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Chapter 11

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McMaster University
Judith Shedden

Psych 2B03: Theories of Personality Chapter 11: The Workings of the Unconscious Mind – Defenses and Slips The Workings of the Unconscious Mind - Defense mechanisms: techniques the ego uses to keep certain thoughts and impulses hidden in order to avoid anxiety - Freudian slips: provide important clues about the activities of the unconscious mind - Ego sometimes permits expression of prohibited thoughts and feelings on purpose by wit or humour Anxiety - Generated by stresses from the outside world and conflicts within the mind - Anxiety from psychic conflict:  Id generates want, superego provides moral judgment, and ego tries to figure out the rational thing to do.  Psychic conflict: happens when a mind battles itself resulting in conflict  Ego and superego use their energy to push the id’s impulse below the threshold of action as well as the threshold of awareness  People feel sexual attraction toward members of their own sex, and these homosexual feelings are pushed out of action and awareness by the ego on practical grounds and the superego on moral grounds  Compromise formation: ego seeks way for all parts of the mind to get a little of what they want - Realistic anxiety:  Terror management theory: many of our thought processes and motivations are based on an effort to deal with and avoid thinking about this terrifying fact  Relationships, performance in school, career aspirations, or any threat to self-esteem  Can lead to depression; however, anxiety is a sign that something’s not right Defense Mechanisms - Deployed by unconscious part of ego as soon as it detects a source of anxiety - Denial: person refuses to acknowledge source of anxiety; fails to perceive it  Common and effective for short term, but if used for very long can lead to lack of contact with reality  Skewed interpretations serve to protect self-esteem, prevent learning from mistake  Defend against anxiety that comes from within  Persistent denial may be a sign of psychopathology - Repression: banishing the past from your present awareness, tends to involve less outright negation of reality than denial.  Keeps out of consciousness and action problematic impulses of id  Also repress reminders of impulses, stronger the resentment, the wider and deeper the repressive walls become  If the feeling is successfully repressed you are defended against the anxiety it might cause  Certain amount of energy forcing toward consciousness and behavioural expression  The more energy the ego devotes to repression, the less it has available for other purposes - Reaction formation: keeps forbidden impulses out of awareness and action by instigating their opposites  Likely to be used if the forbidden impulse is very strong or dangerous and an extra measure of defense seems necessary  Lack of proportion between provocation and the response  Sibling rivalry - Proj
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