Freud and psychoanalysis

4/27/17

Freud and psychoanalysis

Freud_notes.jpg

I didn’t want to continue taking notes on paper because I worry it’ll be harder for you to read the content. Taking notes on my computer while I’m reading is also too difficult, so I borrowed my dad’s mini iPad to write down thoughts during my reading. We’ll see how it works out.

I remember thinking yesterday, as I took these notes, about how these psychology concepts applied to me. When younger, I think I used to be more dominated by the id. That really makes sense, considering how, during adolescence, connections strengthen between the frontal lobes and the limbic system. The limbic system is the emotional part of our brains, whereas the frontal lobes are rational and are responsible for our higher-level thinking. The frontal lobes have more control over the limbic system thanks to this, which means that we have more control over our emotions.

 

This video brings back some old memories. I remember when I was thing a lot about the fascinating thought that a person could have 2 consciousnesses in their head. If this interests you, search up “split brain.” See, the narrator of the video mentioned the corpus callosum, which connects the brain’s two hemispheres. Epilepsy used to be treated by severing the connection, by cutting the corpus callosum in half and thus cutting off communication between both hemispheres. They kept operating independently, separately conscious.

Anyway, I think that for some time (I wasn’t liberated from myself until recently) I was dominated by the superego.

“Someone with an exceptionally strong superego may be virtuous yet, ironically, guilt-ridden” as I was every night. I was striving for perfection and I was very disappointed because I couldn’t reach it. Now I think I’m dominated by the ego, which is perfect. I understand the superego’s ideals, and I understand the id’s wishes (remember how I was talking yesterday about drives/motives?)–but now I operate on the reality principle, as the ego does.

The superego operates on ideals, the id on the pleasure principle, but now I recognize reality and seek a balance. I understand I can’t be perfect. Awkwardness is a reality, and though my superego is never satisfied by anything I do, I understand now that my superego never can be. That understanding allows me to actually try things, because I know I may fail and that’s there isn’t anything I can do about that. I try not to make mistakes but I’m just human, and I understand that now. That’s why I keep writing on this blog–because if I waited until I was comfortable, until I was perfect, I would never write at all. Sometimes there are things I tell you which I regret, and I always understand that sharing yourself is exposing yourself to criticism. Even Freud received loads of criticism for his work. While I don’t agree with everything he thought, I think he was important and had great potential, and I’m glad he shared. Charles Darwin was very afraid of criticism, and put off publishing his theory of evolution for a long time. He was pushed to publish when someone else began figuring the same thing out. Darwin had a lot of evidence at the time.

Totally irrelevant but awesome: https://youtu.be/ppyzZYNROV8

Maybe you won’t appreciate it much if you don’t watch the show, though (Steven Universe). You can’t love characters you don’t know, and without love things are less beautiful.

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Freud theorized there were 5 psychosexual stages. Talking about this personally bothers me, but I do see the sense in what he thought and that’s something to focus on: the sense and system of his theory, how different ideas are connected. Here’s a chart:

Freuds_5_psychosexual_stages.jpg

What I think is interesting is that according to Freud, when straight children realize they can’t beat their same-sex parent, they try to be like them, and this includes copying their values. The superego holds our ideals, our views of how things should be, and when children copy their parent’s views of how things should be, their own superego is developed. I guess I haven’t appreciated Freud that much in the past, but now I realize more deeply that he was a great thinker.

I don’t know whether Freud was right or not. I’d like to think sexuality doesn’t matter that much to us humans, but I realize we’re still animals. We can’t separate ourselves from who we are. Some people choose to deny human nature, not accepting evolution, for instance. Some things about us are very disappointing to me. But I won’t close myself to the truth because of that.

Freud did all this thinking attempting to find explanations for symptoms he saw in his patients which he couldn’t explain using traditional methods. He searched for psychological causes for the symptoms.

