The Levels of the Mental Life:
A. The Unconscious
The unconscious is said to be the container of all drives, urges or instincts that are beyond human awareness (Feist & Feist, 2010). It was also said that it contains the sexual desires and aggression of men. Thoughts in the unconscious disguises in a dream, images, slips of the tongue (Freudian Slips) or neurotics symptoms.
The unconscious is the level of the mental life where one can find fears, violent motives, immoral urges, selfish needs, irrational wishes, sexual desires and shameful experiences (Pandora’s Box of humans).
Origins of unconscious processes are:
1. Repression - blocking out of anxiety or hidden experiences that are pushed into the unconscious as a defense mechanism against the pains of anxiety.
2. Phylogenetic Endowment - consists of inherited experiences that lie beyond an individual’s personal experiences. Feist & Feist (2010) explained this as the unconscious inherited images that have been passed down to us by our ancestors through many generations of repeated experience.
B. The Preconscious
The preconscious level of mental life contains images from conscious perception and unconscious urges. It contains images that are not in awareness but that can become conscious either quite easily or with some level of difficulty (Feist & Feist, 2010) and it is where you can find the memories and stored knowledge.
C. The Conscious
The last level of mental life is known as the conscious. Elements in the conscious stems from the conscious perception of the environment, preconscious and unconscious elements. Also, this is the level of mental life that is directly available to us, but it plays a relatively minor role in Freudian theory.
The conscious level of the mental life stems from:
1. Perception of external stimuli that comes from our perceptual conscious system or
2. from preconscious and unconscious after they have evaded censorship.
The Provinces of the Mind
A. Id (das Es or ‘It’)
Ψ The id is governed by the pleasure principle thus its main objective is to seek pleasure and avoid pain without regard for what is proper or just.
Ψ It is completely unconscious in nature.
Ψ Operates through the primary processes.
Ψ ‘What the id wants, the id gets.’
Ψ It is said that the id is like a new-born baby. It is illogical, chaotic, unorganized and has no contact with reality.
Ψ Id needs the ego to reach reality.
B. Ego (das Ich or ‘I’)
Ψ Ego is governed by the reality principle.
Ψ Ego reconciles with the unrealistic demands of both the Id and the Superego and with the demands of the real or external world. (These three serve as the masters of Ego.)
Ψ With the demands of its masters, the Ego has difficulties in thinking on what to do; thus making the Ego very anxious.
Ψ To avoid pain caused by the anxiety, the Ego would use defense mechanisms.
Ψ The Ego is said to be a product of the Id that is why it is hard for the Ego to refuse the unrealistic, pleasurable wants of the Id.
Ψ Ego is the executive branch of personality, the decision maker.
Ψ The Ego attempts to avoid displeasure and pain but needed to conform to the morals of the Superego and the reality of the external world.
C. Superego (das Uber-Ich or ‘Above me or higher I’)
Ψ Like the Id, Superego is very demanding and likewise, unrealistic.
Ψ Superego is guided by the moralistic and idealistic principles.
Ψ Has no contact with reality therefore it is unrealistic in its demands for perfection. Also, Superego needed the Ego to reach reality.
Ψ This acts as the parental voice or conscience of the Ego whenever it makes a decision.
Ψ Since Superego acts as the conscience, it is responsible for the experience of guilt.
Ψ Judges the Ego’s acts.
Ψ Superego orders the ego to control sexual and aggressive impulses of the Id through repression.
Parts of the Superego
1. Ego Ideal – develops from experiences with rewards for proper behavior and tells us what we should do.
2. Conscience – results from punishments for improper behavior and tells us what we should not do.
Ψ Guilt is the result when the Ego acts contrary to the standard and principles of the Superego. (Function of the conscience)
Ψ Feelings of inferiority arise when the Ego is unable to meet Superego’s standard for perfection. (Function of the Ego Ideal)
2. PROCESS/ PSYCHODYNAMICS
People are motivated to seek pleasure and to reduce tension and anxiety. Motivation is derived from the physical and psychological part of the person.
