Psychoanalytic Theory and Freud: Main PointsPosted: September 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm by Nathan DriskellFiled under PsychologyThis article is a first in a series of articles relating toPsychology. The purpose of these articles is to giveyou a basic idea of the various theories in Psychology.Soon I will be taking the licensing exam to become aLicensed Professional Counselor in Texas. I decidedthe best way to study was to create a list of mainpoints for the various therapy styles in Psychology. Bymaking these series of notes available to you, you canget a better idea about the field of Psychologyyourself. Disclaimer: these articles are by no meansaccount for all the information within the particulartheory. These articles mainly come from books on thesubject as well as my personal notes. I encourage youto explore each topic in more detail.Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud was born in Vienna in 1856. He was the first born in hisfamily which consisted of three boys and five girls. His father was strict,which was common in this time period, leaving him to often spend time withhis mother, whom he felt was warm and kind. His family lived in a smallapartment, however his family noticed his intelligence and made sure tofoster his learning. He graduated from the university of Vienna at the age of26 and obtained his medical degree. Four years later he became a lecturerat the university. Freud spent much of his life working on his theory, whichhe named psychonalaysis. Freud often suffered from somatic complaints,phobias and the intense fear of dying. Freud invented the term self-analysis,which he would often perform himself to understand his fears and hisunconscious. Freud became popular and is often viewed as the father ofPsychology. He died in 1939 of cancer of the jaw.Id, Ego, and SuperegoTo Freud, humans consist of impulses and drives. These impulses are oftenburied deep within us, some by which we do not even recognize. This isespecially true of young children under the age of six. Freud coined theterm libido, which consists of all the life energies of a person. This libidocontains the drives that make is who we are, and is a source of motivation.We often gravitate toward pleasure and avoid pain. Within a person, the
personality is working to balance the libido in an efficient manor. To thatend, the personality of a person is divided into three main parts: the id, ego,and superego.The Id is the first portion of the personality to develop. The Id is focused onthe wants and needs of a person. The Id does not care about consequences,and aims at achieving pleasure and avoiding pain. The Id is not rational, anddoes not care how it’s wants are obtained. The Id is present from birth,where babies only care about their needs being met. To make things easier,think of the Id as a spoiled child, who cries if they do not get their way.The Ego is the opposite of the Id, which focuses on morality and justice. TheEgo is the judgement portion of the personality, who uses intellect to gainorder within a situation. The Id is a sort of ‘traffic cop’, who controls how tobest operate. The Ego works against the Id and tries to control the Id’simpulses. While the Id worked around the pleasure principle, the Ego worksas the reality principle, and sees the world as it should be.The Superego is the bridge by which tempers the Id and Ego. The purposeof the Superego is to provide a balance so both sides are at an equilibrium.The Superego makes decisions if things are right or wrong. The Superegohas the ability to reward by feelings of acceptance and self love, and punishby feelings of guilt and shame.Consciousness and UnconsciousOne of the hallmark features of Freud’s theory is the development of theunconscious. Freud viewed the mind as a collection of two main parts. Thefirst part, the conscious, is the part of the mind we are aware of. It includesthe thoughts and feelings of a person. It is the surface level, meaning it isthe level we are aware of in a thinking state. Freud viewed the conscious asthe smallest portion of the mind, as the drives and impulses which drivehumans often exist on a level lower then the conscious. The largest level,the unconscious, includes all impulses, desires, and is the core of a person.The unconscious is not directly observed, as it is hidden below the conscious.One studies the unconscious by looking at slips of the tongue, dreams, freeassociation techniques, hypnosis, and projective techniques.For example, let us take a man who has become an alcoholic. He has a lowpaying job while his wife is highly successful and brings in a majority of themoney into the house hold. He does not often receive attention from his wifedue to her job. He begins to drink because he feels he hates his job andfeels inferior to his wife. Now he is an alcoholic, and his wife has to take timeoff for him to get help. In the conscious, he hates his job and feels inferior;
