Theories of Personality (PSY 225-A01)/Chapter 3

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Psychoanalytic theory is one of the 8 schools of personality that we will dwell in. This is basically Sigmund Freund's findings of the unconscious mind and repressed sexual drives. See AP Psychology/Introduction#Psychodynamic for a brief review.

Digging Into the Unconsious[edit | edit source]

Freund developed a therapy theory where he believed the sources of peoples' problems lied deep in their unconciousness. The goal was to use techniques to bring those up to an observable level. He used:

  • Hypnosis
  • Dream analysis - there are 2 ways to look into this: manifest (storyline) vs. latent (symbolism behind the dream). In the modern world, we acknowledge the unconsiousness, neural pathways are significant and a lot of people do believe in dream interpretation. Though, latent content of dreams would be a bit hard to scientifically prove or to generalize it to a general population. These are tailored more to the individual rather than a population.
  • Free association - whatever comes to your mind. Unaided by a supervisor.

He believed these would provide a "picture" into the unconcious mind of a person.

Structure of the Mind[edit | edit source]

Freud broke the sections of the 'psyche' into the following:

  • Id - Completely uncounsioness, present at birth, slaves to pleasures/immediate gratification (feeding, sexual pleasures [adults]).
  • Ego - As the gratification of needs is delayed, this acts on reality. What will they do when they are not immediately fed? Useful into adulthood.
  • Superego - Operates like our unconsiouness. Upholds morality and good behavior (guilty feeling, example).

Id vs. Superego - the ego tries to find a balance path.

I want to have sex with that woman vs. you can't have sex with her, she's not your wife! - let's just have sex with my wife.

Psychosexual development[edit | edit source]

See also: Developmental psychology/Chapter 4/Theories of Infant Psychosocial Development#Psychoanalytic Theory.

If there are issues in the oral stage, they may have an oral fixation. This may carry on to their adult life (bite on pencils or nails, eat too much).

Oral (about a year)[edit | edit source]

  • Pleasure is focused on the mouth
  • Babys naturally are fed a lot, they suck a lot (pacifier)
  • Explore things through their mouths

Support?[edit | edit source]

Research has indicated a mother's responsiveness predicts infant attachment/later social adjustments. This supports the important of the oral stage and the 'waning' process.

But what about the mother who is responsive during the oral stage - what about if she is responsive in other stages? Can't that play a role in later social adjustments?

Anal[edit | edit source]

Pleasure is focused on the anus. Potty training is the main conflict. If the child fails (strict potty training/stressful period), then they will get an anal personality. They withhold themselves, perfectionist with their cleanliness, or try and control people. If potty training is too relaxed, they may be messy (misses deadlines, no cleanliness).

Phallic (preschool years)[edit | edit source]

[unconcious] preschoolers develop sexual attractions to thier opposite-sex parent. For example, the preschool boy wants to kill his father and marry his mother. He fears for what his father will find out, therefore he will be castrated. Castration anxiety develops. In order to resolve this anxiety, the little boy needs to be like his father. Freud suggests that this is the development of masculinity in boys/feminity in girls.

He believes that girls are made at their mothers for not giving them a penis (penis-envy). The girl will emulate her mother so that she can attract a man and become a mother. The superego develops as this phallic problem resolves. Girls have weaker superegos since they don't have a penis and experience "castration anxiety".

Latency (school years, age 5+)[edit | edit source]

Sexual energy is channeled towards school. Sexual feelings begin much earlier than this stage. The psychoanalytic theory doesn't account for this as much. According to Freud, this was a calm & peaceful time.

Genital (final)[edit | edit source]

This begins in adolescence and goes throughout adulthood. If everything went well before hand, then life goes well (marry the opposite gender [fulfill phallic tendicies). Ignores hormones & puberty in sexual development. Any deviation from these stages, especially the "genital" stage, was a disease (homosexuality).

Freud focused more on pathology than a general model.

Male vs. Female[edit | edit source]

Freud saw women as "inferior"/"weaker superego/sense of morality". These were common viewpoints around the time of Freud. Freud believed women 'choose' victomhood. Women didn't have many choices at the time to become independent and equal to their male counterparts. Sexually, he believed clitoral orgasm is inferior to vaginal orgasm.

  • Males = independent, aggressive. Women = cooperative, quiet

Defense Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

"Ego defense mechanisms" - can be difficult to prove as alternate explanations exist for whatever behaviour is present.

  • Repression - Pushing threatening memories into the unconcious (ex, PTSD).
  • Reaction formation - When an individual represses bad impulses by emphasising the opposite impulses ("sexually driven for this woman" --> [not good] "emphasis chastity, prudishness, religion). Example being "insecurities of homosexuality".
  • Denial - Denying something exists (denying a terminal illness in a child by not seeking treatment)
  • Projection - A person who is insecure, doesn't want to admit, accuses others of insecurity ("you're gay!" x300)
  • Displacement - Target of an unconscious fear/experience shifts ("angry at my father for abusing me" --> "repress the anger" --> [shift to the spouse])
  • Sublimation - Dangerous [sexual] urge is redirected to a healthy activity.
  • Regression - A person "returns" to a safer stage of life (a child wants to suck on a bottle again when the new sibling is born).
  • Rationalization - An individual provides a logical explanation for a past behavior (cheating on an assignment --> "wasn't cheating, learned more by cheating").

Cross-Cultural Issues[edit | edit source]

Freud believed his ideas were universal and applied across times (though we have evidence to contradict this). Certain traits and behaviors are more common than others in certain cultures. Would our personality change if we switched to another culture? An example is high-achievers between Asian-Americans and White Americans.

Contributions and Limitations[edit | edit source]

Contributions[edit | edit source]

  • Freud is credited with the beginning of personality psychology/psychotherapy.
  • Contributed to us discussing sexuality
  • Put an emphasis on childhood development
  • Idea of the unconsciousness/brain patterns

Limitations[edit | edit source]

  • The psychoanalytic theory suggests that we aren't in control of our personality (repressed sexual desires/Eudipus complex/repressing anger = unconscious coming out and almost forcing us to act in different ways).
  • Pathology
  • Hydraulic model - repressed anger eventually explodes.
  • Hard to study the unconsciouness objectively
  • Sexist views (Freud believed women were inferior)
  • the egos are not physical structures and can be disconfirmed.
  • Horrific psychosurgeries.
  • Lack of identity

Modern Developments[edit | edit source]

  • His suggestion that our unconscious is responsible for our emotions/motivations has been proven [in parts] by science (amygdala).
  • Free will: Since our unconscious is determining our emotions/behaviors, do we have free will? Evidence has shown that our brain sometimes act different right before a certain action - is this really a chosen behavior (free will) or is it coming from our unconscious? What extent can we resist our urges? When do we have free will?
  • Hypermnesia (hyping one up for the memory game!): Concept of enhancing our memories (don't remember something --> [free association/hypnosis] --> can recall information/enhance memory). Are these newly discovered memories truthful? We can recall false memories.
  • Infantile amnesia: Idea that most of us don't remember events early from the age of 3 (repression? or just we don't remember? nature of memory? part of development?)
  • Memory: Freud used repression as to why memory is distorted. Today, we can apply cognitive approach (certain cues that distort the real memory--not exactly related to repression). Neurology states that trying to forget a memory can distort it.
  • Anterograde amnesia (relating to unconscious memories): Cannot form new memories due to damage to the hippocampus. Implicit (unconscious memories--related to a procedure (playing a piano))) vs. explicit (encountering the activity of playing a piano beforehand) memories.