Sigmund Freud Essay
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Sigmund Freud was an Austrian physician, neurologist, and founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of human personality. Through his skill as a scientist, physician and writer, he combined ideas prevalent at the time with his own observation and study to produce a major theory of psychology (Encarta, “Sigmund Freud”). Sigmund Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression.
He is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life which is directed toward a wide variety of objects; as well as his therapeutic techniques, including his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship and the presumed value of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires.
II. Psychoanalysis Freud’s account of the sexual genesis and nature of neuroses led him naturally to develop a clinical treatment for treating such disorders.
This has become so influential today that when people speak of ‘psychoanalysis’ they frequently refer exclusively to the clinical treatment; however, the term properly designates both the clinical treatment and the theory which underlies it. The aim of the method may be stated simply in general terms – to re-establish a harmonious relationship between the three elements which constitute the mind by excavating and resolving unconscious repressed conflicts (http://www. iep. utm. edu/f/freud. htm). a. The Id, Superego, and Ego
The mind is broken down into three divisions: the Id, Ego, and Superego. The Id is the component of the personality that is completely unconscious and contains all the instincts. The Id is what Freud referred to as the basic animalistic drive that a person is born with. It satisfies the wants of hunger, thirst, elimination, sex and reproduction (libido). Freud referred to the libido as the psychic energy associated with the sexual instinct. He later expanded the concept to include the energy associated with all the life instincts. The Superego is the moral component of the personality.
It likes to feel in control. This is what predicts the consequences of the actions you are thinking about making. The Superego develops its morals through socialization. The Ego is the mediator between the Id and Superego. It allows the Id to experience enough pleasure so it doesn’t become anxious and also so that the Superego won’t give the Id too hard of a guilt trip. Adolescents who have weak ego strength tend to have behavioral problems. b. The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious The conscious is the part of your mind that is what you are currently thinking.
This is how you are able to see the professor and associate him with his voice. The subconscious is the level where information is stored that you don’t use all the time. Information at this level can be retrieved easily though. The unconscious is where dramatic information is stored so that a person will not remember it. It is constantly pushing this information out of the unconscious level into the conscious level. c. Defense Mechanisms Defense mechanisms are the rational approaches of the ego to reduce or remove anxiety. All of the following mechanisms have two things in common.
The first common thing is that all of the ego-defense mechanisms are all unconscious and the person is unaware that they are doing this. The second is that they falsify or distort reality. i. Repression Repression is the mechanism by which the ego prevents anxiety-provoking thoughts from being entertained on the conscious level. For Freud, the mechanism of repression was of vital importance because repressed thoughts do not stop having an influence on our personality, but they are simply not readily available in the consciousness.
The recognition of the wider needs and scientific issues which his empirical study of men’s unconscious motives brought to light, together with the increasing realization of the therapeutic difficulties involved in many of his cases, doubtless augmented Freud’s determination to search out to the utmost every indication of repressed “sexuality,” . and this brought him much criticism, which was only relatively sound (Putnam, 153). ii. Displacement Displacement is the substitution of one need satisfier for another.
For example, the ego may substitute an available object for one that is not available, or it may substitute a non anxiety-provoking object or activity for one that does cause anxiety. With displacement, what a person truly desires is repressed and is replaced with something safer. iii. Identification Identification can be used to describe the tendency to increase personal feelings of worth by affiliating oneself with psychologically with a person, group, or institution perceived as illustrious. iv. Denial of Reality
Denial of Reality is the mechanism that involves the denial of some fact in one’s life despite abundant evidence for its reality. A person using this mechanism is not in touch with at least some part of reality and this could impair normal functioning. An example would include the refusal to believe a loved one has died due to their negative attributes. v. Projection Projection is the mechanism by which something that is true of the person and would cause anxiety if it were recognized is repressed and projection onto someone or something else instead.
