Freuds Theory Of Personality

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had early associations with the Austrian physician Josef Breuer (1842-1925) and the French physician Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), who gave him an appreciation of the value of the "talking cure," "catharsis," and "hypnosis" for treating hysterical neuroses and, also, of the sexual etiology of neuroses. These experiences with Breuer and Charcot served as the basis for the development of the Freudian theory of personality and the method called psychoanalysis, formally initiated in 1895 (cf., basic rule - the fundamental tenet of psychoanalysis that the analyst must aid the patient to put spontaneous feelings, thoughts, and memories into words and, thereby, bring unconscious impulses to the surface for analysis). For over 40 years, Freud examined the structure and function of one of his most important concepts, the unconscious (cf., perception-consciousness system - Freud's hypothesized subsystem of the mental apparatus characterized by consciousness receiving input from the outside world via the sensory receptors and from the "preconscious" via the activation of memories, and playing a dynamic role in avoidance of unacceptable impulses, ideas, or thoughts and control of the "pleasure principle") through the methods of free association and dream analysis, and developed the first comprehensive theory of personality (cf., primal-horde theory - Freud's speculative reconstruction of the original human family consisting of a dominant, powerful man governing over a subordinate group of women and younger men, and accounting for the origin of behaviors such as the incest taboo, guilt, totemism, and marriage outside one's own social group). The psychoanalytic movement was advanced greatly in 1902 by Freud, who invited Alfred Adler (1870-1937), Otto Rank (1884-1939), and Carl Jung (18751961) to join him in regular discussions concerning problems of neurosis and the applied techniques of the new method. This group became known as the Vienna Psychological Society and, later, the Vienna Psychoanalytical Association. The group was disrupted, however, over theoretical differences after about 10 years, with Adler's leaving the group in 1911, and Jung's leaving in 1914. The three major systems or mechanisms in Freud's structure of personality (i.e., the structural hypothesis/ model/theory) are called the id -instinctual, biological, animal-like sexual and aggressive urges of self-gratification under the aegis of the pleasure principle (i.e., the governing of one's psychological processes and actions by the gratification of needs and the avoidance or discharge of unpleasurable tension); the ego - the objective aspect of personality and reason, operating under the reality principle (i.e., the psychic mechanism that meets the conditions imposed on the individual by external reality and acts to moderate and control the pleasure principle; cf., splitting of the ego - the hypothesized coexistence within the ego of two attitudes towards external reality, functioning side by side without affecting each other, one taking reality into account and the other rejecting reality); and the superego - the idealistic, moral, and social aspect of the conscience that strives for perfection (cf., talion law/principle - refers to retaliation, especially in kind, such as the biblical injunction "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;" this law includes the general notion of retribution for defying the directives of the superego). According to Freud's psychic energy theory, an individual's behavior is almost always the product of an interaction among the three systems of the id, ego, and superego, where they work together as a team under the administrative leadership of the ego. Theoretically, a state of anxiety results whenever the ego becomes too overwhelmed with the triple impact of the id's powerful psychic energies, the ego's tension-reduction need to manipulate reality, and the superego's relentless quest for perfection. Freud proposed the structural theory to replace the earlier topographic division of the mind into the three domains or regimes of the unconscious, the pre-conscious, and the conscious. Freud's dynamics of personality involve the concepts of instincts - inborn and constant psychological representations of inner somatic sources of excitation that are the sole motives for human behavior (includes life instincts operating via sexual energy or libido, and death instincts/wishes with corresponding self-destructive aggressiveness); distribution of psychic energy - diversion of psychic energy from the id into the ego via operation of the identification mechanism, which matches subjective mental representations with objective physical reality, and use of various coping strategies (cf., defense mechanisms); bound energy - psychic energy in the "secondary process," or conscious/rational mode of mental functioning based on the reality principle, and accumulated and contained within particular groups of neurons, its flow being subject to control through binding (an operation that restricts the flow of libidinal energy, usually by the ego exerting restraint on the "primary process" or unconscious/irrational mode of mental functioning based on the pleasure principle; cf., nirvana principle - the tendency for the quantity of energy in the mental apparatus to reduce to zero); and anxiety - a state of tension that may be one of three types: reality anxiety or fear of external world dangers, neurotic anxiety or fear of punishment, and moral anxiety or fear of the conscience involving violations of moral codes. Freud's development of personality involves the concepts of identification - the modeling of one's behavior after that of another person, usually a parental figure; displacement - the development of a new "cathexis" or libidinal energy fixation when "anticathexis" or blocking actions and events occur (sublimation may result, also, when the displacement produces a higher social/cultural achievement); ego defense mechanisms - the unconscious, reality-distorting measures taken by the ego to reduce psychic pressure and relieve anxiety that include repression (information kept below conscious awareness), projection or displacing unacceptable urges onto someone else, reaction formation or replacing an anxiety-producing impulse with an opposite impulse, fixation/regression or arrested personality growth at a particular stage such as an earlier, more secure or comfortable stage of development, and undoing or dealing with an action-related emotional conflict by negating the action via substituting an appropriate opposite action; and the psychosexual stages of development - the psychodynamically-differentiated stages during the person's first few years of life that are decisive, allegedly, in the permanent formation of one's personality, and include the oral stage, where primary pleasure is gained by activity in the oral cavity [cf., the oral-sadistic phase of the later oral stage, suggested by the German psychoanalyst Karl Abraham (1877-1925) in 1924, corresponding to the teething period and characterized by biting, as opposed to sucking in the earlier oral stage; some psychoanalysts - such as Melanie Klein (1882-1960) - reject Abraham's distinction between the early sucking and later biting phases of the oral stage, and declare the oral stage to be sadistic from the start where aggression, theoretically, forms part of the infant's earliest relation to the mother's breast]; the anal stage, where successful toilet training must occur for one's proper socialization (and where imperfect negotiation of this stage leads, theoretically, to the "anal triad" of the three personality traits of parsimony/meanness, obstinacy, and orderliness - sometimes called the "three Ps": parsimony, pedantry, and petulance; cf., cloacal/ cloaca theory - an infantile birth theory and sexual theory, often adopted by children, that confuses the female vagina and the anus; young children of both sexes tend to believe that a baby is evacuated like a piece of excrement from the mother); the phallic stage, where the castration complex (i.e., a male child's fantasies of his penis being cut off, occasioned by the child's discovery of the anatomical differences between the sexes, where it is experienced as a "loss" in a female child but as "anxiety" in a male child; in boys, it is a fear of being castrated by their fathers for having sexual feelings for their mothers, and in girls, it is the unconscious fantasy that the penis has been removed as a punishment for which they blame their mother) and Oedipus complex (i.e., the child's feelings involving both love and hatred/hostility towards its parents and involving sexual desires as well as hatred or jealousy of the parents; at ages 3-5, it is the erotic feelings of a son toward his mother, accompanied by fear, rivalry, and hostility toward the father, and in the daughter at this age, it is the corresponding relationship between her and her father, sometimes called the "female Oedipus complex" or the "Electra complex") must be resolved for proper sexual development to occur (cf., polymorphous perversity theory - refers to the varied bodily sources and styles of libidinal gratification in the course of early psychosexual development); the latent stage, where physical/chemical changes take place in the body serving as a transition from childhood to adulthood, and the genital stage, where truly socialized and adult relationships with others are developed. Freud's theory and method of treating personality problems identified certain resistance and repressions ("motivated forgetting") that an individual uses to get protection from pain [cf., conversion hysteria -another term for "dissociative disorder" that denotes a form of hysteria (a term derived from the Greek meaning "wandering womb/uterus"); in this case, it is characterized by the presence of physical symptoms (such as paralyses, blindness) that are judged to be of psychological origin]. In Freud's approach, the "talking techniques" of dream analysis, free association of ideas (the free association technique is referred to as the fundamental or basic rule or principle of psychoanalysis), and working through transference (where the patient shifts his/her emotional attitudes from parental figures onto the therapist) were employed to cure patients' neurotic behaviors (cf., the case of the "Rat Man" - the nickname of an early patient of Freud's - who was tormented by fantasies of rats gnawing at his father's anus and that of a women to whom he was attracted; the case is a classic study on the psychoanalytic theory of obsessive-compulsive disorder). Freud's approach, theories, and methods have been criticized for several reasons: the unsystematic and uncontrolled manner of data collection and interpretation; an overemphasis on biological factors, especially sex, as the major force in personality development, and an excessive deterministic or mechanistic view of the influence of past behavior on a person's present functioning. On the other hand, although many of the methods and mechanisms of psychoanalysis have not been absorbed completely into the mainstream of general psychological thought, various Freudian conceptualizations (such as unconscious motivation, emphasis on important childhood experiences, defense mechanisms, and the case study method, including psycho-history - a form of history in which the empirical and theoretical discoveries of psychology are used explicitly to explain past events, and entails the application of psychoanalytic theory to the interpretation of historical events as well as historical personalities) have gained wide acceptance in the contemporary psychological community. References to Freud's work (via use of the eponyms Freud's theory, Freudian, and Freudianism) have steadily increased in citation frequency in psychology textbooks, and Freud's name continues to be one of the most popular referents in psychology for more than 75 years (Roeckelein, 1995, 1996). See also ANAL-EXPULSIVE THEORY; DETERMINISM, DOCTRINE/THEORY OF; DODO HYPOTHESIS; FREUD'S INSTINCT THEORY; GOOD BREAST OR OBJECT-BAD BREAST OR OBJECT THEORY; PARAPRAXIS THEORY; PERSONALITY THEORIES. REFERENCES