Instincts/ Drives/ Impulse (from the German ‘Trieb’)
- an internal drive or impulse that operates as a constant motivational force
- it originates from the Id, but eventually become under control by the ego.
Characteristics of a drive:
Ψ Impetus – amount of force the instinct exerts.
Ψ Source – region of the body in a state of excitation or tension.
Ψ Aim – is to seek pleasure by narrowing the state of excitation or tension.
Ψ Object – person or object that can satisfy the aim.
A hungry infant cries.
· The hunger (impetus) arises in the body of the child.
· Energized by the libido.
· The goal is sucking the nipple (source) and receives nourishment.
· (Aim) Reduce hunger.
· (Object) The caring mother.
Kinds of Instincts
A. Life Instinct
EROS (The sexual instinct or drive)
- The life drive is directed by the LIBIDO (sexual energy… can also be anything that can direct action)
- Libido is the force by which the sexual instinct works.
- This instinct perpetuates the life of the individual and the life of the species.
- Its aim is to bring pleasure within a person by removing the state of sexual excitation.
- Not limited to the ‘genital pleasure’. (Ex: Thumb sucking for a child.)
Erogenous zones – the regions of the body that is capable of producing sexual pleasure.
Forms of Life Instincts / Sex / Manifestations of Eros
Ψ Narcissism – excessive love of one’s self. From the Greek story of Narcissus.
Kinds of Narcissism:
o Primary Narcissism (self-love) – the universal self-centeredness of infants.
o Secondary Narcissism – A moderate degree of self love that occurs during puberty.
-- is accompanied by Narcissistic tendencies (people love someone who serves as an ideal or model of what they would like to be).
– is the investing of the libido on an external person or object.
-- is regarded as a reciprocal state of attractions.
Kinds of Love:
o Parental love (aim-inhibited love)
o Fictional love
Note: Love and Narcissism are related with each other.
-- is the need for sexual pleasure by inflicting pain or humiliation to others.
-- is a common need and exists to some extent in all sexual relationships.
-- its extreme point is sexual perversion
-- The need for sexual pleasure by inflicting pain or humiliation either by themselves or by others to oneself.
o Sexual perversion is a form of sadism and masochism that is taken to an extreme point.
o Sadism and masochism demonstrates the life instinct and the death instinct as a combination.
o ‘The goal of life is ultimately death.’
B. Death Instinct
THANATOS (The destructive or aggressive instinct)
- The destructive/ aggressive/ death drive is directed by MORTIDO.
- aims to bring the organism into a state of calmness… ultimately into non-existence.
Aggression – the result of the flexibility of the death instinct.
· Life and death instincts must submit to the demands of the real world which prevents an unopposed fulfillment of sex and or aggression.
· This frequently creates anxiety which relegates many sexual and destructive desires to the realm of unconscious.
- is a felt, affective, unpleasant state accompanied by physical sensation that warns a person from an impending danger.
‘Human beings are always anxious.’ –Sigmund Freud.
Kinds of Anxiety
Ψ Neurotic anxiety (known as nervous anxiety) – an apprehension about an unknown danger.
Ψ Moral anxiety – an outgrowth of conflict between our realistic needs and the dictates of our superego.
Ψ Realistic anxiety – closely related to fear; an unpleasant nonspecific feeling involving possible danger.
NOTE: Anxiety serves as an ego-preserving mechanism because it signals us from an impending danger thus we ‘tend’ to prepare ourselves from the possibilities of the danger to happen.
The ego deals with the demands of reality, id and superego so it defends itself from anxiety. Defense mechanisms are temporary solutions to the onset attack of pain/ anxiety caused by the three masters. Defense mechanisms are:
· are irrational/ illogical
· like the id, unconscious.
· established by the ego to avoid dealing directly with the demands of our instincts and also defend ourselves
Principal defense mechanisms
1. Repression (primary defense mechanism)
- forces threatening feelings into the unconscious.
- also called as motivated forgetting (active during traumas, phobias)
***What happens to the repressed impulses?
- goes to the unconscious and remains there unchanged.
