Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory

1. Introduction
In the course of finding an effective treatment for patients with neurotic and hysterical
symptoms, the method of Psychoanalysis was devised by Viennese neurologist Sigmund
Freud, in the 1890s. How it happened so, is that once on a visit to Paris, Freud was
introduced to the method of hypnosis to treat patients with hysterical symptoms. He used
the method for some time but gradually realized that it was unnecessary to hypnotize
patients, and moved on to the technique of free association. This technique required
patients to simply talk whatever was coming to their minds and describe it simply. Freud
found this method useful in understanding the causes of his patients' problems and this
conclusion of his in turn led to forming the basis of all Freud's observations and the
establishment of one of the most influential theories of personality; The Psychoanalytic
Theory. He suggested that behaviour is determined by the unconscious mind, a reservoir
of repressed impulses and desires, of which the waking mind is completely unaware, but
establishes the way we think, feel, and act.
The theory of Psychoanalysis as presented by Freud focuses on the following major
concepts:

1.1 Levels of Mental Life


According to Freud, there are three levels of mental life, conscious, preconscious and
unconscious.
Our conscious consists of the experiences, of which we are aware of at any given
moment, whereas, the preconscious comprises of those experiences which we can be
aware of if we turn our attention to them at any point, and are easily retrievable in nature.
Unconscious mind however, consists of experiences and occurrences that we are much
unaware of and cannot become aware of them easily, except for when under exceptional
conditions.

1.2 The Intra-Psychic Forces


To describe the 'structure' of personality, Freud suggested that there are three separate, yet
interacting components, the id, ego and super ego, and the interplay of these forces
motivates behaviour.
The id is the unrefined, unorganized, innate part of personality present within an
individual from the time of birth and its one and only purpose is to serve the 'pleasure
principle' to gratify the basic needs of survival such as hunger, sex, aggression or any
unreasonable desires that may be arouse.
The ego however, works according to the reality principle providing the realities of the
objective, outside world and is the mediating force between the id and the super ego.

Theories of Personality

Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory


The super ego, on the other hand, serving to the 'moralistic and idealistic principles,'
represents the rights and wrongs of society. Sub divided into 'conscience' and 'ego ideal',
the super ego prevents us from doing morally unacceptable things in the form of
conscience, while the ego ideal motivates us to do what is ethically correct.

1.3 The Pleasure Principle


According to Freud, all behaviour is pleasure oriented and is controlled by two basic
instincts: 'sex' (Eros) or the life instinct, and 'aggression' (Thanatos), the death instinct,
which in turn are being power-driven by a form of inner psychic energy that he called the
"Libido."
Libido as Freud suggested is the psychic energy that fuels the primary drives of hunger,
sex, aggression and other irrational impulses and is the basic motivating force urging for
the gratification of these desires.

1.4 Psycho-Sexual Stages of Development


According to Freud, personality develops in a sequence of stages during childhood, and
that an individual looks for libidinal satisfaction through different erogenous zones that
are the focal point of pleasure in each stage, and any experiences and complexities during
particular childhood phases may result in unconventional behavior in the adult
personality.
The first stage is called the 'oral stage,' which starts from birth to about eighteen months
of age. During this phase, the erogenous zone is the baby's mouth and the gratification
comes through sucking.
The second stage starting from about eighteen months until about 3 years of age is called
the 'anal stage.' The emphasis is on toilet training and children may derive pleasure from
both, retention and expulsion of feces.
The third stage starts at about three years of age, and is called the 'phallic stage.' In this
stage the source of libidinal pleasure is the genital region. It is during this stage that the
child is confronted with the 'Oedipus complex' in boys, or the 'Electra complex' in girls,
where the child fixates on the parent of the opposite sex and sees the same sex parent as a
rival. This stage marks the birth of the 'super ego' when the child eventually resolves the
conflicts of 'castration anxiety' in boys, and 'penis envy' in girls, and starts to identify
with the same sexed parent and learns to adopt their ideals.
The next stage that follows is the 'latency' period, from between six to around twelve
years, and during this stage there is no major personality development, but much social
and intellectual development is seen.
At about puberty starts the final stage, called the 'genital stage.' The focus during this
period is more towards mature adult sexuality.

