Chat with us, powered by LiveChat How does the Unconcious level of Freud's model impact a. our thoughts b. our behaviors? Do you think this can be controlled? ?2. How might Freud explain 'accidents - Writeedu

How does the Unconcious level of Freud’s model impact a. our thoughts b. our behaviors? Do you think this can be controlled? ?2. How might Freud explain ‘accidents

1. How does the Unconcious level of Freud's model impact a. our thoughts b. our behaviors? Do you think this can be controlled?

 2. How might Freud explain "accidents" or "slips of the tongue"? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

The Psychology of the Person


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

  • Freud was a neurologist practicing in Vienna (the Austrian-Hungarian Empire)
  • He had some patients that presented symptoms that appear to be physical, but upon further investigation no physical basis was found
  • Under hypnosis the patient were able to retrieve their (lost…) physical functioning
  • First patient was Anna O (not her real name)

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Anna O

Anna O

  • Anna O. was treated by Breuer for severe cough, paralysis of the extremities on the right side of her body, and disturbances of vision, hearing, and speech, as well as hallucination and loss of consciousness. She was diagnosed with hysteria. Freud implies that her illness was a result of the resentment felt over her father's real and physical illness that later led to his death

Freud Discovers the Unconscious

  • Anna O and other patients with similar pseudo-physical symptoms were found to have been molested in childhood
  • Freud interpreted their physical symptoms as a result of a mental process that he labeled “repression”
  • This was the foundation to the concept of the unconscious

Components of Freud’s theory

  • The Topographical Model: The “geography” of the mind, the terrain
  • Consists of the 3 levels of consciousness
  • The Structural Model: The 3 layers of personality that are interacting with one another
  • The 5 psychosexual stages of personality development

The Topographical Model
Levels of Consciousness

  • The Conscious level: Being aware of what is going on around you
  • The pre-conscious: Information that is not currently in your awareness, but can be prompted and retrieved
  • The Unconscious: Information that is unavailable, but still affects our behavior

The Topographical Model
The levels of comsciousness

The Structural Model and Psychodynamics

  • The Id: The part of our psyche that is unconscious, reflects a wish for immediate self-gratification
  • Operates along the pleasure principle
  • The Ego: develops later as a result of interaction with the social environment
  • Operates along the Reality Principle
  • The ego mediates between the wishes of the Id and the constraints of society
  • It wishes to satisfy the Id in a socially-acceptable way

The Structural Model (con-d)

  • The Superego: Develops even later, and reflects the internalization of social values and mores
  • The Superego reflects our sense of morality
  • Psychodynamics: There is a constant interactions among the 3 “structures” of personality- each pulls to a different direction

The Constant Interaction

Closed “Hydraulic” Model

  • We have a finite (that is- NOT unlimited) “amount” pf psychic energy
  • Our behavior is motivated by 2 unconscious drives, or instincts:
  • Libido: the Life drive
  • Thanatos: The Death Drive
  • In the normal personality, the death drives is translated into aggression that is directed outward

Defense Mechanisms

  • This is an important part of the Freudian theory
  • Those are mental operations employed by the go in order to protect us from the emergence of unpleasant, unacceptable urges or drives
  • Repression is the cornerstone of the defenses
  • Note issue of “repressed memories”

The Defenses

  • Repression: A complete removal from awareness
  • Sublimation: the only “positive” defense: channeling mental energy into socially-desirable direction
  • Displacement: Directing undesirable feelings toward a target (person) that is weaker that the original target (you are angry at your boss and you hit your wife)

Defenses (cont-d)

  • Denial: You may remember the event, but deny its meaning (someone spits on you and you claim it is raining)
  • Intellectualization: You invest a lot of mental energy in the intellectual analysis of what had happened, until there is no energy for the emotion
  • Rationalization: The fox could not reached the grapes and claimed they were sour…

Defenses (cont-d)

  • Projection: You cannot accept your negative traits, so you assign them to someone else
  • Reaction Formation: You cannot express negative feelings toward someone, so you show him/her an exaggerated opposite attitude
  • Identification with the Aggressor: The Stockholm Syndrome

The Current Status of Repressed Memories

  • During the 1980’s there were several cases of people (mostly women), who sought therapy for emotional difficulties and while in therapy recalled childhood memories of being physically or sexually abused by family members.


