By Gregory Mitchell
Sigmund Freud was born in 1856 in the Czech Republic. After working much of his life in Vienna, he left in 1938 to avoid Nazi persecution. He moved to England where he died in Hampstead in 1939.
Freud's early work in psychology and psychoanalysis endeavored to understand and cure the human mind by means of hypnosis. Freud's initial exposure to hypnosis in a clinical setting was over the winter of 1885-1886, when he studied in Paris with Jean-Martin Charcot, a renowned French professor of neurology. Charcot's work centered on the causes of hysteria, a disorder which could cause paralysis and extreme fits. He soon discovered that the symptoms of hysteria could be induced in non hysterics by hypnotic suggestion and that the symptoms of hysterics could be alleviated or transformed by hypnotic suggestion. This ran contrary to the then-prevalent belief that hysteria had physiological causes; it suggested that a deeper, unseen level of consciousness could affect an individual's conscious conduct.
In 1886 Freud started a clinical practice in neuropsychology at Berggasse. He used this consulting room for almost fifty years. About the same time Freud began another association with a Viennese physician named Josef Breuer. In 1893 Breuer had presented a paper titled 'Studies in Hysteria.' In essence Breuer stated that forgotten traumas, painful incidents that had left a psychological scar, were responsible for what was at that time called hysteria. It was, Breuer wrote, the undischarged emotional energy associated with these forgotten traumas that were the root cause of hysteria. Using hypnotic techniques, Breuer helped some patients to re-enact, and thus recall, the original traumatic incident, and integrate it into long-term memory. In doing so the emotional charge was released. This emotionally intense transfer of a memory from the unconscious to the conscious is known as catharsis or abreaction - an effective method which seems to corroborate Freud's theories on the unconscious mind.
Freud adopted this practice at first but it was not until he began allowing his patients to freely associate ideas with whatever came to mind, that he really explored spontaneous abreaction. He abandoned hypnosis in favor of conscious psychoanalysis, first with the technique of free association, then eventually with his well-known technique of observational, couch-based psychoanalysis.
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Freud himself suffered bouts of deep anxiety, and it was partly this that led him to explore the connection between association of ideas and dreams. Freud noticed that patients would often find a connection between the direction of their associations and a dream they had experienced. He aided his patients to uncover and follow both obvious and hidden associations and emotions connected with the dream occurrences. Freud was able to make the breakthrough into seeing the connections with sexual feelings, with early childhood trauma, and with the subtleties of the human psyche.
For Freud, dreams were the royal road to the unconscious. He began to analyze dreams in order to understand aspects of personality as they relate to pathology. He believed that behavior was not a chance occurrence; every action and thought is motivated by the unconscious at some level. In order to live in a civilized society, people have a tendency to hold back their urges and repress their impulses. However, these urges and impulses must be released in some way; they have a way of coming to the surface in disguised form: one way they are released is through dreams. Freud discovered that the elements in a subject's dream tend to be particularly close to repressed unconscious content and that free associations starting from those dream elements quickly encounter topics causing emotional arousal as the unconscious is stimulated, followed by resistance to those feelings. He revolutionized the study of dreams with his work The Interpretation Of Dreams.
While of unique historical interest, many of Freud's ideas have fallen out of favor or have been modified by Neo-Freudians, although at the close of the 20th century, advances in the field of neurology began to show evidence for many of his theories, and the theory of Ego defense mechanisms has received empirical validation. Freud's methods and ideas remain important in clinical psychodynamic approaches.
Recent experiments indicate that a GSR Meter will respond to certain items (people, things, situations, statements) in a person's dreams, indicating these are emotionally charged, even though the person may not normally be conscious of such a reaction. This provides some validation of Freud's ideas on dream interpretation. Jung's first contact with Freud was to send him a copy of his work on word association using a primitive psychogalvanometer.
Note: In a larger historical context, Freud responded to the rise of irrational political forces in Europe that appealed to unconscious, uncontrolled, and ultimately destructive mental forces that eventually dominated the middle of the twentieth century in Europe. Freud wished to devise a method that would bring the unconscious under the control of the rational conscious. Other trends within depth psychology, art, and politics sought quite on the contrary to release the unconscious powers, dreams, and nightmares and allow them to dominate the conscious.
As a result of his clinical experience, Freud developed a model of the human personality which has stood the test of time. Many of the terms Freud introduced, such as Ego, Superego, the Id and the Unconscious are therefore still used in contemporary psychology. Mind Development uses many of these terms to describe personality structures, hence the following paper.
Freud's basic concept was a construct of the human psyche as an orderly progression through the developmental stages of childhood to final maturation in adult life.