in the unconscious, he craves attention, so he created a drinking problem toobtain the attention. In this example, the unconscious influenced theconscious in ways the conscious was not aware of. If his true feelings ofattention are not obtained in the long term, the unconscious will createanother problem to gain the attention it craves.AnxietyAnxiety, according to Freud, is a state of tension which motivates us toaction. It develops as a conflict between the id, ego, and superego overcontrol of available psychic energy. Anxiety warns of impending danger.There are thee kinds of anxiety: reality, neurotic, and mortal. Realityanxiety deals with threats from the external world. The level of anxietydepends on the degree of danger.Neurotic and mortal anxiety deals with internal threats to the balance ofpower within the personality. Unless steps are taken to reduce the anxiety,the ego may become overthrown. Mortal anxiety is the fear of one’s ownconscience. A person with a well developed ego may feel guilty when doingsomething against their moral code, and punish themselves. Neuroticanxiety occurs when a person fears they will do something by which theywill be punished.Defense MechanismsWhen the presence of anxiety, the ego can become overwhelmed. To keepthe Ego from collapse, the ego has developed defense mechanisms. Thedefense mechanisms below are normal, and are often experienced by amajority of people. Repression: Repression is the ego’s way of denying access of painful memories from consciousness. Some painful memories are extremely devastating, which can cause massive stress to the ego and the entire personality. By denying these memoeies, a person can exist without the negative affects of these memories. Denial: Similar to repression, denial is the ego’s way of focusing attention away from a problem. Denial operates at preconscious and conscious levels, where the ego will avoid a problem or play down a situation. Reaction Formation: When engaging threating stimuli, the ego may respond in the opposite manor. By expressing the opposite impulse, stress is reduced. Example: John hates his boss, so he bakes a cake for his boss on his birthday. While John hates his boss, the ego
removes the hateful emotion and replaces it with kindness, reducing the stress John feels. Projection: Unacceptable impulses and fears are projected at others. By labeling others with one’s own impulses, the ego can reduce stress. Example: John’s lustful thoughts are causing him stress, resulting in John yelling at others who experiencing similar thoughts. Displacement: At times, we cannot respond to others as we would like. When the ego has extreme feelings towards a target, tension builds. To relieve this tension, the ego will target the aggression to another source. Example: John’s boss yells at him all day at work, so when he gets home, he yells at his kids to relieve the stress he felt by being yelled at by his boss. Rationalization: When a bad event occurs, the ego reduces the tension by explaining reasons for the event. Example: John looks for a new job, but is rejected, so he blames the bad economy for the rejection. Sublimilation: Unacceptable impulses and drives are channeled in a manor acceptable to society. Example: John would love to beat up his boss and others, but he cannot, so he quits and becomes a police officer so he can beat up bad guys. Regression: Under severe stress, the ego may wish to revert to an earlier time of less stress. Example: John’s severe stress from work and home results in him loosing his job, where he moves back with his parents and wants to play games all day, as he did when he was a teenager. Introjection: Under severe stress, the ego may identify with those providing the severe stress in a form of stress relief. Example: prisoners of war often begin to identify with their captors. This helps them relieve the stress they are under. Identification: To protect one from feeling like a failure, the ego may drive a person to join a cause or an organization bigger then the person, as to feel worthwhile. John feels like a failure in life after loosing his job, so he joins Greenpeace as a way to belong to something bigger then he is. Compensation: The ego may feel inferior in specific instances, so it highlights the successful aspects of it’s personality. Example: John feels inferior as a productive member of society, so he highlights his time with Greenpeace as much more important then his professional career.Freud’s Psychosexual Stages
