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Describe the strengths and limitations of the psychodynamic approach to explaining personality.
Although measures such as the Big Five and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) are able to effectively assess personality, they do not say much about where personality comes from. One of the most important psychological approaches to understanding personality is based on the theorizing of the Austrian physician and psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who founded what today is known as the psychodynamic approachAn approach to understanding human behavior that focuses on the role of unconscious thoughts, feelings and memories. Freud was influenced by the work of the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893), who had been interviewing patients (almost all women) who were experiencing what was at the time known as hysteria.
Freud and Charcot also found that during hypnosis the remembering of the trauma was often accompanied by an outpouring of emotion, known as catharsis, and that following the catharsis the patient’s symptoms were frequently reduced in severity. Freud used the observations that he and Charcot had made to develop his theory regarding the sources of personality and behavior, and his insights are central to the fundamental themes of psychology. In Sigmund Freud’s conceptualization of personality, the most important motivations are unconscious, just as the major part of an iceberg is under water. In stark contrast to the id, the superegoIn psychodynamic psychology, the component of personality that represents our sense of morality and oughts. In contrast to the id, which is about the pleasure principle, the function of the ego is based on the reality principle—the idea that we must delay gratification of our basic motivations until the appropriate time with the appropriate outlet.
Freud believed that psychological disorders, and particularly the experience of anxiety, occur when there is conflict or imbalance among the motivations of the id, ego, and superego.
A student who is angry at her professor for a low grade lashes out at her roommate, who is a safer target of her anger. A man with powerful unconscious sexual desires for women claims that women use him as a sex object.
A drama student convinces herself that getting the part in the play wasn’t that important after all. Jane is sexually attracted to friend Jake, but she claims in public that she intensely dislikes him. A person who witnesses his parents having sex is later unable to remember anything about the event.
The most controversial, and least scientifically valid, part of Freudian theory is its explanations of personality development. Pleasure comes from the genitals, and the conflict is with sexual desires for the opposite-sex parent. In the first of Freud’s proposed stages of psychosexual development, which begins at birth and lasts until about 18 months of age, the focus is on the mouth. The anal stage, lasting from about 18 months to 3 years of age is when children first experience psychological conflict. The phallic stage, which lasts from age 3 to age 6 is when the penis (for boys) and clitoris (for girls) become the primary erogenous zone for sexual pleasure. The fifth and last stage, the genital stage, begins about 12 years of age and lasts into adulthood. Freudian theory was so popular that it led to a number of followers, including many of Freud’s own students, who developed, modified, and expanded his theories. Alfred Adler (1870–1937) was a follower of Freud who developed his own interpretation of Freudian theory. Carl Jung (1875–1961) was another student of Freud who developed his own theories about personality.
Karen Horney (the last syllable of her last name rhymes with “eye”; 1855–1952), was a German physician who applied Freudian theories to create a personality theory that she thought was more balanced between men and women. Fromm believed that the primary human motivation was to escape the fear of death, and contemporary research has shown how our concerns about dying can influence our behavior.
Then the participants read the essay that had supposedly just been written by another person. At this point the participants moved on to what they thought was a completely separate study in which they were to be tasting and giving their impression of some foods. As you can see in Figure 11.10 “Aggression as a Function of Mortality Salience and Provocation”, McGregor et al. Participants who had been provoked by a stranger who disagreed with them on important opinions, and who had also been reminded of their own death, administered significantly more unpleasant hot sauce to the partner than did the participants in the other three conditions.
Freud has probably exerted a greater impact on the public’s understanding of personality than any other thinker, and he has also in large part defined the field of psychology.
Nevertheless, Freud’s theories, as well as those of the neo-Freudians, have in many cases failed to pass the test of empiricism, and as a result they are less influential now than they have been in the past (Crews, 1998).Crews, F. A particular problem for testing Freudian theories is that almost anything that conflicts with a prediction based in Freudian theory can be explained away in terms of the use of a defense mechanism. In terms of the important role of the unconscious, Freud seems to have been at least in part correct.
Taken together, it is fair to say that Freudian theory, like most psychological theories, was not entirely correct and that it has had to be modified over time as the results of new studies have become available.
Psychoanalytic models of personality were complemented during the 1950s and 1960s by the theories of humanistic psychologistsAn approach to psychology that embraces the notions of self-esteem, self-actualization, and free will..