It is the repressing anxiety-provoking truths about oneself and seeing them in others instead. This is most commonly seen. There are some people who will refuse to blame themselves for their failures; instead they put the blame on someone or something else. vi. Undoing Undoing is when a person commits an unacceptable act, or thinks about doing so, and then engages in ritualistic activities designed to atone for or undo the unacceptable act or thought. An example of this can even be read in the Bible, when Pontius Pilate “washes his hands clean” after condemning Jesus to be crucified, knowing full well he was innocent.
vii. Reaction Formation Reaction formation is the inhibition of an anxiety-provoking thought by exaggerating its opposite. People who tend to display reaction formation are more intense and extravagant in their emotions. viii. Rationalization Rationalization is the mechanism when a person gives a rational, logical, however incorrect, excuse for behavior or thoughts that otherwise would cause anxiety. ix. Intellectualization Intellectualization is the defense mechanism that minimizes the negative emotions that are associated with an event by detached, logical analysis of the event.
x. Regression Regression is the mechanism of returning to an earlier stage of development when stress is encountered. This is most commonly seen when a person is fixated in one of the earlier stages of psychosexual development, which will be discussed later in this paper. xi. Altruistic surrender Altruistic surrender is a defense mechanism postulated by Anna Freud by which a person internalizes the values of another person and lives his or her life in accordance with those values. xii. Identification with the aggressor
Identification with the aggressor was another mechanism postulated by Anna Freud by which the fear caused by a person is reduced or eliminated by internalizing the feared person’s values and mannerisms. III. Psychosexual Theory Freud believed every child goes through a sequence of developmental stages, and the child’s experiences during these stages determine adult personality characteristics. In fact, Freud believed that for all practical purposes, the adult personality is formed by the end of the fifth year of life (Hergenhahn, 40).
The psychosexual theory, Freud believed, is made up of five main parts: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital. During each of these five stages, a person is said to have a specific erogenous area, which is the body part that is the source of pleasure. If a child is either over gratified or under gratified during the stage they are in, they then develop a certain fixation. A fixation is identified as the point to which an adult regresses under stress. A fixation is more likely to occur during the first three stages.
It is the libido which undergoes a process of historical development in each human from infancy through adolescence to adulthood in a series of “plateaus” which Freud called Psychosexual Stages of Development. But just what happens to the libido as it passes through the various stages of psychosexual development led Freud to a more generalized theory of the Neuroses, and to his first clear-cut affirmation of the philosophy of Dualism (Pasotti, 46). a. Oral The oral stage was said to occur between birth and around twelve to eighteen months. The erogenous area during this stage is the mouth.
At this point, the infant is pure id that just has two simple fears: falling and abandonment. They are dependent on other people to fulfill their pleasure. This first stage can be broken down into two stages: Oral Incorporative and Oral Sadistic. The Oral Incorporative stage occurs during the first six months of life. The Id experiences pleasure by sucking, tasting, swallowing, and getting a full stomach. It is crucial that the child experiences enough pleasure without becoming frustrated. If the child gets anxiety without getting pleasure, it will then fixate here since it has not received enough pleasure.
This can be witnessed in adults who are smokers and those who are in constant need of liquids. The Oral Sadistic stage occurs during the last five to six months of the oral stage. The Id now experiences its pleasure through chewing. It also doesn’t like to experience pain. This is why infants like teething rings, so that they can bite down on them to decrease the pain they are feeling. It also gets pleasure at gnawing on whatever it can. Those who are fixated here are often seen chewing on either pen caps, toothpicks, and their nails. b. Anal The anal stage was said to occur between twelve to eighteen months until three years.
It experiences pleasure through the urge and feeling of needing to go to the bathroom. For them it is as near to feeling back in the womb as anything else. During this stage is when a person has their first encounter with the Superego. This occurs when the parents say that you are no longer allowed to go to the bathroom in your diapers. Some parents tend to get potty training done quickly and too early. These parents usually ridicule their child if they are unable to get it right and are often too rigid. Other parents can also be really relaxed when it comes to training their children and it occurs too late and with little control.
There are two possible outcomes if a child becomes fixated during the anal stage of development. The anal-retentive personality is the fixation of the children whose parents were too strict during their potty training. These people have the constant need for control; they must have everything under control, organized, in order, and pay excessive attention to detail. The opposite fixation results in an anal-expulsive personality, as a result of their parents being too relaxed with their potty training. These people have a lack of self control, and usually tend to be messy and careless.
A good example of these opposites can be seen when you watch the television show The Odd Couple. Felix would be the example of the anal-retentive personality, while Oscar is the example of a person who has an anal-expulsive personality. c. Phallic The phallic stage occurs between three to either five or six years of age. The pleasure during this stage is an emotional sexual reaction, which occurs through the attachment to the parent of the opposite sex. For boys during this stage it is referred to as the Oedipal stage. For girls during this stage it is referred to as the Electra complex.
