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Flashcards in Psychoanalytic Theory Deck (20):

What biographical and historic information is relevant for the development of psychoanalytic theory?


  • Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia, in 1856
  • The "favorite" child
  • At the time, medicine gave little help to the mentally ill
  • Freud began to achieve international recognition, especially in the years following World War I


What is the dynamic approach to Freud's theory?


  • Powerful drives in his patients led him to see personality as dynamic
  • Nervous energy: psychic energy, drive energy, libido, and tension  
  • Biological drives: that make demands on the mind - two basic instincts (Eros & the   destructive instinct)



What is the structural approach to Freud's theory?

  • Psychological structures through which these forces flow
  • Structures mediate between the drives and behavior; drives do not lead directly to behavior
  • Three major structures: the id, ego, and superego
  • Id: the seat of biologically based drives
  • Ego: the mechanism for adapting to reality
  • Superego: is analogous to the conscience



What is the topograph approach to Freud's theory?

  • Areas” of their mind that were inaccessible to them led him to develop a geography (ortopography) of the mind
  • Three regions: the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious


What is the stage approach to Freud's theory?

  • First few years of life are the most important years for the formation of personality
  • Development involves psychosexual stages


What methods were included in the psychoanalytic approach?


  • Free association: verbally report their ongoing stream of thought
  • Dream analysis: disturbing thoughts to be expressed and wishes to be fulfilled
  • Transference: relationship that develops between the patient and the analyst 


Oral Stage (Birth - 1 year)

  • Oral experiences introduce the baby to both the pleasure and the pain of the world
  • Pleasure flows from the satisfaction of oral drives
  • Infant meets pain from frustration/anxiety
  • Sexual tensions are pleasant if they are satisfied but painful if they are not and continue to intensify
  • A preferred object, such as a nipple, may not be present at the moment the infant wants it


Anal Stage (1-3 years)

  • Stage set in motion new conflicts between children
  • The physiological need to defecate creates tension, which is relieved by defecation
  • This anal stimulation and subsequent reduction of tension produces pleasure


Phallic Stage (3-5 years)

  • Stimulation in the genital area brings tensions and, if the tensions are relieved, pleasure
  • Oedipus complex and penis envy


Latency (5 - puberty)

  • Sexual drives are repressed and no new area of bodily excitement emerges
  • Children conveniently “forget” the sexual urgesand fantasies of their earlier years
  • This is a timefor acquiring cognitive skills and assimilating cultural values
  • Sexual energy continues to flow, but it is channeled into social concerns and into defenses against sexuality


Genital Stage (adolescence)

  • The sexual impulses, which were repressed during the latency stage, reappear in full force as a result of the physiological changes of puberty
  • Channeled into adult sexuality
  • Love becomes more altruistic, with less concern for self-pleasure than in earlier stages


Who was Little Hans? 


  • Freud’s only analysis of a child
  • The study was a central force in the formation of one of Freud’s most important developmental concepts: identification
  • When Hans was 5 years old, anxiety attacks, a phobia, and a fantasy appeared
  • Fear that a horse would bite him or fall down,was so strong that he would not leave his house
  • Freud: Oedipus conflict, sibling rivalry, and fear of punishment for masturbation (read full story in book)

How would the other major theorist interpret Little Hans's issues?


What were the mechanisms of development for Freud?


1.  Maturation: involves changes in the nervous system, motor development, hormonal changes, drives, and so on. Each of these maturational changesbrings new possibilities and new problems

2.  External frustrations: come from people or events that do not allow the immediate expression of needs. They cause a painful buildup of tension and force children to delay and detour their discharge of energy

3.  Internal conflicts: arise from the battle among the id, ego, and superego or ,more specifically, between drives and forces of repression

4.  Personal inadequacies: certain skills, knowledge, expertise, or experiencethat the person needs but lacks

5.  Anxiety: an unpleasant feeling that occurs when the child anticipates physical or psychological pain


What was Freud's position on human nature?


  • A psychological being is a loosely organized whole rather than the tightly knit, integrated, equilibrated whole described by Piaget
  • Freud’s holistic approach is clearest in his claim that a given behavior is caused by a structured whole consisting of id, ego, and superego
  • For Freud, children act because drives force them to act


What was Freud's position on qualitative vs. quantitative development?


  • Stagelike changes proposed by Freud imply that development involves qualitative change
  • There is also qualitative change in the psychological organization as new acquisitions, such as defense mechanisms and the superego, appear
  • There is some quantitative change, as the developing child exhibits a gradual strengthening of the ego, superego, and various defense mechanisms



What was Freud's position on nature vs. nurture?


  • Although he emphasizes maturation and the biologically based drives, he is, in fact, an interactionist
  • Although drives derive from a person’s biological nature, their expression is always modified by the social milieu
  • Demands of civilization are as real as the demands of the body
  • Variations in either the social environment or the physical constitution can cause personality differences among people


What was Freud's position on what develops?


  • The essence of development is the emergence of structures—the id, ego,and superego—that channel, repress, and transform sexual energy
  • These structures and their dynamic processes are both affective (emotional) and cognitive


Are there any aspects of psychoanalytic theory that have real-world application? Explain.


  • The Little Hans case study shows how one might analyze a single child in depth
  • Freud’s message for parents is to be sensitive to the conflicts among id, ego, and superego in their child and to try to provide neither too much nor too little satisfaction for the child’s drives
  • Freud’s claim that people can repress painful memories for years has arisen again in recent clinical and legal issues about adults’ recall
  • Freud at first believed that such events actually happened but later concluded that it was unlikely that there were so many Viennese parents who had sexually abused their children
  • He then viewed these memories as fantasies or perceptions distorted by sexual desire, but he still thought that, true or false, they were important because they affect the course of personality development


What are the strengths of psychoanalytic theory?

  • Developmental stages, psychological structures, unconscious motivation, and the importance of early experience
  • Stimulated research in the areas of moral development, sex typing, identification, parent–child relations, attachment, aggression, and self-regulation


What are the weaknesses of psychoanalytic theory?

  • Uncertain testability of central claims concerning development
  • Overemphasis on childhood sexuality