Chapter Two: Theories of Personality

The Psychodynamic Tradition

INTRODUCTION

When people think of psychology and personality, the theories of Freud and his successors come to mind.

WHAT'S AHEAD

KEY CONCEPTS


Overview/Introduction
Freud and Psychoanalysis

Structure of Personality
Defense Mechanisms
Development of Personality
Impact of Freudian Theory

Two Other Psychodynamic Approaches

Jungian
Object-Relations School

Evaluating Psychodynamic Theories

 





Overview/Introduction [p.55]

INTRODUCTION

The psychodynamic theories emphasize the movement of psychological energy within the person in terms of conflicts, motivations and attachments.


KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED

There are five common characteristics of psychodynamic theories:

  1. Emphasis on intrapsychic dynamics.

  2. An assumption that adult behavior/problems are determined by early childhood experiences.

  3. A belief that psychological development occurs in fixed stages, during which predictable issues must be resolved.

  4. A focus on fantasies and symbolic meanings of events as the unconscious perceives them (psychic reality) as the main motivators in personality.

  5. A reliance on subjective rather than objective methods of investigation of personality.

GLOSSARY

psychoanalysis

psychodynamic theories

intrapsychic  



Freud and Psychoanalysis [p.56]

INTRODUCTION

Adult personality reflects how well your ego handles conflicts arising from the id and superego; how you progressed through the psychosexual stages of development; and which defense mechanisms you use to reduce your anxiety.

KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED

..Unconscious Motivation


..The Structure of Personality [p.56]

Our behavior results from the integration of three major personality systems: the id, the ego, and the superego.


...Id

...Ego

.EE

..
Superego


..The systems in action:

  ID "I want it and I want it RIGHT NOW!"
SuperEgo "You can't have it, it's BAD FOR YOU."
Ego "Let's see if we can get the low fat version, or maybe we can take a very small helping."

..
...
The conscious/unconscious aspects of the three systems:

Click for a larger picture


.
Healthy Personality: The Three Systems in Balance

. GLOSSARY

id

libido

ego  

superego  


..Defense Mechanisms [p.57]

I
NTRODUCTION

The conflict between the Id's wishes and the Superego's societal rules can produce unpleasant anxiety. The Ego uses methods called defense mechanisms to relieve anxiety and tension.

KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED
...


..Development of Personality [p.57]

INTRODUCTION

At each stage of early childhood development, specific events produce frustration, conflict, and anxiety. How the person deals with these issues become the foundation for their adult personality.

KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED


...Oral Stage (0-1year old)

...Anal Stage (2-3 years old)


...Phallic Stage (3-6 years old)

......Time for gender identification and development of the superego.

......Genitals are the focus of sensations.

.....Boys: The Oedipus Complex -- a journey in symbolism.


.....Girls


....Possible Fixations in personality:


...Latency Stage (end of phallic to puberty)


...Genital Stage (puberty strikes)

.


.
Freud's Legacy [p.59]

There are widely differing opinions about Freud's legacy -- from a hero who bravely battled public pressure to seek the truth, to an arrogant bully whose patients would be suing him for malpractice if he were practicing today.



LINKS About Freud and Psychoanalysis











Two Other Psychodynamic Approaches [p.60]

INTRODUCTION

Two other approaches went beyond Freud's emphasis on the personal unconscious, a harried ego, and a independent organism wracked by instinctive drives.


Jungian Theory [p.60]

INTRODUCTION

Jung differed from Freud on the nature of the unconscious and its influence, as well as the strength of the ego.


KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED



. GLOSSARY

collective unconscious

archetypes


LINKS About Jung



The Object-Relations School
[p.61]

INTRODUCTION

The need for attachment in early life highlighted the social nature of human development.


KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED

. GLOSSARY

object-Relations school  

LINKS About Object-relations School





Evaluating Psychodynamic Theories [p.62]

INTRODUCTION

Psychodynamic ideas are better thought of as descriptive metaphors than scientific studies.

KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED

  1. Violates Principle of Falsifiability

    • Impossible to confirm or disconfirm (rewind to fuller discussion in Chap 1).

  2. Drawing universal principles from the experiences of a few atypical patients is risky.

    • (rewind to fuller discussion in Chap 1).

    • Can easily overgeneralize and Freud did not confirm his ideas with larger samples of people.

  3. Basing theories of development on retrospective accounts and fallible memories of patients is also risky.

    • Memory is often inaccurate. (fast forward to fuller discussion in Chap 7).

    • Retrospective accounts often create the illusion of causality.


DD

LINKS About Cross-Cultural Travel Issues


Next Topic - The Humanistic Tradition.....................................Chapter Contents