Compare and contrast the theories of Adler & Jung


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Psychodynamic Theories C h a p t e r 2 Freud

Psychoanalysis 16

C h a p t e r 3 Adler Individual Psychology 64

C h a p t e r 4 Jung Analytical Psychology 97

C h a p t e r 5 Klein Object Relations Theory 135

C h a p t e r 6 Horney Psychoanalytic Social Theory 162

C h a p t e r 7 Fromm Humanistic Psychoanalysis 186

C h a p t e r 8 Sullivan Interpersonal Theory 212

C h a p t e r 9 Erikson Post-Freudian Theory 242



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Freud: Psychoanalysis

B Overview of Psychoanalytic Theory B Biography of Sigmund Freud B Levels of Mental Life




B Provinces of the Mind The Id

The Ego

The Superego

B Dynamics of Personality Drives




B Defense Mechanisms Repression

Reaction Formation







B Stages of Development Infantile Period

Oral Phase

Anal Phase

Phallic Phase

Male Oedipus Complex

Female Oedipus Complex

Latency Period


Genital Period


B Applications of Psychoanalytic Theory Freud’s Early Therapeutic Technique

Freud’s Later Therapeutic Technique

Dream Analysis

Freudian Slips

B Related Research Unconscious Mental Processing

Pleasure and the Id: Inhibition and the Ego

Repression, Inhibition, and Defense Mechanisms

Research on Dreams

B Critique of Freud Did Freud Understand Women?

Was Freud a Scientist?

B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts

C H A P T E R 2


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From ancient history to the present time, people have searched for some magicpanacea or potion to lessen pain or to enhance performance. One such search was conducted by a young, ambitious physician who came to believe that he had dis- covered a drug that had all sorts of wonderful properties. Hearing that the drug had been used successfully to energize soldiers suffering from near exhaustion, this physician decided to try it on patients, colleagues, and friends. If the drug worked as well as he expected, he might gain the fame to which he aspired.

After learning of the drug’s successful use in heart disease, nervous exhaus- tion, addiction to alcohol and morphine, and several other psychological and physi- ological problems, the doctor decided to try the drug on himself. He was quite pleased with the results. To him, the drug had a pleasant aroma and an unusual ef- fect on the lips and mouth. More importantly, however, was the drug’s therapeutic ef- fect on his serious depression. In a letter to his fiancée whom he had not seen in a year, he reported that during his last severe depression, he had taken small quantities of the drug with marvelous results. He wrote that the next time he saw her he would be like a wild man, feeling the effects of the drug. He also told his fiancée that he would give her small amounts of the drug, ostensibly to make her strong and to help her gain weight.

The young doctor wrote a pamphlet extolling the benefits of the drug, but he had not yet completed the necessary experiments on the drug’s value as an analgesic. Impatient to be near his fiancée, he delayed completion of his experiments and went off to see her. During that visit, a colleague—and not he—completed the experi- ments, published the results, and gained the recognition the young doctor had hoped for himself.

These events took place in 1884; the drug was cocaine; the young doctor was Sigmund Freud.

Overview of Psychoanalytic Theory Freud, of course, was fortunate that his name did not become indelibly tied to co- caine. Instead, his name has become associated with psychoanalysis, the most fa- mous of all personality theories.

What makes Freud’s theory so interesting? First, the twin cornerstones of psy- choanalysis, sex and aggression, are two subjects of continuing popularity. Second, the theory was spread beyond its Viennese origins by an ardent and dedicated group of followers, many of whom romanticized Freud as a nearly mythological and lonely hero. Third, Freud’s brilliant command of language enabled him to present his theo- ries in a stimulating and exciting manner.

Freud’s understanding of human personality was based on his experiences with patients, his analysis of his own dreams, and his vast readings in the various sciences and humanities. These experiences provided the basic data for the evolution of his theories. To him, theory followed observation, and his concept of personality under- went constant revisions during the last 50 years of his life. Evolutionary though it was, Freud insisted that psychoanalysis could not be subjected to eclecticism, and disciples who deviated from his basic ideas soon found themselves personally and professionally ostracized by Freud.

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Although Freud regarded himself primarily as a scientist, his definition of sci- ence would be somewhat different from that held by most psychologists today. Freud relied more on deductive reasoning than on rigorous research methods, and he made observations subjectively and on a relatively small sample of patients, most of whom were from the upper-middle and upper classes. He did not quantify his data, nor did he make observations under controlled conditions. He utilized the case study ap- proach almost exclusively, typically formulating hypotheses after the facts of the case were known.

Biography of Sigmund Freud Sigismund (Sigmund) Freud was born either on March 6 or May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. (Scholars disagree on his birth date—the first date was but 8 months after the marriage of his parents.) Freud was the firstborn child of Jacob and Amalie Nathanson Freud, although his fa- ther had two grown sons, Emanuel and Philipp, from a previous marriage. Jacob and Amalie Freud had seven other children within 10 years, but Sigmund remained the favorite of his young, indulgent mother, which may have partially contributed to his lifelong self-confidence (E. Jones, 1953). A scholarly, serious-minded youth, Freud did not have a close friendship with any of his younger siblings. He did, however, enjoy a warm, indulgent relationship with his mother, leading him in later years to observe that the mother/son relationship was the most perfect, the most free from ambivalence of all human relationships (Freud, 1933/1964).