As a practicing neurologist, he was much involved with the 'hysteric' types prevalent in Viennese society at that time, the turn of the century. His scientific training, backed up by penetrating insight and genius, compelled him to seek causes and to him, mental disturbances seemed to have their roots in early childhood incidents. In Freud's day, European society was still smarting from being toppled from its throne at the center of the universe by Copernicus and Darwin. Now Freud was implying that Man's godlike intellect was "no more designed to discovering truth than a Pig's snout" (HG Wells). Freud's assault upon the innocence of childhood caused a furore which has not died down even today.
The Structure of the Personality
Freud's orientation was biological, a natural result of his medical training and of the period in which he began his work. His conception of the individual was as a reservoir of dynamic energy, continuously seeking a means of discharge and in turn continuously needing replenishment. This veritable storehouse of energy he called the Libido, the genetically inherent energy empowering the life instinct. The instinctual drive towards survival and replacement of energy requires translation into more specific terms such as 'food, love, security' etc.
Instincts drive and direct behavior, the goal of which is the satisfaction of needs derived from the instincts. Needs create tension, and behavior is directed towards reduction of this tension. This concept of needs is called the Pleasure Principle, the attempt to keep excitation or tension as low as possible. In practice this is the desire for immediate gratification. Freud ascribed the appropriate directional functioning to what he termed the Id, which included other genetically inherent features, such as the impulse to love and to seek gratification. The Id strives to bring about the satisfaction of instinctual needs on the basis of the pleasure principle. The Id represents the inner world that has no knowledge of objective reality. Its psychic processes are primary processes - undirected attempts at immediate satisfaction. It is not governed by logic; it contains contradictory yet co-existent impulses. It is the individual's primary subjective reality at the unconscious level.
The Id can do no more than formulate a necessity, so the Ego is invoked. It develops from the Id because of the organism's need to cope with external reality for the satisfaction of its instinctual requirements. Freud described the Ego as a regulating agent and an intermediary, registering demands and meeting requirements, which in turn necessitates coordination with the environment - the world of reality. Although it seeks pleasure and the avoidance of pain, the Ego is under the influence of the Reality Principle, which is the delay of immediate gratification in recognition of social requirements or higher needs. It operates by means of secondary processes - perception, problem solving, and repression - that is, realistic, logical thinking and reality testing.
The pleasure principle drives one to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. However, as one matures, one learns to be reasonable about this because of the exigencies and obstacles of reality, which need to be taken account of to be able to obtain pleasure in the longer term. An inner-directed person takes an objective and rational account of reality to fulfill the needs of life (see Maslow), working toward a higher goal of individuation through self-actualization.
Note: from the viewpoint of Mind Development, the Ego may be regarded as the conscious identity currently manifested by the Being: the Ego is always smaller than the Self, i.e. the complete personality comprising Id, Ego and Superego, which is itself a sub-set of the transpersonal or Higher Self.
The Ego is a mature adult function, but until the Ego is fully developed, the multifarious safety and acceptance demands of the environment are dealt with by the function of the Superego. The Superego is an internalized model of the social reality, which gives emphasis to the authority figures within that reality. It can be modeled as a storehouse of 'tapes' containing commands, threats and injunctions, frequently in the actual voices of the parental figures. Karen Horney, a Neo-Freudian, also talks of the Patripsyche, the internalized Father figure, the loudest of all the voices. The incorporation of parental and social standards is called introjection. When developed, the Ego may replace Superego introjections with its own ideals, based on its own reality testing.
Persons with a strong Ego (see Ego-Autonomy) can objectively comprehend both the world and themselves. In other words, they are possessed of insight. They are able to contemplate longer time spans, plan, forecast and schedule. They choose decisively among alternatives and follow their resolve. They are aware of the existence of their drives, but control them and channel them in socially acceptable ways. They resist pressures, social or otherwise. They choose their course and pursue it. The weaker the Ego is, the more infantile and impulsive its owner, the more distorted his or her perception of self and reality.
In Freud's theory, the Ego mediates among the Id, the Superego and the external world. Its task is to find a balance between primitive drives, morals, and reality while satisfying the Id and Superego. Its main concern is with the individual's safety and allows some of the Id's desires to be expressed, but only when consequences of these actions are marginal. Ego defense mechanisms are often used by the Ego when Id behavior conflicts with reality and either society's morals, norms, and taboos or the individual's expectations as a result of the internalization of these morals, norms, and taboos.
The Ego therefore is associated with a set of cognitive functions such as reality-testing, defense mechanisms, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory.
