Basics of psychoanalytic perspective

There are three key subsystems within the personality of an individual: the Id, ego, and superego. Id is the source of instinctual drives of two types: (a) constructive drives, and (b) destructive drives. Therefore, life, or constructive, instincts are opposed by death, or destructive, instincts. The Id is completely selfish and demands immediate gratification of instinctual needs devoid of reference to reality or moral considerations. It operates in terms of the pleasure principle. A second key subsystem develops-the ego- that mediates between the demands of the Id and the realities of the external world. It makes use of reason and other intellectual resources to deal with the external world, as well as exercise control over Id demands. The third key subsystem- the superego- is the outgrowth of learning the taboos and moral values of society. It is cpncerned with the right and wrong, the functions of conscience, and operates through the ego system to inhibit desires that are considered wrong or immoral. The interplay among these subsystems of the Id, ego, and superego is of crucial significance in determining behaviour. Often inner conflicts arise as three subsystems strive for different goals. These are called intrapsychic conflicts if unresolved, lead to abnormal behaviour or mental disorder.

According to Freud, the concept of anxiety is prominent and people can suffer from three types of anxiety: (a) reality anxiety due to dangers or threats in the external world; (b) neurotic anxiety, caused by Id’s impulses threatening to remove ego controls, punishable.(c) moral anxiety, arising from a real or contemplated action that is in conflict with the individual’s superego and, thus, arouses feelings of guilt. Anxiety enables the individual to undertake corrective action. It is thought that ego can cope with the anxiety by rational measures, if insufficient, however, ego resorts to irrational protective measures, such as, rationalization, referred to as “ego-defense mechanisms”. It is a distorted view of reality because of the ‘irrational protective measures’ as the individual is not capable to deal directly with the problem.Therefore, an undesirable “schism”- between actual reality and the individual’s perception of it- is created. The main emphasis in the psychoanalytic perspective is laid on the unconscious.Freud states that the conscious part of the mind represents a relatively small area while the “unconscious part” is the much larger portion. In the depths of the unconscious are unmet needs, hurtful memories, and experiences that have been repressed, besides, half-finished grief-thrown out of the conscious.The individual is unaware of such “unconscious material” but it finds outlet in fantasies and dreams when ego controls are lowered for a short span of time.If it is not brought to awareness and integrated into the “ego structure” it, invariably, leads to irrational and maladaptive behaviours.

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