When Sigmund was three, the two Freud families left Freiberg. Emanuel’s family and Philipp moved to England, and the Jacob Freud family moved first to Leipzig and then to Vienna. The Austrian capital remained Sigmund Freud’s home for nearly 80 years, until 1938 when the Nazi invasion forced him to emigrate to London, where he died on September 23, 1939.

When Freud was about a year and a half old, his mother gave birth to a second son, Julius, an event that was to have a significant impact on Freud’s psychic development. Sigmund was filled with hostility toward his younger brother and harbored an unconscious wish for his death. When Julius died at 6 months of age, Sigmund was left with feelings of guilt at having caused his brother’s death. When Freud reached middle age, he began to understand that his wish did not actually cause his brother’s death and that children often have a death wish for a younger sibling. This discovery purged Freud of the guilt he had carried into adulthood and, by his own analysis, contributed to his later psychic development (Freud, 1900/1953).

Freud was drawn into medicine, not because he loved medical practice, but be- cause he was intensely curious about human nature (Ellenberger, 1970). He entered the University of Vienna Medical School with no intention of practicing medicine. Instead, he preferred teaching and doing research in physiology, which he continued even after he graduated from the university’s Physiological Institute.

Freud might have continued this work indefinitely had it not been for two fac- tors. First, he believed (probably with some justification) that, as a Jew, his opportu- nities for academic advancement would be limited. Second, his father, who helped finance his medical school expense, became less able to provide monetary aid. Re-

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luctantly, Freud turned from his laboratory to the practice of medicine. He worked for 3 years in the General Hospital of Vienna, becoming familiar with the practice of various branches of medicine, including psychiatry and nervous diseases (Freud, 1925/1959).

In 1885, he received a traveling grant from the University of Vienna and de- cided to study in Paris with the famous French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. He spent 4 months with Charcot, from whom he learned the hypnotic technique for treating hysteria, a disorder typically characterized by paralysis or the improper functioning of certain parts of the body. Through hypnosis, Freud became convinced of a psychogenic and sexual origin of hysterical symptoms.

While still a medical student, Freud developed a close professional association and a personal friendship with Josef Breuer, a well-known Viennese physician 14 years older than Freud and a man of considerable scientific reputation (Ferris, 1997). Breuer taught Freud about catharsis, the process of removing hysterical symptoms through “talking them out.” While using catharsis, Freud gradually and laboriously discovered the free association technique, which soon replaced hypnosis as his prin- cipal therapeutic technique.

From as early as adolescence, Freud literally dreamed of making a monumen- tal discovery and achieving fame (Newton, 1995). On several occasions during the 1880s and 1890s he believed he was on the verge of such a discovery. His first op- portunity to gain recognition came in 1884–1885 and involved his experiments with cocaine, which we discussed in the opening vignette.

Freud’s second opportunity for achieving some measure of fame came in 1886 after he returned from Paris, where he had learned about male hysteria from Char- cot. He assumed that this knowledge would gain him respect and recognition from the Imperial Society of Physicians of Vienna, whom he mistakenly believed would be impressed by the young Dr. Freud’s knowledge of male hysteria. Early physicians

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Sigmund Freud with his daughter, Anna, who was a psychoanalyst in her own right.

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had believed that hysteria was strictly a female disorder because the very word had the same origins as uterus and was the result of a “wandering womb,” with the uterus traveling throughout women’s bodies and causing various parts to malfunction. How- ever, by 1886, when Freud presented a paper on male hysteria to the Society, most physicians present were already familiar with the illness and knew that it could also be a male disorder. Because originality was expected and because Freud’s paper was a rehash of what was already known, the Viennese physicians did not respond well to the presentation. Also, Freud’s constant praise of Charcot, a Frenchman, cooled the Viennese physicians to his talk. Unfortunately, in his autobiographical study, Freud (1925/1959) told a very different story, claiming that his lecture was not well received because members of the learned society could not fathom the concept of male hysteria. Freud’s account of this incident, now known to be in error, was nev- ertheless perpetuated for years, and as Sulloway (1992) argued, it is but one of many fictions created by Freud and his followers to mythologize psychoanalysis and to make a lonely hero of its founder.

Disappointed in his attempts to gain fame and afflicted with feelings (both jus- tified and otherwise) of professional opposition due to his defense of cocaine and his belief in the sexual origins of neuroses, Freud felt the need to join with a more re- spected colleague. He turned to Breuer, with whom he had worked while still a med- ical student and with whom he enjoyed a continuing personal and professional rela- tionship. Breuer had discussed in detail with Freud the case of Anna O, a young woman Freud had never met, but whom Breuer had spent many hours treating for hysteria several years earlier. Because of his rebuff by the Imperial Society of Physi- cians and his desire to establish a reputation for himself, Freud urged Breuer to col- laborate with him in publishing an account of Anna O and several other cases of hys- teria. Breuer, however, was not as eager as the younger and more revolutionary Freud to publish a full treatise on hysteria built on only a few case studies. He also could not accept Freud’s notion that childhood sexual experiences were the source of adult hysteria. Finally, and with some reluctance, Breuer agreed to publish with Freud Studies on Hysteria (Breuer & Freud, 1895/1955). In this book, Freud introduced the term “psychical analysis,” and during the following year, he began calling his ap- proach “psycho-analysis.”

