach. According to Freud, the person in conflict was unaware of the cause because it was too deeply embedded in an inaccessible part of the mind. Freud postulated that the occurrence of previous traumas, unacceptable feelings, or wanton drives enacted a defense mechanism that enabled this burial into the unconscious. As a means of survival, a person might push such unsavory thoughts and memories as far from the conscious mind as possible.
Childhood, according to Freud, was the time when many repressed motivations and defense mechanisms began to thrive. Without control over their own lives, children have no way to resolve such emotions that include frustration, insecurity, or guilt. These emotions essentially build up while the child's...
(The entire section is 837 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!