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Psychodynamic theory of personality

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Chuckie Custodio

on 18 November 2013

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Transcript of Psychodynamic theory of personality

By:Chuckie Custodio
Psychodynamic theories of personality:
Psychosexual stages

Sigmund Freud

Defining the theory
The basic belief that personality is a result of unconscious psychological conflicts and how the individual effectively resolves them.
These conflicts can be traced back in childhood experiences during which a person's instinctive urges often clashed with society's view of what is 'acceptable'.
Strengths and Limitations
~Lies just below 'the surface of the iceberg.'
Structure of personality
His Theory
-Austrian medical practitioner and psychoanalyst who developed the psychodynamic approach to describing and defining personality.

-The basis of his theory included observations of:
.~The 'patients' who came to see him about their psychological problems.
.~His family.
.~His reflections on his own personal thoughts,feelings and behaviours.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
-First developmental theory of personality in psychology.
-It not only describes and explains how personality develops but also describes and demonstrates the development of personality throughout the entire lifespan.

"The mind is very much like
an iceberg-most of it is beneath the surface,hidden from the world and, in particular,hidden from ourselves.''
-Sigmund Freud
According to Freud, the mind
is organised into three levels:
-The conscious level
-The preconscious level
-The unconscious level
Conscious level
we are
thinking, remembering, feeling ,
sensing or aware of at this particular moment.
Whats for
dinner tonight?
Readily available.


~Contains much of the information which we often say is 'at the back of our minds'

Information can be easily brought back into the conscious mind by simply thinking about it.
This can include thinking about whom you last talked to
or when you last cleaned your room.
-The unconscious is a storage place for all the information about ourselves that is not acceptable to the conscious mind.
-Can be thought as the 'skeletons in the closet' part of the mind where all the unacceptable thoughts, feelings, experiences ,images, motives and ideas are buried.
-Freud believed the unconscious contains all the memories of experiences that an individual may deem to be emotionally painful,traumatic or extremely frightening.

Hidden and difficult to access.
-Freud believed that by the age of 5-6, an individual's personality is fully formed and what happens for the rest of their life is an expansion and refinement of this.
-Personality consists of three basic parts, each pulling a person in a different direction.

-The conflict between them and the way it is resolved ,according to Freud is what determines almost all of our behaviour and shapes personality.

-Freud uses id, ego and superego to describe the three parts that make up personality.
-Operates on the pleasure principle;it must have its needs met immediately to increase pleasure and avoid tension.

-Seeks immediate satisfaction regardless of society's rules or the feelings of others.

-May be observed in the behaviour of a new-born baby.
- Freud believed that a newborn's behaviour as well as that of most young children is dominated by the id-they want everything immediately, unable to wait and demand to have their needs met.
-Ego develops gradually as the infant moves into childhood.

-Operates on the reality principle-to ensure the needs of the id are met, but in a socially acceptable way and at appropriate times.

-It is the part of our personality which is realistic, logical and orderly.

-It acts as a mediator as it has to cope not only with the demands of the id but also with the demands of the superego.
- Our conscience.

-Operates by the moral principle,providing us with our ideas of what's right and wrong.

-Responsible for feelings of guilt and pride.

-Harsh judge and punishment is dealt with in the form of guilt.

-Always aims for perfection and will not settle for less.

-Main functions are to block the urges of the id, persuade the ego to be more moralistic rather
than realistic and to strive for perfection.

In summary...
-Freud states that a 'balanced' personality can only develop if there is a balance between the three.

-A person whose id is dominant and wins more of the conflicts will be self-centred, sulky, childish and demanding.

-If the ego is more powerful,the personality expressed will be logical and practical.

-An individual whose superego is overdeveloped compared to the other two will be strict, judgemental and have constant feelings of guilt.

