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3.S: A Final Note and Chapter Summary

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  • A Final Note

    An important aspect of Freud’s theory is his belief that development occurs in a series of predictable stages. This belief is not common to all of the theories we will cover in this textbook. Furthermore, stage theories are likely to be influenced by cultural relativism, the perspective that the significance of an idea or concept is determined by how it is valued within a given culture. Noted psychologists who have offered such a developmental perspective include Vygotsky and Bronfenbrenner, and it has been suggested that an approach incorporating cultural relativism may be of particular importance when studying the development of African Americans and other minority groups (Belgrave & Allison, 2006; Howard-Hamilton & Frazier, 2005). For example, it has been noted that religion is a very important aspect of African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American culture (Axelson, 1999; Belgrave & Allison, 2006; Taylor, Chatters, & Levin, 2004), and we have just examined how little Freud cared for religious or spiritual matters. Other psychologists, however, gave significantly more consideration to cultural influences (e.g., Adler, Horney, and the Stone Center Group). We will examine their contributions in later chapters.

    Review of Key Points

    • Early in his career, Freud felt that hypnosis could not help to understand why hysteria developed or why some patients got better with treatment. Psychoanalysis grew out of his desire to understand psychological processes better.
    • The terms hysteria and neurosis are no longer recognized as technical terms. Hysteria would commonly be called a conversion disorder today, and the neuroses refer to a variety of disorders.
    • Catharsis refers to the release of pent-up emotion that occurs when a patient remembers a traumatic event
    • Psychic determinism is the concept that all thoughts and behaviors have some basis in prior experience, nothing happens by accident or chance.
    • Each person is driven by a life force known as Eros. The energy associated with this life force is called libido.
    • Cathexis refers to the attachment of libido to some psychical phenomenon. Since libido is limited, experiencing numerous traumatic events can leave a person with limited resources to cope with normal life.
    • Freud believed that individual development is driven by sexual impulses that begin at birth. However, when Freud referred to sexual impulses he was really referring to the life force Eros.
    • Freud described three levels of consciousness: the unconscious, the preconscious, and the conscious minds.
    • Personality has three basic components according to Freud: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the oldest and most basic component, and the source of all sexual impulses and libidinal energy. The id acts according to the pleasure principle.
    • The ego arises from the id, and acts according to the reality principle. It tries to balance the desires of the id with the constraints of the superego and the real world.
    • The superego arises from the ego as we internalize the rules and customs of society. As it develops it takes two forms: the ego-ideal and the conscience.
    • When we are conscious of the ego being unable to restrain the impulses of the id we experience anxiety. The threat can be real, or primarily psychological. Freud emphasized that psychological reality can be every bit as important actual reality.
    • When faced with anxiety, we resort to defense mechanisms. The defense mechanisms first proposed by Freud were repression and regression.
    • There are four psychosexual stages, separated by a latency period. The oral, anal, and phallic stages occur during early childhood. Following the latency period and puberty, the genital stage represents physically mature reproductive functioning.
    • During each psychosexual stage, a different region of the body becomes an erotogenic zone. The child’s recognition of these sexual feelings belies the autoerotic nature of sexual development.
    • The most dramatic development occurs during the phallic stage. It is in this stage that the Oedipus complex occurs, with its potential for the castration complex or penis envy.
    • Infantile amnesia occurs naturally, according to Freud, and is the reason that we do not remember these psychosexual processes from our childhood.
    • Freud’s perspective on the development of girls has been problematic since its inception. He considered the female psyche to be the result of an incomplete and frustrated male development.
    • Freud’s initial contributions to therapy were the development of free association and dream analysis, leading some to suggest that this was point when psychoanalysis was created.
    • In analyzing dreams, Freud distinguished between the manifest and latent content. The difference results from distortion that occurs during the dream-work.
    • The analysis of a dream can be quite complex, since information might be condensed, displaced, represented symbolically, and finally it all undergoes a secondary elaboration.
    • The challenge faced by a psychoanalyst is the nature of the unconscious mind. It exists as layer upon layer with different degrees of resistance. Only through patience can the psychoanalyst overcome this resistance and help the patient.
    • During the process of psychoanalysis itself the psychoanalyst may encounter transference and experience countertransference.
    • Freud acknowledged that religion had served a useful role in the history of humanity, but he firmly believed that there is no God. He felt we have grown beyond the ignorance of our ancestors, and the observations of psychoanalysis could explain how religion had arisen. He believed that the future of humanity was being hindered by clinging to these ancient and meaningless beliefs.