Personality: What makes us different? An individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting
Sigmund Freud • Austrian physician • Worked with patients who had nervous disorders • Complaints could not be explained by physical causes • A patient who lost all feeling in their hand, yet had no nerve damage • Could neurological disorders have psychological causes? • Created the first comprehensive view of personality • Major components of his theory: • Unconscious mind • Psychosexual stages • Defense mechanisms • Free association and psychoanalysis
Believed that.. • A person’s thoughts and behaviors emerge from tension generated by unconscious instincts/drives and unresolved childhood conflicts • Sexual instinct = ANY form of pleasure • Nothing is accidental • Freudian slips: A financially stressed patient (when given pills to take) – “I don’t want any large bills, because I cannot swallow them.”
View of the mind • Conscious Mind - the thoughts and feelings one is currently aware of • Preconscious Mind - region of the mind holding information that is not conscious but is retrievable into conscious awareness • Unconscious Mind - region of the mind that includes unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories • These have been repressed (forcibly blocked) because they would be too unsettling to acknowledge • Most of the mind is hidden • Could be tapped through free association
Model of Mind The mind is like an iceberg. It is mostly hidden, and below the surface lies the unconscious mind. The preconscious stores temporary memories.
Exploring the unconscious • Free Association: saying whatever comes to mind; a chain of thoughts that leads to painful, embarrassing, unconscious memories • This is psychoanalysis (Freud’s form of therapy) • Dream Analysis: Interpreting manifest and latent content of dreams • Manifest: actual happenings of dream • Latent: unconscious wishes present in the dream
Personality Structure • Our personalities arise from a conflict between impulse and restraint • Need to express impulses in ways that bring satisfaction without also bringing guilt or punishment • Composed of three interacting systems: id, ego, superego
The “Id” (“It” in latin) • Part of personality that consists of unconscious energy that strives to satisfy one’s drives to survive, reproduce, and aggress • Operates on the “pleasure principle” - demands immediate gratification • “Seat” of our impulses • Present from birth • Completely unconscious • Not in contact with the real world!
the “Ego” • Part of personality that mediates the demands of the id without going against the restraints of the superego • Controls all thinking and reasoning activities • Personality executive • Negotiates with the id, pleases the superego • Follows the reality principle – intelligent reasoning • Operates consciously, preconsciously, and unconsciously • Seen by others
the “Superego” • Part of personality that consists of internalized ideals and standards • One’s conscience; focuses on what the person “should” do • Moral watchdog/compass • Strives for perfection • Judges decisions and produces positive feelings of pride or negative feelings of guilt • Not present at birth (children are amoral – do whatever is pleasurable)
Personality development • Focuses on how we satisfy sexual instinct during the course of life • How does one deal with the sexual impulses of the id? (sexual…probably closer to “sensual”) ` • Energy (the libido) becomes focused on various sensitive parts of the body (erogenous zones) during development (it is sequential) • Personality is the product of conflict during these stages
Oedipus Complex • Develops during the phallic stage • Children develop an attachment to the parent of the opposite sex • Also become jealous of the same-sex parent • Oedipus for boys • Electra for girls (this was named post-Freud) • Most children resolve this conflict by identifying with the parent of the same sex (adopting values and characteristics of them) • Thus forming the superego
Fixation • If a child is deprived of pleasure or allowed too much gratification from the part of the body that dominates a certain stage, some energy remains tied to that part of the body • Person then doesn’t move on in a normal sequence (which would give the person a fully integrated personality) • This (fixation) leads to immature forms of sexuality or certain personality characteristics later in life • Could lead to neurosis (anxiety disorder)
Defense mechanisms • Threats to the balance of the id, ego, and superego can result in anxiety • Protective behaviors (defense mechanisms) are used to cope with anxiety • Repression • Sublimination • Rationalization (not in your book) • Excuses are made for anxiety-producing behavior • Displacement • Reaction Formation • Projection • Denial • Regression • Identification • Undoing (engaging in contrary behavior in order to “undo” an unhealthy thought) • These allow us to channel self-destructive/painful energy into constructive/ managable behavior
1. Denial Denial is the refusal to accept reality or fact, acting as if a painful event, thought or feeling did not exist. It is considered one of the most primitive of the defense mechanisms because it is characteristic of early childhood development. Many people use denial in their everyday lives to avoid dealing with painful feelings or areas of their life they don’t wish to admit. For instance, a person who is a functioning alcoholic will often simply deny they have a drinking problem, pointing to how well they function in their job and relationships. 2. Regression Regression is the reversion to an earlier stage of development in the face of unacceptable thoughts or impulses. For an example an adolescent who is overwhelmed with fear, anger and growing sexual impulses might become clingy and start exhibiting earlier childhood behaviors he has long since overcome, such as bedwetting. An adult may regress when under a great deal of stress, refusing to leave their bed and engage in normal, everyday activities.
3. Projection • Projection is the misattribution of a person’s undesired thoughts, feelings or impulses onto another person who does not have those thoughts, feelings or impulses. Projection is used especially when the thoughts are considered unacceptable for the person to express, or they feel completely ill at ease with having them. For example, a spouse may be angry at their significant other for not listening, when in fact it is the angry spouse who does not listen. Projection is often the result of a lack of insight and acknowledgement of one’s own motivations and feelings. • 4. Reaction Formation • Reaction Formation is the converting of unwanted or dangerous thoughts, feelings or impulses into their opposites. For instance, a woman who is very angry with her boss and would like to quit her job may instead be overly kind and generous toward her boss and express a desire to keep working there forever. She is incapable of expressing the negative emotions of anger and unhappiness with her job, and instead becomes overly kind to publicly demonstrate her lack of anger and unhappiness.