At about the time Studies on Hysteria was published, Freud and Breuer had a professional disagreement and became estranged personally. Freud then turned to his friend Wilhelm Fliess, a Berlin physician who served as a sounding board for Freud’s newly developing ideas. Freud’s letters to Fliess (Freud, 1985) constitute a firsthand account of the beginnings of psychoanalysis and reveal the embryonic stage of Freudian theory. Freud and Fliess had become friends in 1887, but their relationship became more intimate following Freud’s break with Breuer.

During the late 1890s, Freud suffered both professional isolation and personal crises. He had begun to analyze his own dreams, and after the death of his father in 1896, he initiated the practice of analyzing himself daily. Although his self-analysis was a lifetime labor, it was especially difficult for him during the late 1890s. During this period, Freud regarded himself as his own best patient. In August of 1897, he wrote to Fliess, “the chief patient I am preoccupied with is myself. . . . The analysis is more difficult than any other. It is, in fact what paralyzes my psychic strength” (Freud, 1985, p. 261).

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A second personal crisis was his realization that he was now middle-aged and had yet to achieve the fame he so passionately desired. During this time he had suf- fered yet another disappointment in his attempt to make a major scientific contribu- tion. Again he believed himself to be on the brink of an important breakthrough with his “discovery” that neuroses have their etiology in a child’s seduction by a parent. Freud likened this finding to the discovery of the source of the Nile. However, in 1897 he abandoned the seduction theory and once again had to postpone the discov- ery that would propel him to greatness.

Why did Freud abandon his once-treasured seduction theory? In a letter dated September 21, 1897, to Wilhelm Fliess, he gave four reasons why he could no longer believe in his seduction theory. First, he said, the seduction theory had not enabled him to successfully treat even a single patient. Second, a great number of fathers, in- cluding his own, would have to be accused of sexual perversion because hysteria was quite common even among Freud’s siblings. Third, Freud believed that the uncon- scious mind could probably not distinguish reality from fiction, a belief that later evolved into the Oedipus complex. And fourth, he found that the unconscious mem- ories of advanced psychotic patients almost never revealed early childhood sexual experiences (Freud, 1985). After abandoning his seduction theory and with no Oedi- pus complex to replace it, Freud sank even more deeply into his midlife crisis.

Freud’s official biographer, Ernest Jones (1953, 1955, 1957), believed that Freud suffered from a severe psychoneurosis during the late 1890s, although Max Schur (1972), Freud’s personal physician during the final decade of his life, con- tended that his illness was due to a cardiac lesion, aggravated by addiction to nico- tine. Peter Gay (1988) suggested that during the time immediately after his father’s death, Freud “relived his oedipal conflicts with peculiar ferocity” (p. 141). But Henri Ellenberger (1970) described this period in Freud’s life as a time of “creative illness,” a condition characterized by depression, neurosis, psychosomatic ailments, and an intense preoccupation with some form of creative activity. In any event, at midlife, Freud was suffering from self-doubts, depression, and an obsession with his own death.

Despite these difficulties, Freud completed his greatest work, Interpretation of Dreams (1900/1953), during this period. This book, finished in 1899, was an out- growth of his self-analysis, much of which he had revealed to his friend Wilhelm Fliess. The book contained many of Freud’s own dreams, some disguised behind fic- titious names.

Almost immediately after the publication of Interpretation of Dreams, his friendship with Fliess began to cool, eventually to rupture in 1903. This breakup par- alleled Freud’s earlier estrangement from Breuer, which took place almost immedi- ately after they had published Studies on Hysteria together. It was also a harbinger of his breaks with Alfred Adler, Carl Jung, and several other close associates. Why did Freud have difficulties with so many former friends? Freud himself answered this question, stating that “it is not the scientific differences that are so important; it is usually some other kind of animosity, jealousy or revenge, that gives the impulse to enmity. The scientific differences come later” (Wortis, 1954, p. 163).

Although Interpretation of Dreams did not create the instant international stir Freud had hoped, it eventually gained for him the fame and recognition he had sought. In the 5-year period following its publication, Freud, now filled with renewed

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self-confidence, wrote several important works that helped solidify the foundation of psychoanalysis, including On Dreams (1901/1953), written because Interpretation of Dreams had failed to capture much interest; Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901/1960), which introduced the world to Freudian slips; Three Essays on the The- ory of Sexuality (1905/1953b), which established sex as the cornerstone of psycho- analysis; and Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905/1960), which pro- posed that jokes, like dreams and Freudian slips, have an unconscious meaning. These publications helped Freud attain some local prominence in scientific and med- ical circles.

In 1902, Freud invited a small group of somewhat younger Viennese physi- cians to meet in his home to discuss psychological issues. Then, in the fall of that year, these five men—Freud, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Stekel, Max Kahane, and Rudolf Reitler—formed the Wednesday Psychological Society, with Freud as discussion leader. In 1908, this organization adopted a more formal name—the Vienna Psycho- analytic Society.