During the Oedipal stage, the boys show sexual emotional attachment with their mothers that result in them to become resistant to their fathers. During the Electra complex, girls show sexual emotional attachment toward their fathers that result in them to feel resentment towards their mothers, who are accused of robbing them of their time with their fathers. Freud thought this to be a natural process. This lays the foundation for how they will function with the opposite sex down the road. Fixation occurs when the boys feel that they are not close enough to the mother, which cause trouble with women later.
If the mother had avoided him he will feel that all women will avoid him. However, if the mother is too attached the boy will feel that no other woman can compare to her. Fixation in girls occurs when they are not close enough to the father, resulting in trouble trusting men later if her father avoided her. If the father is too close, however, the girl will marry someone who is like her father, but doesn’t compare to him. Boys suffer a castration anxiety, where the son believes his father knows about his desire for his mother and hence fears his father will castrate him.
He thus represses his desire and defensively identifies with his father. Girls suffer a penis envy, where the daughter is initially attached to her mother, but then a shift of attachment occurs when she realizes she lacks a penis. She desires her father whom she sees as a means to obtain a penis substitute (a child). She then represses her desire for her father and incorporates the values of her mother and accepts her inherent ‘inferiority’ in society. (http://changingminds. org/explanations/learning/freud_stage. htm) d. Latency This stage occurs between the ages of six and twelve years of age.
During this stage sexual feelings are repressed and are substituted with other activities. This is the time where the boys become close friends with their fathers and when the girls become closer with their mothers. During this stage, Freud said, is when they are learning how they should act when they become an adult. e. Genital This stage begins at puberty, around the age of twelve, and continues throughout the rest of life. Around the age of twelve the reproductive organs will finish developing. The child grows out of their selfish, pleasure-seeking needs and becomes a realistic adult that is a part of society.
IV. Dream Analysis Dream analysis, which Freud talked about in his book The Interpretation of Dreams, is what most people believe to be his most important contribution. According to him, a dream is caused when the events of the day activate unacceptable impulses in the unconscious mind, causing them to seek conscious expression. The two most important types of dream work are condensation and displacement. Condensation occurs when a dream element represents several ideas at the same time, for example one person in a dream can represent multiple people in the dreamer’s waking life.
Displacement occurs when an unacceptable dream-thought is replaced by a thought that is symbolically equivalent but is considered more acceptable. By general consensus “The Interpretation of Dreams” was Freud’s major work, the one by which his name will probably be longest remembered. Freud’s own opinion would seem to have agreed with this judgment. As he wrote in his preface to the third English edition, “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime.
” It was a perfect example of serendipity, for the discovery of what dreams mean was made quite incidentally–one might almost say accidentally–when Freud was engaged in exploring the meaning of the psychoneuroses (Jones, 350) V. Conclusion Today, Freud’s method is only one among many types of psychotherapy used in psychiatry. Many objections have been leveled against traditional psychoanalysis, both for its methodological rigidity and for its lack of theoretical rigor. A number of modern psychologists have pointed out that traditional psychoanalysis relies too much on ambiguities for its data, such as dreams and free associations.
Without empirical evidence, Freudian theories often seem weak, and ultimately fail to initiate standards for treatment (Columbia Encyclopedia, “Psychoanalysis”). VI.
Books • Hergenhahn, B. R, An Introduction to Theories of Personality, Seventh Edition. Upper Saddle Ridge, New Jersey: Prentice Hall 2007. • Jones, Ernest, “The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud: The Formative Years and the Great Discoveries,” 1856-1900 Vol. 1. 1953. • Pasotti, Robert N, The Major Works of Sigmund Freud: A Critical Commentary. New York, New York: Monarch Press 1974.
Journals/Magazines • Putnam, James J, “The theories of Freud, Jung and Adler: 1. The work of Sigmund Freud,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 12, Issue 3. August 1917, pp. 145-160 • Renterghem, A. W. Van, “Freud and his school: New paths of psychology,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol. 9, Issue: 6, February 1915. pp. 369-384 Encyclopedias • Encarta, “Sigmund Freud,” 2007. • The Columbia Encyclopedia, “Psychoanalysis,” 2007. Internet • http://changingminds. org/explanations/learning/freud_stage. htm • http://www. iep. utm. edu/f/freud. htm