The Theory of Sigmund Freud

Freud‘s psychoanalytic theory is an example of psychodynamic approach to the study of human behavior. With this approach, it is believed that the unconscious psychological conflicts control human behavior.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, built psychoanalytic concepts almost entirely on his extensive clinical observations on patients with neuroses as well as on psychoanalysis.

Freud distinguished three levels of mind - consciousness, preconscious and unconscious - in order to describe the accessibility awareness of mental processes. The most significant psychic events take place in the unconscious (which by its nature is instinctive and separated from reality).

theory of sigmund freud

In Freud’s theory, the human personality consists of three structural components: the “Id”, “Ego” and “Superego.”

Id“, which is the instinctive core of personality, is primitive, impulsive and is subject to the pleasure principle. It uses reflex reaction and initial representations in order to obtain immediate satisfaction of instinctual urges.

Ego“ is a rational part of the individual and the principle of reality. Its goal is to develop for the individual an action plan to meet the requirements of ”Id” within the constraints of the social world and individual consciousness. This problem is ”Ego” solves by representations of secondary processes.

Superego“ the latest in the emerging process of personality development, it represents the moral side. ”Superego” consists of two structures - the conscience and “the ideal ego”.

Freud’s theory of motivation is based on the concept of instinct, defined as an innate state of arousal, which is looking for relaxation. In the theory of psychoanalysis there are two categories of instinct: the instinct of life (Eros) and death instinct (Thanatos).

Instinct has four parameters: source, aim, object and stimulus.

Freud’s explanation of stages of psychosexual development is based on the premise that sexuality is given at birth and develops further, embracing a number of biologically specific erogenous zones, until reaching maturity. In Freud’s view, the development of the individual goes through four stages as follows: oral, anal, phallic and genital. The latent period is not a stage of psychosexual development.

Freud suggested that in the process of psychosexual development the unresolved conflicts lead to fixation and the formation certain types of character. Thus, adults with the fixation on the anal-retention stage become inflexible, boring and irresistibly flavorful.

Freud distinguished three types of anxiety: realistic, neurotic, and moral. He believed that anxiety plays a role of a signal, warning the “Ego” about the impending dangers posed by instinctual impulses. As a reaction, “Ego” uses a series of defense mechanisms, which include repression, projection, substitution, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, sublimation and rejection.

Defense mechanisms are unconscious and distort the perception of reality by the individual.

The concept of psychoanalysis has very many applications in everyday life. One of the most significant - Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy - uses quite effective methods: the method of free association, interpretation, resistance and analysis of transference. All of them are aimed to study the unconscious, which enables a deeper understanding of patient’s personality and the treatment of neuroses. This new knowledge about themselves later is transferred into everyday life by using the emotional relearning.

Recent changes in the practice of psychoanalysis led to the emergence of so-called psychoanalytic therapy, where there may be restrictions on the duration of treatment, it focuses on group or family therapy, using medication in combination with the traditional methods of psychoanalysis.

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