The Superego in Freud is a piece of the higher Id which has direct access to the Ego and is society's representative in the psyche. Superego includes a psychic structure that acts in regulating the relationship between the instinctual drives and Ego, and the outside world. The concept of superego formation involves the process by which prohibitions and restraints, once externally imposed, become internalized. Then the actual presence of the original prohibiting persons is no longer required. We use the term internalization to describe that process by which the Ego forms inner or psychic representations of objects that had originally influenced the child from without.
The Superego includes a conscious set of ideals, the pattern to which the individual consciously tries to adapt his life, and an unconscious set of prohibitions which attempt to prevent the direct expression of Id impulses. The conscious ideals are formed primarily through imitation of the parents, but throughout childhood and into adolescence they are further influenced by many of the adults with whom the child has contact. The unconscious prohibitions are formed very early in life from internalized parental ideals and prohibitions.
Defense mechanisms include lying, delusion, negative emotions and compulsive talking. They happen so quickly, so habitually and so imperceptibly, that one cannot notice them, and one does not want to notice them. Suppression, invalidation and refusal to acknowledge what is perceived are self-lies, used to submerge the truth, to keep it subconscious, to maintain the status quo, to avoid confronting reality or one's true feelings. They are defense mechanisms, used unconsciously, habitually, automatically - attached to anything we don't want to emerge, to look at or know about: the unacceptable. They may be feelings that are opposed or held down by our most strongly held mental convictions. If a feeling or desire is triggered that is too uncomfortable, then we distance ourselves from it, we disown it - 'It wasn't me, it wasn't mine' - we identify with some other aspect of ourselves, a way of being that dare not have such feelings or desires.
In this way we become distanced from our true feelings and motivations. Projection is another defense - when an unacceptable feeling or desire comes up, it is labeled 'this is what someone else feels, needs or wants', such as the person over there. It's disowned and passed to the other person, unknowingly, due to reactive, subconscious suggestions from the past, which make the feeling unacceptable for oneself.
Rationalization is substituting a plausible and acceptable rationale for the unacceptable feeling. With this protective device, a lie is covered up with a reason. The mind rationalizes away failures, finds excuses why you should not do something. We lie to ourselves, and we have the audacity to believe it!
Rationalization frequently occurs when an action is felt to be wrong, either because it is not considered acceptable by others, or because we ourself would not like to experience the effect that we caused. We cover up our feeling by intellect: we justify our action by finding a motive. Then our behavior becomes the other's fault and instead of feeling affinity, we are now in opposition and may therefore withdraw. After this break in relations the motive may then be used to make ourself right and the other wrong, and this 'computation' may become fixed in our mind as a way of handling people and the world - a defense mechanism used unconsciously (without inspection of the new reality) to aid survival.
In effect the lower state of being that is withdrawn to, then becomes an apparently safe (though unserviceable) solution - a way of continuing toward our original goals and survival, without having to face opposition previously encountered. It is a weakened state of Ego.
In George Eman Vaillant's (1977) categorization, defenses form a continuum regarding to their psychoanalytical developmental level...
The strong and mature Ego is equivalent to the Adult in Transactional Analysis; a weak and immature Ego ruled over by the Id is equivalent to the Child; and the Superego is equivalent to the Parent in Eric Berne's description of personality.
- Psychotic defenses (i.e. psychotic denial, delusional projection)
- Immature defenses (i.e. fantasy, projection, passive aggression, acting out)
- Neurotic defenses (i.e. intellectualization, reaction formation, dissociation, displacement, repression)
- Mature defenses (i.e. humor, sublimation, suppression, altruism, anticipation)
Eros and Thanatos
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Freud postulated that human beings are dominated by two basic instincts: Eros (the sexual drive or creative life force) and Thanatos (the death force or destructiveness). The mythical characters of Eros and Thanatos were used by Freud in his formulation of drive theory to represent the two primary outlets of biological energy. Eros represents life, creativity, growth, and increase in tension; and Thanatos represents the movement toward homeostasis (elimination of all tensions), dissolution, negation, and death. We are constantly stimulated and driven into action by a balance of these energies.
Both fundamental drives are empowered by Libido energy. Eros is associated with the various parts of the body categorized as erogenous zones. According to his theory the erogenous zones are very important to the cognitive development of the child, since Eros empowers our sexuality. Eros also plays a powerful role in creativity - when we feel ready for something new, or feel the urge to give birth, whether that is to a new idea or a new way of seeing the world and expressing the self. If this is still incubating in the unconscious, it may be the source of some frustration or discomfort. For example, if one feels stuck or depressed, it may be the foreshadowing of a creative burst. Eros is also at the root of our philosophic or religious exploration and the urge toward self-actualization.