  • In almost all cases, the accused family members fiercely denied that such abuse had occurred. In virtually every case, the patient had not been aware of any abuse, and it has been suggested that the therapist, either explicitly or implicitly made this suggestion to the client

Famous Cases of “Repressed Memory”

  • In California, in 1990, George Franklin was tried and convicted for the murder of a little girl that had seemingly happened 20 years earlier. Franklin was convicted on the basis of his daughter’s repressed memory: She claimed that while she was playing with her own daughter, the image of her father killing her best friend suddenly surfaced. Franklin was sentenced to life in prison.

The Holly Ramona Case

  • A similar case took place in California in the early 1990’s. Holly Ramona, age 22, who was in therapy because of depression and bulimia, started to have memories of her father raping her. The father denied all accusations. He was acquitted by the jury, following the testimony of memory experts, including Elizabeth Loftus.

Current Status of Repressed Memories

  • The concept of repression was the cornerstone of the psychoanalytic approach
  • According to Freud, unacceptable drives, agonizing memories, and traumas, have been removed from consciousness by the ego, and moved into the unconscious.
  • Another important aspect of the approach has been the emphasis on early childhood as the most formative period of life

How was the Whole Fiasco of Repressed Memories possible?

  • First, because the strong Freudian influence regarding the important of early childhood in affecting later life
  • Second, because of the popularity of the Freudian’s concept of repression
  • Third, because people who are in therapy are distressed, very suggestible, and want to find “reasons” for their conditions.

The 5 Psychosexual Stages of Development

  • Our personality develops during the first 5 or 6 years of life along five stages
  • During each of the stages, sexual energy is tied to another area in the body: Erogenous Zone
  • If needs are not appropriately met, fixation occurs, and adult personality reflects it
  • Oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital stages

The Oedipus and Electra Complexes

  • During the phallic stage (age 3-5)
  • Boy: Develops an erotic attraction to mother and wants to eliminates father
  • Becomes afraid of father’s potential punishment, develops castration anxiety
  • Resolves the conflict by starting to form identification with father
  • Assumes father’s characteristics, including the male gender role


  • Girl: Develops Penis Envy as she lacks this organ and is jealous
  • Identifies with mother to get married, have a baby
  • “Anatomy is Destiny” said Freud
  • No shred of empirical evidence for the Oedipus and Electra Complexes.

How to get into the unconscious according to Freud

  • Freud regarded the dream as the royal road to the unconscious
  • The ego’s defenses are down when we sleep, said Freud, and this enables the unconscious material to surface
  • Each dear has a “manifest content” – the story of the dream and a “latent content”- the underling symbolic meaning
  • Most of the Freudian dream symbols have sexual connotations

Getting to the Unconscious (cont-d)

  • Projective tests: They present ambiguous stimuli, facilitating the “projection” of material from the unconscious
  • Free Association: A technique introduced by Freud, where a person is instructed to day whatever comes to mind
  • Accidents: These are no accidents, but reflection of unconscious material
  • Hypnosis: An altered state that facilitates the emergence of unconscious material
  • Freudian slips: You Johnny “Jimmy” (your previous boyfriend)
  • Symbolic behavior: see textbook for example

Application: Psychoanalysis

  • Psychoanalysis is a term used to describe Freud’s theory of personality as well as his method of psychotherapy
  • The goal of psychoanalysis is to bring unconscious material to the surface
  • Techniques are free association, dream analysis, analysis of resistance, and analysis of transference

Strengths and Limitations

  • Freud was a pioneer in uncharted territory
  • He attempted to explore the human mind
  • He developed the first talk therapy
  • However, his concepts do not lend themselves to empirical investigation
  • His ideas were based on case studies that may have reflected a specific historical/cultural period
  • His theory portrayed a pessimistic view of human nature.

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