- forces its way out into consciousness in an altered form which would bring forth an unbearable anxiety
- finds expressions in a displaced or disguised form (Freudian slips or dreams)
2. Undoing – the ego attempts to get rid of unpleasant experiences and the consequences through compulsive ceremonial behavior (washing of hands).
3. Isolation – the ego attempts to isolate experience by using obsessive thoughts to block out any effect immediately.
4. Reaction Formation – one way for repressed impulses to reach consciousness is through adopting a disguised form that is directly opposite the original impulse in an exaggerated form.
- When the process of going into the next stage of development becomes too anxiety-provoking, the ego will remain at the present stage.
- The person remains at a current stage of development where there is pleasure.
- ‘more permanent’ than regression
- Once the libido passed a developmental stage, it may, during at times of stress and anxiety, revert back to the earlier stage and repeat activities which were once successful or at least pleasurable.
7. Displacement – redirecting of an impulse into a substitute target, a symbolic substitute.
*Turning against oneself – the person becomes their own substitute and sometimes hurt themselves.
- attribution of unwanted impulses to an external object or person
- seeing in other unacceptable feelings or tendencies that actually resides in their own unconscious.
9. Introjection (identification)
- incorporation of positive qualities of another person into their own ego.
- taking into your own personality the characteristics of someone else because doing so solves some emotional difficulty.
*** Identification with our aggressor
- a version of introjections
- adaptation of negative or feared traits
10. Sublimation – repression of the genital aim of the Eros by substituting a cultural or social aim. This is the transformation of an unacceptable impulse whether it be sex, anger or fears into a socially acceptable and even productive form (Ex: Robinhood complex).
11. Denial – blocking of external events from awareness. If a situation is just too much to handle, the person just refuses to accept it (Ex: When children’s imagination transforms a threatening object or person into a less threatening one.)
12. Asceticism – renunciation of basic needs or simple living or chastity.
13. Rationalization – characteristic distortion of the ‘facts’ to make an event or an impulse less threatening.
* Sour graping – attribution of a negative character to something so that it will look less good.
* Sweet lemon – looking for something positive in things that acquire negative attributions.
14. Intellectualization – explaining something to justify the act.
· Defense mechanisms are universal and like the Id, irrational; they protect the ego from anxiety.
· Among the defense mechanisms discussed, the only beneficial to the individual and the society is SUBLIMATION.
3. GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
A. Infantile Period
- first 4 or 5 years of life are the most crucial because it is when personality forms.
- Freud assumed that infants possess a sexual life and go through a period of pre-genital sexual development.
- Consists of 3 phases:
- the infant’s pleasure is centered on the mouth
- occurs from birth to 18 months
- the oral phase contains 2 subdivisions: the early oral stage (sucking) and the oral sadistic (biting).
- POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENTS from gratifications include trust, security, optimism and vitality.
- NEGATIVE OUTCOMES from frustration include mistrust, insecurity and pessimism.
NOTE: As children become adults, the mouth continuous to be an erogenous zone.
-anus emerges as a sexually pleasurable zone; occurs during 2-4 years of age
- subdivided into 2:
o Early Anal Period – children receive satisfaction by destroying or losing objects.
o Late Anal Period – children sometimes take a friendly interest toward their feces, an interest that stems from erotic pleasure of defecating.
*Anal Character – people who continue to receive erotic satisfaction by keeping and possessing objects and arranging them in an excessively neat and orderly fashion.
* Anal Triad – orderliness, stinginess and obstinacy which typifies the adult anal character.
- POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENTS from gratification include autonomy, pride and confidence.
- NEGATIVE OUTCOMES from frustration include shame, doubt, and rigidity.
- last leg of infantile period (4-6 years of age); the child starts to differentiate or determine the sex organ.
- looks at each other’s genitalia
Not all girls transfer sexual interest onto their father and develop hostility toward the mother, so they rebel in three ways:
1. Give up their sexuality and develop an intense hostility to the mother.
2. Cling to their masculinity hoping for a penis and fantasizing being a man.
3. Take the father as a sexual choice and undergo simple Oedipus complex (normal development).
- POSITIVE ACHIEVEMENTS from gratification include sex-relevant role, modeling, initiative, purpose and ethical sense..
