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Lecture 13

Lecture 13+14 Personality Detailed Note.docx

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

1 Psychology Lecture 13/14: Personality Introduction to Personality  Personality is an idea, an abstract concept that we use because it seems to express or capture something important about our experiences  These abstract concepts are often referred to as hypothetical constructs Approaches to Personality  One of the oldest approaches to personality is the type approach  This approach assumes that there are a small number of distinct personality types  Originally proposed by the Greek physician Hippocrates  He believed that the human body was made of four “humours” o Blood o Phlegm o Yellow bile o Black bile  Personality was determined by the balance of these four humours  Ex. Melancholic personality type (melan for black and cholic for bile) o Someone of this personality type is often sad and wistful  Other approaches to personality have emerged o Psychodynamic approach o Humanistic approach o Trait approach o Behaviourist approach o Cognitive approach Psychodynamic Approach to Personality  Psychodynamic approach sees personality as generated by internal psychic structures or processes  Characteristics of internal structures in your mind and the way they interact with each other, determine how we feel and behave  Most psychodynamic theories argue that many of these structures are unconscious Freud’s Tripartite Model  The Id o The Id is the source of your basic instincts and your motivational energy that Freud named your libido o It’s the Id’s responsibility to seek out water, food, air and sex o Overall, the Id’s focus is to find and experience pleasure and to avoid pain o Freud refers to this function of Id as the pleasure principle 2 o The Id is very selfish and impatient, it wants pleasure now, it does not want to wait for its pleasure o It wants it right now regardless of how that behaviour would affect other people o You are born with it, it is unconscious o Ex. Deciding to go to a party instead of studying  The Superego o The Superego is focused on upholding moral principles o It has no interest in partying, its sole goal is to ensure that you remain morally perfect, by obeying rules and respecting values o The superego comes into play around the ages of 5 and 6 o Before then, it was up to your parents to teach you the rules that you should obey and values that you should uphold through rewards and punishment o From this parental control, self-control is established to form the superego o Mostly unconscious, but partially in the preconscious o Your conscience stems from your superego  The Ego o The ego serves as a mediator between the Id and the Superego, the two extremes o The ego is also aware of outside reality so it’s aware of what is going in the world outside of the individual o The ego must find a balance between the desires of the id and demands of the superego, all the while ensuring that it’s realistically possible to do so o To the example of partying vs. studying, the ego could resolve the debate by first attending the group meeting to do some work on the assignment and then afterwards meeting the friends at the party o Another possibility is by relocating the group meeting to a quiet restaurant or pub where the group could work on the assignment, while enjoying a drink o Develops a little later after birth  Freud explained how the Id, Ego and Superego function consciously and unconsciously by using the analogy of an iceberg o The Id functions completely in the unconscious and so we are not directly aware of what the Id is doing o The Superego functions predominantly in the unconscious, but a small portion of it falls into the preconscious (just beneath the surface of awareness) and the conscious o The ego is fairly equally split into each of the 3 stages of consciousness Defence Mechanisms  According to Freud, our behaviour results from a rocky collaboration between the id, ego and superego  The ego tries to satisfy id impulses in ways that are safe and that are consistent with the values of the superego  But this is not always possible 3  If an id impulse is immoral, even thinking about gratifying it causes the conscious ego to feel moral anxiety  If an id impulse might lead to punishment, just thinking about it causes the conscious ego to feel neurotic anxiety  The conscious ego is protected against anxiety by defence mechanisms created by the unconscious ego  Defence mechanisms keep the conscious ego from feeling anxious by keeping unacceptable id impulses out of the consciousness entirely or by disguising id impulses so that the conscious ego does not feel anxious about them if they reach consciousness  The simplest defence mechanism is repression, in which unconscious ego blocks id impulses from ever reaching consciousness o Repressed impulses continue to press for entry into consciousness and keeping them out takes a lot of the ego’s available energy o Repressed impulses sometimes sneak into consciousness as slips of the tongue, which are commonly called Freudian Slips  Sometimes an id impulse is so strong that it cannot be kept out of consciousness  It enters the conscious ego and is acted on  If this happens, new defence mechanisms are needed to make sure that the conscious ego does not understand the real nature of what it is thinking or what it has done so that it will not feel anxious  A similar defence mechanism is denial o In denial, the conscious ego actually engages in anxiety-producing behaviour, but the unconscious ego immediately prevents any memory of the behaviour from getting back into consciousness o So although the conscious ego has actually done something dangerous or immoral, it feels no anxiety since it has no memory of the behaviour at all  Denial and repression are not the same o In denial, anxiety producing behaviour begins in the conscious ego after a behaviour has already occurred o Repression is used when the anxiety is generated from the unconscious id before the behaviour has occurred  If these impulses are successfully repressed, they do not ever reach consciousness  If an impulse cannot be repressed or denied, rationalization can sometimes be used o In this case, the conscious ego had done something dangerous or immoral, so the unconscious ego floods consciousness with plausible reasons for the behaviour o No anxiety is experienced because the conscious ego believes that it has engaged in the behaviour for perfectly harmless reasons o Ex. You got into a fight  Aggression generated from id conflicts with superego, which believes that violence is wrong 4  To resolve this conflict, the ego might use rationalization and decide that you became physical out of self-defence and anyone else in the situation would have acted similarly  Projection o Our own anxiety-producing thoughts or impulses are attributed to someone else, perhaps the original target of the impulse o Ex. You don’t like your co-worker, but you don’t know why and that makes you feel guilty o Instead, you may project your feelings on him and convince yourself that it is