AP Psychology
Unit 9: Personality

Notes Outline:

- Freud's background

- Psychodynamic theory

-  Structure of the Mind

- Defense Mechanisms

- Psychosexual stages


Freud grew up during late 1800’s, and was an adult during early 1900’s. His ideas were influenced by the sexual repression of the Victorian era, and the growing anti-Semitism prior/during WWI. Freud began as a physician specializing in neurology, and developed the practice of PSYCHOANALYSIS to treat patients with mental disorders.

psychodynamic Theory

This term refers to Freud's theory and all the theories descended from the work of Sigmund Freud that focus on unconscious mental forces

Freud's Psychodynamic theory attempts to explain personality, motivation, and psychological disorders by focusing on the influence of early childhood experiences, unconscious motives and conflict, and on the methods that people use to cope with sexual and aggressive urges.

Freud believed that behavior was a result of a series of ongoing internal conflicts between levels of awareness and Id/Ego/Superego. Not all conflicts are equal, those centering on sexual or aggressive behavior are more complex (Norms are often ambiguous and conflicting, these are thwarted more regularly)

His theory freaked people out. Especially Victorian people of his time.

  • (1) Unconscious implies we are not masters of our own minds
  • (2) Childhood influences suggests we do not choose our own destiny
  • (3) Talking about sex all the time offended them. This is a time period when doctors would examine female patients through a curtain so as not to see them naked (....which, you know, super effective).

Structure of the mind

Levels of Awareness

  • Conscious – whatever you are aware of at the time, train of thought, awareness of physical state
  • Preconscious – material just below the surface of consciousness that can be easily retrieved, like your middle name, conversations with friends before class, dinner last night.
  • Unconscious – thoughts, memories, desires that are well below the surface but still exert a great deal of influence

Structure of Personality

(1) Id - Pleasure Principle – primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to pleasure principle (demands instant gratification). The ID Houses the raw biological urges to eat/sleep/defecate/copulate. The ID engages in PRIMARY-PROCESS THINKING which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented

(2) Ego - Reality Principle – decision-making component of personality that operates according to the reality principle (delay gratification of Id’s urges until appropriate outlets can be found). The Ego mediates between the Id and the world’s expectations of behavior. Ego considers reality, society’s norms, etiquette, rules, customs, when deciding how to behave. The Ego engages in SECONDARY-PROCESS THINKING which is rational, realistic, oriented towards problem-solving. The Ego strives to achieve long-term goals and avoid society’s punishment by delaying gratification.

(3) Superego – Moral component. Superego emerges out of Id and Ego around 3-5 years as the explicit and implicitly taught moral standards of society are internalized.

Defense Mechanisms

When internal conflicts are not easily resolved they descend into the unconscious and create ANXIETY which we deal with through a variety of defense mechanisms – largely unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions such as anxiety or guilt through self-deception.

Brace yo-self...there are 14 we are going to look at....

(1) Repression – keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the unconscious – MOTIVATED FORGETTING

(2) Avoidance - avoiding situations that are expected to elicit unwanted emotions and impulses.

(3) Denial – protecting oneself from an unpleasant reality by refusing to perceive or face it

(4) Undoing – atoning for or trying to magically dispel unacceptable behaviors or acts

(5) Fantasy – gratifying frustrated desires by imaginary achievements

(6) Regression – reversion to immature behavior.

(7) Projection – attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings, or motives to another

(8) Rationalization – creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behavior. (“I wouldn’t have cheated if Mrs. Schmer wasn’t so mean and ridiculous!”)

  • sour grapes - rationalize that you do not want something that you did not get because "it was lousy anyway."
  • sweet lemon - you justify, for example, an error in purchasing by extolling some of the insignificant good points of the product.

(9) Identification – bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with some person or group.

(10) Displacement – diverting emotional feelings (usually anger) from their original source to a substitute target

(11) Reaction Formation – behaving in a way that is the opposite of how you really feel. Like men ridiculing homosexuals in order to hide they are actually a homosexual.

(12) Sublimation – occurs when unconscious, unacceptable impulses are channeled into socially acceptable, perhaps even admirable behaviors. Someone with intense aggression becoming a boxer or football player.

(13) Intellectualization – cutting of emotion from hurtful situations or separating incompatible attitudes so they appear unrelated.

(14) Compensation – covering up a weakness by emphasizing some desirable characteristic, or making up for frustration in one are by over-gratification in another

Psychosexual Stages

Freud believed that personality was established by age 5, so early developmental stages were very important. Important to note that he used the term “sexual” to mean any sort of physical pleasure, not just strictly sex. FIXATION was a failure to move forward from one stage as expected, can be caused by EXCESSIVE GRATIFICATION or EXCESSIVE FRUSTRATION.

1. Oral Stage – First year of life, focus on child’s feeding experiences and how they are weaned from breast-feeding or the bottle.

2. Anal Stage – crucial event is toilet training as a child is required to regulate their biological needs for the first time. Overly punitive toilet training can lead to anxieties later in life.

3. Phallic Stage – OEDIPAL COMPLEX emerges. This is where the child develops an “erotically tinged” preference for opposite sex parent, and aggressively view same sex parent as a competitor for other parents affections. Boys supposedly develop penis envy and girls get mad at their mothers for failing to give them a penis. Child must purge sexual feelings and over come hostility to move forward.

4. Latency and Genital Stage – Age 6-Puberty a child’s sexuality is suppressed, becomes LATENT. At puberty a child enters the genital stage and sexual urges reappear and a child begins to focus on their genitals.