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Frauds view of the person

Aimed to provide a theory of the mind.

Mind is part of the body

Saw the body as a mechanistic energy system.


Energy system

Limited amount of energy

If the expression of energy is blocked, it does not go away. It will seek expression via the path of least resistance.

Mind has drivers and we are motivated to seek pleasure by reducing the tension associated with these drives.


The individual and society

Conflict between the individual and society

Peoples fundamental motives are primitive, sexual and aggressive in nature.

Often this is in conflict with society.


Topological model

Conscious (what we are aware of at any given moment)

Preconscious (not aware right now but easy if attention dedicated to it)

Unconscious (no usually accessible, usually anxiety/guilt provoking and are repressed.


Structural model

Id: source of instincts/motivations; fully unconscious; dynamic; pleasure principle; seen in dreams; primitive.

Superego: moral centre; all three consciousnesses; rewards & punishes

Ego: balance; reality principle; secondary thinking;



Life, sexual instinct

Libido, compels towards survival and reproduction



Death, aggressive instinct.

Compels to death


Defence mechanisms

1. Denial (primitive, conscious but can become automatic, blocks energy).
2. Projection (unacceptable traits/desires attributed to others, subject already on mind and therefore they see it more).
3. Isolation (thought that causes guilt/anxiety isn't blocked, accompanying emoting removed, can lead to splitting).
4. Reaction formation (ind defends against anxiety by recognising and acting out the opposite to the real desire).
5. Rationalisation (permit action but underlying motives are distorted to make them more acceptable).
6. Sublimation (energy from unacceptable desires is re-expressed in terms of higher order cultural goals).
7. Repression (major defence mech, anxiety causing thoughts/desires are blocked from entering consciousness).


Developmental stages

Oral stage (0-2)
Anal (2-3)
Phallic (4-5)


Implications for trait theory

Self report, questionnaires primary dates for trait meausre