In 1910, Freud and his followers founded the International Psychoanalytic As- sociation with Carl Jung of Zürich as president. Freud was attracted to Jung because of his keen intellect and also because he was neither Jewish nor Viennese. Between 1902 and 1906, all 17 of Freud’s disciples had been Jewish (Kurzweil, 1989), and Freud was interested in giving psychoanalysis a more cosmopolitan flavor. Although Jung was a welcome addition to the Freudian circle and had been designated as the “Crown Prince” and “the man of the future,” he, like Adler and Stekel before him, eventually quarreled bitterly with Freud and left the psychoanalytic movement. The seeds of disagreement between Jung and Freud were probably sown when the two men, along with Sandor Ferenczi, traveled to the United States in 1909 to deliver a series of lectures at Clark University near Boston. To pass the time during their trav- els, Freud and Jung interpreted each other’s dreams, a potentially explosive practice that eventually led to the end of their relationship in 1913 (McGuire, 1974).

The years of World War I were difficult for Freud. He was cut off from com- munication with his faithful followers, his psychoanalytic practice dwindled, his home was sometimes without heat, and he and his family had little food. After the war, despite advancing years and pain suffered from 33 operations for cancer of the mouth, he made important revisions in his theory. The most significant of these were the elevation of aggression to a level equal to that of the sexual drive, the inclusion of repression as one of the defenses of the ego; and his attempt to clarify the female Oedipus complex, which he was never able to completely accomplish.

What personal qualities did Freud possess? A more complete insight into his personality can be found in Breger (2000), Clark (1980), Ellenberger (1970), Ferris (1997), Gay (1988), Handlbauer (1998), Isbister (1985), E. Jones (1953, 1955, 1957), Newton (1995), Noland (1999), Roazen (1993, 1995, 2001), Silverstein (2003), Sulloway (1992), Vitz (1988), and dozens of other books on Freud’s life. Above all, Freud was a sensitive, passionate person who had the capacity for inti- mate, almost secretive friendships. Most of these deeply emotional relationships came to an unhappy end, and Freud often felt persecuted by his former friends and regarded them as enemies. He seemed to have needed both types of relationship. In Interpretation of Dreams, Freud both explained and predicted this succession of in- terpersonal ruptures: “My emotional life has always insisted that I should have an in-

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timate friend and a hated enemy. I have always been able to provide myself afresh with both” (Freud, 1900/1953, p. 483). Until he was well past 50, all these relation- ships were with men. Interestingly, Freud, the man who seemed to be constantly thinking of sex, had a very infrequent sex life himself. After Anna, his youngest child was born in 1895, Freud, not yet 40 years old, had no sexual intercourse for several years. Much of his sparse sexual life stemmed from his belief that use of a condom, coitus interruptus, as well as masturbation were unhealthy sexual practices. Because Freud wanted no more children after Anna was born, sexual abstinence was his only alternative (Breger, 2000; Freud, 1985).

In addition to balancing his emotional life between an intimate friend and a hated enemy, Freud possessed an outstanding talent as a writer, a gift that helped him become a leading contributor to 20th-century thought. He was a master of the Ger- man tongue and knew several other languages. Although he never won the coveted Nobel prize for science, he was awarded the Goethe prize for literature in 1930.

Freud also possessed intense intellectual curiosity; unusual moral courage (demonstrated by his daily self-analysis); extremely ambivalent feelings toward his father and other father figures; a tendency to hold grudges disproportionate to the al- leged offense; a burning ambition, especially during his earlier years; strong feelings of isolation even while surrounded by many followers; and an intense and somewhat irrational dislike of America and Americans, an attitude that became more intense after his trip to the United States in 1909.

Why did Freud have such a disdain for Americans? Perhaps the most impor- tant reason is that he rightly believed Americans would trivialize psychoanalysis by trying to make it popular. In addition, he had several experiences during his trip to the United States that were foreign to a proper bourgeois Viennese gentleman. Even before he embarked on the George Washington, he saw his name misspelled as “Freund” on the passenger list (Ferris, 1997). A number of other events—some of which seem almost humorous—made Freud’s visit more unpleasant than it might have been. First, Freud experienced chronic indigestion and diarrhea throughout his visit, probably because the drinking water did not agree with him. In addition, he found it both peculiar and problematic that American cities did not provide public restrooms on street corners, and with his chronic indigestion he was frequently in search of a public lavatory. Also, several Americans addressed him as Doc or Sigmund while challenging him to defend his theories, and one person tried—unsuccessfully, of course—to prevent him from smoking a cigar in a nonsmoking area. Moreover, when Freud, Ferenczi, and Jung went to a private camp in western Massachusetts, they were greeted by a barrage of flags of Imperial Germany, despite the fact that none of them was German and each had reasons to dislike Germany. Also at camp, Freud, along with the others, sat on the ground while the host grilled steaks over charcoal, a custom Freud deemed to be both savage and uncouth (Roazen, 1993).

Levels of Mental Life Freud’s greatest contribution to personality theory is his exploration of the uncon- scious and his insistence that people are motivated primarily by drives of which they have little or no awareness. To Freud, mental life is divided into two levels, the un- conscious and the conscious. The unconscious, in turn, has two different levels, the

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unconscious proper and the preconscious. In Freudian psychology the three levels of mental life are used to designate both a process and a location. The existence as a specific location, of course, is merely hypothetical and has no real existence within the body. Yet, Freud spoke of the unconscious as well as unconscious processes.

