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A pattern of enduring and distinctive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that characterize how an individual adapts to the world.
Theoretical perspectives on personality:
- behavioral and social cognitive
Four important questions about personality:
- What role do innate and learned characteristics play in personality?
- To what extent is personality conscious or unconscious?
- How influential are internal or external factors in determining personality?
- What characterizes a well-adusted personality?
view personality as being primarily unconscious (beyond awareness) and as developing in stages. Most psychodynamic perspectives emphasize that early experiences with parents play an important role in sculpting the individual's personality.
- born in Austria in 1856/died in England in 1939
- spent most of life in Vienna
- became medical doctor specializing in neurology
- developed psychoanalytic theory through work with psychiatric patients
- Freud believed most of the mind is unconscious
Freud's psychoanalytic theory stated that personality has three structures:
- id - pleasure (sexual and aggressive instincts)
- ego - reality (deals with demands of reality)
- superego - conscience (morality)
- consists of instincts and is the reservoir of psychic energy.
- In Freud's view, the id is unconscious; no contact with reality.
- works according to pleasure principle, meaning that the id always seeks pleasure and avoids pain.
- Freudian structure of personality that deals with the demands of reality
- In Freud's view, the ego abides by the reality principle, checks the demands of the id for pleasure against what is possible in the real world.
- Helps us test reality, to see how far we can go in satisfying our desires without getting into trouble or hurting ourselves.
- Freudian structure that is the moral branch of personality
- What we often refer to as "conscience"
- Does not consider reality; only whether the id's sexual and aggressive impulses can be satisfied in moral terms.
- When ego blocks the pleasurable pursuits of id, a person feels anxiety, which ego resolves by unconsciously distorting reality.
- Defense mechanisms include:
- repression - The master defense mechanism; ego pushes unacceptable impulses out of awareness, back into the unconscious mind; ex. young girl is sexually abused. As adult, can't remember.
- rationalition - ego replaces a less acceptable motive with a more acceptable one; ex. a college student doesn't get into fraternity of choice, says that if he tried harder he could have gotten in
- displacement - ego shifts feelings toward an unacceptable object to another, more acceptable object; ex. a woman can't take anger out on boss so takes it out on husband instead
- sublimation - ego replaces an unnacceptable impulse with a socially acceptable one; ex. man with strong sexual urges becomes an artist who paints nudes
- projection - ego attributes personal shortcomings, problems, and faults to others; ex. man who has strong desire for extramarital affair accuses wife of flirting with other men
- reaction formation - ego transforms an unacceptable motive into its opposite; ex. woman who fears her sexual urges becomes religious zealot
- denial - ego refuses to acknowledge anxiety-producing realities; ex. man won't acknowledge that he has cancer even though team of doctors have diagnosed him
- regression - ego seeks the security of an earlier developmental period in the face of stress; ex. woman returns home to mother every time she and husband have big argument.
Freud's Theory of Personality Development
- Freud was convinced that problems develop because of early childhood experiences.
- Freud believed that we go through five stages of personality development and that at each stage of development we experience pleasure in one part of the body more than in others.
- Freud claimed that at each stage, demands of reality conflict with source of pleasure.
- Adult personality depends on how person deals with the conflict.
Freud's Proposed Stages of Personality Development
- oral stage (first 18 months) - infant's pleasure centers on mouth. Chewing, sucking, and biting chief sources of pleasure.
- anal stage (18 to 36 months) - child's greatest pleasure involves the anus or the eliminative functions associated with it.
- phallic stage (3 to 6 years) - pleasure focuses on gentials as the child discovers that self-stimulation is enjoyable. Phallic stage triggers the Oedius complex, which is the young child's development of an intense desire to replace the parent of the same sex and enjoy the affections of the opposite-sex parent. At about 5 to 6, children recognize that same-sex parent might punish them for incestuous wishes. To reduce this conflict, child identifies with the same-sex parent, striving to be like him or her.
- latency stage (6 to puberty) - child represses all interest in sexuality and develops social and intellectual skills. This activity channels much of the child's energy into emotionally safe areas and helps the child forget stressful conflicts of the phallic stage.
- gential stage (adolescence to adulthood) - the time of sexual reawakening; source of sexual pleasure now becomes someone outside of the family. Unsolved conflicts with parents reemerge during adolescence, but once reselved, individual becomes capable of developing a mature love relationship and functioning independently.
Defense Mechanisms and Freudian Stages
- Freud claimed that at each of these stages, the demands of reality conflict with the source of pleasure and that our adult personality is determined by how we deal with the conflict. If the conflict is not resolved and needs are either under- or overgratified, then the individual beomces fixated, or locked in that stage of development.
- Oral stage
- - Adult Extensions (Fixations): smoking, eating, kissing, oral hygiene, drinking, chewing gum
- - Sublimations: seeking knowledge, humor, wit, sarcasm, being a food or wine expert
- - Reaction Formations: speech purist, food fadist, prohibitionist, dislike of milk
- Anal stage
- - Adult Extensions (Fixations): notable interest in one's bowel movements, love of bathroom humor, extreme messiness
- - Sublimations: interest in painting or sculpture, being overly giving, great interest in statistics
- - Reaction Formations: extreme disgust of feces, fear of dirt, prudishness, irritability
- Phallic stage
- - Adult Extensions (Fixations): heavy reliance on masturbation, flirtatiousness, expression of virility
- - Sublimations: interest in poetry, love of love, interest in acting, striving for success
- - Reaction Formations: puritanical attitude towards sex, excessive modesty
Criticisms of Freud
- too much emphasis on sexuality; Oedipus complex not as universal as Freud believed
- first five years are not as important in shaping adult personality as Freud thought
- ego and conscious thought are more important
- sociocultural factors more important
Karen Horney's (1885-1952) Sociocultural Theory
Need for security is the prime motive in human existence