One of the most important humanists, Abraham Maslow (1908–1970), conceptualized personality in terms of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy of motives (Figure 11.11 “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”).
Maslow studied how successful people, including Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, and Mahatma Gandhi had been able to lead such successful and productive lives. Then, at a later research session, Higgins first asked people to express their current emotions, including those related to sadness and anxiety. As you can see in Figure 11.12 “Results From Higgins, Bond, Klein, and Strauman, 1986”, for low self-concept discrepancy participants, thinking about their ideal or ought selves did not much change their emotions. One of the critical aspects of Higgins’s approach is that, as is our personality, our feelings are also influenced both by our own behavior and by our expectations of how other people view us. One of the most important psychological approaches to understanding personality is based on the psychodynamic approach to personality developed by Sigmund Freud. For Freud the mind was like an iceberg, with the many motivations of the unconscious being much larger, but also out of sight, in comparison to the consciousness of which we are aware.
Freud proposed that the mind is divided into three components: id, ego, and superego, and that the interactions and conflicts among the components create personality. Freud proposed that we use defense mechanisms to cope with anxiety and to maintain a positive self-image. Freud argued that personality is developed through a series of psychosexual stages, each focusing on pleasure from a different part of the body. The neo-Freudian theorists, including Adler, Jung, Horney, and Fromm, emphasized the role of the unconscious and early experience in shaping personality, but placed less evidence on sexuality as the primary motivating force in personality.
Psychoanalytic and behavioral models of personality were complemented during the 1950s and 1960s by the theories of humanistic psychologists, including Maslow and Rogers.
Based on your understanding of psychodynamic theories, how would you analyze your own personality? Based on your understanding of humanistic theories, how would you try to change your behavior to better meet the underlying motivations of security, acceptance, and self-realization? Did you know large group christmas games is most likely the hottest topics in this category? Did you know that krampusmasken aus holz is one of the most popular topics on this category?
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In this section we will consider two major theories of the origin of personality: psychodynamic and humanistic approaches.
Although it is no longer used to describe a psychological disorder, hysteria at the time referred to a set of personality and physical symptoms that included chronic pain, fainting, seizures, and paralysis. For instance, some women experienced a loss of feeling in their hands and yet not in their arms, and this seemed impossible given that the nerves in the arms are the same that are in the hands. These observations led Freud and Charcot to conclude that these disorders were caused by psychological rather than physiological factors. In terms of free will, Freud did not believe that we were able to control our own behaviors. The egoIn psychodynamic psychology, the component of personality that is the largely conscious controller or decision-maker of personality.
When the ego finds that the id is pressing too hard for immediate pleasure, it attempts to correct for this problem, often through the use of defense mechanismsUnconscious psychological strategies used to cope with anxiety and to maintain a positive self-image.—unconscious psychological strategies used to cope with anxiety and to maintain a positive self-image. Freud argued that personality is developed through a series of psychosexual stages, each focusing on pleasure from a different part of the body (Table 11.5 “Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development”). During this stage children desire to experience pleasure through bowel movements, but they are also being toilet trained to delay this gratification.
During this stage, Freud believed that children develop a powerful but unconscious attraction for the opposite-sex parent, as well as a desire to eliminate the same-sex parent as a rival. During this time, Freud believed that sexual impulses were repressed, leading boys and girls to have little or no interest in members of the opposite sex.
According to Freud, sexual impulses return during this time frame, and if development has proceeded normally to this point, the child is able to move into the development of mature romantic relationships. Taken together, these approaches are known as neo-Freudian theoriesTheories based on Freudian principles that emphasize the role of the unconscious and early experience in shaping personality but place less evidence on sexuality as the primary motivating force in personality and are more optimistic concerning the prospects for personality growth and change in personality in adults.. Adler proposed that the primary motivation in human personality was not sex or aggression, but rather the striving for superiority. He argued that children who are either overly nurtured or overly neglected by their parents are later likely to develop an inferiority complex—a psychological state in which people feel that they are not living up to expectations, leading them to have low self-esteem, with a tendency to try to overcompensate for the negative feelings. Jung agreed with Freud about the power of the unconscious but felt that Freud overemphasized the importance of sexuality. Horney believed that parts of Freudian theory, and particularly the ideas of the Oedipus complex and penis envy, were biased against women. Fromm’s focus was on the negative impact of technology, arguing that the increases in its use have led people to feel increasingly isolated from others. In this research, people have been made to confront their death by writing about it or otherwise being reminded of it, and effects on their behavior are then observed.