- NEGATIVE OUTCOMES from failure to identify with parents include guilt.
B. Latency Period
- A child represses sexual interest and develops social and intellectual skills.
C. Genital Period
- Time of sexual reawakening (during puberty)
- expected to identify with their own sexual organ
- adolescents give up autoeroticism
- vagina obtains the same status for them that the male organ had for them during infancy and parallel to this, boys now see the female organ as a sought-after object.
- Psychological maturity is the stage attained after a person has passed through the earlier development period in an ideal manner.
4. PSYCHOPATHOLOGY (Causes of Psychosexual Disorders)
A. Infantile Sexuality – unresolved issues in the psychosexual stages of development affect the future behavior of the child.
B. Fixation… Regression
· Children must resolve certain challenges or crises
· small amount of libido are used up resolving each crises
· this still leaves an adequate amount of psychic energy to operate in adult personality.
· This results in tying up or fixating a large amount of libido in that certain stage – thus fixation occurs.
· Consequently, the ego has less energy available for normal adult functioning.
· As such, the adult expresses characteristics reminiscent of the stage
C. Cathexis and anti-cathexis
Ψ Cathexis refers to the relationship or connection between a need and an object that satisfies the need.
Ψ Anti-cathexis is the inhibition of an impulse by either the ego or the superego.
5. CHANGE (Psychoanalysis)
“Where the Id was, the Ego shall be.” – Sigmund Freud
What is Psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis is often referred to as a therapy in a Freudian point of view.
What makes psychoanalysis interesting?
Ψ Sex and aggression
Ψ Continuing Popularity
Ψ Freud’s brilliant command of language
Ψ Removal of the crippling life pattern
Ψ Assumption of resuming a normal mental life
Ψ Methods for learning about the mind
Ψ Seeks to know how human mind works
Early Therapeutic Technique
· extracts the repressed childhood memories by using active approach.
· Freud’s patients reproduced the childhood scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some adults or their parents (seduction theory). He found out that these scenes of seduction have never taken place; such that he suggested these ideas on the patient.
Late Therapeutic Technique
· The primary goal was to uncover repressed memories which work by transforming what is unconscious into what is conscious.
o Free Association – patients are required to verbalize every thought that come to their mind (cathexis).
o Transference – always expected by the therapist; strong sexual or aggressive feeling that patients develop toward their analyst during the course of treatment – can be referred to as resistance to change.
§ Counter transference must be avoided.
· For the analytic treatment to be successful:
1. All libido is forced from the symptoms into the transference and concentrate there.
2. The struggle is waged around this new object and the libido is liberated from it (fixated stage).
· Limitations of Psychoanalysis
o Treatment is not as effective with psychoses or with constitutional illness.
o Not all old memories can or should be brought to the conscious.
· Used to transform the manifest content of dreams to the more important latent content.
o Manifest content of dream – called as the actual dream itself.
o Latent content of dream
- Nearly all dreams are wish fulfillments.
- Principle of Repetition Compulsion – repeatedly dream of frightening or traumatic experiences, an exception to the rule that dreams are with fulfillments is found in the patient’s suffering.
· For dreams to become conscious:
o condensation or displacement
o inhibiting or reversing the dreamer’s affect
· Dream interpretation methods:
o To ask the patients to relate their dream and all their associations to it.
o Using dream symbols.
· Dream Analysis is the “Royal Road” to knowledge of the unconscious.
· Anxiety dreams offer no contradiction without the rule that dreams are wish fulfillments:
o Exceptions are: embarrassment of nakedness, dreams of the death of a beloved person, dreams of failing an examination
– slips of pen, misreading, incorrect hearing, temporary forgetting of names, intentions and the misplacing of object, all of which are unconscious wishes.
- It is also called as parapraxes.
The intentions of the unconscious supplant the weaker intentions of the preconscious; thereby revealing the true purpose of the ego.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2010). Theories of Personality (7th ed.). Philippines: McGraw-Hill.
Reber, A. S., Rhianon, A., & Reber, E. S. (2009). Penguin dictionary of psychology (4th Edition ed.). London, England: Penguin Books Ltd.