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Psychoanalysis is defined as a set of psychological theories and therapeutic

techniques that have their origin in the work and theories of Sigmund Freud. The
core idea at the center of psychoanalysis is the belief that all people possess
unconscious thoughts, feelings, desires, and memories. By bringing the content of
the unconscious into conscious awareness, people are then able to
experience catharsis and gain insight into their current state of mind. Through this
process, people are then able to find relief from psychological disturbances and

Some of the Basic Tenets of Psychoanalysis

 The way that people behave is influenced by their

unconscious drives
 The development of personality is heavily influenced by
the events of early childhood; Freud suggested that
personality was largely set in stone by the age of five.
 Bringing information from the unconscious into
consciousness can lead to catharsis and allow people to
deal with the issue
 People utilize a number of defense mechanisms to protect
themselves from information contained in the unconscious
 Emotional and psychological problems such as depression
and anxiety are often rooted in conflicts between the
conscious and unconscious mind
 A skilled analyst can help bring certain aspects of the
unconscious into awareness by using a variety of
psychoanalytic strategies such as dream analysis and free

Key Ideas In Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis also involves a number of different terms and ideas related to the
mind, personality and treatment.

A case study is defined as an in-depth study of one person. Some of Freud's most
famous case studies include Dora, Little Hans, and Anna O. and had a powerful
influence on the development of his psychoanalytic theory.

In a case study, the researcher attempts to look very intensely at every aspect of an
individual's life. By carefully studying the person so closely, the hope is that the
researcher can gain insight into how that person's history contributes to their
current behavior. While the hope is that the insights gained during a case study
might apply to others, it is often difficult to generalize the results because case
studies tend to be so subjective.

The Conscious and Unconscious Mind

The unconscious mind includes all of the things that are outside of our conscious
awareness. These might include early childhood memories, secret desires and
hidden drives. According to Freud, the unconscious contains things that may be
unpleasant or even socially unacceptable. Because these things might create pain
or conflict, they are buried in the unconscious.

While these thoughts, memories, and urges might be outside of our awareness, they
continue to influence the way that we think, act and behave. In some cases, the
things outside of our awareness can influence behavior in negative ways and lead
to psychological distress.

The conscious mind includes everything that is inside of our awareness. The
contents of the conscious mind are the things we are aware of or can easily bring
into awareness.

The Id, Ego, and Superego

Id: Freud believed that personality was composed of three key elements. The first
of these to emerge is known as the id. The id contains all of the unconscious, basic
and primal urges.

Ego: The second aspect of personality to emerge is known as the ego. This is the
part of the personality that must deal with the demands of reality. It helps control
the urges of the id and makes us behave in ways that are both realistic and
acceptable. Rather than engaging in behaviors designed to satisfy our desires and
needs, the ego forces us to fulfill our needs in ways that are socially acceptable and
realistic. In addition to controlling the demands of the id, the ego also helps strike
a balance between our basic urges, our ideals, and reality.

Superego: The superego is the final aspect of personality to emerge and it contains
our ideals and values. The values and beliefs that our parents and society instill in
us are the guiding force of the superego and it strives to make us behave according
to these morals.

The Ego's Defense Mechanisms

A defense mechanism is a strategy that the ego uses to protect itself from anxiety.
These defensive tools act as a safeguard to keep the unpleasant or distressing
aspects of the unconscious from entering awareness. When something seems too
overwhelming or even inappropriate, defense mechanisms help keep the
information from entering consciousness in order to minimize distress.

Some Weaknesses of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis grew in its influence over the course of the early twentieth-century,
but it was not without its critics.

 Freud's theories overemphasized the unconscious mind,

sex, aggression and childhood experiences.
 Many of the concepts proposed by psychoanalytic theorists
are difficult to measure and quantify.
 Most of Freud's ideas were based on case studies and
clinical observations rather than empirical, scientific

Strengths of Psychoanalysis

Despite its critics, psychoanalysis played an important role in the development of

psychology. It influenced our approach to the treatment of mental health issues and
continues to exert an influence in psychology to this day.

 While most psychodynamic theories did not rely on

experimental research, the methods and theories of
psychoanalytic thinking contributed to the development of
experimental psychology.
 Psychoanalysis opened up a new view on mental illness,
suggesting that talking about problems with a professional
could help relieve symptoms of psychological distress.

Trait Theories of Personalities

Trait theorists believe personality can be understood by positing that all people
have certain traits, or characteristic ways of behaving. Do you tend to be sociable
or shy? Passive or aggressive? Optimistic or pessimistic? According to the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association,
personality traits are prominent aspects of personality that are exhibited in a wide
range of important social and personal contexts. In other words, individuals have
certain characteristics that partly determine their behavior; these traits are trends in
behavior or attitude that tend to be present regardless of the situation.