Theories of Personality

Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory

1.5 Ego Defense Mechanisms


Ego defense mechanisms are means that help us keep away from conscious
acknowledgment of any inappropriate impulses and allow only indirect impulse
gratification. The ego reacts to the threatened infiltration of the id impulses by either
blocking the impulse from expression in the conscious behaviour or by distorting or
disguising it to such a degree that the original intensity and purpose is distinctly reduced
or redirected.
Freud identified these defense mechanisms as those of denial, repression, projection,
sublimation,
regression,
rationalization,
reaction
formation,
displacement,
intellectualization and fantasy.

2. Evaluation
Freud's psychoanalytic theory, coming as it did at the turn of the century, provided a
completely new approach to the analysis and treatment of abnormal adult behaviour.
Earlier views tended to ignore behaviour and looked for a physiological explanation of
"abnormality" instead. The uniqueness of Freud's approach was in identifying that
neurotic behaviour is not random or meaningless but goal-oriented. Thus, by looking for
the purpose behind any "abnormal" behavioural patterns, the analyst was given a method
for understanding behaviour as meaningful and informative, without denying its
physiological aspects.

3. Criticism
Carl Jung, for a time looked upon by Freud as his successor. Jung however, finding
himself in much disagreement with Freud, soon broke away from the psychoanalytic
group. He believed that the nature of libido was more of a life force, which in turn could
be expressed sexually but not primarily be called sexual in nature.
Alfred Adler, broke off his association with Freud in about 1911, and like Jung, disagreed
with Freud's description of the libido and its sexual nature. He argued that man is
motivated primarily by social drives, and introduced the concept of 'inferiority complex.'
He emphasized that social factors are the ones that in actuality affect personality as
opposed to the unconscious mental processes as suggested by Freud.
The established theory of Freudian psychoanalysis was challenged in the 1920s by Otto
Rank, Sandor Ferenczi, and Wilhelm Reich; later, in the 1930s, by Karen Horney, Erich
Fromm, and Harry Stack Sullivan. These critics stressed the interpersonal aspect of the
analyst-patient relationship, and placed more emphasis on the processes of the ego.
Although Horney recognized and agreed with Freud on many issues, she was also critical
of him on several key beliefs. Freud's idea of "penis envy" in particular was subject to
Theories of Personality

Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory


criticism by Horney. She thought Freud had merely stumbled upon women's jealousy of
men's generic power in the world. Horney accepted that penis envy might occur
occasionally in neurotic women, but stated that "womb envy" occurs just as much in
men: Horney felt that men were envious of a woman's ability to bear children. The degree
to which men are driven to success may be merely a substitute for the fact that they
cannot carry, nurture and bear children.

Conclusion
Despite a number of disbelievers and lack of controlled research, Psychoanalysis
remained the most widely used methods of psychotherapy until at least the 1950s.
Though, some aspects of this particular theory have been questioned since the 1970s on
the basis of their limited applicability to women and to people from non-Western
cultures. There is, however, general agreement that psychoanalytic approaches work well
for certain types of patients. In particular, these approaches are recommended for patients
with neurotic conflicts.

Theories of Personality

Freud: Psychoanalytic Theory

References
Feist, Jess.
Theories of Personality / Jess Feist, Gregory J. Feist. Sixth Edition.
Freud: Psychoanalysis, 15-46
Radford, John & Govier, Ernest.
A Textbook of Psychoogy, Fifth Impression.
Personality, 534-538
Feldman, Robert S.
Understanding Psychology, Fourth Edition
Personality, 466-473
Freudian Psychology and Psychoanalysis
Accessed on September 30, 2007 from the URL:
<http://www.kheper.net/topics/psychology/Freud.html>
The Psychoanalytic Theory of Sigmund Freud
Accessed on September 30, 2007 from the URL:
<http://www.radford.edu/~jmontuor/361Slides_1_Freud_files/v3_document.htm>
A Brief Outline of Psychoanalysis- Freud
Accessed on September 30, 2007 from the URL:
<http://www.panix.com/~squigle/at/psycho.html >
Psychoanalysis
Accessed on September 30, 2007 from the URL:
<http://www.questia.com/read/101266155 >
Karen Horney
Accessed on September 30, 2007 from the URL:
<http://www.answers.com/topic/karen-horney>

Theories of Personality