The Developing Child
The infant's first source of pleasure is oral, deriving from the mouth. During the early stages of infancy, the fundamental requirements are food, security and warmth, so that development can proceed without hindrance. This is as near to that desirable pre-natal condition as it will ever get - hence the very close link that is formed between mother and child. Bonding must occur at this stage, the Oral Stage, or the capacity to form emotional bonds, as an adult, will be severely impaired.
The next forward step is known as the Anal Stage. Tension builds up as bowel and bladder functioning demand attention. When defecation and urination takes place, the experience of the relief from tension is pleasurable. In contrast, frustration produces tensions and is experienced as pain and discomfort. The Anal Stage includes the child's first experiences with external regulation of an instinctual impulse, involving the postponement of the pleasure from relieving anal tensions.
At the Anal Stage the child learns to differentiate between the 'ME versus NOT-ME'. This realization is followed closely by an immature forerunner of the Genital Stage, when the child begins to realize that it is a pleasurable experience to manipulate particular areas of the body, such as the mouth, the anus and the genitals.
In the Phallic Stage which follows, the instinctual urge is objective and aggressive, whereas masturbation in the immature Genital period is essentially a subjective experience. With a male infant the objective choice is the loved mother, with jealousy of the father; this is the Oedipus complex in which the boy develops a fear of castration by the father. After the child realizes that the father is much to powerful as an adversary, reality sets in and the child now begins to understand the impossibility of his sexual obsession with his mother is. The boy then represses his desire for his mother and hostility towards his father, with whom he has identified. As a result of this realization the Oedipus complex is supposed to be officially resolved.
In the case of a female infant the situation is more complex. The girl develops a love for the father and corresponding jealousy of the mother. The anatomical genital difference from her brother raises the fear that she has been castrated, and for this she blames the mother - this is the Elektra complex. Her love for the father is also tinged with envy because he has what she lacks. Her Elektra complex is not repressed but is modified by reality and weakens with time, so that she remains identified with the mother.
It is in the Phallic Stage that the sexuality of early childhood reaches its greatest intensity and that male and female sexuality becomes differentiated. With both sexes, loyalty to the parents poses problems; however, with careful handling by the parents, these stages are worked through leaving no ill effects. These various stages occupy the first five years of the child's life.
A Latency period of quiescence follows, lasting from about age five or six to puberty. Adolescence, with its sexual emphasis, gradually channels the sexual impulse into object choices, and finally merges into adult life.
During the state of latency, a child's sexual impulses are repressed. The reason for this is that during the stage before Latency (Phallic stage) the child resolves the Oedipus or Electra Complex which are such traumatic events that the child then repress all of his or her sexual impulses. The child then realizes that his/her wishes and longings cannot be fulfilled and will turn away from his/her original desires. Hence, he/she starts the identification with the parent of the same sex and this will lead to rapidly evolving sex roles. The energy, previously put in the Oedipus problem can be used for developing the self.
During the latency phase the drives are decreased and the libido is transferred from parents to friends, clubs and leading figures. The Superego is already present, but becomes more organized and principled. Culturally valued skills and values are acquired and feelings of shame, guilt and disgust arise. The child has evolved from an animal-like creature with primitive drives to a reasonable human being with complex feelings. The child learns to adapt to reality and also begins the process of what Freud terms "infantile amnesia," the repression of the earliest traumatic, overly sexual or painful memories.
A child has six developmental tasks in the emotional domain: (1) the creation and sensation of a sense of self as distinct from others, (2) ability to tolerate emotions in self and others, (3) the capacity to manage aggressive urges, (4) the development of a sense of cause and effect and of control over the environment, (5) the development of a self-reflective capacity, (6) and the capacity to enter into and sustain a state of latency, repressing inappropriate sexual drives.
The Genital Stage is the fifth and final stage of Freud's stages of psychosexual development, as the child's energy once again focuses on his genitals. Puberty reactivates the early genital impulses and the person passes into the mature Genital Stage. The individual develops a strong interest in his or her sexual feelings. The less energy the child has left invested in unresolved psychosexual developments of the earlier stages, the greater his capacity will be to develop normal relationships with a sexual partner. If, however, he remains fixated, particularly on the Anal or Phallic stages, his development will be troubled as he struggles with further repression and defenses. If the previous stages have been successfully completed, however, the individual will develop into a well-balanced, warm, and caring adult. Where in earlier stages the focus was solely on individual needs, an interest in the welfare of others grows during this stage. The person matures from a narcissistic pleasure-seeking child into a reality-oriented socialized adult, with much of the Libido sublimated into group activities, vocational planning and preparation for marriage and family.
