Topic 1a: Psychodynamic Approach {by 9/9}

There are two readings due this week – Text Ch. 7 and Freud’s lectures (1-2).  Address the following two discussion points: (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology.  Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?  (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?  Be sure to support both of your responses using the readings (i.e., not anecdotal opinions).  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 9/9.  Have your two replies no later than 9/11.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

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55 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bridget Kesling
    Sep 07, 2015 @ 08:56:47

    (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?

    One of Sigmund Freud’s Greatest contributions to personality psychology was his interpretation of “Basic Assumptions: Unconscious Mental Determinism.” (Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y., 2008) The assumptions state that behavior is never an accident, behavior is always motivated by a mental motivation. Also known as Motivational determinism. The assumptions also state that the reasons for the behavior are out of the patient’s awareness. Freud’s assumptions proved valuable throughout the literature as it served as the foundation for his theories of the anatomy of the mind and his fundamental idea’s to the Id, Ego and Superego. Although there is much to deliberation to the validity of his theory of the anatomy of the mind those basic assumptions are a strong foundation to many theories even today.
    In Freud’s first lecture he supported these basic assumptions with a case about a twenty-two year old women whom presented with symptoms of paralysis, loss of sensation, of both her arm and leg on the right side of the body. She also presented with disturbance in vision, eye movement, nervous cough, and avoided eating and drinking. According to Freud’s recount of the case he stated the women had a high intellect but was struggling with speech and comprehension. Throughout Freud’s lecture he stated how the doctors could not find a medical causation for the symptoms she was experiencing. It was found that the patient was diagnosed with hysteria. Through Freud’s lecture it became evident there was no benefit or positive reinforcement being attributed to the patient for these symptoms. So in my opinion Freud’s basic assumptions were one of his biggest contributions to personality psychology.

    (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?

    Freud’s theories of personality although very logical and thorough leave very little room for variables outside of the structure of his theory. Highlighting his five psychosexual stages of development, Freud stated that every person went through five stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital). He believed that these were stages that every person progressed through and it left no room for irregular progression. Also he focused a lot on a client’s past in order to cultivate change in the present. Most therapies today including DBT, ABA, PBIS and CBT do a lot of work in the present verse the past. Although most of these therapies recognize the clients have a past and that it is important to be aware of and validate experience a lot of them focus on skills and increasing coping mechanisms to help in the present. Alot of them focus on behavior modification utilizing positive reinforcement from the environment, mindfulness, distress tolerance, self talk, and a number of other skills that are to help clients cope immediately and build skill that will progressively allow them to compartmentalize and approach areas of trauma and other psychological disorders in a safe and positive way, when client is ready, in an effort to not re-traumatize the client by addressing concerns when they are not yet able to safely.

    Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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    • Janean Desjardins
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 15:08:20

      Bridget,

      I agree with you that Freud’s methods of therapy and focusing on the past cannot completely apply today. When using behavior modification in therapy today you would want to treat the patient’s potential self-destructive behavior by replacing bad behavior with good behavior. If you are constantly focusing on the past this would be difficult. Although you would have to touch somewhat on the past in order to know what the patient has experienced and why the behavior may have started, it is not where you would want to stay focused. Freud seemed to be focused on finding out why a person was the way there were or finding a diagnosing, which is not always the case today. Patients do not always have a specific disorder or need to be “labeled” in order to be treated. Behavior therapy helps patients to cope with difficult situations and give them the tools to move forward. I agree with you that therapy today is about moving forward and Freud was about staying in the past.

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    • Tatiana Chunis
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 17:52:26

      Bridget,
      I completely agree that one must be wary of how to approach traumatic experiences as to not re-traumatize an individual. However, I also think it is important to know that after teaching mechanisms to cope with traumatic experiences, one should revisit the memory of a traumatic experience in a therapeutic setting in order to help the individual continue to move past said experience. Acknowledging a traumatic experience and recalling it could be considered therapeutic to some, after learning coping skills. This ties into the five psychosexual stages of development because although not pertinent to modern day therapy, in his time it was important to realize that if an individual is able to move past a stage in which a traumatic experience occurred, they may be able to reflect back on that stage and be able to successfully continue on through the stages of their development. Through the contributions of Freud, a modern day psychologist could pull a lot of useful information if they are able to pick through a bit of silly thinking.

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  2. Brittany King
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 11:35:05

    (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?

    While it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, there is no disputing that his theories have made a significant impact on the field of psychology. Freud has made many contributions to personality psychology but one of his biggest contributions was his development of the “anatomy” of the mind. Freud developed this in the early 1920’s and this led to a structural view of personality (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). This structural view of personality consists of the id, ego, superego which Freud believed all formed sequentially. Freud described the id as being the core of personality where it was linked to the biological process. According to Freud, the id is where everything was inherited (2008). One of the inherited pieces Freud was talking about was instincts. The ego, is an extension of the id and is in direct contact with the outside world (2008. Freud’s third structure was the superego which is the conscience or in other words, judgement of right and wrong or good and bad (2008).
    Freud created a theory of mental structure consisting of the id, ego and superego and how they interacted. This theory had a strong influence on clinical work, clinical practice, and the view of human personality. Some psychologist are just now seeing how the id, ego, and superego are becoming relevant to functioning of the brain and their interconnections (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). A modern theory about mental functioning called “hot systems” closely resembles Freud’s id and the “cool” brain system resembles Freud’s ego. While Freud’s theory of mental structure was more of a metaphor than an evidence-based scientific model, it had a lasting impact on the field of personality psychology.

    (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?

    Just as Freud’s theory of personality made a significant impact on the field of personality psychology, the theory is hard to be applied to modern day therapy. As touched upon before, many parts of Freud’s theory was not evidence-based but rather formed based upon clinical observation and inference (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). One reason as to why it would be hard to apply it to modern day therapy is that with Freud’s theory of personality in regards to therapy, he would interpret what the person said focusing on the unconscious and it was time-consuming whereas with CBT the focus is on shallow analysis with short-term improvement, thus not being time-consuming (2008). Also, psychoanalysis focuses on personal history with a major emphasis on psychosexual stages whereas CBT is engrained in the “here and now” approach, not a personal history (2008). Overall, a majority of Freud’s theory of personality is not evidence based but rather a metaphor based upon his own clinical work where as many modern day therapies are based in research, such as CBT.

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    • Anissa Rader
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 19:19:01

      I found it very interesting that you chose to focus on Freud’s development of “anatomy.” Many of Freud’s theories seem to have been debunked in some form or another, including, for the most part, his structural view of the id, ego, and super ego… especially in CBT. However even so, when looked at more in depth like you had highlighted on, our text explains that he wasn’t that far off in his theory of mental structure considering that the modern theory of “hot systems: and the “cool” brain are in fact mostly consistent with Freud’s views of the id and ego. I believe people all too often learn how Freud approached personality psychology and immediately reject his contributions to the field simply because of his unorthodox ways. As Jillian mentioned in a reply to my original post, “He seems to have made his work more infamous than famous.” This sentence really stuck with me because it couldn’t be any closer to the truth in my opinion. If we considered Freud’s approaches from a different perspective, we would see like you described that some of today’s advancements are either directly or indirectly correlated with some of his studies and theories.

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  3. Marisa Molinaro
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 16:01:49

    1) There are many ways that Freud has influenced the field of personality psychology; some good and some bad. I believe that Freud’s biggest contribution to personality psychology is how he attempted to explain the way that humans deal with inner conflict. Mischel, Shoda, and Ayduk (2008) explain how it is human nature for people to try and rid themselves of pain and reduce the tension that is caused because of it (p.165). One way that we deal with this conflict is by denial. Denial is more prevalent in children, and as we get older we tend to turn to repression. Repression, as defined by Mischel et al. (2008) is “the forgetting, or ejection from consciousness, of memories of threat, and especially the ejection from awareness of impulses in oneself that might have objectionable consequences” (p.166). What this means is that when we encounter something traumatic or harmful to our mental state, we push the memory away and can sometimes forget the situation even happened. Another way Freud proposed that we deal with conflict is by distortion and displacement. This is when we manipulate the feelings we have about one thing and impose them on to something different. Even though this may be something different, after evaluation you can often find a connection between the two. An example of this would be someone who suffers from a fear of authority figures and confrontation. They may actually have had a dysfunctional relationship with their caregivers growing up. I believe that these are still important and are a major contribution to the psychology of personality because they give us a better understanding of what is going on in the human mind when trauma happens. I think that when you are dealing with someone’s personality, there are a lot of undermining experiences and situations that come into play. For example, if a child suffered an early trauma in their life, such as the death of a parent, and began to deny that it happened. This could play a very vital part in forming their personality for the rest of their life. They may have a hard time dealing with conflict and could shut people out. On the outside, this may come off like arrogance or anger. Once a psychologist has a better understanding of the inner workings of the patient’s mind, they can begin to understand the patient’s personality traits. This will allow them to adequately offer insight and treatment.

    2) There are many reasons why Freud’s theory of personality is difficult to apply to modern day therapy. Freud spent a lot of time studying and trying to understand the way the mind functions. He had many theories and ideas about our conscious and how we repress thoughts and ideas, which in turn are played out in our everyday thoughts and actions. He believed that the best way to understand a person was through talking. He practiced the therapeutic method of free association. Mischel et al. (2008) defined free association as the patient simply laying on a couch and saying whatever pops into their mind, no matter how irrational it may seem to them at the time (p.158). Freud believed that this would allow him to get an uncensored account of the actual inner thoughts of the patient. Because this technique is very thorough and time consuming, it is not practiced in modern therapy. He would suggest seeing his patients several times a week for hours on end. In this day and age, we just don’t have the time nor the means to satisfy this form of therapy. Freud’s therapy is mainly focused on the mind and what goes on inside the patient rather than on the outside. This is unlike modern therapy techniques, like CBT, because they incorporate behavior and what is going on externally as well as what is happening cognitively, on the inside. Freud (1977) explains how he took the insight and techniques that he learned from his teacher, Viennese physician, Dr. Josef Breuer. Breuer found great success in using hypnosis as a form of therapy to get the patients to get out of their state of “hysteria” and on the road for recovery (p. 1-3). Freud believed that hypnosis was not a reliable form of therapy and believed that we could achieve the same goals by working with the patients in their normal state of consciousness (Freud, 1977, p. 18). This technique was also very time consuming and relied heavily on what the patient chose to share with the therapist. However, in modern therapy techniques we rely more on external factors of the individual because they give us insight into the internal factors as well.

