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Theories of Defence Mechanisms and Psycho-Sexual Development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1921 words Published: 13th Apr 2018

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A discussion on what’s inside

  • Chung Dennis

Psychoanalysis’s definition is the study of a comprehensive theory pertaining to the process of understanding human nature, motivation, behaviour, development and experience through the exploration of the unconscious thoughts of the human mind.

It is governed by rules of understanding whereby each individual is unique at birth, there social media, and other external factors outside and not within the person’s awareness or control (Unconscious thoughts, feelings and experiences) that influence his or her thoughts and actions, that what happened during the childhood and other early experiences echoes and affect the outcome of the individual during the adolescence and mature stage of life that ongoing experiences in a person’s life are always engaged and ongoing in the process of development through their lives. (American Psychoanalytic Association 2009 – 2014)

These are the 5 key concept of psychoanalysis that I am focusing on.

First, there is the concept of personality construction regarding the 3 basic ideas of the ID, Ego and Super Ego as according to Sigmund Freud.

The id is the component of a personality that is already there from birth. The aspect of personality is unconscious and includes the instinct and primitive behaviours. According to Cherry, K. (2014.), the id is a psychic energy that makes it the primary component of personality. This personality that drives the individual is instinctive and it is by Sexual and Aggression energy.

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The ego is a component of personality that is guilty for dealing with what is the reality. According to Cherry, K. (2014), the ego develops from the ID and ensures impulses of the id personality can be expressed possible and acceptable manner in society. This personality is shaped by the influences or the outside word by the means of society, trends and also social media. (Cherry, K. 2014.)

In accordance in her book, Cherry, K. (2014) states that the Super EGO personality is broken down into two parts, the two parts that affect the outcome of the superego in the individual is firstly,

The EGO idea, where it sets the rules and standards for good behaviours through the upbringing and social circles that the individual is in. These behaviours include those which are approved and set by the parents and other higher authority or social figures. And by so following the rules set by them it give the person feelings of value and accomplishment.

The part of the conscience come into play whereby it includes information about things that are viewed as unaccepted in terms of the magnitude portrayed by the parents and by society. These behaviours and actions will then be followed on by bad consequences, punishments or guilt and remorse.

The Second key concept is the presence of Defence Mechanism, Defence mechanisms are manners and methods in which we behave, think and react in certain ways to better protect and to distance one selves from a being fully awareness of unpleasant thoughts, feelings, actions, morals or behaviours. (Grohol, J. M. (2013))

In Grohol, J. M. (2013) article, he states that psychologists have categorized defences mechanisms depending on how primitive they are. The more instinctual they are the more effective they are against in the context of short-term denials, and hence are favoured by many people and amongst children especially.

The few defence mechanisms are;

Firstly denial, the refusing to accept the facts or reality. Therefore by so doing, arguing an anxiety and by provoking stimuli and in its reaction, stating it does not exist then thus blocking it out. (Heffner C.L. (2001))

Secondly, repression. It is a mental reaction state that returns the individual to a previous stage of development. Reactions varies from crying in a corner when being sad to throwing a temper when thing are not going their way.

The third defence mechanism is intellectualization, it supplies a logical and or rational reason as in relations to the actual conscious reason, therefore, theories and logic are given for a clinical explanation to the situation of behaviour instead of reality

The forth defence mechanism is projection, it is an extrovert reaction by “throwing” the bad emotions (anger, frustration, sadness) unto another person feeling the opposite, by so doing, making themselves feel better than the affected individual.

The last but not least defence mechanism is sublimation. It is the transferring the anxiety of the situation into a more positive energy and therefore coping with the problem better. For example as given by Heffner C.L. (2001) diverting ones aggressive impulses toward a career as a boxer, becoming a surgeon because of your desire to cut or by lifting weights to release ‘aggressive’ energy

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We then move on to one of Freud’s theories which are the psycho-sexual development of an individual. It describes how personality develops during childhood. However, these are still a controversial theory. It revolves around the ‘ID’ becoming very much focus on the specific erogenous areas. The psychosexual energy, also known as the libido, is the driving force behind behaviour in every individual.