Unconscious The unconscious contains all those drives, urges, or instincts that are beyond our awareness but that nevertheless motivate most of our words, feelings, and actions. Although we may be conscious of our overt behaviors, we often are not aware of the mental processes that lie behind them. For example, a man may know that he is at- tracted to a woman but may not fully understand all the reasons for the attraction, some of which may even seem irrational.

Because the unconscious is not available to the conscious mind, how can one know if it really exists? Freud felt that its existence could be proved only indirectly. To him the unconscious is the explanation for the meaning behind dreams, slips of the tongue, and certain kinds of forgetting, called repression. Dreams serve as a par- ticularly rich source of unconscious material. For example, Freud believed that child- hood experiences can appear in adult dreams even though the dreamer has no con- scious recollection of these experiences.

Unconscious processes often enter into consciousness but only after being dis- guised or distorted enough to elude censorship. Freud (1917/1963) used the analogy of a guardian or censor blocking the passage between the unconscious and precon- scious and preventing undesirable anxiety-producing memories from entering awareness. To enter the conscious level of the mind, these unconscious images first must be sufficiently disguised to slip past the primary censor, and then they must elude a final censor that watches the passageway between the preconscious and the conscious. By the time these memories enter our conscious mind, we no longer rec- ognize them for what they are; instead, we see them as relatively pleasant, non- threatening experiences. In most cases, these images have strong sexual or aggres- sive motifs, because childhood sexual and aggressive behaviors are frequently punished or suppressed. Punishment and suppression often create feelings of anxi- ety, and the anxiety in turn stimulates repression, that is, the forcing of unwanted, anxiety-ridden experiences into the unconscious as a defense against the pain of that anxiety.

Not all unconscious processes, however, spring from repression of childhood events. Freud believed that a portion of our unconscious originates from the experi- ences of our early ancestors that have been passed on to us through hundreds of gen- erations of repetition. He called these inherited unconscious images our phyloge- netic endowment (Freud, 1917/1963, 1933/1964). Freud’s notion of phylogenetic endowment is quite similar to Carl Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious (see Chap- ter 4). However, one important difference exists between the two concepts. Whereas Jung placed primary emphasis on the collective unconscious, Freud relied on the no- tion of inherited dispositions only as a last resort. That is, when explanations built on individual experiences were not adequate, Freud would turn to the idea of collec- tively inherited experiences to fill in the gaps left by individual experiences. Later we will see that Freud used the concept of phylogenetic endowment to explain several important concepts, such as the Oedipus complex and castration anxiety.

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Unconscious drives may appear in consciousness, but only after undergoing certain transformations. A person may express either erotic or hostile urges, for ex- ample, by teasing or joking with another person. The original drive (sex or aggres- sion) is thus disguised and hidden from the conscious minds of both persons. The un- conscious of the first person, however, has directly influenced the unconscious of the second. Both people gain some satisfaction of either sexual or aggressive urges, but neither is conscious of the underlying motive behind the teasing or joking. Thus the unconscious mind of one person can communicate with the unconscious of another without either person being aware of the process.

Unconscious, of course, does not mean inactive or dormant. Forces in the un- conscious constantly strive to become conscious, and many of them succeed, al- though they may no longer appear in their original form. Unconscious ideas can and do motivate people. For example, a son’s hostility toward his father may masquerade itself in the form of ostentatious affection. In an undisguised form, the hostility would create too much anxiety for the son. His unconscious mind, therefore, moti- vates him to express hostility indirectly through an exaggerated show of love and flattery. Because the disguise must successfully deceive the person, it often takes an opposite form from the original feelings, but it is almost always overblown and os- tentatious. (This mechanism, called a reaction formation, is discussed later in the section titled Defense Mechanisms.)

Preconscious The preconscious level of the mind contains all those elements that are not conscious but can become conscious either quite readily or with some difficulty (Freud, 1933/1964).

The contents of the preconscious come from two sources, the first of which is conscious perception. What a person perceives is conscious for only a transitory pe- riod; it quickly passes into the preconscious when the focus of attention shifts to an- other idea. These ideas that alternate easily between being conscious and precon- scious are largely free from anxiety and in reality are much more similar to the conscious images than to unconscious urges.

The second source of preconscious images is the unconscious. Freud believed that ideas can slip past the vigilant censor and enter into the preconscious in a dis- guised form. Some of these images never become conscious because if we recog- nized them as derivatives of the unconscious, we would experience increased levels of anxiety, which would activate the final censor to repress these anxiety-loaded im- ages, forcing them back into the unconscious. Other images from the unconscious do gain admission to consciousness, but only because their true nature is cleverly disguised through the dream process, a slip of the tongue, or an elaborate defensive measure.

Conscious Consciousness, which plays a relatively minor role in psychoanalytic theory, can be defined as those mental elements in awareness at any given point in time. It is the only level of mental life directly available to us. Ideas can reach consciousness from two different directions. The first is from the perceptual conscious system, which is

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turned toward the outer world and acts as a medium for the perception of external stimuli. In other words, what we perceive through our sense organs, if not too threat- ening, enters into consciousness (Freud, 1933/1964).