    Freud, S. (1977). Five lectures on psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Norton. {Lectures 1 & 2}

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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    • Heather Lawrence
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:05:38

      Although modern day therapy techniques rely on an external factor and internal as well, some patients may not find CBT a comfortable fit. Finding a “good fit” with a therapist can depend on one’s reasons for seeking therapy, their commitment level, and their financial resources. For many, psychodynamic therapy is a better match. It attempts to address the root causes of psychological issues compared to CBT. These benefits are thought to be broader-based and longer lasting. Generally speaking, psychodynamic therapy is effective for more general distress, psychosomatic conditions, and personality patterns or tendencies such as repeated difficulties in one’s work or relationships. Yet for others, it may be difficult to accept that factors outside of their awareness influence their thoughts and behaviors. Some individuals are reluctant to think about their childhood or the relationship that develops with their therapist. Psychodynamic therapy is less structured than CBT and some prefer the more focused and directive approach of CBT. Some people dislike CBT because the focus is on positive thinking and it minimizes the importance of their personal history. Some patients report that, they feel it downplays their emotions particularly in trauma patients. A common response may be,” I was raped as a child how could anything positive come from that.” In sum, both aim to reduce symptoms and distress. The main difference is that psychodynamic therapy tries to get at why you feel or behave the way you do (uncovers deeper and often unconscious motivations for feeling and behavior). In comparison, CBT simply attempts to alleviate suffering as quickly as possible by training your mind to replace dysfunctional thought patterns, perceptions, and behavior with more realistic or helpful ones in order to promote change in behavior and emotions.- Heather Lawrence

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    • Mark Joyce
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 16:55:25

      You make some great points, Marisa! Freud’s establishment of the defense mechanisms of denial and repression are what I specifically agree with. Denial and repression are two very powerful defense mechanisms that many of us have experience first hand ourselves or in those we know. To eject or remove conflicts from the conscious mind serves us well in reducing our present anxiety but is ill fit as a long term solution. One question that I have always had is regarding the validity of repressed memories. While at times the uncovering of repressed memories can lead to therapeutic experiences but is it possible these memories are true or a manifestation of unconscious or conscious motives. With repression being a cornerstone of Freud’s theory it is impressive it is still relevant to today’s concept of personality psychology.
      I also agree with your analysis of the difficulties in applying Freud’s theory to modern therapy. In our fast paced world we do not have the time to freely associate over multiple therapy sessions a week for a considerable time period. Not only would psychodynamic therapy be costly course to take, the action that it facilitates is questionable in the face of modern therapies such as CBT. You said it best in stating that CBT including cognitions and external factors runs counter to Freud’s emphasis on the unconscious.

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    • Bridget Kesling
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:48:24

      Marisa, You made some very interesting points as to how Freud attempted to explain how people deal with confrontation. When looking at those ideas of repression and suppression, although it can be argued by some that that both of those concepts could have been affected by power of suggestion and denial, they have given us a starting point of understanding the coping strategies of those with long term trauma histories. It also given us insight and a starting point, when looking at dis-associative disorders for which we are still trying to explain why and how the brain uses disassociation as a way of protecting the mind and coping with trauma. It will be interesting to see as we find out more about these conditions how far off Freud actually was on the reasons and causation for these symptoms.

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    • Salome Wilfred
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 14:29:42

      Marisa, you make a lot of valid points about the development of repression and distortion in an attempt to decrease the amount of pain an individual is experiencing. Unfortunately, and fortunately, repression has become very adaptive and resourceful at times. Sadly, our society forgets, more times than not, that the aggression and frustration many individuals demonstrate is a form of distortion and most likely served a purpose at one point in their life. Freud’s innovation of repression and distortion definitely brought this information to light and continues to play a pivotal role in the effectiveness of therapy today.

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    • Janean Desjardins
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 15:40:14

      Marisa,

      I think you make some great points regarding Freud’s contributions with denial and repression. Freud’s definition of denial “when the person can neither escape nor attack the threat” thus leading to repression of the situation. When a person cannot face the situations that they have experienced in their life they will just stuff it down like it never happened. However it will creep up at different points throughout their lives without them even realizing it and they do not know why sometimes. You make a great point with this happening with children or people that loose a parent. For a child the early years are a crucial time of development and to experience a great loss or have a traumatic experience can be detrimental. If they are not put into therapy at the time of the loss they will like Freud found go through denial and repress the experience which will show up later in life. A person who experiences the loss of a parent may experience things such as depression, anxiety, or difficulty with intimate relationships. Freud’s theories of denial and repression can still be seen as affective in form of therapy today

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    • Tatiana Chunis
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 17:38:22

      I agree with your first point, Marisa. I believe that repressing memories of traumatic experiences is relevant and important in the treatment of individuals. Denying feelings and thoughts is a very real problem that individuals may have and I believe that this could be one of the most important contributions that Freud had to the field of psychology. I also found it interesting how you connected distortion and displacement to repression. I believe that they are related to each other since they both are ways to cope with a traumatic experience from earlier in life. These mechanisms for coping can help shape an individual’s behavior, or at least attempt to explain why an individual is engaging in problematic behaviors. Once a psychologist understands why an individual is acting in a certain way, they can begin to attempt to change the behavior. Unfortunately, a psychologist needs to realize and understand that the traumatic experience that was repressed by the individual can continue to affect their personality throughout life. Through treatment, these affects can be minimized and an individual can learn mechanisms and skills to cope with the negative effects of traumatic experiences.

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  4. Jillian Harrison
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 18:33:25

    Although many modern psychologists have scrutinized Freud’s theory of personality, his psychoanalytic theory helped pave the way to more widely accepted theories of personality in the present day. His theory provided many positive contributions to the field, such as the sympathetic understanding that those with serious emotional distress are not hopeless and can be helped through a non-medical approach. Being that psychology was not yet a proven field, many doctors did not know what to do with patients who exhibited emotional disturbances. In Freud’s first lecture, he describes doctors as having a different attitude towards “hysterical” patients and little sympathy because the patient’s symptomology exceeded their medical knowledge (Freud). Freud and Breuer found that simply showing sympathy and interest to their patients engaged him or her enough to show improvement. From there, it was possible to alleviate symptoms by reliving and validating psychological trauma. Much of the foundations of modern therapy do include showing interest and empathy for the client and validating difficult experiences while talking about them during a session. Although how we now move forward with those experiences and the teaching of coping mechanisms has changed from Freud’s era, his early work provided the building blocks of successful therapeutic treatment.
    Part of why Freud’s theory is so difficult to relate to modern day therapy is because it does not provide means for cognitive or behavioral change. Freud’s theory views behaviors as symptoms and implies that once the patient cleanses his or her unconscious mind of those repressed traumatic events, that their symptoms will no longer manifest themselves in abnormal ways. This unfortunately does not work with modern therapeutic approaches, such as CBT, because once the traumatic event is validated, there is no education or guidance on how to change cognitions about the event and cope with healthy behavioral changes. Under CBT, there would be set goals to achieve throughout therapy with the intention that eventually the client would be mentally healthy enough to no longer need therapy and would also feel confident to use the coping skills learned in therapy if any adverse situations were to arise in the future. With Freud’s theory, psychoanalysis is more of a maintenance behavior with no end or goal, which does not necessarily help the patient in his or her future.
    Freud’s foundations of psychoanalysis gave modern psychology the foundations to build effective therapeutic techniques and theories, but it did not prove its merit as an individual therapy. Without it, we would not have a comprehensive understanding of the unconscious mind and the effect trauma can have on cognitions and behaviors.

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    • Jacleen Charbonneau
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:00:20

      Jillian,

      You make an excellent point when you mention that Breuer and Freud’s patients responded well and made improvements as a result of the sympathy that they were shown. As you mention, sympathy is an important aspect to modern day therapy. It provides a judgement-free zone and allows for a trusting relationship between patient and therapist.

      It is interesting that you chose this as one of Freud’s best contributions to personality psychology– I agree with you. Despite his many theories relating to the structure of the mind, his simple act of caring for his patients is one common factor that proves effective in every one of his testimonies. Freud’s genuine care for his patients’ recovery provided a social safeplace for his patients; this was likely refreshing for them since it is suggested in Freud’s lectures that the medical doctors lacked such compassion. Gaining the patient’s trust is one step closer to recovery.

      I also agree that there is a lack of focus on behavioral change in Freud’s theory. Specifically, Freud believed that one could recover from hysteria by releasing the repressed memories from the unconscious mind into the conscious mind. However, what if another traumatic event happened to the patient later on in life? They wouldn’t have the right tools to work with in order to avoid hysteria all over again. Perhaps there was too much of a dependency on Freud, and the role of therapist in general, for patients during this time period. Freud may have focused too much on fixing the problem himself and neglected to provide patients with the right therapeutic techniques to overcome anxiety on their own.

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  5. Jacleen Charbonneau
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 21:14:03

    It is clear that Freud offered a number of interesting contributions to the field of psychology. Although some may criticize Freud for some of his unique ideas — the widely known Oedipus complex — it is undeniable that some other ideas of his are a solid foundation for current day psychologists to explore. For example, one of his biggest contributions to personality psychology is his “structural view of personality, consisting of the three ‘institutions’ or ‘mental ‘agencies’,” (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008, p.159). Such agencies include the id, a compulsive/excited, instinctual part of the mind that seeks for excitation to be reduced; the superego, the parental part of personality that aims for altruism and moral standards; and the ego, which is the rational part of personality, seeking the right situation to appropriately reduce the id’s tension. These three mental agencies are parallel to the three parts of the mind: unconscious (id), conscious (ego), and a blend of the two (superego) (Mischel et al., 2008).

