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Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory

1. The id is “ the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to the pleasure principle”. –the only component of personality that is present from birth. This aspect of personality is entirely unconscious and includes of the instinctive and primitive behaviors. –According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality. –However, immediately satisfying these needs is not always realistic or even possible. If we were ruled entirely by the pleasure principle, we might find ourselves grabbing things we want out of other people's hands to satisfy our own cravings. This sort of behavior would be both disruptive and socially unacceptable. According to Freud, the id tries to resolve the tension created by the pleasure principle through the primary process,( to resolve tension created by the pleasure principle ) which involves forming a mental image of the desired object as a way of satisfying the need.

2. The ego is “the decision-making component of personality that operates according to the reality principle”. –the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world. –In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the reality principle strives to satisfy the id's desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon an impulse. Have you ever had a sudden urge to do something that you know isn't appropriate for that situation? Perhaps when you spy a cute shirt on sale you feel a sudden urge to try it on; right now, in the middle of the store. It is the reality principle that staves off this urge and allows you to behave in a manner that is suitable for the time and place. Later, when you are in a more appropriate environment,(like safely in the confines of the nearest dressing room) you can then engage in the behavior and satisfy your needs.

The superego is “the moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and wrong”.3. The superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society--our sense of right and wrong. –The last component of personality to develop is the superego. . The superego provides guidelines for making judgments. According to Freud. the superego begins to emerge at around age five.

the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant. even though we are unaware of these underlying influences. anxiety. such as feelings of pain.Level of Mental Life  Unconscious –a reservoir of feelings. . and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. –According to Freud. thoughts. feelings and desires that we are not aware of. urges. –this includes thoughts. but that greatly influence our behavior (see Figure 2. memories. or conflict.2).


–In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality. While these memories are not part of your immediate awareness. . but we can retrieve them to conscious awareness at any time. –not threatening and easily brought to mind. if you were asked what television show you watched last night or what you had for breakfast this morning. they can be quickly brought into awareness through conscious effort. For example. Preconscious –includes information just beneath the surface of our awareness. These memories are not conscious. –Events that are not associated with anxiety but are merely forgotten. It allows only certain pieces of information to pass through and enter conscious awareness. the preconscious mind is a part of the mind that corresponds to ordinary memory. you would be pulling that information out of your preconscious. A helpful way to think of the preconscious is that it acts as a sort of gatekeeper between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind.

These instincts are important for sustaining the life of the individual as well as the continuation of the species. which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness. these drives also include such things as thirst. and pain avoidance. hunger. . Desire. While they are often called sexual instincts. –the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. Dynamics of Personality Life Instincts (Eros) Sometimes referred to as sexual instincts.–eg. and reproduction. Wishes. the life instincts are those that deal with basic survival. pleasure. Demand  Conscious –includes thoughts or feelings we are fully aware of. The energy created by the life instincts is known as libido. A part of this includes our memory.

He noted that after people experience a traumatic event (such as war). He concluded that people hold an unconscious desire to die. When this energy is directed outward onto others.Many forms: Narcissism (Primary and Secondary Narcissism) Love. self-destructive behavior is an expression of the energy created by the death instincts. it is expressed as aggression and violence. but that this wish is largely tempered by the life instincts. they often reenact the experience. Sadism. Freud proposed that “the goal of all life is death” (1920). In Freud’s view. . Masochism Death Intincts (Thanatos) Initially described in his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

the ego also has to cope with the conflicting demands of the id and the superego. resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior. anxiety is an unpleasant inner state that people seek to avoid. According to Freud. The id seeks to fulfill all wants. Think of the last time you referred to someone as being "in denial" or accused someone of "rationalizing. needs and impulses while the superego tries to get the ego to act in an idealistic and moral manner. but it has slowly worked its way into everyday language. In Sigmund Freud's topographical model of personality. The term got its start in psychoanalytic therapy. While doing this. Freud identified three types of anxiety: 1. ." Both of these examples refer to a type of defense mechanism.Defense Mechanisms The ways that we protect ourselves from things that we don't want to think about or deal with. Neurotic anxiety is the unconscious worry that we will lose control of the id's urges. Anxiety acts as a signal to the ego that things are not going right. the ego is the aspect of personality that deals with reality.