.~Compensation- Attempting to cover up a weakness by emphasising something in which you excel in.
Defence Mechanisms
-The unconscious process by which the ego defends itself against anxiety arising from unresolved internal conflicts.
-they reduce anxiety by denying, falsifying or distorting reality at an unconscious level.
-It is our way of protecting ourselves from psychological harm.
Defense Mechanisms
.~Denial - refusing to believe whatever it is that would cause anxiety.
.~Repression -preventing unacceptable thoughts/feelings from entering the conscious.
.~Reaction-formation- thinking, acting or behaving in a way opposite to how you really think,feel or behave.
.~Regression- going back to a younger, child-like way of behaviour.
.~Projection- Shifting our thoughts or feelings onto someone else

.~Rationalisation- Making up a socially acceptable excuse to justify unacceptable feelings or thoughts.
.~Displacement- Directing an emotion away from the person or object that caused it to a substitute object or person that is less threatening.
.~Fantasy - fulfilling unconscious wishes by imagining them in activities.
.~Intellectualisation - Ignoring emotions and feelings by talking about an emotionally painful even in a 'cold' manner.
.~Sublimation- Channeling unacceptable thoughts and wishes into a socially acceptable way.
According to Freud, personality development was sequential.
~Psychosexual stages are five stages in which personality was developed.
~As we progress through the stages, different parts of the body become the focus of our attention and pleasure.
~Each stage has a crucial developmental conflict that must be successfully resolved in order to move on to the next stage.
~A fixation is when a child experiences difficulty dealing with a crucial developmental conflict, they may become frustrated because their needs are not being met or overindulged if their needs are being met to a greater extent than required.
Development of personality
-Occurs from birth to two years old.

-Pleasure for the infant centres around its mouth through sucking,biting and chewing.

-Personality characteristics associated with a fixation at the oral stage include gullibility, passivity,the need for attention, dependence on others and a need to be looked after and cared for
Oral stage
-Two to three years of age.
-Focus of pleasure relates to the anus and there is a power struggle with parents during toilet training.
-According to Freud, the way in which toilet training occurs is crucial.
-Anal fixation fall into two categories:
(holding in)-personality characteristics include being a hoarder,excessively clean, stubborn and stingy.
(letting go) personality characteristics include untidiness, disorderliness and cruelty.

Anal stage
-Age of about four to five years.
-Attention is focused on the sex organs.
-During this stage,the child seeks genital stimulation and develops an unconscious attraction to the parent of the opposite gender and considers the other parent as a rival.
Electra complex-
when the girl loves her father and competes with her mother for her father's affection and attention.
Oedipus complex

when the boy is attracted to his mother and envies his father.
Phallic stage
Latency stage
-Age 6 to puberty.
-A period or time when the psychosexual development is dormant.
-A relatively quiet and stable stage where the child is preoccupied with developing their social skills.
-Their focus is on developing close relationships with others of the same sex.
-Final stage of psychosexual development.
-Begins at puberty and continues to early adolescence to early adulthood.
-Sexual energies are focused on the genitals as they mature and the ability to reproduce occurs.
-Characterised by the growing need for mature social and sexual relationships with others.
Genital stage

-Most psychologists have adapted th view that personality development continues throughout the entire lifespan, and does not 'stop' or 'slow down' at the age of five or six years of age,as proposed by Freud.
-It is based on many ideas that are extremely difficult to test using the methods of science .

Grivas,J., & Carter,L. (2010). Psychology:Vce Units 1&2 (5th
Ed.)Milton: John Wiley & Sons
-Though some of his ideas can be hard to believe, some of his proposals are regarded valuable as his theories has helped psychology gain insights on personality development.
-Many psychologists agree with Freud's theory that adult personality is significantly influenced by experiences early in life but not in the specific ways described by Freud
-There is research evidence supporting our use of defense mechanisms,although researchers have suggested that these mechanisms were built in order to protect our self-esteem rather than anxiety arising (Baumeister, Dale & Sommers, 1998)
-There is a widespread acceptance that mental processes can occur below the level of conscious awareness.
-Only a relatively few psychologists believe that personality development occurs in age-related stages.
-His theory lacks scientific research evidence and is substantially based on personal observations of patients who have come to him with psychological problems.
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