Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Sigmund Freud was a German psychologist born 6 May 1856. Born into a matriarchal society, his theories tended to blame a lot of psychological problems on the mother and demean woman overall.
People's problems in adult life could be always be linked back to childhood and the restrictions that had been placed on them during this time. His Psychosexual analysis of childhood incorporates five stages. If a person was not allowed to complete one of these stages succesfully, they would become fixated in later life and therefore could be attributed to certain dysfunctions. These stages were as follows.
The Oral Stage: Children have a need, during the weaning process, to put things in their mouth. At this age it's how they explore the world and understand new things. If a child is prevented from doing this, it's believed that in his adult life, he will often have addictions like smoking, drinking, or even habits such as nail biting or chewing pens.
The next stage is the Anal Phase. Toilet training and learning to control yourself is obviously a vital element of growing up. Positive feedback potentially means a well adjusted adult, if the child recieves negative feedback, he runs the risk of being anal retentive; in which the child becomes overly tidy or organised, or anal expulsive; when the child becomes destructive or disgustingly messy.
Next is the phallic stage. This is where the child begins to differentiate between males and females, as well as being focused on the genitals. This ties in which the Oedipus complex where the male child wants to own and have a relationship with the mother; while holding a deep resentment towards the father. This jelousy eventually turns to a fear that the father will discover his sons intentions and castrate him. After this realisation, the son instead sides with the father and rejects the mother. He learns from the father and creates his male identity.
On the other hand, girls suffer from penis envy. She will also resent the mother for not giving her a penis and will try and identify with the father. In time, she will come to replace her penis envy with the acceptance of having a womb. However; since she has already identified with the father, she creates two seperate identities, both male and female. This, according to Freud means woman are sexually weaker and genetically all bisexual.
Next was the Latency stage. This stage was a period of calm, before puberty the child represses his sexual desires and does not think about them. But then finally there is the genital stage in which the desire for relationships kicks in. If all has already gone well in previous stages than the teenager in this stage has a far better chance of gaining a normal and steady relationship.
Freud also focused on the Id, the Ego and the Superego. Three aspects of a persons subconscious which controlled how you acted in social situations. The Id was your pleasure principle. It works off of instincts and it's main concern is you and your wants. Regardless of other people. The Ego is there to control the Id, the Ego deals with common sense and rationale. Okay you may be hungry enough to eat everything you see in the supermarket (your Id), but you know that that would be wrong thanks to your Ego. Lastly, the Superego will actively punish you for misbehavior with features such as guilt. Your Superego is more like your conscience, and acts as a moral guide as opposed to just common sense and instinct.
Freud linked everything he could back to parenthood and theories such as Oedipus. Even though he only ever based his theories upon one person and therefore just one case study. In the case of phobias, he studied a boy called Little Hans who had a fear of horses. Even though Freud discovered Hans had; when he was younger, seen a horse collapse and die of exhaustion one day in the street, Freud decided that Hans' phobia was due to his father. He managed to theorize that at one point during Hans' childhood, his father had, like so many do, got down on all fours and carried Hans around like an animal. As Hans would have been young enough at this point to be going through Freuds' Oedipus complex, Hans of course associated a fear of his father, into a fear of horses and therefore just displaced his phobia. Of course to Freud this proved two of his theories beyond belief.
Freud truly believed that everybody had repressed feelings of anxiety or desire and that this showed itself in your everyday life through various means. His theory was that your mind was like an iceberg. Only the tip of it was showing above the water, but beneath, remaining unseen, was an incredible amount of hidden material which he believed he could get to, if you just agreed to lie on his couch.