Just a sec. You know how I’m studying for my AP psychology exam which is why I’m rereading all this? I’ve read all this before–yet I had a different motivation before. Before, just like right now, I read it partly because I had to, but whereas before I also read it to learn and remember (not enjoy it), this time I’m reading it to enjoy it. This time around, I understand concepts better, remember more things, and connect ideas better. And that wasn’t even my intention. Something to note, as I may find it useful in the future to be reminded of this.

Anyway, Freud thought conflicts during the psychosexual stages could cause conflicts in the future. For example, someone who had been deprived of oral gratification during the oral stage might be fixed on that stage as an adult, seeking pleasure orally (e.g. by smoking or overeating). Being fixed on a stage is called fixation. Freud thought sexuality was very important to personality. And I wonder about the truth of that.

I can certainly see the impact of our gender, sexuality, and romantic orientation on our personalities. I can see gender differences, so pronounced, just because of gender… femininity/masculinity certainly impacts people’s self-expression…

And of course, why wouldn’t sex and romance–related to reproduction–be a big deal to us? If we were all asexual, we would have a lower chance of passing on our genes. The reason I’m here is because my ancestors passed on their genes through reproduction.

“Anxiety, said Freud, is the price we pay for civilization. As members of social groups, we must control our sexual and aggressive impulses, not act them out. But sometimes the ego fears losing control of this inner war between the demands of the id and the superego, and the result is… anxiety…”

This made me pause. I do understand that. Sometimes I feel a bit anxious about whether my ego will be able to maintain the balance. My superego demands I stay in STEM, and desires I not turn to art too much. I guess what I’m afraid of is returning to the land of fantasy, creativity, and art, and losing too much control over my emotions. I worry that the more artistic I become, the more emotional I will become, and the more power my id will have over me. I worry about my impulses being unchecked, because I don’t want to be like other teens who get addicted to social media or games… I don’t want my id to make me value instant gratification over long-term rewards. I don’t want to live in the present that much, where my willpower begins to wane… because what about my homework? What about being responsible? It’ll be more difficult. That’s why I feel a bit of anxiety every day, because I worry I will slowly shift to allow my id more and more, until it has the upper hand, like it used to when I was a child, like it does in some adults.

This morning I was dreaming of animation. I think it would be really cool to learn to do that, but there are only so many hours in the day and I must choose what I will do each day. I was thinking about it, but I can’t help but worry a little bit. I’m afraid of satiating my emotions too much because I worry about making them stronger and losing control. So I try to maintain a balance (which is where I do a lot of unemotional activities and just have a little bit of emotional gratification each day. I’m a very happy person, not to worry!).

Freud thought that to battle this anxiety, the ego unconsciously distorted reality. The 6 defense mechanisms mentioned by the text I’m reading (Psychology, eighth edition in modules by David. G. Myers) are:

– Repression

– Regression

– Reaction formation

– Projection

– Rationalization

– Displacement

“Repression banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts and feelings from consciousness” meaning that, according to Freud, they were either in the unconscious or preconscious. Freud viewed the mind as an iceberg, with a tiny bit of ice sticking out of the water, and most of it under the water. The part under the water was the unconscious. The part above the water was the conscious, and the part between conscious and the unconscious (a fine line, the surface of the water) was the preconscious. The preconscious contained unconscious thoughts, feelings, and memories which could still be accessed by the person. Freud really studied his patients’ dreams because he thought that dreams would allow him a glimpse into their unconscious. He thought the manifest content (what the dreamer dreamt) was a censored expression of the dream’s latent content (the unconscious material behind the dream).

He also used free association to try to better understand the patients’ background and unconscious mind. He thought that in the unconscious there might be causes for the symptoms they were showing. Free association was where his patients said whatever came to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing. I don’t know if I personally would have been able to do that. However, his patients’ setting helped–they laid comfortably on his famous couch, stacked high with pillows, and faced away from him.

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I would write more, but unfortunately I have too much homework and too many projects. I will get back to you on this whenever I have time. Thanks for reading!

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