The Pursuit of Personality Psychology’s central quest? personality • Again, a concept we’ve all discussed, wondered about, made predictions on …. • But we.

The Pursuit of Personality
Psychology’s central quest?
• Again, a concept we’ve all discussed,
wondered about, made predictions on ….
• But we cannot readily agree as to what it
• Our characteristic pattern of thinking,
feeling and acting, or
• The stable ways in which our mood and
behaviors differ from one another
Four major
• Psychodynamic – the interplay of
conflicting forces, many unrecognized,
within us
• Trait – the study of consistent personal
• Humanistic – we make conscious
decisions about the direction of our lives
• Learning – reinforcement shapes us
• Originated by Sigmund Freud (1855-1938)
• Dreamed of being a scientist
• Pushed into psychiatry
• Mainly treated middle-aged Jewish women
• Used “talking” therapy with patients
• Developed first theory of personality
• Unsurpassed fame but little current
• A basic concept with two, related,
• 1) An explanation for how conscious and
unconscious forces interact to produce
personality, and
• 2) A method to treat psychological
More basics
• The Unconscious – a pool of memories,
emotions and thoughts, many illogical
and irrational, that unknowingly affect
• Like an iceberg below the water-line
• Many of these hidden memories and
desires have been repressed (purposely
forgotten) due to their traumatic nature
• Psychosexual in nature
• Traces how our basic desires, sex/libido
and aggression, are changed and
expressed as we grow
• Freud claimed that we are obsessed with
the pleasures of each stage
• If thwarted at a stage, trouble follows due
to a fixation at that stage, expressed
through defense mechanisms
At the beginning
• The Oral stage – pleasure derived
through stimulation of the mouth
• The first year or so
• If fixated, problems show up through
excessive talking, eating, smoking, or any
other activity involving the mouth
The controversial
anal stage
• Pleasure comes from retaining and
expelling feces
• If there is psychic trauma from the course
of toilet training ….
• Two types of fixations:
Retentive – excessively neat & controlling
Explosive – just the opposite
much more
• The Phallic stage – pleasure from our
• Infantile sexuality – the claim that at the
age of 5 we have powerful sexual desires
• The Oedipus complex – boys lust for
their mothers
• Dad, standing in the way, is both resented
and feared – castration anxiety
But what about
• They are just as sexual
• The Electra complex – girl’s desire for
dad and ill-will towards mom
• Girls also experience penis envy
• Freud was never satisfied with his
explanation for female psychosexual
development even though women were
the great majority of his patients
A sudden halt
• From the ages of seven or eight, we
suppress these raging desires and slowly
begin to identify with our same-sex parent
• From then until our early teens our sexual
energies lie dormant in the Latent stage
Finally ..
• At 14 or 15 our sexual capabilities are
• The Genital Stage
• But are we really ready for mature
sexual relationships?!?
Could this be true?
• Questionable evidence
• Small, non-representative sample
• Very vague, cannot falsify
• Never really looked at real children
• No verification
• The id
• At birth, our considerable psychic energy
resides in our id
• The inner reptile, composed of our basic
biological drives
• Completely selfish, it demands immediate
• Never constrained by the limits of reality
The ego
• Arises after the primal id
• The voice of reality
• Operates in the world of laws, morals and
• Must postpone the id’s satisfaction to an
appropriate time and place
• As if that weren’t enough, it must pacify
it’s other demanding “boss”, the ….
The super-ego
• Takes form during the long latent stage as
we assimilate our same-sex parent’s world
• The internalization of our parent’s and
society’s morals
• Just as unreasonable and uncompromising
as the id
• More tyrant than conscience
Freud reconsidered
• Fraud or genius?
• Shortcomings:
no empirical proof, not that he cared
too much unconscious and sex
derived from work with mentally ill
therapy – long and ineffective
A genius
• First integrated, comprehensive theory
• Superb ability to organize and synthesize
• First to pay attention to childhood and
• Unrivalled in influence
• Recent findings support some concepts
• Stressed great care and
sensitivity towards patients
• A devoted son
• A father
• A motto that works for all of us:
“To love and to work.”
The neo-Freudians
• Theorists who accepted some aspects of
Freud’s approach but modified others
• Many fell under his magnetic influence
only to drift (or be pushed) away
• Sex and the id declined in importance
Karen Horney 1885-1952
• A feminine perspective
• Rejected emphasis on sex – people talked
to her about financial concerns
• Anxiety caused sex problems, not reverse
• Destroyed concept of penis envy
• Stressed the importance of society and
• “Hostility” – preshadowing attachment?
Anna Freud 1885-1982
• Worked closely
with her father
• Elaborated
defense mechanisms
• Actually
investigated childhood
• Coined the term
“separation anxiety”
Defense mechanisms
• Maladaptive techniques we use to ward off
• Denial – refusing to believe information
that causes anxiety
• Rationalization – nonsensically justifying
bad decisions or outcomes
• Displacement – redirecting responses
towards less threatening targets
More defenses
• Regression – reverting to a more
primitive level of behavior
• Projection – accusing another of having
your faults
• Reaction formation – presenting
yourself as the opposite of what you are
• Sublimation – channeling undesirable
desires into good works
Carl Yung – 1875-1961
• Initially Freud’s
“crown prince”
• Later, a bitter split
• Much more positive
• Discussed the spiritual
and mystical
• Introduced intriguing concepts
The collective
• From his exhaustive reading of world
mythology, noticed similarities in many
fundamental concepts
• Claimed that we all share a common pool
of images and ideas accumulated through
the centuries
• Fascinating, but contradicted by genetics
• The Mandala
Introversion vs.
• Some people are just naturally outgoing
• Others are shy and reserved
• He thought we possessed both qualities,
in differing degrees
• Now viewed as traits, corroborated by the
most demanding of statistical criteria
The inner journey
• First to argue that we all strive to be more
complete and unified
• A life journey changes from a “Quest for
Becoming” to a “Quest for Meaning”
• Composed of opposing forces, we strive
for reconciliation and the merging of these
opposing currents
• His final dream
Alfred Adler 1870-1937
• The first to depart
• Again, sex
• Invented Individual
Psychology – the study
of a person as a whole
• First - mental health as a positive state
• Social Interest – our desire for the welfare of
Striving for
• Adler, often injured as a child, claimed that
we all possess a “Striving for
• We all want to be better at what we do
• We are conscious of our needs and goaldirected
• Trouble arises from “The Inferiority
Complex” seeing ourselves as weak and

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