Furthermore, they were told that it was necessary for the participants in the research to administer the food samples to each other. Although Freudian psychologists no longer talk about oral, anal, or genital “fixations,” they do continue to believe that our childhood experiences and unconscious motivations shape our personalities and our attachments with others, and they still make use of psychodynamic concepts when they conduct psychological therapy. A man who expresses a lot of anger toward his father may be seen via Freudian theory to be experiencing the Oedipus complex, which includes conflict with the father. More and more research demonstrates that a large part of everyday behavior is driven by processes that are outside our conscious awareness (Kihlstrom, 1987).Kihlstrom, J. But the fundamental ideas about personality that Freud proposed, as well as the use of talk therapy as an essential component of therapy, are nevertheless still a major part of psychology and are used by clinical psychologists every day.
In contrast to the proponents of psychoanalysis, humanists embraced the notion of free will. At the base of the pyramid are the lowest-level motivations, including hunger and thirst, and safety and belongingness. Rogers was positive about human nature, viewing people as primarily moral and helpful to others, and believed that we can achieve our full potential for emotional fulfillment if the self-concept is characterized by unconditional positive regardBehaviors including being genuine, open to experience, transparent, able to listen to others, and self-disclosing and empathic.—a set of behaviors including being genuine, open to experience, transparent, able to listen to others, and self-disclosing and empathic. Those with low self-concept discrepancies were those who listed similar traits on all three lists. After obtaining this baseline measure Higgins activated either ideal or ought discrepancies for the participants. For high self-concept discrepancy participants, however, priming the ideal self-concept increased their sadness and dejection, whereas priming the ought self-concept increased their anxiety and agitation. For participants with low self-concept discrepancies (right bars), seeing words that related to the self had little influence on emotions. This makes it clear that even though you might not care that much about achieving in school, your failure to do well may still produce negative emotions because you realize that your parents do think it is important. Are there aspects of the theory that might help you explain your own strengths and weaknesses? Charcot was experimenting with the use of hypnosis, and he and Freud found that under hypnosis many of the hysterical patients reported having experienced a traumatic sexual experience, such as sexual abuse, as children (Dolnick, 1998).Dolnick, E.
Rather, he believed that all behaviors are predetermined by motivations that lie outside our awareness, in the unconscious.
The superego tell us all the things that we shouldn’t do, or the duties and obligations of society. Freud believed that the defense mechanisms were essential for effective coping with everyday life, but that any of them could be overused (Table 11.4 “The Major Freudian Defense Mechanisms”). Freud believed that sexuality begins in infancy, and that the appropriate resolution of each stage has implications for later personality development. Infants who receive either too little or too much gratification become fixated or “locked” in the oral stage, and are likely to regress to these points of fixation under stress, even as adults. Freud believed that if this toilet training was either too harsh or too lenient, children would become fixated in the anal stage and become likely to regress to this stage under stress as adults. Freud based his theory of sexual development in boys (the “Oedipus complex”) on the Greek mythological character Oedipus, who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother, and then put his own eyes out when he learned what he had done. But if earlier problems have not been appropriately resolved, difficulties with establishing intimate love attachments are likely. The neo-Freudian theories are theories based on Freudian principles that emphasize the role of the unconscious and early experience in shaping personality but place less evidence on sexuality as the primary motivating force in personality and are more optimistic concerning the prospects for personality growth and change in personality in adults.
According to Adler, we desire to be better than others and we accomplish this goal by creating a unique and valuable life. People with an inferiority complex often attempt to demonstrate their superiority to others at all costs, even if it means humiliating, dominating, or alienating them. Jung argued that in addition to the personal unconscious, there was also a collective unconsciousAccording to Carl Jung, a collection of shared ancestral memories., or a collection of shared ancestral memories.