    According to Freud, when there is chaos between a human and its environment, there is also chaos among the id, ego, and superego. Because of this, anxiety results. One way the mind copes with this anxiety is through the defensive act of repression, which ultimately causes one to push thoughts and ideas from the conscious mind into the unconscious mind to hopefully become forgotten. However, the unconscious mind collects these memories, which can later cause a number of problems for the sufferer (Freud, 1977).

    This entire concept of the id, ego, and superego causing anxiety and leading to repression may not be completely accurate today (since it lacks scientific evidence), but psychologists have found a parallel that proves Freud somewhat correct in his assumptions. For example, psychologists have discovered with scientific evidence that there is a part of the brain that reacts with an impulsive response: the amygdala (Mischel et al., 2008). This almond-sized section of the brain located underneath the prefrontal cortex is that which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response in humans. It is the part of the brain that knows temptation far too well. According to Mishcel et al. (2008), this “hot system” of the brain “does not provide long-term solutions to challenges that require problem solving,” (p.163). Therefore, a “cool” system of the brain will think through a solution while the amygdala reacts. This “cool” system lines up with the duties of Freud’s ego. 

    Without Freud, psychologists may never have explored such ideas about personality. However, his concepts are a challenge when it comes to current day therapy application. For example, Freud’s idea of repression has great evidence in his lectures, but there is no scientific evidence to back it up. It is convincing when Freud (1977) mentions his experience observing a 21-year-old female patient of Dr. Josef Breuer’s who had developed physical symptoms, such as arm paralysis, with no underlying medical cause. It wasn’t until Dr. Breuer’s incorporation of hypnosis that the girl was able to dig deeply into her unconscious and retell the event(s) that caused the physical symptoms. Once she confessed of these events– in this case, being by her sick father’s bedside– her symptoms released. Freud, thinking hypnosis was not a practical concept for every one of his patients, decided to work with patients in a waking state and helped them dig deeper into their own unconsciouses through talking.

    The idea of basing treatment off of one’s history (and their unconscious repressions) may be difficult to apply to modern day therapy. Based on Freud’s observations, it seems as though the only way to his patients’ healing was when events and memories were released from the unconscious into the conscious. Again, this lacks scientific evidence, and it is not practical for every patient.

    The idea of only looking at the past and neglecting to practice techniques in the present causes a barrier for those wanting recovery sooner. Perhaps what Freud was lacking was the focus on the present and what can be done now, by the patient, to relieve patient’s symptoms.

    Freud, S. (1977). Five lectures on psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Norton. {Lectures 1 & 2}

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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    • Jillian Harrison
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 09:59:01

      Jacleen,

      You make some excellent points in your post! I enjoyed how you brought up the connection between Freud’s unconscious and conscious and the more scientifically proven “hot” and “cool” areas of the brain. It is fascinating that at a time where brain scanners and other advanced medical equipment were not yet invented that Freud was able to have such insight. One may wonder though, was it that he got lucky and had part of his theory coincidentally proven later on, or was it that he had some other medical knowledge that gave him the background to make such assumptions about the human mind? My opinion was that it may have been coincidence, and when his first assumptions of the human mind were found to help people, he made other (more controversial) assumptions in his later work, such as the Oedipus Complex and other Psychosexual Stages of Development. These constructs, though given some merit in the earlier years of psychology, have since been dropped from most practices in the modern day because of their controversial and, frankly, bizarre assumptions about child development.

      Much like you said in your post, Freud had some useful and important contributions to the field of psychology that were proven somewhat accurate by modern science, but whether Freud had medical knowledge to lead him in the right direction of that theory or whether he found some great coincidences while attempting to help those affected by mental illness remains unknown.

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  6. Colleen Popores-LaFleur
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 21:51:24

    (1) Freud contributed to the field of personality psychology by giving us a starting point which has inspired an endless amount of new theories and research. Much of what we know today may not have been discovered had it not been for Freud creating new theories that deviated from the field of medical science. As he refers to in his lectures, many patients suffering from hysteria during his time were disregarded by medical doctors because their conditions were not seen as treatable (Freud, 1977). Freud was motivated to explain the causes of such neuroses and developed his theoretical model of the human mind: the id, ego and superego. This structure, although not achieved through the scientific process, was an important part of the use of psychoanalytic treatment (Mischel, Shoda & Ayduk, 2008). Theories such as this have later been disputed as the body of research grows in psychology. However, some of Freud’s basic ideas can be loosely translated to our understanding of how the human brain works today. For example, the amygdala can be compared to the id as it controls much of our most primitive mental processes such as the fight or flight response, our impulses, and temptations having to do with reproduction and hunger. These emotional responses are also addressed in evolutionary theory as they can be seen as an essential part of human survival (Mischel et al., 2008).

    Whether Freud’s theories about the human mind can be adapted to our understanding of personality today or if they have been discarded due to their lack of evidence through empirical methods, they have certainly contributed to the field. His ideas have prompted an endless amount of research on the subject and in this way it is impossible to say that he has not been an important figure. For example, the behaviorist movement discarded many of Freud’s ideas as they were based more on clinical observation and can be seen as metaphorical rather than scientific (Mischel et al., 2008). The continuation of research, however, with results against and in favor of Freud’s ideas have created a field with a more scientifically based foundation of information.

    (2) Many of Freud’s theories are untestable through empirical methods. As Cognitive-Behavioral methods are meant to be grounded in solid research, it is difficult to apply mere assumptions about a person’s feelings. Freud used dreams as a way to look into a person’s unconscious, but his connections between symbols and emotions have no solid basis in reality. Although we can now learn about dreams through sleep research and know that they can be connected to our sleep cycles, there is no way at this time to see a cause and effect relationship between what’s going on deep within a person’s mind and what happens in their dreams (Mischel et al., 2008).

    In addition, although Freud emphasized the relationship between the client and the therapist as essential to treatment, he saw this as information that could be used to gain insight about the client rather than as a tool to engage a client in treatment. Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may benefit from a healthy relationship between the client and therapist, but there is no evidence to say that a therapist is a proxy for another person in the client’s life as Freud believed (Mischel et al., 2008).

    Practicality also becomes an issue with Freud’s methods being used with modern therapy application. For example, psychoanalytic theory does not always have a clear goal in mind and can often be a long process. Free association calls for the client to speak openly about anything that comes to mind so that the therapist may draw conclusions from what is discussed (Mischel et al., 2008). This practice does not lend well to today’s constraints in treatment. A client may only be given a specific number of sessions to be paid by their insurance company, and may need a more goal-oriented approach to see results in a shorter amount of time. This is not to say that modern therapies such as CBT are short-term guaranteed fixes, but rather that they tend to have more structure and engage the client in activities that lead to a more meaningful outcome.

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    • Brian Faust
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 22:03:29

      Colleen,

      I think that you are correct that Freud seems to serve as a punching bag in our modern day era. While he is not taken seriously today, I agree with you when you state that Freud gave us “a starting point”. In Freud’s lecture regarding the patient of “Anna O”, she was suffering from some really severe symptoms. Unless Freud fabricated the entire lecture, Freud’s treatment of hysteria greatly helped a number of people. I think you make another interesting point when you talk about the refusal of doctors to treat these seemingly “crazy” people. It mad me think of somatic disorders where the symptoms seem to have no cause. While hysteria may not be prevalent today, doctors do now take somatic disorders seriously. I believe Freud can be given credit for that.

      Reply

  7. Mark Joyce
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 22:31:18

    Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary theories receive a sizeable amount of criticism today, due to the progress the field of psychology has made since he shook the foundations of the study in the early 1900’s. Freud’s most meaningful contribution to the field of personality psychology was his theory of the unconscious. When the prominent theorists were declaring behavior to be the result of conscious and deliberate rationale, Freud argued instead that we were unaware of the motivation that elicited our behavior (Mischel, Shoda, and Ayduk, 2008,156). This theory included the revolutionary psychosexual stages of development that postulated that humans progress through five distinct phases in our development and conflicts during these stages lead to later unconscious conflict. These maladaptive manifestations of the unconscious were the basis of Freud’s theory and it was his observations into the human mind that led to further research and new theories to emerge. He admitted that he was devoted to extracting information from patients that they, the patient, were completely unaware of (Freud, 1977, 10). This extraction of information was the vehicle of Freud’s therapeutic process and was prominently through dream interpretation and free association. Personality psychology would not be where it is today if not for Freud delving into the unconscious mind and leading a paradigm shift in thought regarding the human condition.
    There are a variety of deficiencies when it comes to applying Freud’s theories to more modern forms of therapy. One of the flaws in his theory was his disregard for environmental influence. Freud believed that the unconscious battles of the id, ego, and superego take a greater toll and have a greater influence on personality than environmental factors. Additionally, Freud believed that external stimuli could be avoided as it was less distressing than improper desires and impulses (Mischel et al.,2008, 174). While revolutionary for its time, psychodynamic therapy failed in identifying external influences which is a staple of modern therapy. Therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy directly interpret and address the environmental issues that often have lead to the emergence of maladaptive personalities, while Freud’s theory of personality downplays environmental influence. Another one of the difficulties in transferring Freud’s theory of personality is in how his concept of personality was formulated. While having a development model has proven beneficial, Freud’s psychosexual model has its downfalls as its basis are largely unfounded. Concepts such as the Oedipus complex, castration anxiety and penis envy are all manifestations of this model and have no support in today’s literature (Mischel et al., 172). The Psychodynamic approach fails in comparison to contemporary techniques as it has a rigid outline for personality interpretation and outcomes, instead of taking a multidimensional approach more standard today.

    Sigmund, F. (1977). Five lectures on psychoanalysis: Lectures 1 & 2. New York, New York.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to Personality: Toward an Integrative Science of the Person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ.

    Reply

    • Ana Cerda
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:16:49

      Mark, I believe you made a valid point when you stated that Freud’s most meaningful contribution was his theory of the unconscious. It is very true that when we say Freud, “unconscious” is one of the first words that come to mind (there is some free association for you!). I agree that psychology in general has been greatly affected by Freud’s theories and methodologies. Although there has not been scientific evidence to prove the existence of the id, ego, and superego, Freud helped pave the way to a new approach for observing and thinking of human behavior. As the reading pointed out, Freud formed a new concept of the individual; one in which the individual struggles with internal conflicts, traumas and desires that form the basis of personality.

