Published on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 9:34 pm and is filed under Freud Related Articles
A Short History of Sigmund Freud Theory
Freud’s Topographical Model
Freudian Theory and the Structural Model
The interplay between these structures is referred to as the psychodynamics of the personality.
ID: The deep, unconscious part of personality.
- Composed of biological, instinctual drives.
- Innate (born with it)
- Seeks immediate, indiscriminant gratification.
- Source of all mental energy
- Obeys the pleasure principle: Pleasure is good and – nothing else matters
- Gratifying urges returns body to homeostasis.
- Libido – biological force/energy underlying pleasure-seeking activity
- Thanatos – the death instinct
EGO: The executive or manager of personality.
- Organized, rational, reality-oriented system
- Develops first 2 years of life as infant experiences reality
- Holds id in check until suitable object is found
- Helps id achieve gratification within confines of reality
- Prevents id drives from violating superego principles
- Obeys the reality principle: Behavior takes into account the external world
SUPEREGO: Represents the ideals and values of society as they are presented by parents or parental figures.
- Inhibits (or “brakes”) id urges
- Strives for perfection
- “Irrational,” operates on extremes—good or bad
Ego ideals – The person we’d like to be:
- Developed through rewards.
Conscience – Right and wrong:
- Developed through punishment.
Formed around age 5 via Oedipal complex resolution.
Psychosexual Stages of Development
- Each stage has its erogenous zone, the primary locus of pleasure
- Each developmental stage presents a challenge.
FIXATION: The pathological binding of psychic energy at a certain psychosexual stage.
- Fixation can be due to Frustration – when psychosexual needs are thwarted, or
- Overindulgence – when no incentive is given to master internal functions
ORAL STAGE (0 – 18 months):
- Pleasurable sensations focused on mouth
- Potential area of Conflict: Weaning
- Optimism, trust, dependency, gullibility, don’t try to fend for selves
ANAL STAGE (18 months – 3 years)
- Pleasurable sensations focused on expulsion/retention of feces
- Gratification of anal impulses results in health feelings of self-control and mastery
- Potential area of conflict: toilet training
PHALLIC STAGE (3 – 6 years)
- Penis/clitoris is primary pleasure zone
- Defining feature: Oedipus Complex (M) Electra Complex (F)
- Child desires opposite-sex parent sexually.
- This desire causes conflict, fear and frustration.
- Child represses desire for opposite-sex parent and identifies with same-sex parent.
- Can feel powerful, can vicariously possess opposite-sex parent.
- This leads to development of gender identity and superego
- Males – fear of castration
- Females – penis envy
LATENCY STAGE (6 years – puberty)
- Potential area for conflict: none
- Child focuses on learning rather than sexual impulses
- Solidification of superego
GENITAL STAGE (puberty à)
- Major task: Development of altruistic love, developing work life
- Goal is to find an appropriate sex object.
Anxiety and the Defense Mechanisms
ANXIETY – An indication of threat to the ego from impulses from the id (neurotic)
- Anxiety is protective, normal, useful
- Help person avoid anxiety without conscious awareness of doing so.
REPRESSION – The ego excludes distressing thoughts, feelings or impulses from consciousness before they become conscious.
DENIAL – Refusing to acknowledge something unpleasant (event, thought, impulse)
DISPLACEMENT – Redirecting instinctual impulse from a more threatening person or object to a less threatening one (or a more available one).
PROJECTION – Attributing unacceptable internal thoughts, feelings, and urges to others
- Used by both individuals and societies
RATIONALIZATION – Making up a “reasonable” (but inaccurate) explanation for threatening or irrational behavior
REACTION FORMATION – Transforming an unacceptable impulse into its opposite. Acting in a manner that is the opposite of a forbidden impulse
WITHDRAWAL- Avoidance of or flight from threatening situations.
- Becoming like the individual that you fear or envy
REGRESSION – Going back to an earlier stage to help cope with anxiety
SUBLIMATION – Channeling unacceptable impulses into acceptable, socially approved and productive thoughts and actions.
- Different from displacement, in that it is the impulse itself, not the impulse’s object, that is transformed
Hallmarks of Mental Health
- Increased self-understanding
- Make the unconscious conscious;
- More accurate perception of reality;
- Strengthening of ego à better everyday functioning;
Examining expressions of unconscious material, via analyst’s interpretations.
- Dreams – “Royal road to the unconscious”;
- Wish fulfillment;
- Manifest vs latent content;
- Free Association;
- “Fundamental Rule” of psychoanalysis;
- Temporarily bypass ego’s censoring mechanism;
- Freudian slips;
- Symbolic behavior, accidents;
- Projective tests;
- Innocent – puns, clever insights
- Tendentious – hostile and/or sexual
- Catharsis theory
Evaluating Freudian Theory
- First comprehensive theory of personality and behavior
- Foundation for many later theories
- First system of psychotherapy
- Popularized psychological ideas
- Very rich
- Very interesting
- Pioneer of case study method
- Inspired lots of other theorists and scientists.
- Other areas besides psychopathology
- Religion, humor
- We certainly have evidence that early childhood experiences affect us significantly
- Not as original as many think, but was the first to integrate and popularize, and scientifically investigate
- Very difficult to evaluate scientifically.
- Vague concepts
- Hard to come up with testable hypotheses
- Post hoc analyses
- Results can be used to argue for or against any hypothesis
- Based on case-study data
- Probably biased by Freud and by his cultural context
- Biased sample
- Rich, educated adults with problems aren’t the best models for a theory of normative childhood development.
- Freud may have gotten patients to say what he wanted to hear
- First five years of life are only formative ones?
- Based too much on sex
- Minimizes effect of social and cultural influences
- Overly negative, pathologizing, pessimistic