really your co-worker who doesn’t like you  Reaction Formation o The conscious ego is protected from anxiety by being filled with ideas and feelings that are opposite to the actual impulse o Ex. Suppose you have a strong attraction to someone that may not share your feelings, which causes you anxiety o You may deal with this consciously by outwardly feeling dislike and disapproval for this person  Displacement o 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 o Ex. You may not like your supervisor and feel aggressive towards him, but it would be inappropriate to act on this aggression so instead you argue with your friend o Sublimation is a special type of displacement, in which sexual or aggressive impulses are displaced to objects or activities that are socially acceptable o Freud believed that all our “higher” activities are due to sublimated libido Freud’s Personality Development  Freud described 5 “psychosexual stages” of development that covers birth to the final stage at puberty, when the fundamental features of our personality have been shaped and remain the same throughout our adult lives  What distinguishes one psychosexual stage from the others is the erogenous zone from which the child gets the most sexual and aggressive gratification  During each stage, the child’s pleasure is obtained primarily from a single erogenous zone  Erogenous zones o Oral stage  Begins at birth and last until 1 year of age  Child discovers the pleasure of sucking and swallowing and later biting and chewing  First objects associated with oral pleasure are the bottle, the mother’s breast or even one’s own thumb 5  We continue to get pleasure from oral activities all our lives o Anal stage  From about age of 1 until 3  Child continues to get pleasure from oral activities, but primary focus of gratification is anal area  During first part of this stage, child gets the most pleasure from giving up feces through bowel movements  Later on in this stage, parents toilet train their children  Now the child is no longer allowed to dump when she pleases, she has to postpone gratification until potty time  In learning to do this, the child discovers the pleasures of holding onto feces o Phallic stage  Most important stage of psychosexual development  Begins around 3 and lasts until about 6  During this stage, the child discovers the pleasures of stimulating the phallic area  During phallic stage, boys go through the Oedipus complex  Complex begins when the ego invests sexual libido to his mother  She has fed him and taken care of him and now he wants to possess Mother for himself  Although the boy’s motive is sexual gratification, he isn’t thinking about sexual intercourse as this is still a foreign concept to him  Instead, his primary goal is to have Mother to himself against any competing interests  Dad’s time with Mother takes time away from boy so child wants to get rid of Dad  The problem is that Dad is big and strong and the boy is afraid that Dad will retaliate  When the boy observes that girls do not have penises, he becomes convinced that Dad will retaliate against him by castrating him, which leads to intense castration anxiety  Boy normally resolves his dilemma by identifying with Father  This lets boy enjoy Mom through Dad without putting himself in danger  This is an important process o Identification is not just imitation o It involves becoming like Father psychologically, taking on Father’s beliefs and values and making them his own o These beliefs form the boy’s superego  The Electra complex is the parallel process in girls  Girl wants Mother all to herself 6  But, girl makes the discovery that some people have penises and she does not  She becomes convinced that she once had a penis and Mother had something to do with the loss  Girl experiences strong desire to regain penis, this penis envy leads her to direct her sexual desires towards Dad  She wants to get rid of Mom (penis thief and obstacle to the girl’s exclusive possession of Dad)  Girl realizes that Mother is too big and strong to eliminate and resolves her dilemma by identifying with Mom  Girl’s superego is formed from Mother’s own beliefs and values  Because of intense anxiety that the Oedipus and Electra complex generates in the child, most memories of the child’s sexual and aggressive impulses towards Mom and Dad are blocked from consciousness through repression  The sexual and aggressive libido that was attached to Mom and Dad, but had to be withdrawn as the price of resolving the complexes returns to the Id  Most of this libido will be redirected to other objects that resemble Mom or Dad in some way, either in appearance or personality or in their role in the child’s life, through displacement o Latency Stage  Period of relative sexual quiescence  Begins at about 6 and ends at puberty  During this stage, libido appears to be channelled into behaviours which are not yet overtly sexual o Genital Stage  Marked by puberty  Surge of hormones produces a new wave of libido  Specific direction our sexual interests and urges take depends very much on where libido was directed as we passed through the stages of childhood sexuality and what we did with the libido that was withdrawn from Mom or Dad during the resolution of the complexes  Fixations o When we move from one psychosexual stage to the next, some libido is left behind o Ex. When we enter the anal stage, we don’t give up all oral pleasures o So we enter adulthood with libido distributed between the several erogenous zones o However, it is possible that we may leave behind much more libido than normal as we leave on stage for the next o This leads to phenomenon of fixation o If we fixated at oral stage, our adult sexuality will be more heavily oral than usual 7 o Ex. Some excess libido might be directed towards eating, smoking or nail-biting o Arguing and insulting others are also oral activities, symbolically related to biting and chewing o For those fixated at the anal stage, there are two symbolically related activities  Those related to giving up feces and those related to holding onto feces  Children who have fixated on pleasure from giving up feces may as adults become messy and disorganized, experiencing pleasure from giving others such things  Such people are said to be anal expulsive  Those who fixated on pleasure from holding onto feces may as adults become overly neat and orderly, but sting, stubborn and rigid  Such people are said to be anal retentive After Freud  Freud’s youngest daughter, Anna Freud, expanded on Freud’s work by developing the role of the Ego in more detail  She endorsed the view that the Ego has a larger role than originally posed by Freud and that it has energy of its own  The defence mechanisms discussed were partially developed by Anna, who added to and elaborated on what was originally outlined by Freud, terming them Ego defences in her theory  Her second biggest contribution was the application of Freud’s work to children outside typical settings, such as children in war or parentless homes  She developed a system of diagnosis that allowed therapists
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