Extensions of Freudian Theory

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

For everyone, interpersonal relationships are important, and their actions are influenced by how society affects people, their actions, and their behaviors. We feel that some actions are motivated by biological drives but not all, and some are motivated by society and what other people need.

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud believed that unconscious and repressed memories caused the actions and behaviors, and also, the behavior was guided by sex and aggression. As time progressed, the focus shifted from sex to other driving forces. Neo-Freudians were the psychologists who believed in Freud's theories and extended them but minimized the importance of sex in human behavior. Neo-Freudians put more emphasis on social and cultural factors than biological factors. They believed that interpersonal relationships influenced behavior, formed personality, and modulated it. They accepted Freud's hypothesis of childhood trauma influencing an adult's behavior but did not agree that ID was an intrinsic and biological force; rather, they believed that it was also influenced by society. They rejected the idea that id and ego always conflicted but believed that if the person was healthy, then id, ego, and superego were harmoniously living and working together. The major Neo-Freudians were Erik Erikson, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler.

Carl Jung

Jung was immensely impressed by Freud's theories and was chosen by Freud as his academic heir, but after some time, there were differences between Jung and Freud in their theories. Jung later established another school of thought, Analytical Psychology. He explained personality structure in the same fashion as Freud but had different theories. He classified personality into three categories: conscious ego, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious.

  • Conscious Ego − It is the conscious part of the personality and includes attitudes, opinions, perception, sense of reality, and self. It is somewhat similar to Freud's concept of ego, and it gives the individual self-awareness, identity, and continuity.
  • Personal Unconscious − It is similar to the preconscious idea given by Freud, and Jung added more features to it. It consists of events and emotions that have been pushed into the subconscious as they might have lost their value or might not have the same emotional intensity. It can also consist of events or thoughts that have been pushed into the subconscious as they might be anxiety-provoking. It is both retrospective and prospective in nature.
  • Collective Unconscious − The collective unconscious sits deeper than the personal unconscious, and Jung proposed that it is the same for all men. The collective unconscious is derived from past racial experiences, catastrophes, and large events that everyone experienced. Jung referred to the primordial images as "archetypes," which he defined as the potential for action, predispositions to respond to certain external events in specific ways, and the potential for shaping experience in specific directions.

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler studied medicine and was a psychiatrist who later shifted toward the psychodynamic approach. He theorized that everyone had a motive to overcome the inferiority complex. Inferiority refers to feeling inadequate because of any physical disability or disability stemming from psychological deficiency. He developed the field of individual psychology.

He proposed the theory of Aggression Drive, stating that behavior is driven by two forces: sex and aggression. They may manifest themselves directly, as in violence and cruelty, but they may also manifest themselves inwardly in submission, masochism, and humility. He also proposed the theory of masculine protest and hypothesized that a child feels powerless and weak and realizes that he needs to assert dominance and power to gain power. He related masculinity to being powerful and femininity to being weak.

Karen Horney

Karen Horney felt that Freud ignored the context of social and personal relations, which is why he focused too much on sex and aggression. She also disregarded the idea of "Penis Envy" and gave the opposite theory. Horney believed that in a positive and warm environment, everyone could thrive, but if the child faces a cold and hostile environment, it will lead to him being cold and hostile. She stated that when the child experiences a cold attitude from the parents, the parents provoke the "basic evil," which leads the child to believe that the world is a cold place and cannot thrive. This leads the child to feel "basic hostility," which leads to "basic anxiety." Due to this anxiety, the child projects his feelings onto the world, and to correct this, the child would need warmth and affection, but when he does not get those, his feelings are repressed again, thus entering into a vicious cycle.

She also provided strategies for dealing with anxiety. She hypothesized that the anxiety is due to the difference between the "real self" and the "ideal self." The child thinks the real self is unworthy and unloved, which causes anxiety. To cope with this uneasy feeling, the child develops the concept of the "ideal self," which is the opposite of the real self and deserves love.

Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson was a psychoanalyst and agreed with Freud's theory of the structure of personality. However, Erikson emphasized the ego more than the id and superego. He believed that the ego could maintain harmony between the id and superego and adapt purposefully. He gave the psychosocial development of the ego according to age, which is widely accepted.

The following table explains stages along with their characteristics −

Stage Conflict Explanation
Infancy Trust vs. Mistrust If the basic needs are met, like the need for warmth and affection
Early childhood Autonomy vs. Shame Sense of independence
Play age Initiative vs. Guilt Taking of initiative and guilt of not completing them
School-age Industry vs. Inferiority Development of self-confidence or inferiority complex
Adolescence Identity vs. Role Confusion Development of personal and social identity
Young Adulthood Intimacy vs. Isolation Establishing interpersonal relations
Adulthood Generativity vs. Stagnation Contributing to the society
Old age Ego integrity vs. Despair Making meaning of life

Neo-Freudians expanded Freudian theory but shifted the focus from sex and aggression to how relationships, society, and other individual factors influence personality development. Every Neo Freudian explained how a personality develops, which was accepted and criticized as well. They were criticized for being too philosophical. Erikson's psychosocial development was highly accepted as it gave the development of the ego a time limit until death and did not stop at adulthood. Karen Horney's Womb Envy was a major contributor to feminist psychology. Carl Jung is considered to be Freud's academic successor, but he established another school of thought, Analytical Psychology. However, Neo-Freudians are an important part of comprehending the depth of psychodynamics.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47