The second source of conscious elements is from within the mental structure and includes nonthreatening ideas from the preconscious as well as menacing but well-disguised images from the unconscious. As we have seen, these latter images escaped into the preconscious by cloaking themselves as harmless elements and evading the primary censor. Once in the preconscious, they avoid a final censor and come under the eye of consciousness. By the time they reach the conscious system, these images are greatly distorted and camouflaged, often taking the form of defen- sive behaviors or dream elements.

In summary, Freud (1917/1963, pp. 295–296) compared the unconscious to a large entrance hall in which many diverse, energetic, and disreputable people are milling about, crowding one another, and striving incessantly to escape to a smaller adjoining reception room. However, a watchful guard protects the threshold between

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FIGURE 2.1 Levels of Mental Life.


Reception room



Eye of consciousness

Final censorship





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the large entrance hall and the small reception room. This guard has two methods of preventing undesirables from escaping from the entrance hall—either turn them back at the door or throw out those people who earlier had clandestinely slipped into the reception room. The effect in either case is the same; the menacing, disorderly people are prevented from coming into view of an important guest who is seated at the far end of the reception room behind a screen. The meaning of the analogy is ob- vious. The people in the entrance hall represent unconscious images. The small re- ception room is the preconscious and its inhabitants represent preconscious ideas. People in the reception room (preconscious) may or may not come into view of the important guest who, of course, represents the eye of consciousness. The doorkeeper who guards the threshold between the two rooms is the primary censor that prevents unconscious images from becoming preconscious and renders preconscious images unconscious by throwing them back. The screen that guards the important guest is the final censor, and it prevents many, but not all, preconscious elements from reach- ing consciousness. The analogy is presented graphically in Figure 2.1.

Provinces of the Mind For nearly 2 decades, Freud’s only model of the mind was the topographic one we have just outlined, and his only portrayal of psychic strife was the conflict between conscious and unconscious forces. Then, during the 1920s, Freud (1923/1961a) in- troduced a three-part structural model. This division of the mind into three provinces did not supplant the topographic model, but it helped Freud explain mental images according to their functions or purposes.

To Freud, the most primitive part of the mind was das Es, or the “it,” which is almost always translated into English as id; a second division was das Ich, or the “I,” translated as ego; and a final province was das Uber-Ich, or the “over-I,” which is rendered into English as superego. These provinces or regions have no territorial ex- istence, of course, but are merely hypothetical constructs. They interact with the three levels of mental life so that the ego cuts across the various topographic levels and has conscious, preconscious, and unconscious components, whereas the super- ego is both preconscious and unconscious and the id is completely unconscious. Fig- ure 2.2 shows the relationship between the provinces of the mind and the levels of mental life.

The Id At the core of personality and completely unconscious is the psychical region called the id, a term derived from the impersonal pronoun meaning “the it,” or the not-yet- owned component of personality. The id has no contact with reality, yet it strives con- stantly to reduce tension by satisfying basic desires. Because its sole function is to seek pleasure, we say that the id serves the pleasure principle.

A newborn infant is the personification of an id unencumbered by restrictions of ego and superego. The infant seeks gratification of needs without regard for what is possible (that is, demands of the ego) or what is proper (that is, restraints of the superego). Instead, it sucks when the nipple is either present or absent and gains pleasure in either situation. Although the infant receives life-sustaining food only by

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sucking a nurturing nipple, it continues to suck because its id is not in contact with reality. The infant fails to realize that thumb-sucking behavior cannot sustain life. Because the id has no direct contact with reality, it is not altered by the passage of time or by the experiences of the person. Childhood wish impulses remain un- changed in the id for decades (Freud, 1933/1964).

Besides being unrealistic and pleasure seeking, the id is illogical and can si- multaneously entertain incompatible ideas. For example, a woman may show con- scious love for her mother while unconsciously wishing to destroy her. These op- posing desires are possible because the id has no morality; that is, it cannot make value judgments or distinguish between good and evil. However, the id is not im- moral, merely amoral. All of the id’s energy is spent for one purpose—to seek plea- sure without regard for what is proper or just (Freud, 1923/1961a, 1933/1964).

In review, the id is primitive, chaotic, inaccessible to consciousness, un- changeable, amoral, illogical, unorganized, and filled with energy received from basic drives and discharged for the satisfaction of the pleasure principle.

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FIGURE 2.2 Levels of Mental Life and Provinces of the Mind.

Eye of consciousness

Final censorship






Superego Open to

somatic influences

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As the region that houses basic drives (primary motivates), the id operates through the primary process. Because it blindly seeks to satisfy the pleasure prin- ciple, its survival is dependent on the development of a secondary process to bring it into contact with the external world. This secondary process functions through the ego.

