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Rutgers University

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 iii. Unconscious: 1. According to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wish, and memories. 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. f. Fre ud 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 approved activities. 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
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