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Psychoanalytic Perspective – Personality (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:01 So, let’s start with the psychoanalytic perspective.

    00:05 This is sort of your classic Freudian way to approach personality.

    00:09 So the psychoanalytic theory states that personality is shaped by a person’s unconscious thoughts, feelings, and memories.

    00:17 So, I think everybody knows, you know are friend Mr. Freud.

    00:22 So Dr. Freud was the one of the pioneers that really -- that really we associate the psychoanalytic perspective or theory with.

    00:29 And he has a couple of components to it that we’re going to look at.

    00:33 The first being libido or life instinct as it’s called.

    00:36 And what this does is it drives behaviors focused on survival, creativity, pain avoidance, and pleasure.

    00:42 So, it’s something that kind of makes you happy.

    00:46 The death instinct is the opposite.

    00:48 It drives aggressive behavior fueled by an unconscious will to die or hurt oneself or others.

    00:54 So, what Freud did was, he categorized three main components that work together: ID, ego, and superego.

    01:02 So ID is something that’s mostly unconscious.

    01:05 It’s ruled by something called “the pleasure principle” where we do things that give us pleasure and something that we do that gives us instant gratification.

    01:13 “I want it, I want it now.” That’s basically the pleasure principle.

    01:17 Anything it takes for me to feel happy right and then now.

    01:20 And this basically how young children function, so they’re almost exclusively ID.

    01:24 They want -- they want that num num or they want that candy or they want that ice cream or they want that food, that suit or that bottle now.

    01:31 And when they don’t get it, what happens? Meltdown, right? They start screaming and yelling.

    01:36 As adults, we get a little bit better at negotiating and dealing with the letdowns.

    01:41 But a young baby, a young child is working almost exclusively on the pleasure principle and so not a lot of wiggle room there.

    01:49 Now, ego is something that’s mostly conscious, meaning you’re aware of it.

    01:53 And this is ruled by something called the reality principle where you’re trying to use logical thinking and planning in order to sort of appease and manage what the ID wants.

    02:02 So the ID wants the pleasure principle.

    02:04 It wants everything and it wants it now, the ego tries to sort of mitigate that and manage that saying, “Take it easy ID. Why don’t we just wait a minute and then we’ll have our bottle?” Or, “The bottle is coming, just be patient.” And it does that consciously.

    02:17 So, it finds realistic ways to satisfy ID's desire for pleasure.

    02:24 And then there’s finally superego.

    02:25 This inhibits the ID and influences the ego.

    02:28 And its job is sort of to be if you were to imagine ID being yourself and the ego and the superego would be the sort of devil and the angel.

    02:40 And so, it’s somebody talking on your shoulder saying, “Oh, listen, we got to find good ways and the appropriate ways to do this.” So we say it follows moralistic and ideal goals and it strives for higher purpose.

    02:51 So opposed to the ID which wants it and wants it now at any cost, the ego says, “Well, okay, come on, hang on.” And the super ego is like, “This is the appropriate, moral high ground way to do this.

    03:03 So it’s an interplay of all these three components.

    03:06 Now, what you see here is an image representing an iceberg.

    03:10 And so this is sort of a representation of what Freud considered to be the whole view of the ID, ego, and superego and how they interact.

    03:19 So, we have a drawing of an iceberg.

    03:22 And you’ve heard that saying before, “that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” When you see an iceberg in the wild live, you’ll see this little tip of an iceberg.

    03:32 And if you were to have a magic camera, if you could swim in the freezing water and look below, a lot of times is you see this massive under the water structure that’s part of the iceberg.

    03:42 So you’re only seeing a little bit of the iceberg visually, but below the surface is much more substance.

    03:47 And so that’s sort of the analogy that we’re using here is that above the ground would be your conscious -- conscious components of your personality, and below the surface are your unconscious or just almost unconscious or pre -- we call it preconscious behavior.

    04:01 You would see things like your superego and your -- most of your ID.

    04:07 And a nice portion of your ego is what you see consciously.

    04:12 So, if you break it down by conscious level, subconscious level and unconscious level, you’d have your thoughts and your perceptions being conscious.

    04:19 And then memories, stored knowledge, and other things like your fears, your tendencies, your desires, all of those different things, selfish things that you really want, those are all unconscious.

    04:30 So you’re not completely aware over them, they’re just driving your personality but from an unconscious level.

    04:37 So collect with those two kind of represent Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective.

    04:42 Now, Freud said, “Anxiety occurs when a person becomes aware of some of those unconscious or repressed feelings, memories or experiences.” So the stuff that we carry with us unconsciously, we’re not really supposed to interact with.