      Reply

      • Gabriel Lamptey
        Sep 10, 2015 @ 21:03:10

        Ana, I completely agree that although Freud is discredited in modern therapy for lacking evidence based theories, it is also notable to acknowlege that Freud’s theoretical approaches immensely contributed to the understanding of personality. For instance, Freud’s concept of the mind laid the foundation that added insight into understanding behaviors observed. More like in the saying don’t judge a book by its cover. Freud believed that it is the unconscious that exerts the most influence upon our behavior. Indirectly saying, it is also of equal importance to understand the underpinnings (unconscious aspects) of behavior as much as utilizing therapeutic approaches like that of CBT to relieve distress or redirect thoughts to help patient achieve a desired goal.

        Reply

    • Heather Lawrence
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 09:57:39

      Mark- I agree that Freud’s psychosexual model fails in comparison to today’s contemporary techniques. In my opinion, it ignores the biological components of some problems. For example, if a patient’s mother was an alcoholic, there are some studies that show there is a biological and/or genetic predisposition towards addiction. One might have inherited a gene from their mother that makes them more likely to become an alcoholic. Other mental illnesses like depression or schizophrenia also have biological or genetic components. Whereas, the psychodynamic model does not acknowledge or address biology or genetics. In comparison, one of Freud’s strengths in the same scenario would focus on the patient’s past/childhood, and how that can influence their behavior. He perhaps, would point out that their mother was an alcoholic and that she only showed the patient love and affection when she had been drinking. Subconsciously, the patient may associate alcohol with their mother’s love. Focusing on their past, can influence the patient’s current behavior. Thus, the patient’s interactions with their mother influenced their drinking behavior as an adult. It recognizes that there is a subconscious and that the subconscious has an impact on our behavior. While some modern therapy today may focus on the surface behavior or thoughts, psychodynamic therapy looks at the very deepest parts of a person and tries to help them from the inside out.

      Reply

  8. Ana Cerda
    Sep 08, 2015 @ 23:36:00

    1. Although often criticized and devalued, Freud helped pave the way in the field of psychology. Freud had many great contributions to the field of personality psychology specifically. One of the biggest contributions has been the theory of defense mechanisms. Although Freud only focused on two specific types of defense mechanisms, his contribution in coining the psychodynamic use of these terms has reached out into various fields of psychology not just personality psychology. As is explained in Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck (2008), defense mechanisms are methods automatically used to reduce the internal conflicts individuals struggle with such as anxiety (p. 166). Freud focused primarily on two types, denial and repression, as the instinctive defenses; he believed that all other types of defense mechanisms derived from these two defenses (p. 166). He used case studies of patients that could not remember past traumas as his empirical evidence to support his theories of repression (Freud, 1977, p. 22). Since Freud’s time, many other defense mechanisms have been identified and are still used in other forms of psychotherapies such as cognitive behavior therapies. Identifying these forms of self-preservation from perceived threats and internal conflicts aids in the treatment and understanding of some forms of psychopathologies. Freud introduced a new concept of human nature; he painted a picture of an individual struggling internally with instincts, conflicts and traumas that all form the root of personality (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck 2008, p. 174).
    2. Freud’s psychosexual stage theory does not account for the development of social characteristic with other people which help in the environmental interactions that influence the motivational factors of behavior. It focuses instead on the process of identification of a child with the parents. Freud’s theory of personality is difficult to apply in modern day therapy because his theory focused on internal conflicts that, according to Freud, could only be reached through the discovery of repressed or forgotten information (Freud, 1977, p.22) or resolving conflicts that arose during the development through the psychosexual stages as a child. The focus here would require a form of therapy that would extract forgotten information such as what Freud used, free association and dream interpretation (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck 2008, p.158). These methods cannot be validated nor reliably used to extract correct information needed to help a patient. Resolving overwhelming conflicts that could not be solved before in the various stages of psychosexual development would also seem to be very unclear and therefore difficult to do during therapy because, how do you solve an oral fixation issue?

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    • Marisa Molinaro
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:04:37

      I totally agree with your argument about defense mechanisms! I also believe that defense mechanisms were the most significant contribution that Freud made to the field of psychology. By him giving us a better understanding of what is going on inside our mind when we suffer from something traumatic, it results in us having a better understanding of why we are reacting in a certain way. I think this is most prevalent in our personality and the way that we carry ourselves. I also think that your statement about how Freud introduced a new concept of human nature in psychology is so spot on. There have been many other defense mechanisms that have been identified since Freud’s time and he helped pave the way for this very important aspect of Psychology.

      I also agree with your second statement about how Freud only really focused on inner conflicts and this is why it is hard to relate his theories to modern day practices. The way therapy is practiced now, for the most part, is based equally on internal and external factors. A great example of this is CBT. In this therapy technique the focus is equally on the behavior and the cognition of the individual and how they are related. As you stated, his main focus was on the relationship with the parent and the child and as we know now that is only part of the story. There are many other factors that influence children and there are also many other people that they learn from as they growing up that are not their parents.

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  9. Gabriel Lamptey
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 01:02:01

    (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology.  Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?

    Although Freud’s work might be criticized as lacking empirical validity and reliability, I think one of Freud’s biggest contribution to personality psychology is his theory of basic assumption: unconscious mental determinism. In Freud’s explanation, behavior is never accidental, as such, there are underpinnings factors which motivates or causes behavior (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). Freud described these mental motivational causes as not within consciousness but interferes with conscious occurrences which is unknown to a person. The journey toward helping represssed unconscious thoughts become conscious is considered a journey toward healing or resolving personality conflicts. This methodology in understanding behavior or personality has been used by many therapists to support patients probe into repressed memories or thoughts which potentially have bearings on a patients dysfunctional personality. For example, through free association, a patient or client is able to unearth repressed darker memories of upbringing related to self esteem struggles.

    (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?

    In modern day therapy, CBT has proven to resolve clients distress within a considerably less amount of time in comparison to Freud’s free association therapy which could take more time. In fraud’s free association, patients are encouraged to simply say anything and everything that comes to mind, no matter what it is or how irrational it might seem (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008), and this obviously can be time consuming and expensive.
    Whereas Freudian psychology is more focused on the past and a journey into unconscious thoughts, it provides less to no action plan or coping skills for patients to practice when experiencing distress like anxiety and racing thoughts. Freud’s book, interpretation of dreams is described as a voyage into the unconscious by scrutinizing dreams to face the motivation deep within a patient’s personality (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). CBT on the other hand, is interested or focused on the present (Kanter,Rusch, Landes, Holman, Whiteside, & Sedivy, 2009). For example, a CBT based therapist would encourage a patient to practice thought redirection as part of a patient’s action plan to relief a stressor.
    In supporting patients, CBT practically explains the interaction between an individual’s thoughts(cognition), feelings (emotions), and actions (behaviors) to achieve a desired outcome. Also, Freudian basis of personality is heavily theoretical with more focus on consciousness and less focus on practical approach.

    Kanter, J. W., Rusch, L. C., Landes, S. J., Holman, G. I., Whiteside, U., & Sedivy, S. K.(2009). The use and nature of present-focused interventions in cognitive and beha-vioral therapies for depression. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 46(2),220-232. doi:10.1037/a001608

    Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons.

    Reply

    • Mark Joyce
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:58:12

      I think you hit on some of the most important aspects of this week’s assignment, Gabriel. The concept of mental determinism Freud developed was revolutionary and began the process of observing other causes for human behavior. One of the downfalls of mental determinism is that these causes of behavior are located deep in the unconscious and are not consciously accessed. While I would agree that the unconscious plays a large role in behavior, mental determinism is too stringent in adhering to the unconscious being the sole elicitor of behavior. Attributing behavior to the unconscious was the precursor to establishing other foci on the human condition and was truly an important contribution of Freud.
      You also bring up a great point on Freud’s theory being difficult to apply to today’s therapy. Psychodynamic therapy was an extremely intensive and extensive form of therapy that is neither practical or evidenced based in today’s world. With modern therapies being focused on efficient and evidenced based treatment, Freud’s approach falls short as a more passive approach to change. To be in therapy sessions multiple times a week receiving psychodynamic treatment is not practical in today’s world and you mention how expensive this would be which is another restricting factor. With modern therapies meeting only once a week the work therapists do in these sessions is very important and their focus on direct action is very important.

      Reply

    • Marisa Molinaro
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:11:58

      I found your answer very helpful in getting a better understanding of unconscious mental determinism! Sometimes I have trouble with this concept and you painted a good picture and gave some great examples. I feel as though this concept is very important, even today, in understanding what is going on inside an individual’s mind. Even though we do not realize that we are doing this, we often expect a large amount of introspection to come from the patient and without this we don’t really have a clear understanding of how they feel about certain situations. This then helps not only the therapist, but the patient, gain a better understanding of their repressed memories that they may have no idea even exist.

      I also stated that a main reason that it is hard for us to practice the way Freud intended is because of the major amount of time that goes into it. With modern therapy techniques, such as CBT, the distress of the patient can be resolved in a much shorter period of time. Another thing that you said that I thought was a great example was how Freud’s therapy techniques are focused mainly in the past. If you only spend your time in therapy focused on the past, you are not receiving techniques on how to handle what is going on with you in the present. CBT and other modern day techniques account for that and help with both past and present, but the main focus is on what is happening in the here and now.

      Reply

    • Ana Cerda
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:15:03

      Gabriel, I agree that Freud’s forms of therapy may end up being time consuming. They are also difficult for modern da application because they require a lot of filtering which may be difficult. Using Freud’s methodology of free association, therapists would have to filter through a lot of what may end up being unrelated information and facts that a client gives in order to make connections and hypothesize what may be the unconscious issues. It would be difficult to sort out the related pieces of information. Therapies that use the psychodynamic approach such as these typically only account for internal thoughts and feelings and, unlike CBT, do not account for the environmental factors that influence behaviors and feelings and anxieties. I strongly agree with you on the need to provide clients with mechanisms to help them deal with future stressors. Freud’s theories focused on the unconscious motivations for behaviors and that talking through these motivations, or at least bringing them to awareness, would help resolve the conflicts between the id, ego, and superego. His theories did not provide coping methods for clients to deal with future stressors or traumas in the moment so that pathologies would be less likely to develop. I agree with you that there needs to be, as you said, a “supporting” feature when working with clients.

