Chapter 3:
Psychoanalytic Aspects
of Personality
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Personality theory based on the writings
of Sigmund Freud

Emphasizes the unconscious processes of
the mind
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The Unconscious

The portion of the mind of which a
person is not aware

Psychoanalytic techniques to access the
unconscious
◦ Hypnosis
◦ Free Association
◦ Dream Analysis
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Dreams
The “royal road” to the unconscious

Manifest content
◦ the content of a dream
that a person remembers

Latent content
◦ the underlying hidden
meaning of a dream
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Parts of the Mind
Structure
Contents
Principle of
Operation
Id
Primitive drives and
emotions
Pleasure
Ego
Balances Id, Superego, and reality
Reality
Superego
Internalized social
norms
Morality
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Parts of the Mind
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Psychosexual Development
The development of the psyche
 Progresses in stages as the libido (desire, sexual
energy) is redirected to different parts of the body
 Psychosexual Stages

◦
◦
◦
◦
◦
Oral
Anal
Phallic
Latency
Genital
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Oral Stage

Theme
◦ Infants are driven to satisfy the drives of
hunger and thirst

Conflict
◦ Child must give up breast feeding

Fixation
◦ Dependency
◦ Preoccupation with oral acquisition
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Anal Stage

Theme:
◦ Child receives pleasure from
relieving self of bodily waste

Conflict:
◦ Child is “toilet trained”

Fixation:
◦ Preoccupation with neatness
◦ Excessive “bathroom humor”
◦ “anal-retentive” and “anal-expulsive”
characteristics
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Phallic Stage

Theme:
◦ Child gains pleasure through the genitals
◦ Oedipus Complex-Boys desire mother
 Castration anxiety
◦ Electra Complex-Girls suffer penis envy

Conflict:
◦ Overt sexual behavior socially unacceptable

Fixation:
◦ Vanity, narcissism, inability to love
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Latency Stage

Theme:
◦ Psychosexual energy is channeled into
academic and social pursuits

Conflicts and fixations do not occur
during this stage
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Genital Stage

Theme:
◦ The individual gains satisfaction from mature
sexual relationships

This stage is achieved if a person makes it
through the other stages with enough
available sexual energy
◦ no strong fixations
◦ “normal” (conventional) adult sexuality is viewed as
the healthy outcome
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Defense Mechanisms

The ego must balance the demands of the
id, the super-ego, and reality

Defense Mechanisms
◦ Ego processes that distort reality to protect
the individual from anxiety
◦ Prevent threatening unconscious material
from reaching consciousness
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Defense Mechanisms

Repression
Pushes threatening thoughts and ideas
into the unconscious
 As an explanation for:

◦ Post-traumatic stress disorder
◦ Repressed memories
◦ False memories
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Defense Mechanisms

Reaction formation
Hides threatening impulses by overemphasizing their opposite
 As an explanation for:

◦ Rabidly homophobic people turning out to be
closeted gays
◦ Inappropriate sexual escapades by politicians
and clergymen who promote “family values”
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Defense Mechanisms

Denial
Refusal to acknowledge anxietyprovoking stimuli
 As an explanation for:

◦ Not acknowledging the sudden death of a
loved one
◦ Interpreting a terrible fight with a spouse as
just a “lovers quarrel”
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Defense Mechanisms

Projection
Attributing anxiety-provoking impulse or
thoughts to others
 As an explanation for:

◦ Always being suspicious of others
◦ Extreme political opinions
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Defense Mechanisms

Displacement
Shifting one’s unconscious aggression or
fears to a safer target (hydraulic model)
 As an explanation for:

◦ The case of Little Hans
◦ “Kicking the dog”
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Defense Mechanisms

Sublimation
Dangerous urges are transformed into
positive, socially meaningful motivations
 As an explanation for:

◦ Artistic creativity
◦ Community leadership
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Defense Mechanisms

Regression
Protecting the individual by returning to
an earlier, “safer” time of life
 As an explanation for:

◦ A child with a new baby sibling wanting a
bottle again
◦ When an adult whimpers
◦ A distressed individual treating his/her
spouse as a parent
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Defense Mechanisms

Rationalization
Creating logical, socially acceptable
explanations for behaviors which were
actually driven by unconscious impulses
 As an explanation for:

