Theories of Personality - California State University

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Theories of
Personality
Sigmund Freud
...a distinctive and relatively
stable pattern of behavior,
thoughts, motives, and emotions
that characterizes an individual.
Alfred Adler
Carl Jung
Carl Rogers
Jung and Adler were “Neo-Freudians”, who
used some Freudian ideas but developed
many ideas of their own...
Rogers was a “Humanistic” theorist with
a completely different approach.
Freud’s
Psychoanalytic Theory
Three Main Components
• Thoughts and behavior are guided mainly by the
unconscious part of the mind.
• Sexual motivation plays a central role in
everyday life.
• Concept of “infantile sexuality”: erotic
experiences in infancy and early childhood
shape personality in adulthood.
Freud’s
Psychoanalytic Theory
Three Levels of the Mind
• Conscious: everything we are aware of at the
moment; just the “tip of the iceberg”.
• Preconscious: memories that we can bring to
consciousness.
• Unconscious: memories, wishes, and instincts
(desires) that are too threatening or painful to
bring to consciousness.
According to Freud, much of what people do,
think and feel is really a way of avoiding anxiety.
Anxiety is the way the body signals us that we face
a threatening situation.
For Freud, the threat comes from the unconscious:
an unacceptable sexual or aggressive impulse.
Protecting ourselves from this anxiety is normal
and natural. Carried to an extreme, it becomes a
psychological disorder:
Neurosis: a disorder in which one’s efforts to avoid
anxiety interfere with or limit normal human
functioning; it involves self-punishing, selfdefeating behavior, and emotional or physical
symptoms.
Freud based his theory mainly on a small number of
neurotic patients. He assumed that they were like
normal individuals; they just went too far in their
efforts to avoid anxiety.
The theory is harder to apply to a more severe type
of disorder:
Psychosis: an extreme mental disturbance
involving distorted perceptions of reality and
irrational behavior; basically, a complete break
with reality.
Freud said that personality is divided into 3 parts,
ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO. They are always in
conflict but most of the time the conflict is
unconscious.
The Id
• Contains life instincts (sex, hunger, thirst, etc.)
and death instincts (aggressive, destructive
tendencies).
• Libido: sexual energy that fuels the entire
personality; needed for everyday life.
• Pleasure Principle: seeks immediate gratification
of impulses regardless of consequences.
• Pleasure = reduction in tension. Tension
increases if we don’t release energy from
impulses.
Everything in the id is unconscious (intensity of
desires, goals that would give the most
satisfaction).
The Ego
• Logical, rational.
• Executive of personality: determines where,
when, and how impulses are expressed.
• Goal: to satisfy the id in ways that are socially
and morally acceptable. This requires use of
the...
• Reality Principle: tendency to delay gratification
of impulses until they can be expressed in
socially and morally acceptable ways.
The ego is part conscious and part unconscious.
The unconscious part distorts our perceptions of
reality (including ourselves).
The Superego
• Contains moral values; not rational; doesn’t
care about consequences (like id).
• Consists of two parts:
Conscience: memories of behaviors that have
been punished; if we repeat these actions, we
feel guilty.
Ego Ideal: memories of behaviors for which we
have been praised or rewarded; repeating them
gives us feelings of pride.
The superego is part conscious and part
unconscious; if we feel guilty and don’t know why,
it’s caused by the unconscious part.

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