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Chapter 11

Chapter 11 The Workings of the Unconscious Mind - Textbook Notes

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Richard B Day

Psych 2B03 Jasmyn Lee Part IV: The Hidden World of the Mind: The Psychoanalytic Approach Chapter 11: The Workings of the Unconscious Mind: Defenses and Slips  Defense Mechanisms – the techniques the ego uses to keep certain thoughts and impulses hidden in order to avoid anxiety o Not always effective  Paraplexes – commonly known as “Freudian Slips”; thoughts, words and actions that occasionally leak out; say something you didn’t mean to say, do something against your better judgment o Provide important clues about the activities of the unconscious part of the mind o Freud believed that the ego permits the expression of prohibited thoughts and feelings on purpose that allows the ordinarily forbidden to be enjoyed  mechanism by which this is accomplished is humor or wit  Humors action, statement or joke allows an impulse or feeling ordinarily seen as inappropriate to be enjoyable or acceptable Anxiety Anxiety From Psychic Conflict  Three aspects of reality: things we want, things that are possible and things that are morally right  Three psychic structures of the mind that battle each other o Id – impulses; generates wants o Superego – provides moral judgment o Ego – tries to figure out rational thing to do  Psychic Conflict – occurs when a mind battles itself (id, ego, superego); result is anxiety  Compromise Formation – the ego trying to satisfy both the id and superego (at least a little) o Believed by modern psychologists (ego psychologists) to be the most important function of the ego Realistic Anxiety  Anxiety generated by the real world  Terror Management theory – many of our thought processes and motivations are based on an effort to deal with and avoid thinking about the fact that we will all die due to our mortality, o Tom Pyszczynski, Jeff Greenberg and Sheldon Solomon (1997)  Many sources of anxiety; relationships, performance in school, career aspirations, any threat to self esteem  Keep anxiety within bounds; do not go to either extreme o Too little anxiety, person may fail to sensibly handle problems o Too much anxiety – person can become completely nonfunctional o Eg/ Avoid anxiety, even if we distort reality; being realistic about ones chances in life can lead to depression; people who are optimistic (even unrealistic) are happier and experience better mental health  wrong  Anxiety is a sign that something is not right; if we avoid feeling anxious, we might avoid dealing with the underlying problem Defense Mechanisms  Anna Freud created an inventory of unconscious tools of psychological defense from the unconscious part of the ego Denial  Refusing to acknowledge the source of anxiety, or failing to perceive it in the first place  Effective in the short run; can lead to a serious lack of reality  Primary purpose; to keep an individual from being overwhelmed by the initial shock, as psychological resources are mustered to do something more permanent about it  Eg/ when checking an exam mark and find out she failed, says “NO!” checks again later in a calmer frame of mind  People are likely to take credit for successes, but blame failures on external circumstances or other people  Persistent denial may be a sign of serious psychopathology o Eg/ alcoholism; have you ever tried telling an alcoholic that she has a drinking problem? Repression  Banishing the past from your present awareness; keeps problematic impulse of the id out of consciousness and action  Involves less outright negation of reality than does denial o Not denying that something exists; you just don’t think about it  Can result from conscious effort – some research indicates that trying not to think about something now, may prevent you from accessing that information in memory later 1 Psych 2B03 Jasmyn Lee  Elaborate secondary protection from anxiety-arousing stimuli – anything related to or that may remind you of anxiety- producing stimuli, is pushed into the unconscious o Repression causes you to forget what you did, but sometimes also forget other things that might remind you of what you did o Eg/ student who resents parents; may end up forgetting names of roommates parents, or to relay the phone message from roommates parents to roommate  If the feeling, memory or impulse is successfully repressed, then you are defended against the anxiety it would cause  Ego must oppose the force of the id with an equal amount of its own energy o Ego has limited amount of psychic energy that it takes away from the id o Every forbidden feeling, memory or impulse has a certain amount of id energy forcing it toward consciousness and behavioural expression  If the ego runs low on energy or tried to defend too many impulses at once, the forbidden impulses can make its way to consciousness – result; you feel anxiety o Eg/ mild-mannered man that absorbed insults and humiliation for many years; defenses fail and he goes on a murderous rampage o Eg/ severe shortage of free psychic energy can lead to depression; the mind preoccupied with keeping certain thoughts and memories out of awareness has less processing capacity left to deal with anything else Reaction Formation  Keeps forbidden thoughts, feelings and impulses out of awareness and action by instigating their opposites; builds a safety margin, ensuring that the impulse never reaches consciousness or action  Used on very dangerous or strong forbidden impulses  If individuals are concerned that they might have an unacceptable trait, they might seek to display the opposite trait  Eg/ unconscious homosexual impulses; may cause “gay bashing”  Eg/ Sibling Rivalry – when a new baby is brought home, the older sibling hates the baby; when the older sibling discovers the parents are protective of the baby and harming the baby is disapproved of, sibling learns to repress hate, says “I love my new baby sister!”  Behaviour driven by reaction formation may not look quite right  Eg/ women completed questionnaires to measure the degree of “sex guilt” then showed erotic images; women who scored lower on sex guilt were found to be more aroused than women who scored high on sex guilt  Eg/ men completed questionnaire to measure homophobia, then showed videotapes of homosexual activity; men who scored lower on homophobia were more aroused than those who scored higher Projection  Protects against unwanted impulses by causing a behaviour that, at first, appears to be opposite; attributing to somebody else a thought or an impulse that is feared in oneself  Eg/ People who doubt own intelligence may say that they’re surrounded by morons to make themselves feel better  Eg/ participants took a personality test and were told (falsely) that their scores indicated a certain bad trait; they then were to watch a person on videotape and rate that persons traits – participants rated that person worse than themselves on the trait on which they received negative feedback Rationalization  Concocting a seemingly rational case for why you did something  Trivialization – convincing yourself that your shortcomings or regrettable actions don’t matter o Eg/ stealing form employer; rationalizing that what you stole wont be missed  Cognitive Dissonance – negative emotion when experimenters induce them to express opinions that are really not their own Intellectualization  Turning the feeling into a thought; turn a heated, anxiety-provoking issue into something cool, abstract and analytical o May involve developing a technical vocabulary that allows discussion of horrifying things without using everyday, emotionally arousing language  Eg/ A colonel talking about war without using the words, kill, die, suffer, bleed – instead they analyze maps and charts to tell an interesting story  Eg/ Surgeon; reluctant to talk about pain (rather, discomfort) or death (rather, expire) – needs to do this in order to do the surgery  Cost to intellectualization o Eg/ Colonel might forge that his decision to kill people 2 Psych 2B03
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