When Freud's and Jung's theories are described, Freud's view of the unconscious is generally represented in terms of the psychosexual stages of development, while Jung's theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious are most commonly discussed. The impression is that Jung, but not Freud, conceptualized and thought important the presence of inherited memories in Mankind. However, Freud's references to structures that are similar to those of Jung's collective unconscious appear to occur first in Totem and Taboo. Freud employed the then accepted theory of inherited memories put forth by Lamark, a theory that is proving to be not so far off the mark according to recent research. This theory held that humans pass on some of their memories to their offspring through some unknown mechanism, which was later thought to be genes. Indeed, genetically inherited memory may be responsible for traumas and conflicts held unconsciously but outside an individual's capability to recall; and such phenomena as Oedipal complexes may result from trace memories held and amplified in racial memory or what Jung would call Collective Unconscious.
It should be noted that both mental and physical growth are chronologically programmed but, inevitably, seldom go to plan: some stages develop faster than others; some remain static; in most cases there is some overlapping. The fully developed Genital Stage is the final goal of psychoanalysis, but in Mind Development we are looking at going much further. The Genital Stage opens the doors of creativity, because of the possibilities of sublimating Eros to creative purposes. Creativity is the bridge between Freud and what we are doing with Mind Development Courses and the Insight Project. As Peter Shepherd states in Transforming the Mind...
Strange as it may seem, spirituality and sexuality are inseparably related. It is impossible to evolve into higher consciousness without a true understanding and embracing of authentic sexuality. For example, intuition and creativity cannot function in individuals who are sexually inhibited or who repress sexual guilt and shame. Unconsciously recognizing this fact, churches have for ages attempted to control and regulate the sexuality of their members.
John Gowan (in Development of the Creative Individual, 1972) demonstrates how the Freudian (sexual libido), Eriksonian (Ego strength) and Piagetian (cognitive development) developmental stages are remarkably compatible. Indeed, these stages may be divided into a tripartite grouping, depending upon the direction of the attention of the psyche, whether outward toward the world, inward toward the self or with love toward another person...
What the dogmatic religions fail to understand is that love as a creative expression is the higher purpose of sexual expression, and that the production of offspring is in that sense incidental. Only animals use sex solely for procreation purposes. It is exclusively humans that experience the conscious psycho-emotional pleasures and ecstasies of the sexual expression that is rightly called "making love." By insisting procreation is the only valid purpose of the sex act, under the penalty of sin and Hellfire, religion lowers man to the level of animals. It is also a degradation of what is in itself a beautiful process, the creation of new life. This has caused untold numbers of men and women to experience guilt in their sexual contacts that were directed solely at bringing pleasure to each other, as an expression of love and intimacy.
All expressions of love are essentially sexual in their nature: a communication where one is being the other - where empathy is duplicated and understanding is complete. Sexual energy is therefore not limited to the physical act of sex alone. The energy of sex is sublimated as creative energy at any and every level you find yourself in the universe. Energy travels between positive and negative poles. Indeed, every ascent of consciousness is, in this sense, a sexual process. Sex and love are a fusion, a coming together of thought and feeling and body, the synthesis of masculine and feminine, and this is the essence of creativity. So any creative act is driven by this urge, at all levels of our being, to share pleasure and feeling - from the writing of a book to baking a cake, from designing a bridge to painting a picture, from a love affair to playing a musical instrument, from a discovery or invention to raising a beautiful family.
it, they - the World
I, me - the Ego
thou - the Other
Mature Intuition (Metavert)
A second common aspect of the first, fourth and seventh stages is the immersion in the world of the senses. It is a practical time when things get done and changes occur. In combination with this regard for the external world, there is a certain calmness or coolness of the Ego which results in a lack of self-consciousness.
After the tasks of this stage are completed, they will return to a new identity search on more advanced levels, fortified with their accomplishments in the real world. By contrast with the previous, the second, fifth and eighth stages are Ego bound, Ego oriented, and Ego circumscribed. They are all about "me" (my identity, my existence and interpersonal relationships and my salvation). They are times of searching introspection, of withdrawal rather than return, of defiance of authority, rather than obedience to it, and of "marching to the music of a different drum." In each of these periods man tries to come to terms with himself. In stage 2 he finds his identity or Ego, in stage 5 he redefines it in terms of what he can do as a young adult, and in stage 8 he again redefines it in terms of the meaning of his life and death in the cosmos.
The third and sixth stages deal with the love relationship and its expansion from narcissistic self-love through oedipal love of parents to generalized heterosexual love, to fixation on some individual person. There may exist stage 9, where agape love, in the manner of a Buddha or Messiah embraces all Mankind.
