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Chapter 4

PSYC 2130 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Weaning, Investment, Bisexuality

Course Code
PSYC 2130
Frank Marchese

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Study Notes: Chapter #4 Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theories
Four Characteristics of Freud’s Theories
Freud’s theories all share some common characteristics and assumptions, including that:
o 1) there is a dynamic flow of psychic energy among “Structures” of personality
o 2) human behavior is determined by innate drives
o 3) personality is organized in several layers of “Structure” and functions
o 4) all people progress through a fixed developmental sequence of psychosexual stages
Dynamic -> refers to the exchange and transformation of energy within the personality
Like most later psychoanalysts, Freud believed that the source of human motivation was psychic
energy aka libidinal energy
Freud theorized that people have a fixed amount of psychic energy that is used for all
psychological functions
His psychic energy system is a closed system = energy cannot be added to the system, no
existing energy can escape or be depleted
o each person has a fixed quantity of psychic energy that is invested in (Devoted to)
various behaviors (e.g., one’s artistic performance ), people (e.g., a parent), and ideas
(e.g., philosophic or religious principles)
cathexis -> an investment of psychic energy
psychic energy cannot actually be invested in (attached to) people or activities, but in the mind
psychic energy can be cathected to mental representation in the form of thoughts, images, and
the strength of a cathexis is the amount of energy invested in it
the greater the amount of energy devoted to one cathexis, the less psychic energy available for
other cathexes and mental activities
a young man who is constantly thinking of a woman friend has difficulty doing other things (e.g.
a reading assignment)
cathexes are not permanent
when we turn our attention to another activity or person the energy transfers to the new focus
concept of psychic energy has never been quantified, so the question of whether or not anyone
has more psychic energy than others cannot be answered
o what is important is that each person has a fixed amount of psychic energy that places
limits on actions, thoughts, and feelings
reduction of psychic tension (internal pressure to satisfy drives) us necessary for a person to
because tension is unpleasant or painful, reducing tension produces a highly pleasurable
pleasure principle -> tendency to reduce tension immediately

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if individual’s psychic energy has no opportunity to discharge in normal or socially acceptable
ways, pressure will increase
Freud used analogy to explain nature of psychic energy: the pressure of psychic energy builds in
the same way water pressure builds in a hydraulic system
o e.g., pressure in water-filled pipes where external valve is closed. If pressure increases
and there is no outlet for the water, the pipe will burst at its weakest point to reduce
the pressure
according to Freud, all behavior is determined or caused by some force within the person
all behavior has meaning, no behavior occurs by chance
even the simplest actions can be traced to complicated psychological factors of which the
person may be totally unaware
perhaps the best-known occurrences are “Freudian slips” – errors made in speech, writing, and
reading that presumably reveal something about the person’s “innerthoughts or “real” intents
Freud analyzed and interpreted incidents like these to understand facets of personality that
would not otherwise be accessible
Freud divided personality into three separate structures:
o 1) id -> primitive, pleasure-seeking impulses
o 2) ego -> rational self
o 3) superego -> internalized values of society
For Freud, natural biological instincts (id) such as the need for food elimination and sexual
gratification are inevitably in conflict with the restraints of realty (ego) and the rules of society
These conflicts determine an individual’s specific actions
Importance of early childhood development in determining adult personality is a cornerstone of
Freud’s theory
Freud believed that adult personality is established by approx... 5 years of age
All psychoanalysts agree that early childhood experiences are important
Freud theorized that personality development follows a more or less set course from birth
He divided development into a series of discrete stages through which every human being
Most post-Freudians agree with Freud that personality development follows a course of discrete
o Have however suggested various sets of stages that differ as to when they occur and
what transpires in them

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Freud’s Levels of Consciousness:
Freud divided the mind into three levels of awareness
o 1) conscious -> includes what we are aware f at a given point in time
This definition is close to the everyday use of the term
Freud contended that only a small;; fraction of a person’s thoughts, images, and
memories is conscious
The Freudian mind, like an iceberg, is nine-tenths below the surface
o 2) preconscious -> includes thoughts of which we are not immediately aware
(conscious) but that can easily be brought to awareness
You may have had the experience of concentrating on a topic, as in an intense
conversation and suddenly finding yourself thinking about a completely
unrelated topic
These unrelated thoughts were present but had been in your preconscious
By definition, the content of the preconscious is accessible with minimal effort
By contrast, a great deal of mental content is not readily accessible
o 3) unconscious -> mental content that is not available for conscious recall is stored here
in the dominant part of the mind
Freud thinks most behavior is motivated by forces of which the person is totally
Impulses, memories, and feelings that might be harmful or threatening to us are
actively kept out of conscious awareness through a process called repression
Repression -> an ego defense mechanism
These unconscious thoughts enter consciousness only in disguised or symbolic
Freud held that these parts of the mind are universal; all people possess a vast
unconscious realm within
He thinks it’s an important part of the mind for everyone, not just for those who
are sick or neurotic
Psychoanalysis aka depth psychology because a primary aim is to plumb the
depths of the mind to unearth material previously “hidden away” in the
Jung proposed variations to Freud’s levels of consciousness
Jung’s Divisions of Consciousness:
Jung also divided personality into three levels of consciousness:
o 1) conscious ego -> perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and memories of which a person is
aware essentially equivalent to Freud’s conscious
o 2) Personal unconscious -> contains some mental images that we are not immediately
aware of but that can readily become part of the conscious ego, and other mental
images that are being repressed.
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