5. Repression • Repression is the unconscious blocking of unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses. The key to repression is that people do it unconsciously, so they often have very little control over it. “Repressed memories” are memories that have been unconsciously blocked from access or view. But because memory is very malleable and ever-changing, it is not like playing back a DVD of your life. The DVD has been filtered and even altered by your life experiences, even by what you’ve read or viewed. • 6. Displacement • Displacement is the redirecting of thoughts feelings and impulses directed at one person or object, but taken out upon another person or object. People often use displacement when they cannot express their feelings in a safe manner to the person they are directed at. The classic example is the man who gets angry at his boss, but can’t express his anger to his boss for fear of being fired. He instead comes home and kicks the dog or starts an argument with his wife. The man is redirecting his anger from his boss to his dog or wife. Naturally, this is a pretty ineffective defense mechanism, because while the anger finds a route for expression, it’s misapplication to other harmless people or objects will cause additional problems for most people.
7. Rationalization • Rationalization is putting something into a different light or offering a different explanation for one’s perceptions or behaviors in the face of a changing reality. For instance, a woman who starts dating a man she really, really likes and thinks the world of is suddenly dumped by the man for no reason. She reframes the situation in her mind with, “I suspected he was a loser all along.” • 8. Undoing • Undoing is the attempt to take back an unconscious behavior or thought that is unacceptable or hurtful. For instance, after realizing you just insulted your significant other unintentionally, you might spend then next hour praising their beauty, charm and intellect. By “undoing” the previous action, the person is attempting to counteract the damage done by the original comment, hoping the two will balance one another out.
9. Sublimation • Sublimation is simply the channeling of unacceptable impulses, thoughts and emotions into more acceptable ones. For instance, when a person has sexual impulses they would like not to act upon, they may instead focus on rigorous exercise. Refocusing such unacceptable or harmful impulses into productive use helps a person channel energy that otherwise would be lost or used in a manner that might cause the person more anxiety. • Sublimation can also be done with humor or fantasy. Humor, when used as a defense mechanism, is the channeling of unacceptable impulses or thoughts into a light-hearted story or joke. Humor reduces the intensity of a situation, and places a cushion of laughter between the person and the impulses. Fantasy, when used as a defense mechanism, is the channeling of unacceptable or unattainable desires into imagination. For example, imagining one’s ultimate career goals can be helpful when one experiences temporary setbacks in academic achievement. Both can help a person look at a situation in a different way, or focus on aspects of the situation not previously explored.
What did they believe? • All accepted Freud’s basic ideas: id, ego, superego; importance of the unconscious; shaping of personality in childhood; anxiety and defense mechanisms • Disagreed: • Placed more emphasis on the conscious mind’s role in interpreting experience and in coping with the environment • Doubted that sex and aggression were all-consuming motivations
Alfred Adler • Believed that childhood was important for personality development, but it was social, not sexual, tensions that influenced personality • Inferiority Complex: Much of our behavior is driven by efforts to conquer childhood feelings of inferiority • Triggers our strivings for superiority and power – overcompensation • Also said that siblings could have an influence on development
Carl Jung • Believed that the unconscious represented more than just our thoughts and feelings • Said we have a collective unconscious • Memories and behavior patterns that are inherited from past generations and shared by all humans • Thought forms common to all people were known as archetypes • Hero, quest, scapegoat, great/good mother, terrible mother/witch, soul-mate/princess • Check your book for: • Persona • Introverts v. Extraverts
Karen Horney • Said that environmental and social factors were the most important factors in forming personality • Said Freud overemphasized the sex drive • Concentrated on aspects of culture that contributed to women’s feelings of inferiority • Fought against Freud’s belief that women had weak superegos and suffered “penis envy”
Evaluating the Psychodynamic Perspective • Some say that to criticize Freud’s theory by comparing it with current concepts is like criticizing Henry Fords Model T by comparing it with today’s hybrid cars • Most psychologists do not adhere to Freud’s theory of personality • Admirers and critics both agree that research contradicts many of his specific ideas • Development is lifelong, not just during childhood • Infants neural networks cannot sustain as much emotional trauma as Freud assumed • Overestimated parental influence and underestimated peer influence
Criticisms… • Doubt that conscience and gender identity form as a child resolves the Oedipus complex • More evidence supports other dream theories • Slips of the tongue: competition between similar verbal choices in our memory • Little support shows that defense mechanisms disguise sexual and aggressive impulses • Suppressed sexuality creates psychological disorders…not true.
Repression • Idea on which Freud’s theories rest • We can banish offending wishes and memories into the unconsciousness until they resurface • Most researchers acknowledge that we can sometimes neglect information that is threatening • But most researchers say that repression is rare and only occurs in response to terrible trauma • High stress and stress hormones enhance memory
Freud and Scientific Methods • Freud’s theories rest on few objective observations • Theory offers few testable hypothesis (all good research should!) • Offers after-the-fact explanations of characteristics but does not predict such behaviors and traits
So what has Freud contributed? • We are not always aware of the real causes of our behavior • First complete theory of personality • Psychoanalysis can be effective
Projective (Projection) Tests • Derived from the defense mechanisms of projection • We can access the unconscious mind by providing an ambiguous stimulus, onto which participants “project” their personalities as they describe the object • Rorschach Inkblot Test (1921): Most famous • 10 different inkblots, some in color, some not • What do they look like? • Responses are scored using a manual by an examiner • Serious questions about its reliability and validity • Still used though! • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): people view ambiguous pictures and then make up stories about them
Can we trust these tests? • Rorschach: • A research based, computer-aided tool has been designed to improve agreement among raters and enhance test’s validity • Scores for hostility and anxiety have demonstrated some validity • Not very reliable…