Freud devised a series of stages by which a person enters at specific pointsin development. These stages occur in order, however a person can becomestuck at a specific stage, called fixiation. Oral Stage: Occurring during the first year of life, the child receives oral gratification by sucking at it’s mother’s breast. By doing so, the child receives both the nutrition and love it needs. Children who do not bond with a parent, or ones who do not receive proper nutrition may become orally fixated, possibly resulting in mistrust of others, fear, loss of love and relationship difficulties. Anal Stage: The anal stage occurs during the second and third years of live, where the child becomes potty trained. During this period the child learns independence and personal power. A child who does not successfully complete this stage may feel inferior, and depend on others instead of themselves. Phallic Stage: The child first begins to discover sexual desires. This often occurs during years three through six, where the child experiences unconscious desires for the opposite sex parent. This often resolves itself through wanting love and acceptance from the opposite sex parent. The child may also possess anxiety or fear from the same sex parent. For boys, it is known as the Oedipus complex, and for girls it is known as the Electra complex. Latency Stage: With the trauma of the phallic stage over, the child moves from sexual desires to ones of belonging and acceptance from others. Interests in friends, school, and socialization are the main drives here. This stage often begins at six, and ends at puberty. Genital Stage: Beginning, at puberty, the genital stage begins with a reawaking of sexual energy. This is a period where a child will likely form their sexual identity. The genital stage is the final stage, lasting until death. One of the main criticism of Freud is the lack of further stages.TransferenceWhen a client begins sessions with a Psychoanalytic therapist, the client isencouraged to free associate, meaning to tell what they wish to tell aboutany topic. The therapist is distant, as to allow the client to give true insightsabout themselves without bias towards the therapist. While the therapistmay wish to remain distant, the client may begin to transfer feelings about aperson towards the therapist. This is called transference, and is a commonresult in Psychoanalytic theory. Usually the client will have unfinishedbusinesstowards someone, and in turn may shift these feelings towards thetherapist. A psychoanalytic therapist will look for transference during
therapy and use it to get to the unconscious. The concept of transference isoften present in modern psychology.In ConclusionFreud’s Psychonalytic theory was one of the most influential theories in all ofPsychology. Many other theories resulted from Psychoanalytic theory, pavingthe way for modern psychology. While Freud’s theories are criticized bymany, he opened the door for future discussion and research.THE PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORYRegarding the notes on this theory of personality and on those to follow, this is true: Manypersons, in a variety of ways, have aspired to explain the complexity of the human personality.Early and later philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists and others have tried to explain it; andthe attempts continue at present. Still, too many do not give credence to humankinds complexity.For, indeed, we are extremely complex, especially unusual and are especially uncommoncreations. We are creations with such unique prominence that there are no others like us in theUniverse. Our Creator in His wisdom created nothing exactly the same as another -- much in themanner of snowflakes. This being said, perhaps we might say its an exercise in intellectualsnobbery to try to develop a theory that is universal; however, we continue to try for one. And,also, regarding the notes on this theory of personality and those to follow, I shall not expound onany of them. My purpose is to give highlights and to create enough curiosity for the reader to digdeeper into their interests, finding out what they wish for themselves. Curiosity in this case doesnot "kill the cat"; curiosity in this case leads to knowledge -- an ingredient lacking in more peoplethan should these days. However, remember, knowledge doesnt necessarily lead to wisdom.