The Ego The ego, or I, is the only region of the mind in contact with reality. It grows out of the id during infancy and becomes a person’s sole source of communication with the external world. It is governed by the reality principle, which it tries to substitute for the pleasure principle of the id. As the sole region of the mind in contact with the ex- ternal world, the ego becomes the decision-making or executive branch of personal- ity. However, because it is partly conscious, partly preconscious, and partly uncon- scious, the ego can make decisions on each of these three levels. For instance, a woman’s ego may consciously motivate her to choose excessively neat, well-tailored clothes because she feels comfortable when well dressed. At the same time, she may be only dimly (i.e., preconsciously) aware of previous experiences of being rewarded for choosing nice clothes. In addition, she may be unconsciously motivated to be ex- cessively neat and orderly due to early childhood experiences of toilet training. Thus, her decision to wear neat clothes can take place in all three levels of mental life.

When performing its cognitive and intellectual functions, the ego must take into consideration the incompatible but equally unrealistic demands of the id and the superego. In addition to these two tyrants, the ego must serve a third master—the ex- ternal world. Thus, the ego constantly tries to reconcile the blind, irrational claims of the id and the superego with the realistic demands of the external world. Finding it- self surrounded on three sides by divergent and hostile forces, the ego reacts in a pre- dictable manner—it becomes anxious. It then uses repression and other defense mechanisms to defend itself against this anxiety (Freud, 1926/1959a).

According to Freud (1933/1964), the ego becomes differentiated from the id when infants learn to distinguish themselves from the outer world. While the id re- mains unchanged, the ego continues to develop strategies for handling the id’s unre- alistic and unrelenting demands for pleasure. At times the ego can control the pow- erful, pleasure-seeking id, but at other times it loses control. In comparing the ego to the id, Freud used the analogy of a person on horseback. The rider checks and in- hibits the greater strength of the horse but is ultimately at the mercy of the animal. Similarly, the ego must check and inhibit id impulses, but it is more or less constantly at the mercy of the stronger but more poorly organized id. The ego has no strength of its own but borrows energy from the id. In spite of this dependence on the id, the ego sometimes comes close to gaining complete control, for instance, during the prime of life of a psychologically mature person.

As children begin to experience parental rewards and punishments, they learn what to do in order to gain pleasure and avoid pain. At this young age, pleasure and pain are ego functions because children have not yet developed a conscience and ego-ideal: that is, a superego. As children reach the age of 5 or 6 years, they identify with their parents and begin to learn what they should and should not do. This is the origin of the superego.

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The Superego In Freudian psychology, the superego, or above-I, represents the moral and ideal as- pects of personality and is guided by the moralistic and idealistic principles as op- posed to the pleasure principle of the id and the realistic principle of the ego. The superego grows out of the ego, and like the ego, it has no energy of its own. How- ever, the superego differs from the ego in one important respect—it has no contact with the outside world and therefore is unrealistic in its demands for perfection (Freud, 1923/1961a).

The superego has two subsystems, the conscience and the ego-ideal. Freud did not clearly distinguish between these two functions, but, in general, the conscience results from experiences with punishments for improper behavior and tells us what we should not do, whereas the ego-ideal develops from experiences with rewards for proper behavior and tells us what we should do. A primitive conscience comes into existence when a child conforms to parental standards out of fear of loss of love or approval. Later, during the Oedipal phase of development, these ideals are internal- ized through identification with the mother and father. (We discuss the Oedipus com- plex in a later section titled Stages of Development.)

A well-developed superego acts to control sexual and aggressive impulses through the process of repression. It cannot produce repressions by itself, but it can order the ego to do so. The superego watches closely over the ego, judging its actions and intentions. Guilt is the result when the ego acts—or even intends to act—con- trary to the moral standards of the superego. Feelings of inferiority arise when the ego is unable to meet the superego’s standards of perfection. Guilt, then, is a func- tion of the conscience, whereas inferiority feelings stem from the ego-ideal (Freud, 1933/1964).

The superego is not concerned with the happiness of the ego. It strives blindly and unrealistically toward perfection. It is unrealistic in the sense that it does not take

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FIGURE 2.3 The Relationship among Id, Ego, and Superego in Three Hypothetical Persons.

A pleasure-seeking person dominated by the id

A guilt-ridden or inferior- feeling person dominated by the superego

A psychologically healthy person dominated by the ego

Id Ego Superego

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into consideration the difficulties or impossibilities faced by the ego in carrying out its orders. Not all its demands, of course, are impossible to fulfill, just as not all de- mands of parents and other authority figures are impossible to fulfill. The superego, however, is like the id in that it is completely ignorant of, and unconcerned with, the practicability of its requirements.

Freud (1933/1964) pointed out that the divisions among the different regions of the mind are not sharp and well defined. The development of the three divisions varies widely in different individuals. For some people, the superego does not grow after childhood; for others, the superego may dominate the personality at the cost of guilt and inferiority feelings. For yet others, the ego and superego may take turns controlling personality, which results in extreme fluctuations of mood and alternat- ing cycles of self-confidence and self-deprecation. In the healthy individual, the id and superego are integrated into a smooth functioning ego and operate in harmony and with a minimum of conflict. Figure 2.3 shows the relationships among id, ego, and superego in three hypothetical persons. For the first person, the id dominates a weak ego and a feeble superego, preventing the ego from counterbalancing its in- cessant demands of the id and leaving the person nearly constantly striving for plea- sure regardless of what is possible or proper. The second person, with strong feelings of either guilt or inferiority and a weak ego, will experience many conflicts because the ego cannot arbitrate the strong but opposing demands of the superego and the id. The third person, with a strong ego that has incorporated many of the demands of both the id and the superego, is psychologically healthy and in control of both the pleasure principle and the moralistic principle.