      Reply

      • Gabriel Lamptey
        Sep 10, 2015 @ 21:40:13

        Ana, For example in working with patients struggling with substance use, practical approaches are keys needed to support a patient go through necessary steps toward progress, and this is where CBT is imperatively handy. Simultaneously, its also imperative to discuss the onset of the substance struggle, steps that have been taken in past to address the struggle, how long the struggle has existed, and what is strengthening the struggle (e.g. emotions associated with it and of-couse a patients upbringing, among others). Am sure such an approach will be considered balanced in that its not just solution oriented but also interested in underpinnings or causality. In this sense, I perceive psychoanalysis and CBT working together.

        Reply

    • Brian Faust
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 21:44:19

      Gabriel,

      I found your explanation of “ unconscious mental determinism” to be very interesting. The way in which people act and carry out their everyday lives is at the very core of human existence. Why do people do the things that they do? While many think actions can be spontaneous, Freud believed that behaviors are never purely coincidental. I also liked how you mentioned “free association” in your post. By simply saying anything that comes to mind, no matter how ludicrous it may seem, you are able to uncover repressed memories. While I don’t believe free association to hold much merit today, I agree with you when you speak of its importance in Freud’s era. I think it brings up a powerful point regarding the power of suggestion. I believe that Freud’s tendency to use hypnosis, opened patients up to a lot of false revelations.

      Reply

  10. Janean Desjardins
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 03:03:30

    One of Freud’s biggest contributions to Personality Psychology is Psychic Structure consisting of the Id, Ego and Superego. It seems as though this structure was the base of Freud’s work and interweaved through other theories. The Id is the unconscious, Ego is predominantly conscious and Superego is both conscious and unconscious. The Id contains everything that we naturally inherit including our basic human instincts, making it a biological process as well. It is the part of our personality that is driven by internal basic needs such as thirst, hunger and libido. The Id has two instincts that Freud believed acted like a physical release. The first is the Life Instinct (Eros) which is life or sexual instincts. This is the drive that pushes us for pleasure, reproduction and survival. It motivates hunger reduction and pain avoidance. Life instincts produces libido an infinite amount of energy. This energy is used to fixate “objects” meaning on other people or things. However, that energy will eventually need to be released as that is the Id’s ultimate goal to lower its heightened state. The second Instinct is Death (Thanatos) or humans desire to return to inanimate state. This is seen through destructive and aggressive behavior, including self-injury and suicide. The Id is seeking immediate gratification regardless of the consequences, working directly along with the Pleasure Principle or immediate tension reduction. The id will form an internal image of the object it desires such as; a hungry infant imagining a mother’s breast, when that fails the Ego develops.
    Ego develops from the Id and has direct contact with the outside realistic world. It seeks safety and survival in search for food, sexual release and tension reducing objects. The Ego operates by the Reality Principle which tests reality and delays its release until it knows conditions are safe. It works to achieve the Id’s drive in a realistic way on a long term basis. It is the decision making portion of our personality, involving realistic, logical thinking and planning. The Ego needs this so that the tension reduction can actually occur from image to object for the Id to be satisfied. Ego is seen as a way toward life of reason, order and harmony. The Id acts on impulse where the Ego hesitates with caution.
    Superego is the agency that internalizes influence of parents and their ideals, as well as, the morals and standards of society during development. The Superego is the conscience, morality judge of right or wrong, good or bad, according to parents and society. A well-developed superego will resist evil temptations such as stealing or killing. Superego develops around age 5 out of the human infant’s long period of helplessness and dependency on caregivers. Identification occurs as the child incorporates parental images and commands into itself psychologically. The Superego seeks perfection and can sometime resemble the Id by becoming a demanding function on the unconscious level. When this happens it can show up in ways such as severe depression, self-hatred and self-destruction.
    When comparing Freud’s work regarding Id, Ego and Superego to different brain areas one being the amygdala. The amygdala is a small almond-shaped primitive brain area tucked deep under the prefrontal cortex. This area controls reactions such as fight or flight in danger situations and strong appetitive impulses and approach behaviors triggered by intense sexual and food temptations. Today this is what they refer to as “hot system”, like Freud’s Id, does not provide long-term solutions. When that area of the brain is highly activated it can seriously undermine reasoning and problem solving. Rational or “cool” brain system, like Freud’s Ego, is now called executive functions. Now that we are able to examine the prefrontal cortex with higher-level brain centers it makes it possible for a person to start a cool rational thinking process in control centers. Human have an emotional brain and Freud did capture that in his Ego structure and function as it was reality based. The Superego is seen as we are here for ultimate survival, life-long relationships and human society.
    Freud’s theories would be hard to apply to today’s modern day therapy because he believed our behavior and feelings were primarily based in our unconscious. Freud did not see people as unemotional rational beings instead they were torn by unconscious conflicts and wishes, slips of the tongue (behavior is determined). Slips of the tongue were viewed as unconscious motivated impulses that individuals were to express directly or openly. Freud believed that environment is less important than personal instincts in dynamics of personality. It is essential to incorporate ones environment when treating a patient to understand a person as a whole. This is a big flaw in Freud’s theory in my opinion. Not all decisions are made on an unconscious level of a person. Some people may not make a good decision in the moment but does not mean that it was made on an unconscious level. A slip of the tongue Freud reads into deeply suggesting a multitude of things opposed to it just being perhaps a mix-up of words or one’s mind going to quickly. For the healthy personality, rational choice and control replace irrational, impulse-driven compulsion. A healthy personality also required mature (genital) psychosexual development according to Freud. Transference when the patient transfers onto the therapist many of the feelings experienced initially with the parents. In the course of therapy these feeling are examined and worked through. This would not work because you would not want to project feeling onto the therapists. This can create an unhealthy relationship and with CBT it can properly show the patient ways in which to manage stress, anxiety or other issues they are experiencing. Patients need proper guidance step by step to change their behavior process so that they can continue on once the therapy process is over.

    Reply

    • Colleen Popores-LaFleur
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 13:38:50

      Janean,
      I think you make a great point about the relationship between the client and therapist as a problematic issue with using psychoanalytic theory today. I agree that the therapist can be used as a model and that their behavior toward the client should reflect a healthy, professional relationship. Although I can see why Freud may have thought that feelings from the unconscious may be reflected in the way the client acts toward the therapist, it can also see how it could become an ethical problem. It may also become uncomfortable for the client to know that anything they say or do may be analyzed by the therapist. I know that would make me uncomfortable! I feel that a client may be on edge knowing that what they say is being picked apart and may be taken in a way that I don’t find as appropriate or within my comfort zone. Many people may be drawn away from treatment in feeling that the boundaries between client and therapist are too blurred for them to continue.

      Reply

  11. Heather Lawrence
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 09:26:00

    Heather Lawrence
    September 9, 2015
    1. One of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology is his creation of a theory of personality structure and dynamics. He is known for his theory of personality development as well as his theory of personality of disturbances. Freud pioneered a new method for treatment. Rather than relying on patient’s reports about themselves as accurate self-representations, he interpreted what they said and did as highly indirect, disguised, symbolic representations of their unconscious and underlying forces. Although his theories are controversial, his work has influenced the field of psychology. His work supports the belief that mental illnesses do not all have physiological causes. In addition to, he provided evidence pointing toward the fact that cultural differences do have impacts on behavior and psychology. His writings and work both contribute to people’s understanding of clinical psychology, abnormal psychology, understanding of personality, and human development. Freud worked as a physician while he created his theory and treatment method that changed our view of personality, health, and the mind itself. Before Freud, people’s behavior was believed to be under their conscious and rational control. Freud turned this upside down. Rather than seeing consciousness as the core of the mind, he compared personality to an iceberg. Instead of viewing the person as a supremely rational being, he saw people driven by impulses and striving to satisfy deep lasting sexual and aggressive urges.
    2. Freud believed that the environment is less important than inborn instincts in the dynamics of personality. People were torn by unconscious conflicts and wishes that pushed them in seemingly puzzling ways. Freud saw people as struggling with their self, the world, blocked by anxieties, conflicted and plagued by their own unacceptable wishes and unconscious secrets. This theory makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT) because, it lacks empirical support and CBT is evidence based. CBT invokes a type of cause-and-effect relationship with a person’s cognition, because it holds external stimuli from the environment on to the mind, causing different thoughts that lead to emotional states. In addition to, CBT teaches people how to forcefully analyze and change their self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. They have control of their own emotional testing whether they think healthy, rational ways, or unhealthy, irrational ways.
    Freud also used hypnosis which puts the control in the therapist’s hands, not the patient’s. The CBT model through education, symptom management, relaxation, cognitive restructuring, coping skills involves a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a set goal/ agenda. The psychoanalytic model views symptoms with a physical chemical imbalance in the brain. In CBT, the relationship between the therapist and the patient works as a team, while the therapist promotes and supports the patient’s self-efficacy toward their wellness and their goals/agenda, right here in the moment. Freud on the other hand, places himself in an ownership position for the change with more of a “sit back and do nothing while I ask the questions”, placing him in control of the treatment. In return, this makes the patient dependent on the therapist. Lastly, most insurance companies today only approve 10-20 appointments. We as therapists don’t have the luxury, or time to delve into a patient’s childhood in the same manner in which Freud did.

    Reply

    • Julia Sherman
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 13:33:04

      You made an excellent point when you mentioned that Freud pioneered the belief that people do not generally behave rationally. Although I do not agree with most of his theories about unconscious thought, this theory of his was brilliant, and has grown to be universally accepted today. For instance, the discovery that people generally do not behave rationally has done a great deal for the study of economics, which had previously assumed that people did behave rationally.

      I also like your point that the practice of hypnosis leaves patients uninvolved in their own mental healing. Today, it is generally accepted that patients need to be proactive in managing their own mental health if there is to be any major improvements, while Freud seemed to imply that people were helpless without the involvement of a psychiatrist.