Horney argued that women’s sense of inferiority was not due to their lack of a penis but rather to their dependency on men, an approach that the culture made it difficult for them to break from. Fromm believed that the independence that technology brings us also creates the need “escape from freedom,” that is, to become closer to others. Thus one-half of the participants were provoked by the other person by reading a statement that strongly conflicted with their own political beliefs, whereas the other half read an essay in which the other person’s views supported their own (liberal or conservative) beliefs. At this point, the participants found out that the food they were going to be sampling was spicy hot sauce and that they were going to be administering the sauce to the very person whose essay they had just read.
On the other hand, the participants who were both provoked by the other person and who had also been reminded of their own death administered significantly more hot sauce than did the participants in the other three conditions. People who are exposed to traumatic experiences in war have been found to remember their traumas only too well (Kihlstrom, 1997).Kihlstrom, J.
But a man who expresses no anger at all toward the father also may be seen as experiencing the Oedipus complex by repressing the anger.
Maslow argued that only when people are able to meet the lower-level needs are they able to move on to achieve the higher-level needs of self-esteem, and eventually self-actualizationThe motivation to develop our innate potential to the fullest possible extent., which is the motivation to develop our innate potential to the fullest possible extent. When we treat ourselves or others with unconditional positive regard, we express understanding and support, even while we may acknowledge failings. Their ideal, ought, and actual self-concepts were all pretty similar and so they were not considered to be vulnerable to threats to their self-concept.
Participants in the ideal self-discrepancy priming condition were asked to think about and discuss their own and their parents’ hopes and goals for them. These results are consistent with the idea that discrepancies between the ideal and the actual self lead us to experience sadness, dissatisfaction, and other depression-related emotions, whereas discrepancies between the actual and ought self are more likely to lead to fear, worry, tension, and other anxiety-related emotions.


For those with high self-concept discrepancies (left bars), priming the ideal self increased dejection whereas priming the ought self increased agitation. We had taken this picture on the net that we consider would be probably the most representative pictures for large group christmas games. We got this picture from the web that we consider would be probably the most representative pictures for krampusmasken aus holz. We had taken this image from the net that we feel would be probably the most representative pics for simple flower coloring pages. These forces show themselves in our dreams, in neurotic symptoms such as obsessions, while we are under hypnosis, and in Freudian “slips of the tongue” in which people reveal their unconscious desires in language. The superego strives for perfection, and when we fail to live up to its demands we feel guilty. The ego serves as the intermediary between the desires of the id and the constraints of society contained in the superego (Figure 11.9 “Ego, Id, and Superego in Interaction”). Freud argued that boys will normally eventually abandon their love of the mother, and instead identify with the father, also taking on the father’s personality characteristics, but that boys who do not successfully resolve the Oedipus complex will experience psychological problems later in life.
We may attempt to satisfy our need for superiority through our school or professional accomplishments, or by our enjoyment of music, athletics, or other activities that seem important to us.
According to Adler, most psychological disorders result from misguided attempts to compensate for the inferiority complex in order meet the goal of superiority.
Jung believed that the collective unconscious contains a variety of archetypes, or cross-culturally universal symbols, which explain the similarities among people in their emotional reactions to many stimuli. For Horney, the underlying motivation that guides personality development is the desire for security, the ability to develop appropriate and supportive relationships with others. In addition, the participants read some information about the other person that indicated that he very much disliked eating spicy food.
Because Freud hypothesized that either was possible, but did not specify when repression would or would not occur, the theory is difficult to falsify. Unconditional positive regard allows us to admit our fears and failures, to drop our pretenses, and yet at the same time to feel completely accepted for what we are.
The other half of the participants, those with high self-concept discrepancies, were those for whom the traits listed on the ideal and ought lists were very different from those listed on the actual self list.
Participants in the ought self-priming condition listed their own and their parents’ beliefs concerning their duty and obligations. Freud argued that we rarely understand why we do what we do, although we can make up explanations for our behaviors after the fact. We may wish to scream, yell, or hit, and yet our ego normally tells us to wait, reflect, and choose a more appropriate response.
On the other hand, the child who was overfed or overly gratified will resist growing up and try to return to the prior state of dependency by acting helpless, demanding satisfaction from others, and acting in a needy way. On the other hand, if the parents had been too lenient, the anal expulsive personality results, characterized by a lack of self-control and a tendency toward messiness and carelessness.