It revolves around these 5 stages:

The Oral stage that revolves at the time of birth, it revolves around the mouth of the baby; fixation or restrictions in oral might result in having a passive, gullible, immature,manipulativepersonality. (Sim, M. 1974)

The Anal stage revolves around the bowels and bladder eliminating of waste from the body. Being fixated at this stage might lead to being Anal Retentive (Being too organized) or Anal Expulsive (Being too unorganized or reckless)

The Phallic stage starts at the age of six; the individual starts to discover the genitals of his or her body. Then after which he or she will compare it to their mother or father, whichever gender that poses a threat or competition. For example, the son is being jealous of the father for the right of the mother and the daughter being jealous of the mother for the right of the father.

The Latent stage happens from age 6 to the stage of puberty. It is the consolidation of the entire lesson learnt and habits picked up from the previous three stages where the child would then develop his or her own thinking and therefore start consolidating it into his own EGO and thus creating his or her own drive with the influences of the ID.

The last stage also known as the Genital stage, stretches across the spam of the entire life of the child as he or she breaks his bond and becomes independent from the parents both psychologically and sexually. The child then squares off with the ID and EGO to come out with a more intellectual side of his thinking process, to relate through friendship, love relationship.

Psychoanalysis also emphasises on the role of the unconscious or according the Corey. G. (2012) a slip of the tongue is also known as the Freudian Slip is a lapse of the mind where by the unconscious is somehow surfaced without the person actually realising the meaning of it but to the therapist, he can interpret it as something hidden and known to the mind. It is influenced by a number of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and art. (Cherry, K. 2014.)

According to Cherry, K. (2014) Freud divided it to three levels of mind in comparison to an ice burg. The top or the surface portion of the iceberg above water represents the conscious mind. The halves submerge part of the iceberg that is the bridge between the unconscious is also known as the preconscious, it is known to house the anxieties and defence mechanisms as the guardians of the bridge. The rest of the submerged part of the iceberg is hidden, unseen beneath and is known as unconscious, only by going through or in the absence of the ‘Guardians’ also known as the defence mechanisms and anxiety, only then will the unconscious can surface and be tapped into .

The last factor is in relations to the childhood development is stating and supporting the theory that whatever happens during the psycho-sexual stage of the child’s development. It states that the fixations of the child when they are young will echo and cause them to construct habits of their own uniqueness according to what they were fixated with.

Psychoanalysis in modern therapy revolves around the practice of free association and the skill of the therapist on how he deciphers and organise by working on and the interpretation of dreams and fantasies. This therapy is also costly and requires a lot of time as the deriving of the unconscious cannot be done at one go. The therapist must also try to identify the resistance and the defence mechanism in the client in order to allow the unconscious to be conscious and by so doing making him feel safe with no anxieties or criticism that will trigger him back into the state of psychological self-defence. For example in Newirth, J. (2013) book, he is using psychoanalysis in in the means of developmental hermeneutic approach. That is one way that modern practitioners are inculcating psychoanalytic therapy into their own way of therapy.

Advantages of psychoanalysis are that through its therapy and analysis whereby through the unconscious opens up a window to get to the root of the problem. It helps control and constructs the ID, EGO and Super EGO of the individual. Through the construction of the individual’s personalities, it allow the change of feeling and also the change of the person’s behaviour and mentality towards all things around him as he is more in control of his ID, EGO and Super EGO

However, there are disadvantages of this therapy as it requires a long time to treat the fellow individual and as it requires many sessions in order to understand and analysis the unconscious thoughts of the individual. Thus, having more session which requires more money per visit. It also states that there aren’t much therapist trained in the field of classical psychoanalysis as it takes loads of experience in the field in order to be good as a therapist in interpreting the unconscious thoughts of a person. Though analysing the unconscious and memories of others, it also contradicts to the memories as the person cannot recall till his childhood and in return tell fake memories to fit the bill. Last but not least, in this modern age where personal information is of a high privacy to us, tell someone that we do not know of, our memories, problems and the unconscious who make some of us very uncomfortable and more likely to not do the actions that make us reveal or private information and that could hurdle the psychoanalysis therapist.

In conclusion, psychoanalysis therapy is a foundation for all psychotherapy as it lays a firm and concrete concept in the evolution of identifying the roots and the analysis of the mind and personalities that an individual has. It also lays down the rules that every individual is unique and every problem can and must tackle and resolved differently.


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