Personality 11/2/2011 5:30:00 PM
- Isn‟t real; it has no physical existence. It is an idea, an abstract concept
that we use because it seems to capture something important about our
experiences, they help us organize and understand experiences.
- Hypothetical constructs are abstract concepts.
- The Hippocrates approach to personality was that he believed in four
“humours”: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Personality was based
on the balance of these four humours. Example: Melan (for black) and cholic
(for bile) meant that someone of this personality types is often sad and
- Sees personality as generated by internal psychic structures in your mind,
and the way they interact with each other, determine how we feel and
behave. Many of these structures are unconscious.
- Freud believes that the way you go through stages in your life as a child,
will ultimately have an impact on your adulthood.
- Made up of the Id, Ego and Superego. These three levels is the major
motivating forces in humans.
- Id seeks pleasure and avoids pain. This is known as the Pleasure Principle.
It is the source of your basic instincts and your motivational energy (libido).
The four main things the Id wants is food, air, water and sex. The Id is
selfish and impatient. The Id is completely in the unconscious.
- Superego is focused on holding moral principles. The superego comes into
play at around age 5 and 6. Your conscious stems from your superego. The
Superego develops from our same sex parents morals and standards. The
Superego is mainly in the unconscious, but a small portion is in the
preconscious (just beneath the surface of awareness) and conscious (of
which we are aware).
- Ego balances our the Superego and Id. It is aware of outside reality. The
ego is split into all three stages (conscious, preconscious and unconscious)
equally. Defense Mechanisms
- Where the conscious ego is protected against anxiety. These mechanisms
help keep unacceptable id impulses out of consciousness entirely or by
disguising id impulses so that the conscious ego does not feel anxious about
- The simplest defense mechanism; the unconscious ego blocks id impulses
from ever reaching consciousness. Keeping repressed impulses our of
consciousness takes a lot of energy. Repressed impulses sometimes sneak
into consciousness as slips of the tongue (Freudian Slips) or symbolically
disguised as dream images.
- Example: A child who is abused by a parent later has no recollection of the
events, but has trouble forming relationships.
- When the conscious ego engages in the anxiety-producing behaviour, but
the unconscious ego immediately prevents any memory of the behaviour
from getting back into consciousness. So even though the ego has done
something immoral, it feels no anxiety since it has no memory of the
behaviour at all. The difference between denial and repression is that denial
impulses start in the conscious and is blocked out where in repression
impulses start in the unconscious and never becomes conscious.
- Example: when your friend calls you a bad name, there unconscious ego
prevents the memory from getting back into consciousness so that the friend
actually believes they didn‟t do anything.
- When the conscious ego had done something immoral so the unconscious
ego floods consciousness with plausible, non-threatening reasons for the
behaviour. Anxiety isn‟t reached because the conscious ego believes that it
has engaged in the behaviour for a perfectly harmless reason.
- Example: when a man kills someone, he doesn‟t believe he actually did,
rather he believes that he killed the person out of self defense.
- When our anxiety producing thoughts/impulses are attributed to someone
else, maybe the original target of the impulse.
- Example: when we don‟t like someone, we believe we don‟t like them
because they don‟t like us. Reaction formation
- When the conscious ego is protected from anxiety by being filled with ideas
and feelings that are opposite to the actual impulse.
- Example: when a little boy likes a little girl, but the girl doesn‟t like him
back then the boy is automatically mean to the little girl.
- When the unconscious ego redirects the forbidden impulse away from its
original target to a consciously acceptable target, so that the conscious ego
doesn‟t feel any anxiety. Sublimation a special type of displacement, in
which sexual or aggressive impulses are displaces to objects or activities
that are socially acceptable; this is due to our sublimated libido (Id).
- Example: when a man wins the lottery, he kisses the person next to him
rather than yelling and screaming.
Freud‟s Five Psychosexual Stages
- Covers birth to the final stage of puberty. During each stage the child‟s
pleasure is obtained primarily from a single erogenous.
- Covered from birth to one year. The child discovers the pleasures of
sucking and swallowing and later biting and chewing.
- Covered from age one to three. The child gets pleasure from oral activities
but the primary focus of gratification is the anal area. The child gets most
pleasure from giving up feces through bowel movements. When the child
gets potty-trained, the child discovers the pleasures of holding onto feces.
- Covered from age 3 to 6. This is the most important stage of psychosexual
development. The child discovers the pleasures of stimulating the phallic
area (aka your genitals).
During this stage boys go through the Oedipus complex. This is
when the ego incest‟s sexual libido to his mother, and now wants to
possess his Mother for himself. The boy then feels competition with
his dad, so the boy wants to get rid of his dad. But since the dad is
bigger and stronger the boy won‟t do anything in fear of his dad will
retaliate against him by castrating him which leads to intense
castration anxiety. This anxiety is observed when the boy realizes that girls do not have penises. To resolve this dilemma the boy
identifies with his father. This process is called identification, during
this process the father‟s beliefs and values form the superego.
During this stage the girls go through the Electra complex. The girl
wants the mother all to herself but gets freaked out when she
realizes that some people have penises, and she does not. The girl
then realizes that the reason she lost her penis. The girl then wants
to regain her penis (penis envy), this then directs her sexual
desires towards her Dad. Afraid of the mother will retaliate, she
then identifies with the mother and therefore her superego is
formed from the mother‟s own beliefs and values.
- Because of the intense anxiety that these Complexes exhibit, the memories
of the child‟s sexual and aggressive impulses are blocked through
- Begins at age 6 and goes until puberty. Sexual desire is channeled into
behaviours that are not overtly sexual.
- Begins at puberty and lasts for the rest of our lives. The surge of hormones
releases our sexual desires. The direction of our sexual interests and urges
takes depend on how we passed through the pervious stages.
- When a sexual desire is attached to a specific erogenous zone at each
stage ; some excess libido can be left behind at a specific stage.
- We enter adulthood with libido distributed between several erogenous
- If we are fixated at the oral stage, our adult sexuality will be more heavily
oral than usual. This may cause the individual to experience libido through
eating, smoking or nail biting.
- If we fixed at the anal stage, there are two sorts of activities. Children who
have fixated on pleasure from giving up feces, may as adults become messy
and disorganized, experiencing pleasure from giving things to others; this is
called anal explusive. Those who fixated on pleasure from holding onto feces
may become overly neat and orderly, but stingy, stubborn