Although it was not as important in Freud’s theorizing, in girls the phallic stage is often termed the “Electra complex,” after the Greek character who avenged her father’s murder by killing her mother. Important archetypes include the mother, the goddess, the hero, and the mandala or circle, which Jung believed symbolized a desire for wholeness or unity. Participants were given a taste of the hot sauce (it was really hot!) and then instructed to place a quantity of it into a cup for the other person to sample. Terror management and aggression: Evidence that mortality salience motivates aggression against worldview-threatening others. Self-discrepancies and emotional vulnerability: How magnitude, accessibility, and type of discrepancy influence affect.
For Freud the mind was like an iceberg, with the many motivations of the unconscious being much larger, but also out of sight, in comparison to the consciousness of which we are aware (Figure 11.8 “Mind as Iceberg”).
Freud believed that girls frequently experienced penis envy, the sense of deprivation supposedly experienced by girls because they do not have a penis. For Jung, the underlying motivation that guides successful personality is self-realization, or learning about and developing the self to the fullest possible extent. When we are concerned about dying we become more motivated to defend these important beliefs from the challenges made by others, in this case by aggressing through the hot sauce. The problems are first, that it has proved to be difficult to rigorously test Freudian theory because the predictions that it makes (particularly those regarding defense mechanisms) are often vague and unfalsifiable, and second, that the aspects of the theory that can be tested often have not received much empirical support. And since the time of Freud, the need to repress sexual desires would seem to have become much less necessary as societies have tolerated a wider variety of sexual practices.
They tend to have a few deep friendships rather than many superficial ones, and are generally private. The id is entirely unconscious, and it drives our most important motivations, including the sexual drive (libido) and the aggressive or destructive drive (Thanatos). And yet the psychological disorders that Freud thought we caused by this repression have not decreased. And yet, although our unconscious motivations influence every aspect of our learning and behavior Freud probably overestimated the extent to which these unconscious motivations are primarily sexual and aggressive. He felt that these individuals do not need to conform to the opinions of others because they are very confident and thus free to express unpopular opinions.
According to Freud, the id is driven by the pleasure principle—the desire for immediate gratification of our sexual and aggressive urges.
Self-actualized people are also likely to have peak experiences, or transcendent moments of tranquility accompanied by a strong sense of connection with others.
The participants listed 10 thoughts that they thought described the kind of person they actually are; this is the actual self-concept. The id is why we smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, view pornography, tell mean jokes about people, and engage in other fun or harmful behaviors, often at the cost of doing more productive activities. Then, participants also listed 10 thoughts that they thought described the type of person they would “ideally like to be” (the ideal self-concept) as well as 10 thoughts describing the way that someone else—for instance, a parent—thinks they “ought to be” (the ought self-concept). Freud is probably the best known of all psychologists, in part because of his impressive observation and analyses of personality (there are 24 volumes of his writings).
Self-discrepancies as predictors of vulnerability to distinct syndromes of chronic emotional distress. As is true of all theories, many of Freud’s ingenious ideas have turned out to be at least partially incorrect, and yet other aspects of his theories are still influencing psychology. The participants in the study had been selected, on the basis of prior reporting, to have either politically liberal or politically conservative views. When they arrived at the lab they were asked to write a short paragraph describing their opinion of politics in the United States.
In addition, half of the participants (the mortality salient condition) were asked to “briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you” and to “jot down as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you as you physically die, and once you are physically dead.” Participants in the exam control condition also thought about a negative event, but not one associated with a fear of death.
A new look at defensive projection: Thought suppression, accessibility, and biased person perception. These researchers focused on the types of emotional distress that we might experience as a result of how we are currently evaluating our self-concept.
Higgins proposes that the emotions we experience are determined both by our perceptions of how well our own behaviors meet up to the standards and goals we have provided ourselves (our internal standards) and by our perceptions of how others think about us (our external standards).
It is true that children remember little of their childhood experiences, but this seems to be true of both negative as well as positive experiences, is true for animals as well, and probably is better explained in terms of the brain’s inability to form long-term memories than in terms of repression. Furthermore, Higgins argues that different types of self-discrepancies lead to different types of negative emotions. On the other hand, Freud’s important idea that expressing or talking through one’s difficulties can be psychologically helpful has been supported in current research (Baddeley & Pennebaker, 2009)Baddeley, J.
Fisher (Eds.), General principles and empirically supported techniques of cognitive behavior therapy (pp.



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