Clarifying the basic principles of freuds theories

it is important to be clear about the meanings of certain terms that you may come across and throughout the handout you will find footnotes clarifying certain conditions. First of all though, a phrase about the conditions psychoanalysis and psychodynamics. Psychoanalysis identifies both Freud's original attempt at providing a comprehensive theory of your brain and to the associated treatment. The term includes both Freudian theory and therapy. You'll also come across the term psychodynamics. This term is used to denote the procedure which started out with psychoanalysis but which has now broadened into a more diverse assortment of theories and models produced by other psychologists, which nevertheless retain some of the key ideas of Freud's original theory.

Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in Moravia, that was then area of the Austrian Empire and is now in the Czech Republic. He spent most of his life in Vienna, from where he fled, in 1937, when the Nazis invaded. Neither Freud (being Jewish) or his theories were extremely popular with the Nazis and he escaped to London where he passed on in 1939.

He had wanted to be a research scientist but anti-Semitism obligated him to choose a medical career instead and he performed in Vienna as a health care provider, specialising in neurological disorders (disorders of the anxious system). He constantly modified and revised his theories till his loss of life but a lot of his psychoanalytic theory was produced between 1900 and 1930.

Freud originally attempted to explain the workings of the mind in terms of physiology and neurology. . . (but). . . quite early on in his treatment of patients with neurological disorders, Freud realised that symptoms which acquired no organic and natural or physical basis could imitate genuine and they were as real for the patient as if that they had been neurologically brought on. So he began to find psychological explanations of these symptoms and means of dealing with them.

In 1885 he put in a year in Paris learning hypnosis from the neurologist Charcot; then started using hypnosis with his patients in Vienna. However, he found its results to be only momentary at best and it didn't usually reach the main of the condition; nor was everyone with the capacity of being hypnotised. On the other hand Breuer, another Viennese doctor, was developing another approach to remedy which he called the cathartic method, where patients would speak out their problems. Freud implemented Breuer's method and called it free relationship which became one of the three important tools of psychoanalysis.

Freud started his self-analysis through the 1890s and in 1900 printed The Interpretation of Dreams, in which he specified his theory of your brain, followed by The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1904), A Case of Hysteria and Three Essays on the idea of Sexuality (1905).

Two of Freud's closest fellow workers, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, helped him form the psychoanalytic movements and the first International Psychoanalytic Congress was held in Salzburg in 1908. The Journal of Psychoanalysis was first printed in 1909 and, in that year, Freud and Jung made a lecture travel of the USA. (From Gross, R (1996) Mindset, The Technology of Brain and Behaviour, web page 508)

1. 8. 2 FREUD'S Composition OF PERSONALITY

Freud likened the human being personality for an iceberg. The tiny part that presents above the top of water represents mindful experience ; the much bigger mass below the normal water level presents the unconscious - a storehouse of impulses, passions, and inaccessible recollections that impact our thoughts and behavior. It is this part of your brain that Freud wanted to explore by using free relationship.

Freud also thought that personality was composed of three major systems: the identification, the ego and the superego. Each system has its own functions but the three interact to govern behavior.

(a) The id

The id is the most primitive area of the personality and the first to develop. It really is within the newborn infant. It is located in the unconscious which is from the id that the ego and the superego later develop.

The id includes the basic biological impulses (or drives): the necessity to eat, drink, eliminate wastes, avoid pain and gain sexual joy. Freud also believed that hostility was a simple biological drive.

The id seeks immediate gratification of these impulses. Such as a youngster, the id operates on the pleasure concept : it endeavours to avoid pain and obtain pleasure regardless of the exterior circumstances.

(b) The ego

As the kid develops it discovers that their impulses cannot always be immediately gratified. Some must be delayed (for example, cravings for food must hold out until someone provides food) plus some (for example, hitting someone) may be punished.

A new area of the personality, the ego, grows as the young child discovers to consider the needs of simple fact. The ego constitutes our conscious self applied and obeys the truth principle : It is fundamentally the part of personality that determines what actions work and which id impulses will be satisfied in what way. The ego mediates one of the needs of the identification, the realities of the world and the demands of the superego.

(c) The superego

The superego, is the internalised representation of the principles and morals of society as taught to the child by the parents and others. It is fundamentally the individuals conscience. The superego decides whether an action is right or incorrect. In the beginning, parents control a child's behavior directly by pay back and punishment. From the incorporation of parental requirements in to the superego, behaviour is helped bring under self-control. The superego develops in response to parental rewards and punishments.

In overview, the id seeks pleasure, the ego exams actuality and mediates, the superego constrains and strives for efficiency. And in addition, the three components of personality are in frequent discord: the ego postpones the gratification the id desires immediately and the superego battles with both because behaviour often falls in short supply of the moral code it symbolizes.


In order to deal with this issue, the ego grows some defence mechanisms which let it protect itself from the pressures of the identification, the real world and the superego. Good examples are:

Repression - burying a storage area so thoroughly that it is not recalled in any way - "it never happened".

Projection - attributing own unwanted "bad" emotions or suggestions to someone else.

Rationalisation - creating a reasonable excuse for unacceptable behavior and really thinking it.

Suppression - forgetting a surprising event on purpose: (consciously in cases like this) adding it out of your respective mind.

Denial - refusing to acknowledge something since it is so distressing.

Displacement - transferring thoughts from one person or object to some other.

Identification - imitating somebody who is respected and modelling oneself to them.

Reaction-Formation - consciously substituting the contrary sentiment for true emotions about someone/something.

Freud assumed that discord is inevitable and everything behavior is a compromise. Conflict is the root cause of human stress and unhappiness. Defence mechanisms are a method we have of dealing with our inner conflict; neurotic symptoms and dreaming are the other major forms of compromise.


