An Essay Evolves / AboutFreudsTheory
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Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 3 months ago

Before continuing my research, I wanted to rid my brain of various ideas which haunted me as I tried to understand Freud's theory of personality. What better way to purge than to write! Maybe some of it will even find its way into the final draft. The writing was done during a half-hour session. I recorded it, character by character, in two chunks, which (if you are interested) you can replay here, joined as one. If you would like to fast forward or rewind any part of this, please do so by moving the slider on the control box. I know you know, but just in case: to fast forward, move the slider forward by the required amount. To replay, move it back by as much as is desired and then hit the play button.


 Things I want to critique at the moment (however crudely) I'm highlighting in pink. I've expanded them on another page.


Freud is often dubbed The Father of Psychoanalysis. Even if he didn’t

Originate the idea of an unconscious aspect to the mind, he certainly

Proposed that our behaviour is motivated by a component often referred to

As the dynamic unconscious. The unconscious according to Freud’s theory is

A system whereby emotions which have been banished from conscious

Awareness (through psychological defence mechanisms such as repression)

Still exert an influence on behaviour. A static unconscious (perhaps like that

Proposed by Helmholtz as operating in visual perception) would behave

More like a waste bin rather than as a functional partition in awareness.


Freud thought that personality (or character, as he preferred to call it)

Was essentially formed by the fifth or sixth year of life. Before that,

Development proceeded via the navigation of a series of psychosexual stages.

Freud pictured human beings as effectively partitioned systems powered by

Biological energy (libido, which arises as an effect of our instinctual drives,

Produced by the Id). During each stage, libido becomes invested – or,

According to Strachey ‘cathected’- in a certain area or ‘erotogenic zone’ of

The child’s body, eg. the mouth, anus, or genitals. This part of the anatomy

Thus temporarily becomes the source of satisfaction for the child.


I personally feel that anybody who has witnessed the growing up of a child would probably

see some truth in this stage theory of Freud’s. It certainly seems to me that very young

children experience the world by putting everything in their mouths. Likewise, when they

get older, they become obsessed with matters scatological, and later still, with matters genital.

I remember my own experience of latency, of being asked by a neighbour if I liked her son,

to which I responded with sincere and vehement disgust. Not long after that came puberty

and the unavoidable effects of hormones. Freud saw development in overwhelmingly

biological terms. Although he acknowledged the role of his own sexually repressive society in

reinforcing latency, he thought that it would occur even in a permissive society. This does

seem to be the case.


Importantly, Freud thought of us as being biological organisms whose ‘higher’

Achievements are the tangential benefits of our imperative to satisfy our drives and urges. So,

We sublimate our libido into work, sport, art or romantic love. Our underlying motivation is

To move away from unpleasure and towards the discharge of tension, but importantly, as

We mature our responses are shaped by the nature of the external world. For Freud, being

Alive seemed to be contingent on or synonymous with a state of conflict. We want to satisfy

Ourselves, but for various reasons we can’t. We search for a love partner when our parents

And our own genitalia aren’t enough for us, it seems. Freud’s structural theory of personality

Is essential to understanding the way conscious and unconscious interact. He proposes three

functional components, the ego, id and superego. The id is the fermenting place of drives &

urges, the superego is the ethical portion of our character, and the ego is what mediates

between these other parts and between us and the external world.

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