Freud’s Theory Psychoanalysis
The Theory of the Unconscious • Freedom of the will is, if not completely an illusion, certainly more tightly circumscribed than is commonly believed. • Whenever we make a choice we are governed by hidden mental processes of which we are unaware and over which we have no control. • There is frequently nothing in the conscious mind which can be said to cause neurotic or other behavior; therefore, there must be an unconscious. • Unconscious is rather structurally akin to an iceberg, the bulk of it lying below the surface, exerting a dynamic and determining influence upon the part which is amenable to direct inspection—the conscious mind.
Instincts • Eros (the life instinct) covers all the self-preserving and erotic instincts. • Thanatos(the death instinct) covers all the instincts towards aggression, self-destruction, and cruelty. Thanatos is the irrational urge to destroy the source of all sexual energy in the annihilation of the self. • Freud gave sexual drives an importance and centrality in human life, human actions, and human behavior, arguing as he does that sexual drives exist and can be discerned in children from birth, and that sexual energy (libido) is the single most important motivating force in adult life. • Freud effectively redefined the term “sexuality” to make it cover any form of pleasure which is or can be derived from the body. Thus his theory of the instincts or drives is essentially that the human being is energized or driven from birth by the desire to acquire and enhance bodily pleasure.
Human Sexuality • Oral stage of development: infants sucking • Anal stage of development: defecation • Phallic stage of development: interest in its sexual organs as a site of pleasure • develops a deep sexual attraction for the parent of the opposite sex, and a hatred of the parent of the same sex (the Oedipus Complex or the Electra Complex) • feelings of guilt in the child, who recognizes that it can never supplant the stronger parent • Male children fear that because of the sexual attraction for his mother, he may be harmed by the father (castration anxiety) • Female children are initially attached to their mothers. When they discovers that they does not have penises, they becomes attached to their fathers and begin to resent their mothers who they blame for their "castration." • Feelings repressed • Conflict resolved by coming to identify with the parent of the same sex around the age of five • Latency period: sexual motivations become much less pronounced. • Puberty: mature genital development begins, and the pleasure drive refocuses around the genital area.
Neuroses and the Mind’s Structure • Id: the part of the mind in which are situated the instinctual sexual drives which require satisfaction (unconscious) • Super-ego: the part of the mind which contains the “conscience,” namely, socially-acquired control mechanisms which have been internalized, and which are usually imparted in the first instance by the parents (unconscious) • Ego: the conscious self that is created by the dynamic tensions and interactions between the id and the super-ego and has the task of reconciling their conflicting demands with the requirements of external reality(consciousness)
Defense Mechanisms • attempt to prevent conflicts from becoming too acute • Repression: pushing conflicts back into the unconscious • Sublimation: channeling the sexual drives into the achievement socially acceptable goals, in art, science, poetry, and so forth • Fixation: the failure to progress beyond one of the developmental stages • Regression: a return to the behavior characteristic of one of the stages
Dream Analysis • Manifest content of a dream (what the dream appeared to be about on the surface) • Latentcontent (the unconscious, repressed desires or wishes which are its real object). • Dream interpretation: slips of tongue, free-associations, and responses to carefully selected questions lead the analyst to a point where he can locate the unconscious repressions producing the neurotic symptomsand cure the problem • The analyst must facilitate the patient himself to become conscious of unresolved conflicts buried in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind, and to confront and engage with them directly.
Information from: • Stephen P. ThorntonEmail: email@example.comUniversity of LimerickIreland • Last updated: December 29, 2010 | Originally published: April 16, 2001