The Psychoanalytic Theory of personality has held the interest of psychologists and psychiatristsfor a long time. Sigmund Freud, its formulator, was quite an influence. The psychoanalyticposition is that early experiences influence all human behavior. It attends to -- emphasizes -- threemain issues: the id, the ego and the superego. Psychoanalysts say that all human personality iscomprised of these closely integrated functions. The id is considered as mostly biological orphysical in function -- unfettered, compelling and lacking morality, selfish and intolerant oftension. It functions on the principle of pleasure before anything else. Psychoanalysts considerthe id the basic psychic energy and the seat of instincts. It always functions on the unconsciouslevel. Its main quirk is "pleasure before everything, and at any cost."The ego is the rationally functioning element of human personality. It exerts conscious control,trying always to be the mediator between the id and the superego. Though the id seeks pleasureblindly, based on the pleasure principle, the ego seeks pleasure using rationality instead ofirrationality. Its main quirk is rationality, and is always conscious. The superego represents ourmoral system. It strives to put a right or wrong tag on our behavior, often triggering conflictamong the three divisions. Its main quirk is morality. The ego is that aspect we present to the"outside" -- it is our persona our celebrity.Psychoanalysts treat humanity as a dismal breed -- irrational, materialistic and mechanistic.Human beings, according to Freud and his ardent followers, are mere energy systems -- and thesummation of that energy is the psychic energy. Anxiety occurs when there is conflict among thethree divisions. Humans use defense mechanisms to control the anxiety. Many are listed.Psychoanalysts also put considerable importance on their defined stages through which eachproceeds toward maturity -- the oral stage, the anal stage and the phallic stage in particular -- andlater the latent stage. They also put much stock in two processes called positive and negativetransference (and the "counter-transference" of each) -- positive: likening it to love for thetherapist as he/she represents or substitutes for one or the other parent (or other significantperson -- surrogate) in their patients maturing life; negative: likening it to dislike/hate for thetherapist as he/she represents or substitutes for one or the other parent (or other significantperson in their patients maturing life) whom the patient considers the cause of their problem(s).Complicating the psychoanalytic theory of personality, Freud introduced concepts such as theOedipus complex and, to balance it with a feminine touch, the Electra complex (although, somewho write of Freuds theory say that this wasnt of Freuds thinking.) Despite these noble attemptsto balance the genders, the psychoanalytic theory of personality is very chauvinistic, giving themale gender much more attention than the female. From my perspective, Freuds greatestcontribution to understanding human personality was his exquisite development of his conceptsof human conscious and unconscious (and conscience.) Although not being the first to make thisdivision, his concepts make more sense. And his concepts remain the basis for most othertheories of personality. Treating patients, using the psychoanalytic theory, is complex, timeconsuming and costly. And, however it is viewed, and by whoever views it, it must be considereda closed system. Its main energy is that of the id. It lacks concern for any other outside energy --outside the self, that is. It is a self-centered model, closed and lacking any interest in a spiritualpart that is invested in each person. I take issue with Freuds theory for this reason. Later inFreuds work, two of his most ardent followers bolted, Alfred Adler and Carl Gustov Jung. Jungdeveloped a most interesting -- and every bit as complex -- a theory of personality as Freud;perhaps more complex. More modern theorists, Otto Rank (who emphasized separation anxiety as
the main issue with which to deal in understanding human personality), and Karen Horney (whobelieved that Freuds theory was too mechanistic, which it is, and who further believed that tounderstand human personality, it was necessary to extend its study to include social pressuresand stressors.) She developed a long list of needs that each had to fulfill to feel comfortable withthemselves as well as with society. Yet, no matter what additional theories were developed, usingFreuds ideas as their basis -- with the exception of Jung -- they continued to exclude the spiritualpart of each individual, adding to my belief, that being closed systems, none could possibly bringthe wholeness and completeness that each individual seeks in his living and his life after he dies. Wow! I wonder if his personality is as bad off?Freuds Psychosexual Stage Theory Explanations > Learning Theory > Freuds Psychosexual Stage Theory The stages | Fixation | So whatSigmund Freud developed a theory of how our sexuality starts from a very youngages and develops through various fixations. If these stages are notpsychologically completed and released, we can be trapped by them and they maylead to various defense mechanisms to avoid the anxiety produced from theconflict in and leaving of the stage.The stages Age Name Pleasure source Conflict Mouth: sucking, biting, Weaning away from 0-2 Oral swallowing mothers breast Anus: defecating or retaining 2-4 Anal Toilet training faeces
