Quiz 2: Freud: Psychoanalysis


Freud developed his concept of the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious several years before he formulated the notion of the id, ego, and superego. The unconscious is a dynamic aspect of mental life responsible for many of our behaviors.It consists of both repressed experiences and experiences that have never been conscious.Childhood sexual and aggressive experiences are most likely to be repressed and thus enter into the unconscious in a disguised form. The preconscious consists of those experiences that are less threatening than those of the unconscious.Preconscious ideas can become conscious with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on their potential threat to the ego. The conscious mind plays a relatively minor role in Freudian psychology.It refers to those ideas that are in our awareness at any given time. The id is the amoral, animal side of human nature and is completely unconscious.The id serves the pleasure principle. The ego is the sense of "I" or "me" that children develop at an early age.The ego, which can be unconscious, preconscious, or conscious, serves the reality principle. The superego comes into existence after the resolution of the Oedipus complex, and serves both the moral and the idealistic principles.The superego, like the id, is completely unconscious, meaning that its moralistic and idealistic demands are incessant and out of contact with reality.

Freud believed that the male and female phallic stages take different routes because male and female anatomies are different. The male phallic stage begins with the little boy's sexual desire for his mother and hostility for his father-a condition called the male Oedipus complex.Fearing his father's retribution, the boy develops a castration complex, which takes the form of castration anxiety, or a fear of losing his penis.Because castration anxiety is extremely traumatic, the little boy quickly resolves this dilemma by giving up his incestuous feelings for his mother and identifying with his father.His identification with his father leads to his developing a strong male superego-one based on his perception of his father's morals and ideals. The female phallic stage begins with the castration complex, which for little girls takes the form of penis envy.Holding her mother responsible for her lack of a penis, the girl turns to her father for sexual love and generates hostility for her mother This condition, called the female Oedipus complex, is more difficult to resolve than the male Oedipus complex because the girl has no traumatic experience (such as castration anxiety) to shatter it.Gradually, the girl sees the futility of her position and turns to her mother for nonsexual love.The girl's identification with her mother leads to the development of the female superego-a superego based on the little girl's perception of her mother's morals and ideals.

Some observers have criticized Freud for abandoning the seduction theory, which placed responsibility for childhood sexual abuse on a parent, usually the father.When Freud substituted the Oedipus complex for the seduction theory, he switched responsibility from the parent to the child. Freud's early therapeutic technique was quite active, forceful, and suggestive.He placed his hands on his patients' heads and told them that they would think of something.This procedure usually led to precisely the result that Freud was looking for, namely, the confession of a childhood seduction. Freud's highly suggestive technique tended to yield stories of childhood seduction that had been repressed for years.Many current therapists, using somewhat different but equally suggestive procedures, have been able to "recover" patients' long-lost experiences of being sexually or physically abused by an older person, often a parent.