An Introduction to Freuds Personality Theory

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"An Introduction to Freuds Personality Theory"
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Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychiatrist, born in 1856, and living until 1939, opened the door for later psychological discoveries of the mind.At the time he presented  his theories, he was rebuked more often than he was praised. His theories, many of which were outlandish, often astonished his peers to the degree that they sought ways to counter his claims.

Therefore, while he is talked about, made fun of, and is visible - not having shrunk out of sight when psychological matters are discussed -  most of his theories remain only that, theories, but theories that the world cannot seem to get enough of. They have, at some level, used these as blueprints to carry on work that he started.

That underlying, subconscious entity called by most people, the soul, Freud called the psyche. Because of his involvement in classifying and identifying the conscious and unconscious parts of this psyche, the id, the most unknown quality of the psyche, and the ego, the part known, are well known terminology used in studies and explanations of the mind today. In fact, most would find it difficult to discuss any topic relative to psychology, without making reference to these words. That is how well they are embedded into the psyche.

And yet, having said the above, it was his way of presenting the fact in a negative way that turned his psychologists off when dealing with his thoughts. Possibly he went too far. In describing and in attempts to make people listen, he used references to what then was what people did not want to talk about. Sexual matters were discussed, and while he was probably right, the world was not ready to accept what he was offering.

That attitude, he called repression. Not allowing hurtful or uncomfortable knowledge to linger but actively pushing it down out of consciousness, defined the behavior. That is not a bad thing in itself, and that is not something that an individual consciously does, but assisted by the immune system and its messaging system, it is a part of effecting change in one's life. Carried to the extremes, however, it leads to mental illness.

But Freud did not take a benevolent view of repression. He dragged human ideas, thoughts and repressed ideas up to the conscious level and intended for the world to take a good look at what was in their basement or floating around in their sewer. The id, to his way of thinking and teaching hoarded all kinds of pleasurable sensations that most people knew nothing about, was the trouble maker.

As a psychiatrist, and not as a psychologist, he probably thought if these repressed feelings and thoughts could be brought to the surface and studied and seen as they really were, infantile longings denied that remained in the id, and against the victim's knowledge causing him to remain ill and unable to cope with life's challenges, a healing process could begin.

That kind of thinking led to psychoanalysis and it has become one of the psychiatrist's most useful tools in curing the mentally ill. Unfortunately, it is a long drawn out process, is costly, and if used in the wrong way, can led to far worse consequences. It is all too often pushed aside in favor of medication, and that has led to backing off from too much analysis, or to its use being in the hands of the incompetent.

Other means of coping - mental mechanisms - are displacement, fighting with your wife; sublimation, working out your anger at the gym; projection, blaming your sins on another;  rationalization, making excuses for what you have done; fantasy, daydreaming as an alternative to facing facts; detachment or intellectulizing, cognitive thinking; denial, not admitting to guilt; suppression, pushing it out of consciousness, same as repression; withhdrawal, drifting away from reality; reaction, having a temper tantrum or some other way of venting.

Most of these have been understood only by delving deeper into the theories that Freud presented. While these may not all have originated with him, it was his work that paved their way. The id, however was his domain, and remains so. The id, and the theories that abounded from that unseen part of man's psyche where hidden motivations drive much of the behavior of the flesh, gained for the Father of Psychiatry, lots of criticism. Yet despite that, and despite the fact that everything he wrote or talked about has been accepted with and without question, his theories have led onward toward more knowledge and understanding of what motivates the human race.

It is possible it was his sexual theories that led to much of the criticism about him and his work.  He believed that sex was the driving force and had its beginnings in an early age. And of course now it is known that everything a child needed was put into place at its very embryonic beginnings. Freud was fascinated with sex, there is no doubt about that. Perhaps a little soul searching would have told him that when he looked at a nursing baby, the baby was not concerned with sex but only the delightful snuggling warm feeling of its mother and the warm milk being guzzled down.

And yet these warm feelings of pleasure could very well have a lot to do with how this little boy or girl would later in life look at love and marriage. The seeds of this was planted earlier, but as Piaget taught, at certain stages in development, certain ideas and thoughts were not for children but for adults. Yet  developmental phases could only be understood and accepted if the child was ready for learning.

His sexual fixations that he labeled oral, the infant stage; the anal; and the phallic stages are the theories that got him in the most trouble with his peers and later reviewers. One could almost say that at this stage in Freud's life he was obsessed. Another theory, not one of Freud's but owing to him nonetheless, is that of high and low. It was apparent he spent a great deal of time wandering in the basement. This could be called his negative phase.

Had he been  up in the attic and closer to saints than to sinners, he might have seen the rightness of his discoveries. God is love. It was he who created these strong sexual urges in mankind, but it was only when they were used of context that they became problematic. Who is there to say that He did not use Freud with his fine mind to clean out the lower depths, to get it out where it could be seen for what it is? And how is that? That depends on whether one is looking down or looking up.

The ego and the superego rounds out the theories of Freud. These belong in the theories relating to personality types. The id, as already mentioned being the hidden personality and the ego that part that is not hidden. The super ego, apparently the better self, or the way a person sees himself, rightly or wrongly. To learn more .  . .

More about this author: Effie Moore Salem

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