      Reply

  12. Taylor Gibson
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 10:32:31

    1) Although many parts of Freudian theory has been discredited at this point, one aspect of Freud’s ideas which persists is the concept of “Anatomy of the Mind.” Anatomy of the Mind is the idea that specific areas of the mind are responsible for different kinds of mental functioning. Freud focused his attention on the layers of consciousness: id, ego, and superego and believed that each was responsible for a specific type of thought or behavior. Albeit drastically different from its modern day counterpart, Freud’s Anatomy of the Mind is still present in the 21st century as psychologists and doctors continue to actively pursue the goal of mapping the brain, with mild success in doing so. As stated in the Mischel text, brain formations such as the amygdala and frontal cortex have been shown to be responsible for specific aspects of cognitive functioning, fear and higher thinking, respectively (2008). Many psychologists who ascribe to the biological theory seem to believe that the ultimate goal of psychological research is to be able to point to a specific area or pathway to explain both rational thoughts and disordered ideas. Despite disagreement on whether the biological approach to mental activities is the ideal approach to understanding the mind the search was, in large part, initiated by Sigmund Freud.

    On a slightly different note from my previous paragraph, I believe that it would be a disservice to Freud to not include amongst his greatest contributions to psychology the sheer amount of research that his ideas initiated. Right from the beginning of his career he was a controversial character and many people were upset by his ideas or disagreed with him (Mischel et al., 2008). By the Mid-1900’s many of his ideas had been found to not hold up to empirical scrutiny (Mischel et al., 2008). Although many of his ideas seem fantastic now, we have the benefit of hindsight and access to the immense amount of work that his peers and successors put into both fleshing out his ideas and also disproving them. I have no doubt that Freud would have preferred his ideas be correct but, nevertheless, the rejection of many of his ideas furthered our collective understanding of the human mind and his contributions in this respect cannot be understated.

    2) The part of Freud’s theory of personality which makes it mostly unusable in modern day therapy, CBT especially, is his belief that many behaviors are unconscious and beyond the individual’s conscious actions (Freud, 1977). CBT focuses on working with the individual to change behaviors and thoughts which may arise from disordered thinking or those thoughts which are generally unhelpful to their daily lives. In order for the individual to change their behaviors, the client must believe that the behaviors are within their control; making CBT and Freudian ideas fundamentally incompatible.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Psychodynamic Theories: Freud’s conceptions. Dumas (8th Ed.) Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (pg. 155-176). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

    Freud, S. (1977). Five Lectures on psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Norton.

    Reply

    • Erin Mamott
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 11:25:18

      Your response in point 1 was well articulated and really not much more could be said about the now found biology which might have been behind Freud’s constructs or the inspiration for research stemming from Freud.

      In part 2 there is more to why Freud’s theories do not work in a modern setting than simply his concepts appear to not work with CBT. Yes, Freud puts a lot of emphasis on behaviors coming from the unconscious, but just because CBT approaches changing those behaviors differently does not discredit Freud. Freud tried to change the current behaviors by addressing the initial cause of the problem while CBT can ignore the initial cause of the thought or behavior and focus on changing the thought or behavior. CBT works with many cases but with things like traumatic past events which is the cause for the dysfunctional thought or behavior, revisiting the past event to work through it, although painful, will work in the long run because the root of the issue is addressed. CBT has research behind it to support that it works and that is great. Freud’s ideas have less support and are now viewed as fantastical, but when not taken to an extreme level, some of his ideas can be beneficial and can work in harmony with CBT. I am not a Freudian nor do I prefer his theory over CBT, I just think that the incompatibility with CBT is not a sufficient reason for Freud’s theory to not work in modern therapy.

      Reply

    • Salome Wilfred
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 15:43:55

      Taylor, I agree that Freud’s Anatomy of the Mind is a major contribution to personality psychology. While I think understanding the biological aspect of mental health is important I feel like the field is too concerned with the biological aspect when research has demonstrated that therapy, such as CBT and DBT is more effective not only short term but also long term when compared of medication.

      I also, really appreciate your point that a huge part of CBT is giving the client a feeling of control. I think Freud’s focus on the unconscious gives a feeling of being out of control– which I feel could be very terrifying for a client who’s seeking help. While I understand that most individuals coming into therapy may not fully understand how their current behaviors manifested I do think a critical part of recovery and relapse prevention is understanding that most future behaviors are in their control. And of course, that’s a lot easier said than done.

      Reply

  13. Salome Wilfred
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 11:01:03

    Sigmund Freud’s innovation of motivational determinism shaped a critical aspect of behavioral therapy and personality psychology. Motivational determinism suggests that an individual’s behavior is never accidental, rather, all human behavior is psychologically driven and serves a purpose (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 2008). When examined differently, personality is demonstrated through a collection of behaviors. For example, an individual high in neuroticism may demonstrate it through avoiding certain situations or obsessive compulsive behaviors. These behaviors serve the purpose of protecting the individual from feeling worry or discomfort. Therefore, in alignment with motivational determinism, an individual’s behavior, which shapes personality, serves the purpose of the human instinct to survive and avoid pain and discomfort. While Freud’s innovation of motivational determinism explains the development of personality and that behaviors of an individual are motivated, his perspective of the role of personality differs significantly from modern day therapy

    Compared to modern to day therapy, Freud focused more on an individual’s personality dynamics and interpreting their symptoms opposed to what maintained their symptoms and behaviors. Freud’s neglect to assist a patient in learning new behavior makes it very difficult to apply his approach to modern day therapy. Freud believed that an individual’s symptoms represent a traumatic event and he used personality dynamics to understand the traumatic event. (Mischel et al., 2008; Freud 1977). Additionally, because he suggested that personality developed through traumatic events and the symptoms demonstrated were a symbol of the traumatic event that simply understanding the dynamics of personality and symptoms was the cure (Mischel et al., 2008).

    While modern day therapy uses an individual’s personality and behavior in the past to better predict future behavior they also take into account current environmental and social factors. Freud’s failure to acknowledge these aspects prevented him from fully understanding why the present symptoms are maintained; and therefore what reconstruction was necessary for recovery and prevention. In modern day therapy, especially behavioral therapy, the focus is on what reinforces an individual’s behavior not solely their early life experiences that developed them. While early life experiences tend to play a pivotal role in personality development, current circumstances are what maintain the demonstrated behaviors; and what needs to be addressed in therapy.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

    Freud, S (1977). Five Lectures on psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Norton. {Lectures 1 & 2}

    Reply

    • Colleen Popores-LaFleur
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 13:56:10

      Salome,
      You make a few good points about Freud and his approach. The idea of mental determinism is very interesting and in my mind can somewhat be related to the medical model. Despite Freud’s moving away from the medical field, he still believed there to be an underlying cause of a person’s neurosis. This is similar to some of the biological approaches today that focus on what it is in the brain that causes the problem, usually hoping to find a medication to then alleviate the symptoms. I also agree with you that this approach can be problematic as it disregards the need to learn new behaviors, patterns of thinking and coping skills. In this way I see modern therapy, and specifically CBT, filling in a gap between traditional theories and real world application. Although it can be incredibly useful to know the underlying cause of our symptoms, it’s important to find therapeutic modes of change in order to help people deal with them.

      Reply

  14. Erin Mamott
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 11:43:02

    1) One of the biggest contributions of Freud to personality psychology may be his insistence that there are deeper roots to symptoms and emphasis on symbolic meaning (Mischel, Shoda, & Ayduk, 2008). Throughout his first two lectures, Freud describes repression and how this turns into the symptoms of hysteria (Freud, 1977, pp. 22-25). The symptoms are followed back along the trail of bread crumbs to an ultimate event which was the initial trigger of unpleasant responses of some sort (Freud, 1977, pp. 11; 26). I am not sure that I would agree with the emphasis he puts on the repression being almost deliberate and then forgotten (Freud 1977, p. 22). Perhaps in some cases there may be a deliberate choice to push down an undesirable response and this choice may seem insignificant to the person that he or she “forgets” it happened. It is not too outlandish, given a basic understanding of memory encoding, to hypothesize that an event (such as the choice to “repress” a response) with little or no meaning attached to it is not easily recalled and that this can appear to be a “forgetting”. While Freud does accurately peg human persons as meaning makers, sometimes a fear of snakes is simply a fear of snakes rather than repressed sexual conflict (Mischel et al., 2008, p. 167). If everything has some sort of symbolic meaning, and everything is a distortion caused by repression and “protected” by resistance, how can anyone every really be “cured” or have a healthy, normal personality? Sure Freud may have stated that it is when the ego takes the place or full control over the id (Mischel et al., 2008, pp. 174-175), but it does not seem possible for anyone to actually arrive there or to know if they have arrived. In my opinion, while Freud was influential in showing these concepts (specifically repression and symbolic meanings) can and do exist, he forgets to give a definitive end point of what healthy, normal personality is and when a therapist knows the patient has been fully cured.

    2) Freud is difficult to apply to modern day therapy partly because while is ideas of causes of symptoms and theory of origin of the symptoms is strong, he does not give an adequate definition of the healthy, normal personality by which a therapist can know if the patient is cured or if therapy is even working. In his lectures he admits to having trouble himself, replicating the work of his associate, Dr. Breuer, in practice, thus forcing Freud to find a new way of conducting therapy (Freud, 1977, pp. 20-22). In Allport’s account of his encounter with Freud, the interaction is described as awkward and traumatic for Allport (Mischel et al., 2008, p. 165). Unfortunately it seems that Freud becomes so caught up in the apparent success of his theory in “uncovering” repression and breaking through resistance, that he forgets to fully define what the healthy psyche is and how a therapist knows where to stop. In CBT, or at least with my current limited knowledge of CBT, once the unwanted behavior stops, is controlled, or the client is at least able to cope with it, therapy is considered a success because the client has returned to “normal” functioning. For Freud, however, everything can become a defense mechanism and to hold symbolic meaning. If the client claims to be cured, it is resistance. If the client gets upset with the therapist for not believing he or she is cured, it is transference. Also with symbolic meanings, what is significant for one person, might not be significant for another person, or may hold an altogether different significance. Because of this, different therapists may give different interpretations to dream analysis and free associations, even with Freud’s book, The Interpretation of Dreams.

    *Page numbers for Freud, 1997 are based on the assumption that the first page of the first lecture is 4 and there are no additional pages (blank or otherwise) than what was given in the pdf handout.

