A Look at Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theories of Human Nature, Problem Formation and Method for Change

Te-Ericka Patterson Barry University Fall 2009

Freud’s Theories 2 The most celebrated human psychological theorist in all of history is now a household name due to his groundbreaking leadership of the psychoanalytic movement. His courage to think outside the mainstream ideas that were presented in his time triggered a wave from his native country to ours.

Considered widely controversial during his day, Freud continued to develop theories related to human nature, how problems form in the human mind as well as theories or techniques for change.

In an article written about Freud’s one and only trip to the United States to lecture at Clark University, the author writes, “Freud's lectures covered his most fundamental concepts. His most controversial discussion concerned the development of sexuality, beginning in infancy.” (Sack & Makari, 2009)

In my opinion, Freud’s idea that the root of human nature is influenced largely by the development of sexuality is congruent with his theory that humans possess a certain amount of psychic energy. From my interpretation of these two theories, they are actually one and the same. Our desire for sexual interaction and expression is an inherent expression of our psychic energy. Our psychic energy is representative of who we are at our core.

Freud’s Theories 3 When, as youth, we are taught that expressing ourselves sexually is a bad thing, or we are abused sexually, we begin to harbor negative feelings toward who we are as people, rather than the abuser or the act of abuse itself.

To deal with these feelings of inadequacy caused by thwarted expression of a healthy sexuality, Freud believes that humans tend to use defense mechanisms to repress the expression of pain.

In an article written in 2002, Joel Black writes of Freud, “The distinctive fault that plagues the children of Israel with guilt is not the actual murder of Moses committed by their ancestors, but the ongoing repression and distortion of that deed.” (Black, 2002)

Imagine that an entire race (religious group) feels a collective guilt over an action from their past so much so that they distort the true story so that future generations will not know the truth. Distortion is another form of repression, hiding the truth from one’s own consciousness, however subconsciously suffering from its affects regardless of the defense mechanism used.

As a remedy for using repression or any of the other defense mechanisms that are conjured during times of stress over lack of healthy expression of sexual or psychic energy, Freud suggests using free association when working with clients.

Freud’s Theories 4 Free association allows the client to talk freely without being led to uncover what really lies beneath the surface of their consciousness.

The therapist asks a general open ended question, which Freud says does not matter, and the client is allowed to talk freely. This freedom of expression will help heal their repression of pain, thus bringing the subconscious to the conscious and taking the fear and shame out of its exhibition.

“..He relied on the power of the unconscious causal ideas to bring to light the associations between them and the starting point.” (Macmillan, 2001)

In conclusion, Freud’s position that humans have a fixed amount of psychic energy that is expressed through sexual interaction and expression. The inability to hold a healthy view of this expression leads to the utilization of defense mechanisms like repression which lead to symptoms that deter the individual from functioning in a healthy way. In order to change the unhealthy patterns, Freud suggests using free association with clients which allows them to release the hidden subconscious messages that have been internalized and confront them directly on a conscious level.

Freud’s Theories 5 References

BLACK, J. (2002). The murder of memory: Freud, Moses, and the death of Rabin . Mortality, 7(1), 28. Macmillan, M. (2001). Limitations to free association and interpretation. . Source: Psychological Inquiry , 12(3), 113-128. Sack, A., & Makari G. (2009). Freud in the New World . The American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(6), 662.

Freud’s Theories 6

Certificate of Authorship I certify that I am the author of this paper, assignment, and/or examination and any assistance I received in its preparation is fully acknowledged and disclosed in this assignment. In addition, any sources from which I used ideas or words, either quoted directly or paraphrased, have been cited in this assignment. I also certify that this paper, assignment, and/or examination was prepared by me specifically for use in this course and was not used in any other course and will not be used in any future courses I take ay Barry University or elsewhere. Typing your name below and submitting by electronic means also constitutes certification. Te-Ericka Patterson ______________________________________ Type name

September 30, 2009 Date

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