let’s start with the
This is sort of your classic Freudian
way to approach personality.
So the psychoanalytic theory
states that personality is shaped
by a person’s unconscious
thoughts, feelings, and memories.
So, I think everybody knows,
you know are friend Mr. Freud.
So Dr. Freud was the one of
the pioneers that really --
that really we associate the
psychoanalytic perspective or theory with.
And he has a couple of components
to it that we’re going to look at.
The first being libido or
life instinct as it’s called.
And what this does is it
drives behaviors focused on
survival, creativity, pain
avoidance, and pleasure.
So, it’s something that
kind of makes you happy.
The death instinct
is the opposite.
It drives aggressive
behavior fueled by an
unconscious will to die or
hurt oneself or others.
So, what Freud did was,
he categorized three main
components that work together:
ID, ego, and superego.
So ID is something that’s
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.
“I want it, I want it now.”
That’s basically the
Anything it takes for me to
feel happy right and then now.
And this basically how young children
function, so they’re almost exclusively ID.
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.
And when they don’t get it, what happens?
They start screaming
As adults, we get a little bit better at
negotiating and dealing with the letdowns.
But a young baby, a young child
is working almost exclusively on
the pleasure principle and so
not a lot of wiggle room there.
Now, ego is something that’s mostly
conscious, meaning you’re aware of it.
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.
So the ID wants the
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.
So, it finds realistic ways to
satisfy ID's desire for pleasure.
And then there’s
This inhibits the ID and
influences the ego.
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.
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.
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.
So it’s an interplay of all
these three components.
Now, what you see here is an
image representing an iceberg.
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.
we have a drawing of an iceberg.
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.
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.
So you’re only seeing a
little bit of the iceberg
visually, but below the surface
is much more substance.
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.
You would see things like your
superego and your -- most of your ID.
And a nice portion of your ego
is what you see consciously.
So, if you break it down by conscious level,
subconscious level and unconscious level,
you’d have your thoughts and your
perceptions being conscious.
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.
So you’re not completely
aware over them,
they’re just driving your personality
but from an unconscious level.
So collect with those two kind of represent
Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective.
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.
They’re there, they help guide
the ship at the moment,
they start bubbling to the surface,
that’s when you start feeling anxiety.
And so to cope with it and
protect the ego, individuals
developed something called
“ego defense mechanisms”.
So ego defense mechanisms
are used to help
manage and deal with these
things bubbling up.
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.
Okay. So here’s a table the
outlined some of those
defense mechanisms and
this is just a sampling.
So we’re going to through, you know a handful
but there’s a fairly comprehensive list.
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.
So the first one is repression.
And this is where you -- how lack of
recall of an emotionally painful memory.
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.
So regression is one of
those really common ones.
And that’s a lack of recall of an
emotionally and painful memory.
You tuck that away, you
repress that memory.
Then there’s denial,
so forceful refusal to
acknowledge an emotionally
and painful memory.
Then we have displacement.
That’s when you redirect --
redirect impulses from a forbidden action
to an object that’s a less dangerous one.
So say for example --
say for example, you
really are angry at --
at your mother
and you -- she, I don’t know.
She took something of yours or she washed
your favorite shirt and destroyed it.
You’re extremely angry.
You’re forbidden to actually go and
strangle her and slap her around.
She’s your mom, you love her.
But what do you do?
You displace that anger and
you go do something else.
You go outside and you punch the
crap out of the garbage can,
and then you get in your
car and you drive away.
So you’ve displaced your anger from
your mom to the garbage can, okay?
Then there’s regression.
This is when you revert
to an earlier less
sophisticated behavior and
you have a baby meltdown.
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
Then there’s rationalization.
And this is when you explain and
intellectually justifies one impulse behavior.
now, you did something maybe
completely outside of the norm
and you explain it or rationalize
it by using knowledge.
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.
There’s a reaction formation.
This is expressed in the opposite
of what one really feels
because it would be too dangerous
to express the real feeling.
So in English, let’s take a schoolyard
-- a schoolyard action as an example.
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.
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.
And so, he does something instead
opposite of what he really feels.
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.