    Reply

    • Julia Sherman
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 12:49:43

      I am not sure that I agree with your initial statement that Freud’s great contribution is his emphasis on the underlying symbolism of some behaviors. I actually find this to be one of his weakest contributions because of how difficult it would be to substantiate. Freudian slips, for instance, are far too variable and subjective to be able to make any meaningful conclusions about, abd the same can be said about dreams. Freud believed that such instances revealed the underlying truth of what is in our unconscious minds, which he believed we could not access on our own, so by definition, there would be no way to test this theory.

      However, I completely agree with the point that you made in question two. Freud focused so much on defining abnormal behavior that he seems to have forgotten that one needs to define normal behavior in order to develop an appropriate baseline. While he addresses normal behavior in some of his theories, his theories leave little room for the possibility of normal behavior arising from what he defines as abnormal circumstances. This is seen in his explanation of the Oedipal complex–he believes that a man’s morality always develops from resolving his struggles with his father. This theory, then, implies that if one is unable to reach this resolution for whatever reason, then abnormal behaviors will result, which is not always the case.

      Reply

    • Taylor Gibson
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 18:50:08

      Erin,

      I am personally of the belief that symbolism and repression are Freud’s absolute weakest points. At best, symbolism and repression are speculative, as they have little to no science to back them, and at their worst they could lend themselves to abuse of the patient by a less than well-meaning psychoanalyst. My feelings aside, I’m struggling to understand your thoughts on repression. You said that if an event is inconsequential that the individual could forget it. Absolutely, I agree with that entirely. Except that Freud’s understanding of repression was that these were ideas and feelings that, to the individual, were huge, terrifying, and potentially dangerous. Certainly not inconsequential. Although it would make the client far more comfortable to forget these terrifying thoughts, it would be incredibly difficult.
      Understanding that Freud was often discussing ideas and urges that were unacceptable instead of traumatic events, I think that PTSD is a fairly strong example of why repression is hard believe. One symptom that we commonly associate with severe trauma are flashbacks. The trauma and the fear, anger, and other negative emotions that accompanied the trauma are not only unforgettable but require therapeutic intervention to escape. All-in-all, If you run across this post while perusing, I would very much appreciate clarification your ideas in part 1 of your initial post.

      Reply

    • Anissa Rader
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 19:58:31

      Erin, you made it very easy to understand the logic behind your thinking in regard to why Freud’s approaches on personality psychology would be difficult to apply in modern day CBT. I think that Freud’s focusing on highly specific phases/areas of uncovering the root of mental illness would result in patients not being guided to reach their full potential and thus not making as much progress as possible if his theories and approaches were used in modern day CBT. This would be a big problem as CBT requires mental exploration and learned understanding with the use of numerous steps of guidance, listening, advising, etc. to help a patient make progress over a period of time. I feel it is less about investigating the repressed thinking of a patient and more about helping them learn to cope with whats in front of them. Modern CBT as you explained is all about learning to cope and when that has been achieved, therapy is considered to have been successful. Freud’s continual pushing trying to uncover past experiences and repressed feelings/thoughts with dream analysis and what, from the surface, appears to be unrealistic symbolism that doesn’t apply equally to everyone, present day CBT simply would not be so successful. As we are beginning to learn, too much pushing like what he seems to have been a fan of, can result in a patient to shut down and possibly become unresponsive and unreceptive to help/change. Overall, I think you make very great points as to why Freud’s approaches wouldn’t work so well in modern CBT and I fully agree with your explanations.

      Reply

  15. Tatiana Chunis
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 15:02:58

    (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?

    Although it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Based on the readings, I believe that one of his biggest contributions was the contribution of repression, or “a particular type of denial” (Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y., 2008). This denial occurs when a person has a traumatic, or unpleasant experience and seems to forget the actual occurrence that was unpleasant to them. Freud believed this to be a defense mechanism, but also attributed hysteria to be a symptom or result of repression. I believe that this in an important contribution because through working with children with traumatic histories, I see them repress unpleasant memories often. The hysteria that Freud associates with repression is also incredibly interesting to me because I often see my students act out in maladaptive behaviors because it once served a purpose for them. To Freud, this was “hysterical aesthesia,” and this was a symptom to “avoid painful thoughts and feelings by diversionary preoccupation with apparently physical symptoms” (Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y., 2008). This concept is very important to psychology because therapists or counselors can identify a behavior and the reason for the behavior in order to prevent a person from engaging in maladaptive behaviors.

    Freud talks about this in his first lecture, in which he had a patient who has paralysis in her arm. Once under hypnosis and she could recall the unpleasant memory that triggered her paralysis, she was able to move her arm. The repression and recollection of painful memories can be very therapeutic to people, as evidenced by Freud in his lecture. Although these memories can be recalled through other means than hypnosis, it highlights the importance and ability for people to recall repressed memories and how repressed memories can significantly impact the well-being of a person.

    (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?

    Freud believed that every person went through a series of stages in order to reach the mature stage after puberty, and if they were unable to pass through a stage, it may leave enduring marks on the person’s character through life (Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y., 2008). This is difficult to apply to modern day therapy because most modern day therapy, including CBT, focuses on behaviors and feelings that occur in the present and only validate past experiences. Freud says that if you get “stuck” on a stage then there is no moving on from that stage in order to reach “maturity” whereas CBT and other modern day therapies empower an individual to move on from their traumatic past to become stronger, better people. If Freud’s theory still applied to modern day therapies, it would be difficult for any individual to show improvement in any area. Although past experiences help to form personality, they do not define it.

    Sigmund, F. (1977). Five lectures on psychoanalysis: Lectures 1 & 2. New York, New York.

    Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Introduction to Personality: Toward an Integrative Science of the Person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ.

    Reply

    • Bridget Kesling
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:58:56

      Tatiana, You made a very valid argument that if we where still working from Freud’s theory’s that our patients would get stuck in a particular phase then there would be little hope of moving forward in treatment. I find this disturbing as a teacher because working with students who have gaps in learning they are able to overcome those area’s of weakness by strengthening other skills. Since working in a therapeutic setting I would argue the same pertains to area’s of weakness in psychological development. If a student was presenting with a weakness in interpersonal skill but their strength is self motivation one can monopolize on there strength to help build the areas of weakness.

      Reply

  16. Julia Sherman
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 15:08:34

    1) Although it is easy to criticize Freud today, his psychological theories created a foundation upon which subsequent psychologists built their own theories, ultimately leading to later advancement in the field. Certainly one of the greatest contributions that he made was the way in which he conceptualized the development of personality. Broadly stated, he believed that personality was a product of both instinctual impulses and environmental factors, particularly in childhood, which is a concept that is now widely accepted to be true. His conception of mental structure involving the id, ego, and superego—though largely unsubstantiated by research—made a groundbreaking observation: personality can often be explained through biology. This is particularly true of his conceptualization of the id, which “contains everything inherited” and is “the basis of personality… closely linked to biological processes” (Mischel, 159). Freud believed that genetic and biological factors are the primary contributors to personality, which is often supported by more recent research.

    But although he believed that the id was the primary factor in personality development, Freud also made it clear that an individual’s upbringing played no small role. While many of his theories on this subject are rather outlandish—such as the Oedipal complex and the five stages of development—Freud was the first renowned psychologist to posit that our current adult personalities could be a byproduct of childhood experiences. His work, though easily scrutinized today, lead many psychologists to investigate the effect that childhood has later in life, which eventually lead to more substantiated theories, such as attachment theory.

    2) The primary limitation in Freudian theory is its emphasis on psychological phenomenon that can be neither observed nor substantiated, even on an introspective level. Freud famously compared an individual’s thought process “to an iceberg: only the tip shows itself overtly, the rest lies below” (Mischel, 156). This kind of thinking does not translate well to modern day therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), given that it often focuses on changes one’s thought patterns in an attempt to modify feelings and behaviors. Under Freudian theory, one simply cannot consciously adjust one’s thought patterns because unconscious thought, according to Freud, is entirely inaccessible, and makes up the vast majority of our thought processes.

    Freud’s rather extreme emphasis on childhood events also does not apply well to modern day therapy. Although therapy today certainly extracts valuable information from an individual’s past experiences, the emphasis tends to be primarily on the individual’s current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how those can be improved through therapy. In CBT, and particularly DBT, therapists take a mindfulness-based approach that leaves little room for ruminating on childhood events. Freud’s theory, on the other hand, emphasizes childhood experiences to such a degree that an adult’s current symptoms would not effectively be addressed on their own.

    Reply

    • Erin Mamott
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 11:09:26

      At first I wanted to disagree with your point 1, but as I read it I couldn’t help but agree. People often forget that Freud was a neurologist before he became the psychologist we all know him as, so staging the his constructs for personality are based in biology for Freud is a real possibility. You could have cited the textbook as well to support your case with the recent findings of areas of the brain which function similarly to Freud’s description of the id and ego (pp. 163-164).

      As to your point 2 I have to disagree with the emphasis of modern therapy. CBT, DBT, and the like are of course more focused on present functioning, but there are other types of therapy which places a decent amount of emphasis on childhood and the past. Therapies such as Adlerian and Experiential (Gestalt) immediately come to my mind. These are therapies in which significant events of the client’s past are brought into the present to be “worked through” or for the client to reinterpret the events in a new perspective (which may help to change behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that are stemming from the event). Freud may have put an extreme amount of emphasis on childhood, but there is something to our past that effects our present.

      Reply

  17. Brian Faust
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 15:18:51

    Brian Faust

    1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology?

    After reading Freud’s first lecture regarding the seemingly ludicrous case of “Anna O”, it is almost hard to believe that this man was in fact sane. It was as if he was performing an exorcism in order to elicit this so called magical “talking cure”. However, we are blessed with the benefit of hindsight in our views of Freud’s methods. If we had existed back in Freud’s era, maybe we would have found his methods not so far-fetched. Despite all of this, it is undeniable that Freud has permanently left his insignia on the field of psychology. More specifically, Freud has made contributions in the subfield of personality psychology. One such area where I believe that Freud truly shines is his work on defense mechanisms. Specifically, his concept of repression. In our text, White describes repression as, “…the forgetting, or ejection from consciousness, of memories of threat, and especially the ejection from awareness of impulses in oneself that might have objectionable consequences” (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). While I do not believe that repressed childhood memories are the source of all evil in psychology, I do believe that defense mechanisms such as repression are relevant in ones personality. A drunk may use rationalization to justify his own drinking. A father may displace his anger from work onto his family. A sexual assault victim may repress the memory of the assault to try to move on. Freud’s obsession with the unconscious makes a lot of sense when shone in the same light as defense mechanisms.