The Oedipus Complex
Inspired by the Hellenic tragedy Oedipus Rex, Freud was inspired by its patricide and incest motif to later incorporate it in his structure of personality to symbolically represent the transitional dynamic of the Ego overcoming the Superego. The Oedipus complex, in its entirety, is the inherent transitional drive of the human organism from childhood toward adulthood and because of this it should not be feared. When properly interpreted for its symbolic meaning, the Oedipus complex leads to the spiritual death of the Superego, so that the child can become the father of himself. He needs to become independent of the Superego's influence and create his own moral code. But, is this typical? Does the Oedipus complex continue until the Superego is utterly destroyed? In practice the process is normally arrested in childhood as the Phallic Stage moves into the following Latency period of quiescence. Perhaps in the case of children living with or closely connected with their parents, a remnant of the Oedipus complex may continue in process, but the Superego is typically not overcome in this way.
The common man is ruled by four complexes: the Ego, the Id, the Superego and the Oedipus Complex. Mind Development in involved in the process of creating uncommon men; those who can write their own script, those whose Superego has been integrated into an Autonomous Ego. To overcome the Superego requires advanced cognitive, emotional and moral development; this creates an Autonomous Ego, free from the Superego and operating on an Ego Morality. Jung points out that conscience does not equate with Superego, but that is only true when Ego is sufficiently developed to have it's own Ego Morality rather than an imposed one.
Morality is basically a set of rules concerning what to do and what not to do, enforced by Superego pressures and social consequences such as humiliation or punishment. However, the belief that you must obey a moral code created by someone else is a form of trap - it reduces your freedom and competence. In order to be free of this 'morality trap,' you need to strengthen your understanding of the cognitive links between your intentions, your actions and the consequences you produce - this is best achieved by creating your own moral code in the context of a sound and rational ethical framework.
Stages of Superego Maturity
Superego development may be divided into layers representing historical phases of the infantile struggle to master primitive forms of instinct...
Superego development provides ideals, prohibitions and security, required in the development of the Ego. It continues from infancy through adolescence, and later alterations of the Superego influence the adult personality. Modification of the Superego takes place in three directions: (1) a mellowing and taming of the harshness of the persecuting Superego combined with more realistic standards; and (2) a growth and development of the loving Superego in the direction of greater strength and protectiveness, especially in relation to the persecuting Superego; (3) a possible concerted development of Ego autonomy such that it can replace Superego functions and no longer have need of the inherited structure.
- An primitive layer with punishment for oral-sadistic and anal fantasies;
- The benign Superego, which derives from the image of the loving and comforting parent, especially the mother. When a harmonious relation exists between it and the Ego, there is a feeling of self-confidence and love; when a state of tension exists between the two there results a feeling of not being loved and a fear of abandonment out of which develops the feeling of guilt in the common sense of the word.
- Oedipally-derived layer containing derivatives of the incest situation, jealousy, rivalry, hostility, etc.
- Acquisition of parental standards and values, ideals and injunctions, the internalization of parental love and protection, prohibition and punishment.
- Superego death. This occurs when the Ego has become autonomous.
Sublimation is the transformation of unwanted or inappropriate impulses into useful activity, a form of defense mechanism. The energy of sexual or aggressive feelings may be expressed directly or it may be sublimated. Sublimation channels this energy away from destructive or inappropriate acts and into something that is socially acceptable and/or creatively effective. Many sports and games are sublimations of aggressive urges, and creative activities may be sublimations of our sexuality. Freud believed that the greatest achievements in civilization were due to the effective sublimation of our sexual and aggressive urges that are sourced in the Id and then channeled by the Ego as directed by the Superego. See Repressive Desublimation for an explanation of how the natural process of sublimation may also be manipulated in a repressive way for means of social control.
Primary and Secondary Processes
Primary Process thinking consists of those mental processes which are directly related to functions of the primitive life forces associated with the Id. The Id has no contact with reality and works on the Pleasure Principle. Primary Process is characteristic of unconscious mental activity; marked by unorganized, non-logical thinking and by the tendency to seek immediate discharge and gratification of instinctual urges. When Primary Process plays a significant role in a person's thinking he is incapable of being inner-directed.
Secondary Process thinking consists of those mental processes which are directly related to learned and acquired functions of the Ego, and is characteristic of conscious and preconscious mental activity; marked by logical thinking and by the tendency to delay gratification by regulation of the discharge of instinctual demands.
Cognitive modes and organizations range in a continuum from the drive-dominated, prelogical, preverbal, imaginative thinking of Primary Process to that of the reality oriented, goal-directed, logically ordered, rational, concrete and/or abstract conceptual thinking of Secondary Process.
In the progression from waking conscious thought to daydreaming, hypnagogic hallucination and dreaming, there is a gradual increase in visual imagery, in multiple implicit connotations, and in the use of mechanisms of condensation, symbolization and displacement. At the same time verbal, rational, reality-oriented secondary process type thinking diminishes, as does reflective awareness (awareness of self) and one's ability to extend effort, that is, to willfully act.