Oedipus (boys), 4-5 Phallic Genitals Electra (girls) Sexual urges sublimated into 6- sports and hobbies. Same-sex Latency puberty friends also help avoid sexual feelings. Physical sexual changes puberty reawaken repressed needs. Genital Social rules onward Direct sexual feelings towards others lead to sexual gratification.FixationStrong conflict can fixate people at early stages.Oral fixationOral fixation has two possible outcomes. The Oral receptive personality is preoccupied with eating/drinking and reduces tension through oral activity such as eating, drinking, smoking, biting nails. They are generally passive, needy and sensitive to rejection. They will easily swallow other peoples ideas. The Oral aggressive personality is hostile and verbally abusive to others, using mouth-based aggression.Anal fixationAnal fixation, which may be caused by too much punishment during toilet training,has two possible outcomes. The Anal retentive personality is stingy, with a compulsive seeking of order and tidiness. The person is generally stubborn and perfectionist. The Anal expulsive personality is an opposite of the Anal retentive personality, and has a lack of self control, being generally messy and careless.Phallic fixationAt the age of 5 or 6, near the end of the phallic stage, boys experience the OedipusComplex whilst girls experience the Electra conflict, which is a process throughwhich they learn to identify with the same gender parent by acting as much likethat parent as possible.Boys suffer a castration anxiety, where the son believes his father knows about hisdesire for his mother and hence fears his father will castrate him. He thusrepresses his desire and defensively identifies with his father.Girls suffer a penis envy, where the daughter is initially attached to her mother,but then a shift of attachment occurs when she realizes she lacks a penis. Shedesires her father whom she sees as a means to obtain a penis substitute (a child).
She then represses her desire for her father and incorporates the values of hermother and accepts her inherent inferiority in society.This is Freud, remember. He later also recanted, noting that perhaps he had placedtoo much emphasis on sexual connotations.So what?Freuds theories are largely criticized now as lacking in substantial corroborativedata. He was, however, using a model to describe observed behavior. His ideasmay thus still be used as metaphors for actual developmental issues.Section 1: Introduction to Development, Personality, and Stage TheoriesSection 2: Motor and Cognitive DevelopmentSection 3: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial DevelopmentSection 4: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual DevelopmentSection 5: Freuds Structural and Topographical ModelSection 6: Freuds Ego Defense MechanismsSection 7: Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral DevelopmentFreuds Structural and Topographical Models of PersonalitySigmund Freuds Theory is quite complex and although his writings on psychosexual development set thegroundwork for how our personalities developed, it was only one of five parts to his overall theory ofpersonality. He also believed that different driving forces develop during these stages which play animportant role in how we interact with the world.Structural Model (id, ego, superego)According to Freud, we are born with our Id. The id is an important part of our personality because asnewborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met. Freud believed that the id is based on our pleasureprinciple. In other words, the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for thereality of the situation. When a child is hungry, the id wants food, and therefore the child cries. When thechild needs to be changed, the id cries. When the child is uncomfortable, in pain, too hot, too cold, or justwants attention, the id speaks up until his or her needs are met.The id doesnt care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction. If you thinkabout it, babies are not real considerate of their parents wishes. They have no care for time, whethertheir parents are sleeping, relaxing, eating dinner, or bathing. When the id wants something, nothing elseis important.Within the next three years, as the child interacts more and more with the world, the second part of thepersonality begins to develop. Freud called this part theEgo. The ego is based on the reality principle.The ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or