While all defense mechanisms can be unhealthy. 3. superego and reality. . The most common way of reducing this anxiety is to avoid the threatening object. The greatest problems arise when defense mechanisms are overused in order to avoid dealing with problems. Anna Freud described ten different defense mechanisms used by the ego. they can also be adaptive and allow us to function normally. the ego has developed a number of defense mechanisms to cope with anxiety. Defense Mechanisms Because of anxiety provoking demands created by the id. Researchers have described a wide variety of different defense mechanisms. Reality anxiety is fear of real-world events. Sigmund Freud's daughter. Although we may knowingly use these mechanisms. In psychoanalytic therapy. in many cases these defenses work unconsciously to distort reality.2. For example. Moral anxiety involves a fear of violating our own moral principles. The cause of this anxiety is usually easily identified. the goal may be to help the client uncover these unconscious defense mechanisms and find better. a person might fear receiving a dog bite when they are near a menacing dog. more healthy ways of coping with anxiety and distress.

while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred. Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. "He's in denial."). a person who has repressed memories of abuse suffered as a child may later have difficulty forming relationships. While this may save us from anxiety or pain. However. Repression Repression is another well-known defense mechanism. they continue to influence our behavior. For example. used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i. Because of this. other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.e. Repression acts to keep information out of conscious awareness. denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. these memories don't just disappear. Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with.Ten different defense mechanisms used by the ego Denial Denial is probably one of the best known defense mechanisms. . Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem.

Displaced aggression is a common example of this defense mechanism. a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Sublimation Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example. Displacement Have ever had a really bad day at work and then gone home and taken out your frustration on family and friends? Then you have experienced the ego defense mechanism of displacement. which is known as suppression.Displacement involves taking out our frustrations. In most cases. however.Sometimes we do this consciously by forcing the unwanted information out of our awareness. this removal of anxiety-provoking memories from our awareness is believed to occur unconsciously. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways. feelings and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. children or pets). Rather than express our anger in ways that could lead to negative consequences (like arguing with our boss). . we instead express our anger towards a person or object that poses no threat (such as our spouse.

or a student might blame a poor exam score on the instructor rather than his or her lack of preparation. Intellectualization Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold. For example. if you have a strong dislike for someone. emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component. Rationalization Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner. but in a way that the ego cannot recognize. For example. a person who is turned down for a date might rationalize the situation by saying they were not attracted to the other person anyway. a person who has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness might focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation.Projection Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people. therefore reducing anxiety. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful. you might instead believe that he or she does not like you. . avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. clinical way. Projection works by allowing the expression of the desire or impulse. For example.

people sometimes abandon coping strategies and revert to patterns of behavior used earlier in development. For example. Behaviors associated with regression can vary greatly depending upon which stage the person is fixated at:   An individual fixated at the oral stage might begin eating or smoking excessively. it may also protect self-esteem and self-concept. Regression When confronted by stressful events. A fixation at the anal stage might result in excessive tidiness or messiness. people tend to attribute achievement to their own qualities and skills while failures are blamed on other people or outside forces. Anna Freud called this defense mechanism regression. or might become very verbally aggressive. When confronted by success or failure. .Rationalization not only prevents anxiety. an individual fixated at an earlier developmental stage might cry or sulk upon hearing unpleasant news.

impulse or behavior. Why do people behave this way? According to Freud. An example of reaction formation would be treating someone you strongly dislike in an excessively friendly manner in order to hide your true feelings. Other Defense Mechanisms Since Freud first described the original defense mechanisms. Some of these defense mechanisms include:  Acting out .Reaction Formation Reaction formation reduces anxiety by taking up the opposite feeling. Affiliation .Involves turning to other people for support. other researchers have continued to describe other methods of reducing anxiety. they are using reaction formation as a defense mechanism to hide their true feelings by behaving in the exact opposite manner.  .The individual copes with stress by engaging in actions rather than reflecting upon internal feelings.

 Aim inhibition . Passive-aggression . Humor .The individual accepts a modified form of their original goal (i.) Altruism .Pointing out the funny or ironic aspects of a situation.      .e.Indirectly expressing anger. Compensation .Overachieving in one area to compensate for failures in another. Avoidance . becoming a high school basketball coach rather than a professional athlete.Satisfying internal needs through helping others.Refusing to deal with or encounter unpleasant objects or situations.

coming to terms with society controls relatinf to toilet training) The Phallic Stage -3 to 4 years( interest in the genitals. eating. mouthing.Stages of Development The Oral Stage -Birth to 18 months (interest in oral gratification from sucking. coming to terms with Oedipal conflict. biting) The Anal Stage -12 to 18 months to 3 years(gratification from expelling and withholding faces.establish a balance between the various life areas) . begin to discover the differences between males and females) The Latent Period -5 to 6 years to adolescence ( social and cultural accomplishment and self confidence) The Genital Stage -Adolescence to Adulthood (reemergence of sexual interests .

Puberty to Lifetime (a stage attained after the person is passed through the earlier developmental periods in an ideal manner) Sigmund Freud .The Maturity Stage .





• A personality trait is “a durable disposition to behave in a particular way in a variety of situations”.• Personality is “an individual’s unique constellation of consistent behavioral traits”. – Common personality traits include: • honest • Moody • impulsive .

• friendly .