Consciousness and the Unconscious
Freud divided the mind into layers. Perceptual awareness, he termed the conscious state. But a large part of a person's inner life goes on outside awareness. This unconscious part of the mind includes some material which has been dissociated from conscious thinking - the Subconscious; and some that can relatively easily become conscious - the Preconscious contents. The Preconscious is described as having no sense of awareness but it's contents are available for recall. The unconscious contains memories which have been repressed, and under normal circumstances cannot be recalled. According to Groddeck, we "are lived by our unconscious"; Freud certainly subscribed to this theory.
In Freudian psychoanalysis, the word preconscious is applied to thoughts which are unconscious at the particular moment in question, but which are not repressed and are therefore available for recall and easily capable of becoming conscious. As explained by David Stafford-Clark in What Freud Really Said (1965)...
"If consciousness is then the sum total of everything of which we are aware, pre-consciousness is the reservoir of everything we can remember, all that is accessible to voluntary recall: the storehouse of memory. This leaves the unconscious area of mental life to contain all the more primitive drives and impulses influencing our actions without our necessarily ever becoming fully aware of them, together with every important constellation of ideas or memories with a strong emotional charge, which have at one time been present in consciousness but have since been repressed so that they are no longer available to it, even through introspection or attempts at memory."
There are two ways that material is made unconscious. The first, a conscious process, consists of making an experience unconscious; that is, material in the preconscious that is inadmissible to consciousness is suppressed down into the unconscious. Note: this may be considered 'suppression' and the material is then considered to be subconscious. The material may emerge into the preconscious or even consciousness if current circumstances are similar to the original circumstances and remind the person, causing emotional charge.
The second way that material is made unconscious is repression. This is itself an unconscious process and consists of forbidding material to rise up and enter the preconscious, so that it remains uninspected in the unconscious. Very painful trauma, physical or emotional, is thus shut of from consciousness. Sometimes only part of an experience may be repressed; some memory of it may remain preconscious but feelings are not attached to it. A constant expenditure of energy is required to maintain the repression.
As we have seen, the personality of the individual is dependent upon the interaction of three mental structures: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. Behavior is usually the result of an interaction within this system. The Ego is the executive of the personality, mediating and reconciling the demands of the Id, with its instinctual and persistent demands, the need to conform with the Superego, with its introjections and related conscience and Ego-ideals, and the objective facts of reality. This interaction is unconscious most of the time; however much of it is Preconscious so that it can easily be brought into consciousness, and some of it is conscious thought and feelings.
Where the Ego is unable to accede to the demands of the Id, or in certain cases, the demands of society, these impulses are repressed and become unconscious, but they are not divested of energy and are often the cause of future trouble.
The reactions of the Ego are influenced by incidents and memories that have accumulated over the years. This brings us back to the childhood period: the focus of Freudian theory. In infancy there is virtually no organization of memory or experience, hence the Id is in a dominating position, and frustration or delay can cause a violent 'all or nothing' reaction. If frustration is of a traumatic intensity and prolonged, the ensuing warping of the child's personality is long lasting. In many cases, cognitive development along certain lines can be arrested at that stage. If, for example, an infant is deprived of love and affection over a long period, its own natural impulse to give love can be distorted. The infant's attitude in later life will be affected, so that it is unable to achieve a proper relationship with others. It has been said that "Under stress we tend to return to the age at which progress to emotional maturity was arrested."
An important feature of early childhood is the development of the 'Guilt Complex' or conscience. Initially the child accepts the standards imposed by parents, which are enforced by their reward-or-punishment approach. With experience and knowledge the child acquires its own standards of behavior, based on observation and parental precept (rule of conduct). Behavior which digresses from these self-imposed standards arouses feelings of guilt and failure: at times, under certain circumstances, these feelings may be at an unconscious level, and like other unconscious and repressed ideas, can give rise to abnormal behavior.
An important contribution of Freud was his recognition that repressed ideas, when released into the conscious mind accompanied by the emotions associated with them at the time (a process of abreaction), discharge their pent-up energy and cease to be a source of disturbance. This is known as Catharsis (purging, cleansing).
Freud devoted much time and effort to perfecting techniques for analyzing mental disturbances, and relating them to primary causes. Hypnosis, psychoanalysis, free (word) association, and dream interpretation were all used to trace typical disturbances to traumatic memories at specific developmental stages of childhood.
With regard to repressed ideas arising from traumatic conditions experienced in adult life - there is nearly always a predisposition to abnormality resulting from similar childhood experiences of a traumatic nature.
