PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes -Object Relations Theory, Thought Suppression, Behaviorism

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5 Apr 2012

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People seem to behave somewhat consistently over time & across different situations.
Notion of “personality traits”
consistency becomes greater as we enter adulthood
Personality: distinctive & relatively enduring ways of thinking, feeling, & acting that
characterize a person's responses to life situations.
Thoughts, feelings, & actions that reflect a individual's personality have 3 characteristics.
1. Components of identity that distinguish that person from other people.
2. Behaviours are viewed as caused by internal rather than environmental factors.
3. Person's behaviours seem to “fit together, suggesting an inner personality that
guides & directs behaviour
Treating conversion hysteria convinced him that their symptoms were related to painful
memories & feelings that seemed to have been repressed/out of awareness.
Unconscious part of the mind exerts great influence on behaviour.
Conducted an extensive self-analysis based on his own dreams.
Based theory on careful clinical observation & constantly sought to expand it
Psychoanalysis: theory of personality, approach to studying the mind & method
for treating psychological disorders.
Psychic Energy and Mental Events
Inspired by hydraulic models of 19th-century physics: exchanges and releases of physical
energy, Freud considered personality to be an energy system
Instinctual drives generate psychic energy, which powers the mind & constantly
presses for either direct/indirect release.
Conscious mind mental events that we are presently aware of.
Preconscious memories, thoughts, feelings & images that we are unaware of at the
moment but that can be called into conscious awareness.
Freud believed these areas are dwarfed in both size & importance by the unconscious
mind, dynamic realm of wishes, feelings & impulses that lies beyond our awareness.
The Structure of Personality
Freud divided personality into 3 separate but interacting structures: id, ego & superego.
Id: unconscious mind, innermost core of personality, only structure present at
birth, basis of psychic energy, no direct contact with reality& works in irrational
manner. Effective to the pleasure principle, seeks immediate gratification/
release, regardless of normal considerations & environmental realities.
Ego: conscious level; operates to the reality principle. Tests reality to decide
when & under what conditions the id can safely discharge its impulses & satisfy
its needs.
Superego (moral arm of personality): developed by age of 4/5, source for values
& ideals of society. With development of superego, self-control takes over from
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external controls of rewards and punishments, Moralistic goals take precedence
over realistic ones, regardless of potential cost to the individual.
Ego is squarely in eye of a psychic storm. Must achieve compromise between
demands of id, constraints of superego, & demands of reality. Called the
“executive of the personality.”
Conflict, Anxiety, and Defence
When ego confronts impulses that threaten to get out of control/faced with dangers
from environment, anxiety results.
Anxiety serves as danger signal, motivates ego to deal with problem at hand.
When realistic strategies are ineffective in ↓ anxiety, ego may resort to defence
mechanisms that deny/distort reality.
Psychoanalysts believe that repression where ego “keeps the lid on the id.”
Ego uses some energy to prevent anxiety-arousing memories, feelings &
impulses from entering consciousness. Repressed thoughts & wishes remain in
unconscious, striving for release, may be expressed indirectly (slips of the
Freud described several defence mechanisms, primary interest was in
Repression An active defensive process through which anxiety-arousing impulses or
memories are pushed into the unconscious mind. A person who was sexually abused in
childhood develops amnesia for the event.
Denial A person refuses to acknowledge anxiety-arousing aspects of the environment. The
denial may involve either the emotions connected with the event or the event itself. A man
who is told he has terminal cancer refuses to consider the possibility that he will not recover.
Displacement An unacceptable or dangerous impulse is repressed, and then directed at a safer
substitute target. A man who is harassed by his boss experiences no anger at work, but
then goes home and abuses his wife and children.
Intellectualization The emotion connected with an upsetting event is repressed, and the
situation is dealt with as an intellectually interesting event. A person who has been
rejected in an important relationship talks in a highly rational manner about the “interesting
unpredictability of love relationships.”
Projection An unacceptable impulse is repressed, and then attributed to (projected onto)
other people. A woman with strong repressed desires to have an affair continually accuses her
husband of being unfaithful to her.
Rationalization A person constructs a false but plausible explanation or excuse for an anxiety-
arousing behaviour or event that has already occurred. A student caught cheating on an exam
justifies the act by pointing out that the professor's tests are unfair and, besides, everybody else
was cheating, too.
Reaction formation An anxiety-arousing impulse is repressed, and its psychic energy finds
release in an exaggerated expression of the opposite behaviour. A mother who harbours
feelings of hatred for her child represses them and becomes overprotective of the child.
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