    (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)?

    Freud’s five psychosexual stages of development are the catalyst for his theory of personality development. These five stages in chronological order are: the anal, oral, phallic, latency, and genital stages. One criticism that I have with Freud’s theory of personality is his obsession with the sexual nature of personality. Everything revolves around sexual pleasure and gratification. While most of Freud’s work was with young adults, he uses this sex-based theory to describe the personality and development of children. Each stage is too clean cut leaving no room for deviation from the mean. Freud believes that everyone will go through these stages in a linear process, which is simply irrational. I believe Freud’s theory on personality would be impossible in today’s age for a number of reasons. First, there would be an uproar over the notion that sexual urges is responsible for the behavior of a four year old boy. Secondly, Freud would spend too much time delving into the unconscious trying to revive repressed memories. This is in direct conflict with CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses more on the here and now and the ways in which we interact with our environment (2008).

    Reply

    • Brittany King
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:16:37

      Your take on the first blog post was very intriguing, especially your first answer. What I found to be the most interesting part of your response were the examples you used to showcase how Freud’s idea of defense mechanism and repression transcend into today’s field of personality psychology. For me, having examples to relate to a topic help me learn a lot better. Also, you made a great point of how it is very easy for us to be able to sit here, pick apart Freud’s theory of personality but we also have to remember that we now have more research and a better understanding than was available to him during that time, not to diminish that some of his ideas were extremely far fetched. However, the point being that Freud did provide a great starting point and you summed it up perfectly with the great details about defense mechanism and repression.

      Reply

  18. Meagan Monteiro
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 15:48:50

    (1) Even though it is easy to criticize Freud in present day, he did provide many significant contributions to the field of psychology. Share your thoughts on what you think is one of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology? (2) Based on what you know so far about Freud’s theory of personality, what about it makes it so hard to be applied to modern day therapy (especially CBT)? Be sure to support both of your responses using the readings (i.e., not anecdotal opinions). Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 9/9. Have your two replies no later than 9/11. *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply. This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.
    One of Freud’s biggest contributions to personality psychology would be his structural view of personality or that personality consists of three distinct agents, the id, ego and superego, that come together to form one’s personality. The id is the basis of personality and is associated with biological processes and instincts or basic human desires. The ego is responsible for governing interactions with the environment and seeks to find a balance between the demands of the id, and the demands of the superego. The superego is like the moral compass, or a guide that internalizes the morals and standards of society or how one ought to behave. Not only does Freud’s model of personality emphasize the dynamics and complexity of personality but it also allows for some subjectivity. For example, a person is not fixed to behave in a certain manner or display specific traits; a person may react differently to different stimuli. Freud expresses this ambiguity with the ego’s goal of balancing between the superego and the id.
    Despite Freud’s contributions to the field, his theories are difficult when applied today. Part of the reason is because Freud is missing some of pieces of the puzzle. Freud’s structural view of personality and his reasoning for why problems arise are simplistic in nature. For example, in one of his lectures, Freud discusses one of Dr. Beuer’s patients, a young woman. This woman suffered from various issues ranging from temporary paralysis to an aversion of food and water. Not all of these issues stem from tensions between the id, ego and superego, or are a result of repression. There are biological, social, and environmental factors that play a role in the development of these issues. Another major reason why Freud’s theories are satisfactory is that recognition of a problem does not solve the problem. In his lecture, Freud reports that with the use of hypnosis, patients were able to express repressed emotions and thoughts and therefore “sweeping the mind clean could accomplish more than the temporary relief…It was actually possible to bring about the disappearance”. In therapies such as CBT, it is necessary to bring the light to the issues, discuss them and restructure them or learn coping skills in which to face these issues. Simply acknowledging one’s issues is a simplistic solution to the problem that just does not satisfy the needs of today.

    Reply

  19. Anissa Rader
    Sep 09, 2015 @ 23:17:50

    I think it is important to note that it can be said that Freud explored the human mind and behavior more than any other psychologist prior to him had done. This alone shows that Freud had a significant influence on the progression of personality psychology throughout time, even if many of his approaches and methods have proven to be incorrect or questionable in present time. Above all though, I think Freud’s most significant contribution to personality psychology was his founding approach to psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic theory. Using both approaches Freud acted as an investigator to uncover what the unconscious mind was repressing thus allowing him to diagnose and treat individuals suffering from mental illness (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). Nearly anyone who has heard of Freud knows he seemed to have a blatant, and almost obsessive, in my opinion, enthusiasm for deducing unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and emotions with an underlying sexual causal factor (Freud, 1977). Though nearly all psychologists reject this sex obsessed approach in their therapies today, Freud’s evocation of sympathy and continual hope for those suffering from mental illness remains. Furthermore his ideas that those who suffered from mental illness could be helped and were not hopeless allowed people to accept this new “non-medical approach” as a starting point in personality psychology (Freud, 1977). Was Freud the most influential psychologist in history? Well that is surely questionable, but his contributions to personality psychology are endless, and his approach to psychoanalysis provided a great starting point that paved the road to where we are in terms of understanding the human mind today.

    Freud’s theory of personality is hard to be applied to modern day therapy, especially CBT, for numerous reasons. First, the approach itself makes it hard to apply Freud’s theory of personality to modern day CBT. Freud focused on uncovering memories and feelings caused by his client’s past in order and then used these repressed thoughts to help devise a plan to help heal the client. Although it is important in CBT to consider and discuss the base level at which a problem was created at such as Freud did, it focuses more on the present day impact and how to make positive changes to help a person overcome what it is that is holding them back mentally (Mischel, Shoda, Ayduck, 2008). Basing a client’s healing process solely on memories and prior events simply isn’t practical for most people. The factor of time is yet another reason Freud’s approach is hard to apply to CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often a short term therapy in which progress is made considerably more quickly than if therapists were to use Freud’s approach to personality which often took over a year to uncover repressed thoughts. Many insurance companies will only cover a small number of therapy sessions which would make using Freud’s time consuming approach impractical in modern day CBT.

    Freud, S. (1977). Five Lectures on psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Norton.

    Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (2008). Introduction to personality: Toward an integrative science of the person (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Jon Wiley & Sons.

    Reply

    • Brittany King
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 11:03:08

      After reading many of the responses to the first blog post, I noticed that many of us took a specific part of Freud’s theory, picked it apart and then went into great detail on how that part influenced modern day personality psychology. I chose to speak about the “anatomy” of the mind so it was great to learn from you in more detail about his founding approach to psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic theory. I really enjoyed your take on the first response in particular when you talked about sympathy and continual hope because I feel like when we often learn about Freud, those are two things that are not really talked about fully. Before Freud, everything was a “medical approach” and he felt, based on his experience working with disturbed patients that there could be a better approach thought up and that is really intriguing to think about. You put it best when you said that he may not be the most influential psychologist in history thus far, but his contributions cannot be diminished because he did provide a starting point.

      Reply

    • Jacleen Charbonneau
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 00:02:54

      Anissa,

      You made a great point about Freud being sympathetic and having hope for those suffering. Freud is a name that we commonly hear today, and he is often times remembered for ideas that seem illogical– the Oedipus Complex and the unproven concepts of the id, ego, and superego. Although these concepts are often thought of when Freud’s name is mentioned in the classroom, his true care and sympathy for patients can sometimes be overlooked. Perhaps his passion and drive is what made him such an influential part of psychology’s history, despite his unproven concepts.

      I also agree with you regarding Freud paving a road for psychologists to study the human mind. Although what he discovered was not a breakthrough in science, without his ideas and contributions to personality psychology, perhaps we wouldn’t be as advanced as we are today in understanding the mind. Without those contributing simpler ideas — think Thomas Edison and the lightbulb– we wouldn’t have a foundation to work from that lead us to bigger advancements. Undeniably, Freud, in my opinion, provided a path for advancement in the field of psychology.

      Reply

    • Jillian Harrison
      Sep 11, 2015 @ 10:09:59

      Anissa,

      I completely agree with your approach to these questions. Much like your post, my post also focused more on the broad contributions that Freud made to the field as opposed to the specific theories and constructs he made himself known for. Many people are often hung up on the sexual stages of development and other “Freudian” assumptions that people are uncomfortable with. He seems to have made his work more infamous than famous. While I do not agree with many of his specific theories or assumptions about the human mind, I must give credit for the therapeutic contributions that he made. Compassion, sympathy, hope, investment of time: these are all things that medical doctors and other people in society were not willing to give to patients who exhibited symptoms of mental disorders. Freud and his colleagues were among the first of their time to treat these people like actual people and work towards finding a solution that allowed them to better function in society rather than writing them off. This, in my opinion, is a much greater contribution to the field than any other theory or construct that he may have introduced. I believe this factor of sympathy and compassion allowed other theorists to focus their efforts on the patient and their wellbeing through therapeutic techniques as opposed to a strictly medical model.

      Reply

      • Taylor Gibson
        Sep 11, 2015 @ 20:35:51

        Anissa and Jillian,

        I hadn’t really thought of Freud in that manner before reading your posts but I have to say that I really appreciate that you shared those thoughts. Freud himself said in his lectures that the people he saw would have been passed over by medical practitioners. I can’t imagine the how lonely and frightening it would be suffering from an illness that you don’t understand and find that doctors were unwilling to help you. Had I been a patient of Freud’s I imagine that it would be an immense relief to find someone who was willing to help after being turned away. In this regard, his impact extended far beyond his own reach because of the number of practitioners who wanted to learn from him and aid patients in the same way. I have a tendency to be hypercritical of Freud because his theories always sound improbable but I truly had thought about how his patients would have felt before reading your posts.

        Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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