    04:57 They’re there, they help guide the ship at the moment, they start bubbling to the surface, that’s when you start feeling anxiety.

    05:04 And so to cope with it and protect the ego, individuals developed something called “ego defense mechanisms”.

    05:11 So ego defense mechanisms are used to help manage and deal with these things bubbling up.

    05:21 So these repressed feelings and memories that are coming up, the ego defense mechanisms will use those to sort of distort or deny the reality of what you’re seeing.

    05:30 Okay. So here’s a table the outlined some of those defense mechanisms and this is just a sampling.

    05:35 So we’re going to through, you know a handful but there’s a fairly comprehensive list.

    05:40 For the MCAT, you probably just need to know, you know, four to six of these and I have highlighted some of the major ones.

    05:46 So the first one is repression.

    05:47 And this is where you -- how lack of recall of an emotionally painful memory.

    05:51 And I think some of these will start coming to your mind when you think of --- when you think of Freud and movies and people talking about Freud says.

    05:59 So regression is one of those really common ones.

    06:01 And that’s a lack of recall of an emotionally and painful memory.

    06:04 You tuck that away, you repress that memory.

    06:06 Then there’s denial, so forceful refusal to acknowledge an emotionally and painful memory.

    06:12 Then we have displacement.

    06:13 That’s when you redirect -- redirect impulses from a forbidden action to an object that’s a less dangerous one.

    06:21 So say for example -- say for example, you really are angry at -- at your mother and you -- she, I don’t know.

    06:35 She took something of yours or she washed your favorite shirt and destroyed it.

    06:39 You’re extremely angry.

    06:40 You’re forbidden to actually go and strangle her and slap her around.

    06:44 She’s your mom, you love her.

    06:46 But what do you do? You displace that anger and you go do something else.

    06:50 You go outside and you punch the crap out of the garbage can, and then you get in your car and you drive away.

    06:56 So you’ve displaced your anger from your mom to the garbage can, okay? Then there’s regression.

    07:03 This is when you revert to an earlier less sophisticated behavior and you have a baby meltdown.

    07:08 So you, you know, your girlfriend or wife won’t let you watch the sporting event, and all of a sudden you sit there and you start regressing to a young child and you start whining and crying and pounding your hands saying, “That’s not fair, that’s not fair. I want to watch the game.” And you regress to a less sophisticated behavior.

    07:27 Then there’s rationalization.

    07:29 And this is when you explain and intellectually justifies one impulse behavior.

    07:33 So, now, you did something maybe completely outside of the norm and you explain it or rationalize it by using knowledge.

    07:44 Saying, “Well, okay, I kind of ate that whole cake right there, probably shouldn’t have but I did that because, you know what? That cake was going to go to waste and I really need some calories right now because I’m really active these days.” And now, you’re taking actual potentially valid points and applying them to this really impulsive decision that you’ve made.

    08:04 There’s a reaction formation.

    08:06 This is expressed in the opposite of what one really feels because it would be too dangerous to express the real feeling.

    08:12 So in English, let’s take a schoolyard -- a schoolyard action as an example.

    08:18 You’re at school and what do we all know that girls will do or boys will do when they like the other person? You know, the little girl comes running to the schoolyard teacher saying, “Oh, little Timmy, he threw sand in my face and then he kicked me in the teeth.” And the teacher says, “Okay, don’t do that again.” And he does it again.

    08:35 And this time, “Oh, little Timmy, he threw me to the ground and he threw a ball at my face.” And you start to realize, “Oh, okay, I think little Timmy actually likes you, but he doesn’t want to express the fact that he likes you.

    08:49 And so, he does something instead opposite of what he really feels.

    08:53 So he actually really likes you, wants to hug you and maybe kiss you, but instead he’s just going to beat you up with some sand and a schoolyard toy.” Okay? So, it’s a reaction to how he's actually feeling.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Psychoanalytic Perspective – Personality (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Individual Influences on Behavior.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Psychoanalytic theory
    2. Behaviorist theory
    3. Social cognitive theory
    4. Humanistic theory
    5. Genetic theory
    1. ..id.
    2. ..ego.
    3. ...superego.
    4. ...subego.
    5. ...emotions.
    1. ...ego
    2. ...id.
    3. ...logic.
    4. ...frontal lobe.
    5. ...superego.
    1. Superego
    2. Consious level
    3. Ego
    4. Maturity
    5. Rudimentary development

    Author of lecture Psychoanalytic Perspective – Personality (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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