selfish can hurt us in the long run. Its the egos job to meet the needs of the id, while taking intoconsideration the reality of the situation.By the age of five, or the end of the phallic stage of development, the Superego develops. TheSuperego is the moral part of us and develops due to the moral and ethical restraints placed on us by ourcaregivers. Many equate the superego with the conscience as it dictates our belief of right and wrong.In a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the id,not upset the superego, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation. Not an easy job byany means, but if the id gets too strong, impulses and self gratification take over the persons life. If thesuperego becomes to strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals, would be judgmental andunbending in his or her interactions with the world. Youll learn how the ego maintains control as youcontinue to read.Topographical ModelFreud believed that the majority of what we experience in our lives, the underlying emotions, beliefs,feelings, and impulses are not available to us at a conscious level. He believed that most of what drivesus is buried in our unconscious. If you remember the Oedipus and Electra Complex, they were bothpushed down into the unconscious, out of our awareness due to the extreme anxiety they caused. Whileburied there, however, they continue to impact us dramatically according to Freud. The role of the unconscious is only one part of the model. Freud also believed that everything we are aware of is stored in our conscious. Our conscious makes up a very small part of who we are. In other words, at any given time, we are only aware of a very small part of what makes up our personality; most of what we are is buried and inaccessible. The final part is the preconscious or subconscious. This is the part of us that we can access if prompted, but is not in our active conscious. Its right below the surface, but still buried somewhat unless we search for it. Information such as our telephone number, some childhood memories, or the name of your best childhood friend is stored in the preconscious. Because the unconscious is so large, andbecause we are only aware of the very small conscious at any given time, this theory has been likened toan iceberg, where the vast majority is buried beneath the waters surface. The water, by the way, wouldrepresent everything that we are not aware of, have not experienced, and that has not been integratedinto our personalities, referred to as the nonconscious.Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is probably the most well known theorist when it comes to the developmentof personality. Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development are, like other stage theories, completed ina predetermined sequence and can result in either successful completion or a healthy personality or canresult in failure, leading to an unhealthy personality. This theory is probably the most well known as wellas the most controversial, as Freud believed that we develop through stages based upon a particularerogenous zone. During each stage, an unsuccessful completion means that a child becomes fixated onthat particular erogenous zone and either over– or under-indulges once he or she becomes an adult.Oral Stage (Birth to 18 months). During the oral stage, the child if focused on oral pleasures (sucking).Too much or too little gratification can result in an Oral Fixation or Oral Personality which is evidenced bya preoccupation with oral activities. This type of personality may have a stronger tendency to smoke,drink alcohol, over eat, or bite his or her nails. Personality wise, these individuals may become overlydependent upon others, gullible, and perpetual followers. On the other hand, they may also fight theseurges and develop pessimism and aggression toward others.Anal Stage (18 months to three years). The child’s focus of pleasure in this stage is on eliminating andretaining feces. Through society’s pressure, mainly via parents, the child has to learn to control analstimulation. In terms of personality, after effects of an anal fixation during this stage can result in anobsession with cleanliness, perfection, and control (anal retentive). On the opposite end of the spectrum,they may become messy and disorganized (anal expulsive).Phallic Stage (ages three to six). The pleasure zone switches to the genitals. Freud believed that duringthis stage boy develop unconscious sexual desires for their mother. Because of this, he becomes rivalswith his father and sees him as competition for the mother’s affection. During this time, boys also developa fear that their father will punish them for these feelings, such as by castrating them. This group offeelings is known as Oedipus Complex ( after the Greek Mythology figure who accidentally killed hisfather and married his mother).Later it was added that girls go through a similar situation, developing unconscious sexual attraction totheir father. Although Freud Strongly disagreed with this, it has been termed the Electra Complex by morerecent psychoanalysts.According to Freud, out of fear of castration and due to the strong competition of his father, boyseventually decide to identify with him rather than fight him. By identifying with his father, the boy developsmasculine characteristics and identifies himself as a male, and represses his sexual feelings toward hismother. A fixation at this stage could result in sexual deviancies (both overindulging and avoidance) andweak or confused sexual identity according to psychoanalysts.Latency Stage (age six to puberty). It’s during this stage that sexual urges remain repressed and childreninteract and play mostly with same sex peers.
Genital Stage (puberty on). The final stage of psychosexual development begins at the start of pubertywhen sexual urges are once again awakened. Through the lessons learned during the previous stages,adolescents direct their sexual urges onto opposite sex peers, with the primary focus of pleasure is thegenitals.