An example of a trait is extraversion–introversion. Extraversion tends to be

manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior, whereas introversion is
manifested in more reserved and solitary behavior. An individual may fall along
any point in the continuum, and the location where the individual falls will
determine how he or she responds to various situations.

Strengths of the Trait Perspectives

One strength of the trait perspectives is their ability to categorize observable
behaviors. Researchers have found that examining the aggregate behaviors of
individuals provides a strong correlation with traits; in other words, observing the
behaviors of an individual over time and in varying circumstances provides
evidence for the personality traits categorized in trait theories.

Another strength is that trait theories use objective criteria for categorizing and
measuring behavior. One possible proof of this is that several trait theories were
developed independently of each other when factor analysis was used to conclude
a specific set of traits. While developing their theories independently of each other,
trait theorists often arrived at a similar set of traits.

Limitations of the Trait Perspectives

Trait perspectives are often criticized for their predictive value: critics argue that
traits do a poor job of predicting behavior in every situation. Some psychologists
argue that the situational variables (i.e., environmental factors) are more influential
in determining behavior than traits are; other psychologists argue that a
combination of traits and situational variables influences behavior.

Such critics argue that the patterns of variability over different situations are
crucial to determining personality, and that averaging over such situations to find
an overarching “trait” in fact masks critical differences among individuals. For
example, Brian is teased a lot but he rarely responds aggressively, while Josie is
teased very rarely but responds aggressively every time. These two children might
be acting aggressively the same number of times, so trait theorists would suggest
that their behavior patterns—or even their personalities—are equivalent. However,
psychologists who criticize the trait approach would argue that Brian and Josie are
very different children.

Another limitation of trait theories is that they require personal observations or

subjective self-reports to measure. Self-report measures require that an individual
be introspective enough to understand their own behavior. Personal observation
measures require that an individual spend enough time observing someone else in a
number of situations to be able to provide an accurate assessment of their
behaviors. Both of these measures are subjective and can fall prey to observer bias
and other forms of inaccuracy.

Another criticism is that trait theories do not explain why an individual behaves in
a certain way. Trait theories provide information about people and about which
traits cause which behaviors; however, there is no indication as to why these traits
interact in the way that they do. For example, an extroverted individual is
energized by social interactions and seeks out social situations, but trait theory
does not offer any explanation for why this might occur or why an introvert would
avoid such situations.

.Abraham Maslow’s Humanism Theory Of Personality

As a leader of humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow approached the study of

personality psychology by focusing on subjective experiences and free will. He
was mainly concerned with an individual’s innate drive toward self-actualization—
a state of fulfillment in which a person is achieving at his or her highest level of
capability. Maslow positioned his work as a vital complement to that of Freud,
saying: “It is as if Freud supplied us the sick half of psychology and we must now
fill it out with the healthy half.”

In his research, Maslow studied the personalities of people who he considered to

be healthy, creative, and productive, including Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt,
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and others. He found that such people share
similar characteristics, such as being open, creative, loving, spontaneous,
compassionate, concerned for others, and accepting of themselves.

The social-cognitive perspective on personality is a theory that emphasizes

cognitive processes, such as thinking and judging, in the development of
personality. These cognitive processes contribute to learned behaviors that are
central to one’s personality. By observing an admired role model, an individual
may choose to adopt and emphasize particular traits and behaviors.

Mischel’s Cognitive-Affective Model

Walter Mischel (1930–present) is a personality researcher whose work has helped

to shape the social-cognitive theory of personality. He ignited a controversy in the
field of personality research in 1968 when he deliberately criticized trait theories
and proposed that an individual’s behavior in regard to a trait is not always
consistent. Prior to his research, trait theories argued that an individual’s behavior
is mostly dependent on traits like conscientiousness and sociability, and these traits
are expected to be consistent across different situations. Mischel’s experiments
suggested that an individual’s behavior is not simply the result of his or her traits,
but fundamentally dependent on situational cues—the needs of a given situation.
Mischel’s ideas led him to develop the cognitive-affective model of personality.
Criticisms of the Social-Cognitive Theory

One of the main criticisms of the social-cognitive theory is that it is not a unified
theory. This means that the different aspects of the theory may not be connected.
For example, researchers currently cannot find a connection between observational
learning and self-efficacy within the social-cognitive perspective. The theory is so
broad that not all of its component parts are fully understood and integrated into a
single explanation of learning and personality.

The findings associated with this theory are still, for the most part, preliminary. It
does not provide a full explanation or description of how social cognition,
behavior, environment, and personality are related, although there are several