Sigmund Freud and Freudian Personality Theory

Sigmund Freud, Jung and Horney notes were taken from the fantastic Maltby, Day and Macaskill ‘Individual Differences’ textbook (click image).

 

 

SIGMUND FREUD’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY (c1901)

Conscious thought: things that we’re actively aware of at any given time

Preconscious mind: unconscious thoughts that can be easily recalled to conscious thought

Unconscious mind: things we’re unaware of because they’re actively kept in our unconscious

Repression: active dynamic process keeping unacceptable things in our unconscious

– repression may weaken under stress, drugs

 

Primary process thinking: irrational mental activity linked to the pleasure principle

Pleasure principle: our urge to have our drives met, avoid pain & keep equilibrium

Secondary process thinking: rational thought

Reality principle: acting in line with the current situation/ facts; linked to secondary process

– pleasure principle is innate whereas reality principle is learned as we grow up

 

id: raw, uninhibited, instinctual energy; present at birth; pleasure principle

ego: executive part of personality; mediator with outside world; develops later; reality principle

superego: conscience; internalised parental judgements; opposes id

 

– most of our behaviour is driven by unconscious motives, which are repressed

– sexual, life-preserving and self-destructive drives are the primary motivators of behaviour

– personality is made up of id, ego & superego; defence mechanisms deal with conflict caused between them

– neurosis caused by inability to cope with sexual impulses

– ‘penis envy’ >> inferiority traits & modesty (to hide no penis)

– unconscious has death & sex instincts

– personality develops through 5 stages

 

DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY

erogenous zone: the single part of the body where libido/energy is focused at a certain stage

 

Oral stage (to 1 year):

– mouth, lips and tongue are erogenous zones

– for normal development infants must have enough oral stimulation >> trust in others

– precise amount not specified, but over or under >> fixation (libidinal energy not moved on)

oral receptive character: overindulgence – overly dependent on others, gullible

oral aggressive personality: under-indulgence – exploitative, dominating, sadistic

 

Anal stage (18m to 3yr):

– anal region is erogenous zone

– toilet training is key; should be relaxed about training and reward success

anal retentive: obeying parents – orderly, stingy, stubborn, hoarder, delayed gratification

anal-expulsive: resist parents – disorganised, ignore rules about cleanliness and behaviour

 

Phallic stage (3 to 5yr):

– genitals are erogenous zone

– oedipal /electra complex rivalry >> identification with father/ mother

– fixation for males >> promiscuity, femininity & homosexuality

Latency stage (5 to 12yr): resting period in development; socialisation & learning prioritised

Genital stage (12 to 18yr): libido awakened; oedipal/ electra conflicts may resurface

– earliest stages are the most important: adult personality formed by age 5

 

EVALUATION

description:

– good descriptions of personality development inc. complexity of its functioning e.g. defence mechanisms

– describes why same motives can lead to different behaviour

 

explanation:

– vagueness e.g. what is sufficient oral stimulation?

– defence mechanisms seem to be good explanations of behaviour & are commonly referenced

– sexual & aggressive instincts are sole motivators: can’t cover complexity of our behaviour

– social context ignored; pessimistic view of human nature; focus on irrational behaviour

 

empirical validity & testable concepts:

Silverman (1976): showed subliminally upsetting messages that influenced behaviour

Reason (2000): Sigmund Freud nearly correct in linking cognition, emotion and unconscious

Reason (2000): unconscious is auto mental processing, not Freud’s dynamic unconscious

Hunt (1979) – R – anal characteristic observed but no link to toilet training

Fisher & Greenberg (1996) – R – evidence for oral & anal personalities, not Oedipus & Electra

Maltby et al (2007) – large parts of Sigmund Freud’s work remains untested

 

applied value:

Fonagy et al (1999) – R – some support for effectiveness but not unequivocal

 

 

 


 

DEVELOPMENTS OF FREUDIAN THEORISING

ALFRED ADLER (c1902)

– disagreed with Sigmund Freud’s negative view of human motivation with 3 competing structures

– unity in personality, we know what type we are & work to maintain it

– ‘social context’ crucial in who we become and our problems in living

 

INFERIORITY FEELINGS

– people compensate for inferiorities in same way blind man does with other senses

– imaginary/social inferiorities would cause us to compensate

– inferiority starts at birth (big brother, dad) and so we strive for superiority in all contexts

– our perception important: admitting inferiority is useful; preoccupation>>inferiority complex

– unsuccessful adjustment could otherwise >> superiority complex

– ‘style of life’ is our basic attitude towards life determined by how we approach our inferiority

 

BIRTH ORDER

– family relationships & treatment received vary depending on birth order >> kid’s interpretation of treatment >> goal/style of life >> personality

– family are role models for life, work, friendship, love >> attitude to life/ ‘style of life’  

– neurotic personality develops from uncompensated inferiority, neglect & pampering

 

NEUROTICISM

– associated with inferiority/ superiority complexes

– neurotics feel strong inferiority and try to compensate; are tense, fearful, indecisive

