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first comprehensive theory of personality

University of Vienna 1873 Voracious Reader Medical School Graduate


Specialized in Nervous Disorders Some patients disorders had no physical cause!

What caused neurological symptoms in patients with no neurological problems?


Free Association


Freud and Personality

Six different perspectives 1. The topographic-which involves conscious vs. unconscious modes of functioning 2. The dynamic-which entails the interaction of psychic forces* 3. The genetic- which is concerned with the development of psychic phenomena through the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages.*

Freud and Personality

4. The economic- which involves the distribution, transformation, and expenditure of energy 5. The structural- which revolves around the persistent functional units of the id, ego, and superego. * 6. The adaptive view, implied by Freud and developed by Hartman(1958), which involves the inborn preparedness of the individual to interact with an evolving series of normal and predictable environment *we will focus primarily on these because they are directly related to theories of psychopathology and psychotherapy.

Freuds dynamic forces

Dynamic forces motivate personality
Eros life and sex Thanatos - death and aggression they are complementary forces /instincts that are somatic in nature and express in fantasies, desires, feelings, thoughts, and most directly, actions The individual constantly desires immediate gratification of sexual and aggressive impulses which leads to conflict with society and societys rules. Resulting in the development of defense mechanisms which keeps the persons from there basic desire to rape and ravage, and keeps person out of danger of punishment, and reduces anxiety and guilt.

The Unconscious
the mind is like an iceburg - mostly hidden Conscious Awareness small part above surface (Preconscious) Unconscious below the surface (thoughts, feelings, wishes, memories) Repression
banishing unacceptable thoughts & passions to unconscious Dreams & Slips

Freud & Personality Structure

Personality arises from conflict between agressive, pleasure-seeking impulses and social restraints
Satisfaction without the guilt?


Super Ego Id

Freud & Personality Structure

Id - energy constantly striving to satisfy basic drives
Pleasure Principle

Ego - seeks to gratify the Id in realistic ways

Reality Principle


Super Ego Id

Super Ego
- voice of conscience that focuses on how we ought to behave

Freud & Personality Development

personality forms during the first few years of life, rooted in unresolved conflicts of early childhood Psychosexual Stages
Oral (0-18 mos) - centered on the mouth Anal (18-36 mos) - focus on bowel/bladder elim. Phallic (3-6 yrs) - focus on genitals/Oedipus Complex (Identification & Gender Identity) Latency (6-puberty) - sexuality is dormant Genital (puberty on) - sexual feelings toward others Strong conflict can fixate an individual at Stages 1,2 or 3

Psychosexual stages of development

Oral stage-birth to 18 months
Fixation develops as a result of deprivation or overindulgence Oral personality- deprivation/overindulgence Optimism/pessimism, gullibility/suspiciousness, cockiness/ self belittlement, manipulative/passivity, and admiration/envy

Psychosexual Stages of Development

Anal stage-18 to 36 months Results of toilet training instead of free release of sphincter muscles child must learn to hold on and then let go. Results develop if caretaker is over demanding or over controlling told to hold on and told when to let go resulting in stinginess, constricted feelings, or stubbornness Overindulgence or lackadaisical result in wastefulness, exploitiveness, acquiescent, also messy, dirty, tardy, vagueness

Psychosexual stages
Phallic stage 36 to 60 months
Interested in own genitalia and opposite sex
Oedipal conflict
Castration anxiety

Electra conflict

Latency stage personality developed by 72 months of age. There is a lull between conflicted, pregenital time and the storm to emerge with adolescence

Psychosexual stages
Genital stage- in Freudian theory an individual does not enter stage without some conflict between instinctual desires and social restraints.

Defense Mechanisms
Ego Id

When the inner war gets out of hand, the result is Anxiety Ego protects itself via Defense Mechanisms

Super Ego

Defense Mechanisms reduce/redirect anxiety by distorting reality

Defense Mechanisms
Repression - banishes certain thoughts/feelings from consciousness (underlies all other defense mechanisms) Regression - retreating to earlier stage of fixated development Reaction Formation - ego makes unacceptable impulses appear as their opposites Projection - attributes threatening impulses to others Rationalization - generate self-justifying explanations to hide the real reasons for our actions Displacement - divert impulses toward a more acceptable object Sublimation - transform unacceptable impulse into something socially valued

The Unconscious & Assessment

How can we assess personality? (i.e., the unconscious) Objective Tests? No - tap the conscious Projective Tests? Yes - tap the unconscious
Thematic Apperceptions Test (TAT) Rorschach Inkblot Test

Freuds Ideas as Scientific Theory

Theories must explain observations and offer testable hypotheses Few Objective Observations Few Hypotheses

(Freuds theories based on his recollections & interpretations of patients free associations, dreams & slips o the tongue)

Does Not PREDICT Behavior or Traits

Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Current research Were Freuds theories contradicts the best of his time many of Freuds or were they simply specific ideas incorrect?
Development does not stop in childhood Slips of the tongue are likely competing nodes in memory network Dreams may not be unconscious drives and wishes

Weston (1998) argues that five key ideas of psychoanalysis have been repeatedly confirmed in modern research: 1) Much of mental life, including thoughts, feelings, and motives, is unconscious, which is why people sometimes behave in ways that even they do not understand. 2) The mind does many things at once and so can be in conflict with itself. For example, it is not unusual to want two different and contradictory things at the same time. 3) The events of childhood are important in shaping the personality of the adult, especially concerning styles of social relationships (e.g., attachment).

4) Relationships formed with significant other people such as ones parents form patterns that tend to be repeated throughout life with new people. 5) Psychological development involves moving from an unregulated, immature, and self centered state to a more carefully regulated, mature one in which relationships with other people become increasingly important.
Weston, D. (1998). The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a psychodyanically informed psychological science. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 333-371.

Psychoanalytic Process
Goal is to make the unconscious conscious To remove symptoms, often somatic, you must help the patient become conscious of their resistance to letting go of the symptoms Gradually recognize that early life impulses as children are not as dangerous as initially thought. To prevent relapse one must use conscious processess to release our pregenital fixations so that we can continue to develop and mature at the genital level of functioning.

Therapeutic process
Patient free association looses defenses
Dreams, childhood memories,

Therapist uses four procedures 1. confrontation, 2. clarification, 3. interpretation (making unconscious conscious), and 4.working through (resistance and transference) which is the longest and last step of psychotherapy. Catharsis is valuable but not one of the four change processes

Therapeutic content
Intrapersonal conflicts
Anxieties and defenses Primal anxiety due to birth trauma Associated with panic which is the adult threat of being overwhelmed with instinctual stimulation Anxiety is the motivator which may drive a person to seek relief Self-esteem- not a major area for psychoanalysis

Therapeutic content
Intrapersonal conflicts Intimacy and sexuality- intimacy is basically a transference problem and can not develop fully if a person is fixated in a pregenital stage. Immature person distort experiences to fit internalized images resulting in poor intimacy. Communications Hostility Control