Freud thought that the average person, through the first five years of life, advances through several developmental stages that influence personality. Applying a broad description of sexuality, he called these intervals psychosexual periods. During each level, the pleasure-seeking impulses of the id concentrate on, and derive pleasure from, a particular section of the body and on activities connected start area.

Freud called the first time of life the oral stage of psychosexual development. During this period, infants derive pleasure from medical and sucking; in simple fact, they will put anything they can reach to their mouth.

During the next year of life, the anal level, as children have their first experience with imposed control in the form of their toilet training.

In the phallic stage, from about years 3 to years 6, children concentrate on their genitals. They take notice of the differences between males and females and may point their awakening erotic impulses toward the parent or guardian of the opposite sex. It is at this time that children have to solve the Oedipus and Electra complexes.

A latency period uses the end of the phallic stage, during which children become less concerned with their bodies and transform their focus on the skills needed for coping with the surroundings.

The last level, the genital stage, occurs during adolescence, during which young people commence to carefully turn their sexual hobbies toward others also to love in a far more mature way.

Freud sensed that special problems at any stage could arrest (or fixate) development and also have a lasting influence on the individual's personality. The libido would remain attached to the activities appropriate for that stage. Thus somebody who was weaned very early and didn't have enough sucking pleasure might become fixated at the oral stage. As a grown-up, this person may be exceedingly dependent on others and overly fond of such oral pleasures as eating, drinking and smoking. Such one is named an "dental" personality. The individual fixated at the anal stage of psychosexual development may be abnormally concerned with sanitation, orderliness, and cutting down.


Later psychoanalysts thought that Freud placed too much focus on the instinctive and biological areas of personality and failed to recognise that individuals are products of the culture where they live. The neo-Freudians including Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Carl Jung and Harry Stack Sullivan, considered personality to be designed more by the folks, modern culture, and culture encircling the individual than by biological needs. They positioned less emphasis on the controlling power of the unconscious, thinking that people are usually more logical in their planing and decisions than Freud thought.


The aim of psychoanalytic therapy is to effect a result of a fundamental change in the patient's personality so that he's released from his neurotic disorders. Freud assumed that neurosis was brought on by the repression of disturbing feelings and emotions associated with issues established in early childhood. These conflicts derive from the impulses of the identification or the strictures of the over demanding superego. He assumed that the patient's ego was too fragile to cope with such issues and defended itself by repressing them into the unconscious. However, conflicts do not disappear completely; they find expression through the symptoms and neurotic behaviour of the patients. The goals of psychoanalysis are to eliminate the infantile discord from the unconscious and help the patient package with it at a mindful level.

Psychoanalytic therapy normally has two phases:

1. the release of repression, thus allowing the conflict to enter awareness, and,

2. the redirection of the emotional energy (libido) associated with the repression in so doing allowing the patient's ego to gain control of the issue.

Freud developed various approaches for getting across the controlling pushes of the defence mechanisms to expose the unconscious material which is trying to gain appearance. Among the original methods utilized by Freud was hypnosis, but as has already been talked about, he found this system unsatisfactory and soon began using free relationship. Later Carl Jung, one of Freud's students developed a similar approach known as term connection, and both methods remain widely used in present-day psychoanalysis.

Another technique for getting at unconscious material is the interpretation of dreams. Another road in to the unconscious is via the errors of day-to-day life, so-called Freudian slips.

Present day psychoanalysts also consider certain physiological cues such as position, blushing or pallor and changes in the timbre of the patient's tone of voice as important expressions of unconscious motives and emotions.


Psychoanalytic theory has already established an enormous effect on emotional and philosophical conceptions of human being character. Freud's major contributions are his recognition that unconscious needs and conflicts motivate a lot of out behavior and his focus on the importance of early years as a child activities in personality development. His emphasis on sexual factors resulted in an awareness of the role in modification problems. But Freud made his observations during the Victorian period when intimate requirements were very rigid; so that it is understandable that many of his patient's conflicts centred on the sexual desires. Today, emotions of guilt about love-making are significantly less frequent, yet the incidence of mental illness remains about the same. Sexual conflicts aren't the only cause of personality disturbances - and may well not even be a major cause.

Some critics also explain that Freud's theory of personality is based almost completely on his observations of psychologically disturbed patients and may not be an appropriate of the standard, healthy personality. In addition, a lot of Freud's ideas were decidedly sexist. For instance, his theory that feminine psychosexual development is formed by "penis envy" and emotions of unworthiness because of the lack of such equipment is certainly inadequate because of our current awareness of the role that interpersonal factors play in gender identification. It was probably not her brother's manhood that a young daughter through the Victorian time envied but his increased independence vitality and social status.

Although psychoanalysis has exerted a robust impact on our considering human nature, it has been very seriously questioned as a clinical theory.

Freud's constructs are ambiguous and difficult to specify. He does not identify, for example, what behaviours indicate that a child is fixated at the anal level of psychosexual development and what behaviours indicate that he / she is not fixated. For any body of theory to be accepted as a valid scientific perspective, its consequences must be statable. The hypothesis that fixation at the anal stage can lead to stinginess (or to the contrary, generosity) is evidently not refutable; whatever the outcome, the idea can take into account it. Compared to that extent the psychoanalytic way fails to meet the criteria of a technological theory.

Because some important aspects of psychoanalytic theory cannot be proven experimentally, some psychologists declare that it has no value either as mindset or as knowledge (Eysenck 1972). However, numerous others claim that experimental validity can be an unacceptable yardstick for analyzing psychodynamic theory which the theory is verified in practice in the analyst-patient interview.

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