Freud, S., & Breuer, J. (1892). On the psychical mechanism of hysterical phenomena. In Collected papers. Vol. 1. London: Hogarth Press. Breuer, J., & Freud, S. (1895). Studies on hysteria. New York: Basic Books. Freud, S. (1895). Project for a scientific psychology. In J. Strachey (Ed.) (19531964), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.

Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. In J. Strachey (Ed.) (19531964), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.

York: Norton. Abraham, K. (1924). A study of the developmental history of the libido. Leipzig: IPV.

Freud, S. (1937). The ego and mechanisms of defense. New York: International Universities Press. Jones, E. (1953-1957). The life and work of Sigmund Freud. 3 vols. New York: Basic Books. Turiell, E. (1967). A historical analysis of the Freudian concept of the superego. Psychoanalytic Review, 54, 118140.

Stannard, D. E. (1980). Shrinking history: On Freud and the failure of psychohis-tory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kline, P. (1981). Fact and fantasy in Freudian theory. London: Routledge. Roeckelein, J. E. (1995). Naming in psychology: Analyses of citation counts and eponyms. Psychological Reports, 77, 163-174. Roeckelein, J. E. (1996). Contributions to the history of psychology: CIV. Eminence in psychology as measured by name counts and eponyms. Psycho-logicalReports, 78, 243-253.

Getting to Know Anxiety

Getting to Know Anxiety

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