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Personality Psychology. Chapter 6 Psychoanalytic Approaches To Personality. Freud Trivia. 1856-1939 Freud’s real name at birth was Sigismund Freud Freud had 6 children, the youngest of whom was “Anna Freud.”

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Personality Psychology

Chapter 6

Psychoanalytic Approaches

To Personality


Freud Trivia

  • 1856-1939
  • Freud’s real name at birth was Sigismund Freud
  • Freud had 6 children, the youngest of whom was “Anna Freud.”
  • Psychoanalytic Theory was the original theory of personality since the birth of “psychology”
  • Freud was not the only person to initiate psychodynamic theory, just the most influential
  • Time of psychodynamic theory development: 1895 - 1940

9 Assumptions of

Psychoanalytic Theory

1. Personality is a dynamic set of processes

2. Competing pressures within the personality often conflict

3. The “Unconscious” has a primary role in determining behavior

4. All human experience can be traced to two main themes involving instincts

5. Early childhood experiences greatly impact personality

6. “Defense” is an important aspect of human functioning

7. Psychic determinism

8. Personality is metaphorical in nature

9. Mental health depends on a balance of forces within one’s life


Topographical Model of the Mind

  • Conscious
    • Part of the mind that holds what one is currently aware of
  • Preconscious
    • Ordinary memory that can easily be brought into awareness
  • Unconscious
    • Portion of the mind not directly accessible to awareness

The Structural Model of Personality

The Id – Basic drives and instincts

  • Most primitive part of the mind; what we are born with
  • Impulses of aggression, lust, sexuality, and death
  • Primarily unconscious
    • Pleasure principle
    • Primary process thinking  wish fulfillment

The Structural Model of Personality

The Ego- Reality check

  • The part of the mind that constrains the id to reality
  • Develops around 2-3 years of age
  • All levels of consciousness
    • Reality principle
    • Secondary process thinking
    • Mediator between id and superego or id and reality

The Structure of Personality

The Superego- Morality

  • The part of the mind that internalizes the values, morals, and ideals of society
  • Develops around age 5
  • All levels of consciousness
    • Perfection principle  Ego Ideal
    • Conscience  Introjection

Mental Health in

Psychodynamic Theory

  • Mental health: The balance of all three forces in moderation
    • Controlling Id
    • Controlling Superego
    • Controlling Ego (EGO STRENGTH)
  • Mental disorders: Imbalance of the three forces

Energy in

Psychodynamic Theory

  • Principle of Limited Energy: A limited amount of mental energy is available at any one time
  • Mental energy can be used in two ways
    • Cathexis: Investing energy
    • Anticathexis: Restraining forces

Catharsis in

Psychodynamic Theory

  • Release of emotional tension
    • Overcontrolled aggressors
      • Freud thought that catharsis should take place in therapy – safe outlet
    • In practice, you need more: Poor results in therapy without action and change!

Anxiety and the

Mechanisms of Defense

  • Ego battles against the Id, Superego, and outside world
  • This creates conflict, experienced by the person as anxiety
  • The person activates defense mechanisms in order to fight off this anxiety


Types of Anxiety

  • Objective, or Realistic Anxiety
    • Ego vs. Reality
  • Neurotic Anxiety
    • Ego vs. Id
  • Moral Anxiety
    • Ego vs. Superego

Defense Mechanisms

  • Any unconscious cognitive operation that functions to protect the individual from the disruptive effects of excessive anxiety
  • Things you do to feel better, without realizing you are doing them


-Repression -Regression

-Denial -Displacement

-Projection -Sublimation

-Rationalization -Dissociation

-Intellectualization -Isolation of Affect

-Reaction Formation -Undoing

-Splitting -Acting out

-Passive Aggression


How is the Unconscious revealed?

  • Defenses
  • Parapraxes
  • Humor
  • “Weakening the censor”
  • Therapy
  • Projective tests
  • Dreams

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

  • Oral Stage
  • Anal Stage
  • Phallic Stage
  • Latency Stage
  • Genital Stage

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

Oral Stage

  • Occurs during the initial 18 months after birth
  • Pleasure and tension reduction are the mouth, lips, and tongue
  • The main conflict is weaning
  • A secondary conflict is associated with biting

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

Anal Stage

  • Occurs between18 months and 3 years old
  • Conflicts arise around the issue of self-control

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

Phallic Stage

  • Occurs between 3 and 5 years of age
  • Oedipal conflict, castration anxiety, and identification
  • Electra complex and penis envy

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

Latency Stage

  • Occurs from about 6 until puberty
  • Termed latency because of the lack of specific sexual conflicts

Psychosexual Stages

Of Development

Genital Stage

  • Begins at puberty and lasts throughout life
  • Stage is reached only by resolving conflicts at the prior stages

Evaluating Freud’s Contributions

  • Proponents argue it is the first and perhaps only comprehensive theory of human nature
  • Psychoanalysis has had a major impact on Western thought
  • Critics maintain it is not contemporary
  • The nature of evidence upon which it was built can be criticized
  • Emphasis on sexual drives is inappropriate