Psychoanalytic Perspective




Part 1

Part 2

Part 3



Who hasn't heard of Sigmund Freud? So many expressions from our daily life come from Freud's theories of psychoanalysis - oral fixation, projection, and anal personality to name only a few. Have you ever wondered what kind of person comes up with such a unique theory of personality? There are many interesting stories about Freud and the personal experiences that affected his theory development. It has always been my impression that personality theories often reflect the personal experiences of the theorist. In fact this would make a good question for Part 3 of this activity! (hint, hint)

The psychoanalytic perspective suggests that there is a structure of the mind that includes the id, the superego and the ego. These structures struggle for control of the energy of the psyche. The id attempts to have basic pleasure-seeking instincts satisfied and ego works to prevent the id from expressing itself inappropriately. The superego which is similar to a conscience takes this job one step further by attempting to enforce societal, religious and/or parental values about right and wrong. Sometimes, the drives of the id slip out (the infamous Freudian slip) and are evidenced by slips of the tongue and dreams.

Psychoanalytic theory is sometimes criticized due to the difficulty in studying some of its premises scientifically. Yet many of the insights from psychoanalysis have aided in our understanding of personality. One powerful contribution of psychoanalysis is defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are our psyches way of assisting us in dealing with anxiety. Anna Freud, Sigi's daughter and an excellent psychoanalyst, greatly advanced Freud's theory of defense mechanisms in her book, in her 1936 book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense.


Go to the Who is Sigmund Freud web and read through the description of his home and its furnishings so that you can answer the question below. Also, locate information online that describes the defense mechanisms and review them.

Answer the following questions:

  1. After you review the Who is Sigmund Freud web, what role do you feel the collection of ancient antiquities played in his theory development?

  2. Pick 3 defense mechanisms you feel you use in your daily life and give a brief example of how you believe you use them?

If you are finished with this component, you may proceed to the Behaviorist Perspective.