30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
Old School, New School
Sigmund Freud conceived of and developed the concept of psychoanalysis during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a means of understanding behaviour. Freud believed that personality consists of three components: the Id, which is governed by pleasure and seeks immediate gratification; the Ego, which is concerned with making rational decisions; and the Superego, which makes moral judgments. The Ego is pulled to and fro by the Id and Superego, giving rise to personality conflicts. When the Ego is overwhelmed by the Id’s demands, we become neurotic, and when it gives in to them, the Superego punishes the Ego with guilt. The Ego copes with these conflicting demands by means of neuroses and dreams, which fulfil the Id’s suppressed desires, and with defence mechanisms such as repression and denial, which reduce anxiety. These mechanisms can be pathogenic, however, and are a major cause of mental illness. Alfred Adler and Carl Jung also contributed to psychoanalysis, but parted ways with Freud in the 1910s. Jung disagreed with him about the structure of personality, while Adler emphasized the importance of social factors in development, and believed that people are motivated by self-preservation, the will to power and a drive to affirm their personalities. Both also rejected Freud’s emphasis on sexuality.
Unconscious motivating forces play a central role in shaping our behaviour, but are also the primary cause of mental illness.
The main criticisms of Freud’s theories are that they are unfalsifiable and cannot be used to make predictions about outcomes of treatment. His patients were unrepresentative of the general population, and the fact that he treated very few children invalidates to a degree his theory of personality development. Freud has also been accused of distorting evidence to make it fit his theories. Nevertheless, his work remains highly influential, in both psychiatry and popular culture.
It’s all in the unconscious mind. Could your recurring dreams of a bed be a Freudian sign of sexual frustration?