Freud's basic model of the mind, in which the Ego mediates between internal drives and perceptions of external reality, bears a remarkable resemblance to recent notions in behavioral neurology about the hierarchical organization of the cortex and the limbic system. Freud's description of the Unconscious includes the wellspring of the Id and the storehouse of suppressed or repressed traumatic material, as well as the structural unconscious processes that run the body. I prefer to differentiate consciousness between Subconscious processes - both cognitive and affective - and those that are deeply imbedded Unconscious processes, including including automated behavior and the store of Genetic or Archetypal memories.
Neuro-psychoanalysis combines the insights of both neuroscience and psychoanalysis to obtain a better understanding of mind and brain. Neuro-psychoanalysis has recently validated many of Freud's ideas, in terms of the left-right lateral axis of organization, the Conscious and Subconscious affective (emotional) aspects of lateralization are linked to right hemisphere and limbic processes, whilst the Conscious and Subconscious cognitive (analytical and verbal) processes are linked to the left. The Unconscious equates with the Brain Stem, the Cerebellum, the Pons and other deep brain structures - not specialized laterally; indeed, one of their functions is to integrate the two hemispheres. See The Triune Brain.
Although Mind Development courses do not directly use Freudian psychoanalytic methods, the structure of personality that he discovered has proven to be a sound basis for understanding the human mind and for developing workable methods for the development of cognitive abilities. In addition, it has been proven out by modern neurological scanning techniques that the aspects of the psyche Freud describes have a concrete existence.
There is a modern neurological explanation for the theoretical differences in psychoanalytic concepts and techniques between Freud and Jung. Freudian concepts such as Ego and Superego have a left-brain foundation, the Superego is in the left frontal lobe, and the Id resides the deep brain; whereas Jungian concepts such as the Persona, Shadow and Collective Consciousness have a right-brain foundation: Modern neurological techniques reveal unique brain functions that explain many of the visionary and so-called mystic phenomena discussed by Jung. Many of Jung's psychoanalytic concepts can be traced to right brain function. Freud analyzes defenses in the left hemisphere, whereas Jung analyzes the content of the right hemisphere; both Freud and Jung are correct from their particular perspective.
Psychoanalysts will be aware of the therapeutic advantage gained when insight acquires consciousness - the patient may remember the insight and apply it consciously to improve understanding and revise behaviors. Consciousness is a state of awareness, having a range of higher mental functions serving a regulatory, controlling, and integrating role in mental activity. There are high levels of thinking, reality testing, experiencing, judging, anticipating; self-awareness and self-reflection enter into these controlling activities.
Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy today are becoming more Jungian in nature perhaps without their exponents realizing it. Andrew Samuels, in Jung and the Post Jungians, gives a list of fifteen essential points which demonstrate that recent changes and developments in Freudian psychoanalysis reflect a Jungian reorientation.
The distinguished historian of psychoanalysis Paul Roazen commented in Freud and his Followers that "Few responsible figures in psychoanalysis would be disturbed today if an analyst were to present views identical to those of Jung in 1913." Psychoanalysis has incorporated much of Jung's earlier work, but not his later work on archetypes and collective unconscious, though these "universal" factors have been an important influence in the development of Transpersonal psychology. and psychotherapy.
In recent years there has been considerable dialog between the Jungians and the Freudians. Much depth psychology today is eclectic, drawing on Freud, Adler, Jung and many others including Otto Rank, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Wilhelm Reich, Erik Erikson and Erich Fromm.
Psychoanalysis has traditionally been a science that studies the workings and contents of the unconscious portions of the mind. It has perhaps overlooked the important role that consciousness plays in ordinary life and in providing the levels of control and self-awareness individuals both experience and require. This is where Mind Development steps in; the insights may be obtained in advance, as the individual examines his experience from the point of view of greater mindfulness and objectivity, a highly developed intelligence and a wide, integrated knowledge base in which the Superego has been subsumed. See Ego Autonomy and Overcoming the Superego.
Cognitive stress as a result of trauma can lead to a dematuring of the individual's cognitive functioning. It is marked by regression from formal and post-formal operations thinking to more concrete operations with deficits in cognitive control and misalignment of emotion, time and reality. Attention deficit disorder is frequently found in cases of chronic exposure to violent stress. On the other hand, if individuals can demonstrate Formal Operations with an I.Q. of approximately 120-125, they have largely recovered from the effects of any trauma experienced in earlier times. Mind Development to achieve such cognitive ability must clearly then have a therapeutic effect on the underlying psychodynamics.
This paper is dedicated to Joe Power for selfless dedication to the Mind Development Association.
"The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."
—The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam