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Psychoanalytic Theory

Personality According to
Sigmund Freud

An individual’s unique and relatively
consistent patterns of thinking,
feeling, and behaving

Personality Theory
Attempt to describe and explain
how people are similar, how
they are different, and why
every individual is unique

Personality Perspectives • Psychoanalytic—importance of unconscious processes and childhood experiences • Humanistic—importance of self and fulfillment of potential • Social cognitive—importance of beliefs about self • Trait—description and measurement of personality differences .

uk  .lcweb.Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) • Founder of psychoanalysis • Proposed the first complete theory of personality • A person’s thoughts and behaviors emerge from tension generated by unconscious motives and unresolved childhood conflicts.freud.loc. Learn more about Freud at:

Psychoanalytic Approach • Developed by Sigmund Freud • Psychoanalysis is both an approach to therapy and a theory of personality • Emphasizes unconscious motivation – the main causes of behavior lie buried in the unconscious mind .

Psychoanalysis as a Therapy • A therapeutic technique that attempts to provide insight into one’s thoughts and actions • Does so by exposing and interpreting the underlying unconscious motives and conflicts .

Psychodynamic Perspective • A more modern view of personality that retains some aspects of Freudian theory but rejects other aspects • Retains the importance of the unconscious mind • Less emphasis on unresolved childhood conflicts .

The Psychodynamic Perspective: Freud’s View of the Mind .

Free Association • Freudian technique of exploring the unconscious mind by having the person relax and say whatever comes to mind no matter how trivial or embarrassing • Hypnosis – Relaxing a person into a highly suggestive state to uncover unconscious memories or conflicts The Couch .

and psychological defenses & traits .Personality Assessment Projective Techniques • Interpretation of an ambiguous to trigger projection of one’s inner thoughts and feelings • Used to determine unconscious motives. conflicts.

• Personality test that seeks to identify people’s inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of 10 inkblots • Numerous scoring systems exist .Rorschach Inkblot Test • Presentation and interpretation of a series of black and white and colored inkblots • Developed in 1921.

feelings. and sensations that you are aware of at this particular moment represent the conscious level .Conscious Mind • All the thoughts.

phone number) .Preconscious Mind • A region of the mind holding information that is not conscious but is easily retrievable into conscious awareness • Holds thoughts and memories not in one’s current awareness but can easily be retrieved (childhood memories.

wishes. • Freud felt that dreams were “The royal road to the unconsciousness” – behind the surface image (manifest content) lied the true hidden meaning (latent content). feelings.Unconscious Mind • A region of the mind that includes unacceptable thoughts. and memories • Not aware of these thoughts. etc… but they exert great influence over our conscious thoughts & behavior. . • Can also surface as “slips of the tongue” or Freudian Slips. wishes.


Psychoanalytic Approach • Conscious – all things we are aware of at any given moment .

be brought into consciousness .Psychoanalytic Approach • Preconscious – everything that can. with a little effort.

Psychoanalytic Approach • Unconscious – inaccessible warehouse of anxietyproducing thoughts and drives .

Ego. and Superego .The Psychodynamic Perspective: The Id.

Partially unconscious Can be harshly punitive using feelings of guilt . focuses on what the person “should” do Develops around ages 5-6.Psychoanalytic Divisions of the Mind • Id—instinctual drives present at birth – does not distinguish between reality and fantasy – operates according to the pleasure principle • Ego—develops out of the id in infancy – understands reality and logic – mediator between id and superego • Superego – internalization of society’s & parental moral standards – – – – One’s conscience.

Freud’s Concept of the “Id” • The part of personality that consists of unconscious energy from basic aggressive and sexual drives • Operates on the “pleasure principle” the id demands immediate gratification • Is present from birth .

Id: The Pleasure Principle • Pleasure principle—drive toward immediate gratification. aggression. most fundamental human motive • Sources of energy – Eros—life instinct. perpetuates life • Libido—sexual energy or motivation – Thanatos—death instinct. selfdestructive actions .

Freud’s Concept of the “Ego” • The part of personality that mediates the demands of the id without going against the restraints of the superego • Follows the reality principle .

logical.Ego: The Reality Principle • Reality principle—ability to postpone gratification in accordance with demands of reality • Ego—rational. organized. mediator to demands of reality • Can repress desires that cannot be met in an acceptable manner .

The Personality Id: “I want” Superego: “I should” Ego: “I will” .

perfectionist dimension of personality Irrational. mediating dimension of personality Conscious Ego Superego Moralistic. illogical.Psychoanalytic Approach Rational. planful. urges. judgmental. feelings. impulsive dimension of personality Preconscious Unconscious Id Information in your immediate awareness Information which can easily be made conscious Thoughts. and other information that is difficult to bring to conscious awareness .

The Psychodynamic Perspective: Freud’s Psychosexual Stages .

Psychosexual Stages • In Freudian theory. the childhood stages of development during which the id’s pleasure seeking energies are focused on different parts of the body • The stages include: oral. phallic. latency. and genital • A person can become “fixated” or stuck at a stage and as an adult attempt to achieve pleasure as in ways that are equivalent to how it was achieved in these stages . anal.

biting.Oral Stage (birth – 18 mo.) • Mouth is associated with sexual pleasure • Pleasure comes from chewing. • Weaning a child can lead to fixation if not handled correctly • Fixation can lead to oral activities in adulthood . and sucking.

Freud’s Stages of Development .

Anal Stage (1 – 3 years) • Gratification comes from bowel and bladders functions. • Toilet training can lead to fixation if not handled correctly • Fixation can lead to anal retentive or expulsive behaviors in adulthood .

Freud’s Stages of Development .

For girls it is called the Electra Complex.Phallic Stage (3 – 6 years) • Focus of pleasure shifts to the genitals • Sexual attraction for opposite sex parent • Boys cope with incestuous feelings toward their mother and rival feelings toward their dad (Oedipus Complex). •Child identifies with and tries to mimic the same sex parent to learn gender identity. .

Oedipus Complex • Boys feel hostility and jealousy towards their fathers but knows their father is more powerful. . (Formation of gender identity & superego) • The fact that only the father can have sexual relations with the mother becomes internalized in the boy as taboo against incest in the boy’s superego. attitudes and mannerisms. • Resolve this through Identification – imitating and internalizing one’s father’s values. This leads to… • Castration Anxiety results in boys who feel their father will punish them by castrating them.

Electra Complex • Girls also have incestuous feelings for their dad and compete with their mother. • Penis Envy – Little girl suffer from deprivation and loss and blames her mother for “sending her into the world insufficiently equipped” causing her to resent her mother • In an attempt to take her mother’s place she eventually indentifies with her mother • Fixation can lead to excessive masculinity in males and the need for attention or domination in females .

Freud’s Stages of Development .

Latency Stage (5 – puberty) • Sexuality is repressed (Latent means “hidden”) due to intense anxiety caused by Oedipus complex • Children participate in hobbies. school. and same-sex friendships that strengthen their sexual identity .

Freud’s Stages of Development .

• Healthy adults find pleasure in love and work.Genital Stage (puberty on) • Incestuous sexual feelings re-emerge but being prohibited by the superego are redirected toward others who resemble the person’s opposite sex parent. fixated adults have their energy tied up in earlier stages .

Freud’s Stages of Development .

Defense Mechanisms Unconscious Self-Deceptions .

Defense Mechanisms • Unconscious mental processes employed by the ego to reduce anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality. .

feelings.Repression • Puts anxiety-producing thoughts. and memories into the unconscious mind • Unconscious forgetting • The basis for all other defense mechanisms .


.Denial • Rejecting the truth of a painful reality.


• Going back to a safer, simpler way of
• Assuming childlike behaviors when
facing stress or trauma

Reaction Formation
• Replacing an unacceptable wish
with its opposite
• Behaving in ways that are exactly
opposite of how we truly feel.


Projection • Attributing something that we don’t like about ourselves to someone else. .


Rationalization • Displaces real. anxiety-provoking explanations with more comforting justifications for one’s actions • Reasoning away or making excuses to reduce anxiety-producing thoughts .


Displacement • Shifts an unacceptable impulse toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person • “Taking out” an emotion on a safe or more accessible target than the actual source of the emotion. .


.Sublimation • Substitute an undesirable emotion or drive with a socially acceptable one.


Undoing • Unconsciously neutralizing an anxiety causing action by doing a second action that undoes the first. .