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View human behaviour as a dynamic interaction between the conscious and the
unconscious mind, including associated motives and conflicts. (Freud)
Personality - a person's pattern of thinking, feeling and acting
Freud's Psychoanalytic Perspective: Exploring the Unconscious
University of Vienna 1873
After medical school, he set up a private practice specializing in nervous disorders
Might some neurological disorders have psychological causes?
Died in 1939
Free Association - in psychoanalysis, a method of exploring the unconscious in which the
person relaxes and says whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing. Freud
believed this would follow a chain of thought leading into the person's unconscious, where
painful memories (often from childhood) could be retrieved and released.
Psychoanalysis - Freud's theory of personality that attributes thoughts and actions to
unconscious motives and conflicts; the techniques used in treating psychological disorders by
seeking to expose and interpret unconscious tensions.
Unconscious - according to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts. wishes,
feelings, and memories. According to contemporary psychologists, information processing and
which we are unaware.
Some of these thoughts we store temporarily in our preconscious which we can retrieve
them into our conscious awareness.
Freud interested in the mass of unacceptable passions and thoughts he believed we
repressed because they are too unsettling to acknowledge.
Without being aware these troublesome feelings influence us taking place in the work
we choose, beliefs we hold, daily habits and troubling symptoms.
Freud viewed jokes as expressions of repressed sexual and aggressive tendencies.
The remembered content of dreams (their manifest content), he believed to be a
censored expression of the dreamer's unconscious wishes (the dream's latent content).
Human personality arises from a conflict between impulse and restraint - between our
aggressive pleasure-seeking biological urges and our internalized social control over these Module 40 Page 2
urges. To understand the mind's dynamic during this conflict, Freud proposed 3 interacting
systems: id, ego, superego.
id - a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that according to Freud, strives to satisfy basic
sexual and aggressive drives. The id operates on the pleasure principal demanding immediate
gratification. Ex. an infant crying out for satisfaction or people who think of a present rather
than future time perspective - they would sooner party now than sacrifice today's pleasure for
future success and happiness.
ego - the largely conscious "executive" part of personality that mediates among the demands of
the id, superego and reality. The ego operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id's desires
in ways that will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain. Contains partly conscious
perceptions, thoughts, judgments and memories. Struggles to reconcile the opposing forces of
the id and superego.
superego - the part of personality that represents internalized ideals and provides standards for
judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations. Those with a strong superego may be
virtuous yet guilt-ridden, while another with a weak superego may be self-indulgent and
Personality forms during life's first few years. Children pass through a series of psychosexual
stages, where the id's pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct pleasure-sensitive areas of
the body called erogenous zones.
During the Phallic stage, boys develop unconscious sexual desires for their mother and
jealousy/hatred for their father - called the Oedipus Complex after the Greek legend of
Oedipus who killed his father and married his mother. Some psychoanalysis's of Freud's era
believed girls experience a parallel Electra Complex.
Identification - the process by which children incorporate their parents values into their
developing superegos. Identification with the same-sex parent provides our gender identity Module 40 Page 3
(sense of being male/female).
Fixation - a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in
which conflicts were unresolved.
In psychoanalytic theory, the ego's protective methods of reducing anxiety by
unconsciously distorting reality. They are tactics that reduce or redirect anxiety by
distorting reality. All defense mechanisms function indirectly and unconsciously. The
ego unconsciously defends itself against anxiety.
Repression - In psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes from
consciousness anxiety arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories. Repression underlies all the
other defense mechanisms.
Defense Mechanism Unconscious process Example
employed to avoid anxiety-
Regression Retreating to a more infantile Little boy reverts to oral
psychosexual stage, where comfort of thumb sucking o