I. Module 40: Psychodynamic Theories
a. Personality: an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting
b. Psychodynamic theories: view personality with a focus on the unconscious and the
importance of childhood experiences
c. Sigmund Freud
i. Psychoanalysis: a system of psychological theory and therapy that aims to treat
mental disorders by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious
elements in the mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the
conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation and free association
ii. Free association: a method use in psychoanalysis in which the person relaxes and
say whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing
1. According to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wish,
2. According to contemporary psychologist, information processing of
which we are unaware
d. Freud Idea of the mind’s structure
1. ID: unconscious psychic energy constantly strives to satisfy basic drives
to survive, reproduce, and aggress. Operates on the pleasure principle: It
seeks immediate gratification.
2. Ego: as ego develops, the young child responds to the real world. The
ego, operating on the reality principle, seeks to gratify the id’s impulses
in realistic ways that will bring long-term pleasure.
3. Superego: The voice of our moral compass that forces the ego to
consider not only the real but the ideal. Strives for perfection, judging
actions and producing positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of
guilt. Because the superego’s demands often oppose the id’s, the ego
struggles to reconcile the two. Begins at age 4 or 5
e. Freud concluded that children pass through a series of psychosexual
stages, during which the id’s pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct pleasure-
sensitive areas of the body called erogenous zones.
i. Believed that during the phallic stage boys seek genital stimulation, and
they develop both unconscious sexual desires for their mother and jealousy and
hatred for their father, whom they consider a rival, referred to as the Oedipus
Complex, or in girls, the Electra complex.
ii. Through the identification process, children’s superegos gain strength as
they incorporate many of their parents’ values. Freud believed that identification with the same-sex parent provides what psychologists now
call our gender identity.
iii. Conflicts unresolved during earlier psychosexual stages could surface as
maladaptive behavior in the adult years.
iv. Fixate, the person’s pleasure-seeking energies in that stage.
proposed that the ego protects itself with defense mechanisms: tactics that reduce
or redirect anxiety by distorting reality.
i. Repression: the basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing
thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.
ii. Regression: individual faced with anxiety retreats to a more infantile
psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated.
iii. Reaction Formation: the ego unconsciously switches unacceptable
impulses into their opposites. Thus, people may express feelings that are
the opposite of their anxiety-arousing unconscious feelings.
iv. Projection: people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing
them to others.
v. Displacement: psychoanalytic defense mechanism that shifts sexual or
aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or
person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet.
vi. Sublimation: people re-channel their unacceptable impulses into socially
vii. Denial: protects the person from real events that are painful to accept,
either by rejecting a fact or its seriousness.
g. Pioneering psychoanalysts who followed Freud, called neo-Freudians, and
accepted Freud’s basic ideas: the personality structures of id, ego, and superego;
the importance of the unconscious; the shaping of personality in childhood; and
the dynamics of anxiety and the defense mechanisms. i. However they diverged on:
1. Placed more emphasis on the conscious mind’s role in interpreting
experience and in coping with the environment.
2. Doubted that sex and aggression were all-consuming motivations.
ii. Instead, they tended to emphasize loftier motives and social interactions.
h. AlfredAdler and Karen Horney agreed wit