– healthy development needs ‘social interest’ (sense of community, cooperation, helping)

– social interest is innate & fostered by family role models

– high social interest is less self-centered, hostile, aggressive; more cooperative & helpful >>

– 4 personality types: ruling type, avoiding type, getting type & socially useful type (healthy)

Crandall (1980) measured social interest: high vs low are better adjusted, more helpful

Ellenberger (1970) reported personality types useful (but not they’ve not been tested)

 

TREATMENT

– personality determined by style of life & social interest so these were the focus

– psychological illness caused by faulty lifestyle; if patients understood this >> social interest >> healthy lifestyle

– earliest childhood memory important as it determines style of life; also birth order

– unusually, he looked at current external factors, which others thought was irrelevant

 

EVALUATION

– good description of personality development, normal & abnormal behaviour

– inferiority/superiority complex part of everyday language

– groundbreaking concept of explaining how birth order >> experience >> personality

– explanations of development and psychopathology not very detailed

– some support for birth order effects, social interest & early recollections

– social interest as the sole motivator for behaviour is limiting

– ‘striving for superiority’ as sole motivator is dubious

– lacking detail e.g. what’s a good role model or good parenting?

 


 

CARL JUNG (c1906)

– psyche is complex network of opposing forces: aim is create harmony;

– problems if imbalance so treatment helps client achieve balance in their psyche (which can >> self realisation)

– ‘life process energy’ resulted from conflicts between these forces: ‘principle of opposites’

– personality development continues throughout life: lifespan development

– both the past and future goals affect behaviour: future goals = ‘teleology’

– ‘self-realisation’ is endpoint we work towards: achieving our potential, self-acceptance

– happens in later life because life experience is needed

– ‘entropy of the psyche’: drive to balance energy so we express more of ourselves in our behaviour

 

STRUCTURES IN THE PSYCHE

Ego (self): unifying force at centre of consciousness; gives feelings of unique identity & enduring continuity

Personal unconscious: blocked experiences because they are unacceptable (like Sigmund Freud)

Collective unconscious: innate, inherited, shared instincts (e.g.fears, good/bad) – ‘archetypes’

– archetypes influence thinking & behaviour >> we behave in set ways (except ‘self’ archetype)

– ‘principle of synchronicity’ e.g. death archetype in coll. unconscious tells of a death via dream and that person actually dies: unpredictability in behaviour

 

PERSONALITY TYPES

Extraversion: external world focus; outgoing, open, adaptable, friendships, confident

Introversion: internal focus; hesitant, shrinking, reflective, defensive, hide from scrutiny

– 4 key distinctions within these 2 personality types: sensing, thinking, feeling, intuitive

– the 2 personality types interact with the world in those 4 ways

 

EVALUATION

– doesn’t describe personality development in detail (focus on middle-age & self-realisation)

– theory confusing and complex with obscure historical references

– difficult to say why certain behaviours occur (e.g. which archetype(s) causes a man to love a certain woman?)

– believed explanation was pointless: we behave like that because of the way we’re wired

– OC: these criticisms might be why Maltby says theory didn’t stimulate much research

– difficult to test but Myers-Briggs TI etc measure personality types with some success

– Eysenck measured introversion & extroversion with success

– covered lots of ground (e.g. religion, relationships) but superficially

 


 

KAREN HORNEY c1920?

– Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory too limited to explain all psychological disturbance

– attacked Freud’s penis envy & concept of female masochism

– emphasised role of cultural and social factors in personality development

– warm consistent parenting necessary for normal development >> real self

 

– ‘real self’: ultimate expression of abilities and talents; relating to others easily = goal

– disturbed (poor/imbalanced parent-child) relationships >> unhealthy personality development: neurosis

– ‘defensive attitudes’ used for avoiding pain & giving safety: neurotic needs

– these needs use up child’s energies and they become distanced from real selves

[- each culture produces fears: healthy people cope via defence mechanisms; neurotic can’t]

– neurotics create ‘idealised selves’: images showing themselves as powerful & successful

 

– ‘tyranny of the shoulds’: neurotic’s drive to become idealised self; if only…then I’d be OK

– 10 neurotic needs e.g. need for power (should be on top); for approval (should be loved)

– needs combine to form 4 personality types: compliant, aggressive, detached, healthy (healthy is adaptable mix of these)

– ‘externalisation’: use of (7) defence mechanisms by neurotics to apply their faults to others

– treatment is about relationships, understanding neurotic conflicts, giving up illusions, finding true self

 

EVALUATION

– description of adult/ neurotic personalities clear and intuitively makes sense

– doesn’t explain how developmental experiences cause specific neurotic needs

– defence mechanisms give good explanations of common behaviour styles

– some evidence for tyranny of the shoulds & neurotic needs

– extreme competitiveness measure has been developed and matches Horney’s desc

– Horney’s concepts too difficult to measure precisely

– not comprehensive/ lack detail on normal personality development (focus on neurosis)

– incorporates social and cultural factors

 


 

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