◦ Lying and then claiming the lie was to protect
the feelings of another person
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Current Applications:
Unconscious Emotions

Freudian theory speculates that we can
experience internal arousal that we do
not cognitively understand

Neurological research shows that some
emotional events can exist independent
of thought
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Current Applications:
Hypermnesia

“Excess memory”

The link between the psychoanalytic tool
of free association and the more modern
notions of signal detection theory
◦ Rewards for producing good material
◦ No penalty for “false alarms”
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Current Applications:
Infantile Amnesia

Freud noted that adults cannot
remember much from their early years
◦ He attributed this to traumatic conflicts in
early life

Research has found that all early
memories are forgotten, not just
traumatic ones
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Current Applications:
Memory

Memory is imperfect and subjective
◦ memories change over time
◦ all memories vary in their “availability” for
conscious recall

Types of memory
◦ Explicit vs. implicit
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Current Applications:
Amnesia

Psychoanalysis emphasizes that unconscious
thoughts affect behavior

Research on amnesic patients has
demonstrated that behavior may be affected
by experiences that are not consciously
remembered (implicit memory can be
demonstrated in the absence of explicit
memory)
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Timeline:
Psychoanalytic Approach
Developments in
Psychoanalytic Aspects
Societal and Scientific
Context
Little attempt to plumb the
unconscious, except for
some exorcism
before
1800
Humans are seen
primarily in religious or
philosophical terms
Charcot and Janet study
hysteria and hypnosis;
visited by Freud
1880s
Increasing attention to
evolution and brain
function; comparisons
between humans and
other animals
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Timeline:
Psychoanalytic Approach
Developments in
Psychoanalytic Aspects
Societal and Scientific
Context
Freud develops notions of
id, ego, superego, and
repressed sexuality
(libido); dream analysis
18901910
Period of industrial and
technological change;
Victorian era
Neo-analysts begin break 1910with Freud; disputes about 1930
drives and defense
mechanisms; death instinct
proposed
Increasing technology;
world war 1914-1918;
rise of behaviorism in
American psychology
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Timeline:
Psychoanalytic Approach
Developments in
Psychoanalytic Aspects
Freud flees Nazis in
Austria and dies in
England
Societal and Scientific
Context
1930s
Psychoanalytic thought
1920sinfluences various theories 1940s
of drives, motivation,
attachment, conflict,
amnesia, illness, and more
Economic depression,
social unrest,
propaganda; psychiatry
grows in U.S.
Freud's ideas appear in
art, literature, films,
medicine, and comedy
throughout Western
culture
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Timeline:
Psychoanalytic Approach
Developments in
Psychoanalytic Aspects
Societal and Scientific
Context
Classic Psychoanalytic
1950sapproaches separate from 1960s
mainstream personality
psychology
Psychoanalysis becomes
more of a clinical and
medical tool
Modern experimental and
cognitive psychology, and
linguistics, offer new
explanations for Freudian
phenomena
Great advances in brain
sciences; progress in
psychological
assessments
1960s1990s
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Timeline:
Psychoanalytic Approach
Developments in
Psychoanalytic Aspects
Freudian ideas
reinterpreted in light of
modern knowledge
Societal and Scientific
Context
2000s
Brain imaging in science;
complexities of social
pathologies recognized
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Analogy
◦ Humans as a bundle of sexual and aggressive
drives contained by civilization
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Advantages
◦ Emphasizes the importance of childhood
◦ Acknowledges the importance of sexual and
aggressive drives
◦ Attempts to understand unconscious forces
◦ Explains defense mechanisms
◦ Assumes multiple levels are operating in the
brain
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Limits
◦
◦
◦
◦
◦
Pessimistic
Focused on pathology
Difficult to test empirically
Sexist (male as norm and model)
Modern research has not supported many
of its notions
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Psychoanalytic Approach

View of free will
◦ Behavior is determined by inner drives and
conflicts
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Common assessment techniques
◦ Psychotherapy
◦ Free association
◦ Dream analysis
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Psychoanalytic Approach

Implications for therapy
◦ Because personality problems result from
deep inner conflicts, real change must come
through long-term, insight-oriented
psychotherapy
◦ Freudian psychoanalysis involves five-days-aweek sessions over a period of years for a
successful analysis
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Chapter 3: Psychoanalytic Aspects of Personality