Dynamics of Personality Levels of mental life and provinces of the mind refer to the structure or composition of personality; but personalities also do something. Thus, Freud postulated a dy- namic, or motivational principle, to explain the driving forces behind people’s ac- tions. To Freud, people are motivated to seek pleasure and to reduce tension and anx- iety. This motivation is derived from psychical and physical energy that springs from their basic drives.

Drives Freud used the German word Trieb to refer to a drive or a stimulus within the per- son. Freud’s official translators rendered this term as instinct, but more accurately the word should be “drive” or “impulse.” Drives operate as a constant motivational force. As an internal stimulus, drives differ from external stimuli in that they cannot be avoided through flight.

According to Freud (1933/1964), the various drives can all be grouped under two major headings: sex or Eros and aggression, distraction, or Thanatos. These drives originate in the id, but they come under the control of the ego. Each drive has its own form of psychic energy: Freud used the word libido for the sex drive, but en- ergy from the aggressive drive remains nameless.

Every basic drive is characterized by an impetus, a source, an aim, and an ob- ject. A drive’s impetus is the amount of force it exerts; its source is the region of the

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body in a state of excitation or tension; its aim is to seek pleasure by removing that excitation or reducing the tension; and its object is the person or thing that serves as the means through which the aim is satisfied (Freud, 1915/1957a).

Sex The aim of the sexual drive is pleasure, but this pleasure is not limited to genital sat- isfaction. Freud believed that the entire body is invested with libido. Besides the gen- itals, the mouth and anus are especially capable of producing sexual pleasure and are called erogenous zones. The ultimate aim of the sexual drive (reduction of sexual tension) cannot be changed, but the path by which the aim is reached can be varied. It can take either an active or a passive form, or it can be temporarily or permanently inhibited (Freud, 1915/1957a). Because the path is flexible and because sexual pleas- ure stems from organs other than the genitals, much behavior originally motivated by Eros is difficult to recognize as sexual behavior. To Freud, however, all pleasura- ble activity is traceable to the sexual drive.

The flexibility of the sexual object or person can bring about a further disguise of Eros. The erotic object can easily be transformed or displaced. Libido can be with- drawn from one person and placed in a state of free-floating tension, or it can be rein- vested in another person, including the self. For example, an infant prematurely forced to give up the nipple as a sexual object may substitute the thumb as an object of oral pleasure.

Sex can take many forms, including narcissism, love, sadism, and masochism. The latter two also possess generous components of the aggressive drive.

Infants are primarily self-centered, with their libido invested almost exclu- sively on their own ego. This condition, which is universal, is known as primary narcissism. As the ego develops, children usually give up much of their primary nar- cissism and develop a greater interest in other people. In Freud’s language, narcis- sistic libido is then transformed into object libido. During puberty, however, adoles- cents often redirect their libido back to the ego and become preoccupied with personal appearance and other self-interests. This pronounced secondary narcis- sism is not universal, but a moderate degree of self-love is common to nearly every- one (Freud, 1914/1957).

A second manifestation of Eros is love, which develops when people invest their libido on an object or person other than themselves. Children’s first sexual in- terest is the person who cares for them, generally the mother. During infancy chil- dren of either sex experience sexual love for the mother. Overt sexual love for mem- bers of one’s family, however, ordinarily is repressed, which brings a second type of love into existence. Freud called this second kind of love aim-inhibited because the original aim of reducing sexual tension is inhibited or repressed. The kind of love people feel for their siblings or parents is generally aim-inhibited.

Obviously, love and narcissism are closely interrelated. Narcissism involves love of self, whereas love is often accompanied by narcissistic tendencies, as when people love someone who serves as an ideal or model of what they would like to be.

Two other drives that are also intertwined are sadism and masochism. Sadism is the need for sexual pleasure by inflicting pain or humiliation on another person. Carried to an extreme, it is considered a sexual perversion, but in moderation, sadism is a common need and exists to some extent in all sexual relationships. It is

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perverted when the sexual aim of erotic pleasure becomes secondary to the destruc- tive aim (Freud, 1933/1964).

Masochism, like sadism, is a common need, but it becomes a perversion when Eros becomes subservient to the destructive drive. Masochists experience sexual pleasure from suffering pain and humiliation inflicted either by themselves or by oth- ers. Because masochists can provide self-inflicted pain, they do not depend on an- other person for the satisfaction of masochistic needs. In contrast, sadists must seek and find another person on whom to inflict pain or humiliation. In this respect, they are more dependent than masochists on other people.

Aggression Partially as a result of his unhappy experiences during World War I and partially as a consequence of the death of his beloved daughter Sophie, Freud (1920/1955a) wrote Beyond the Pleasure Principle, a book that elevated aggression to the level of the sexual drive. As he did with many of his other concepts, Freud set forth his ideas tentatively and with some caution. With time, however, aggression, like several other tentatively proposed concepts, became dogma.

The aim of the destructive drive, according to Freud, is to return the organism to an inorganic state. Because the ultimate inorganic condition is death, the final aim of the aggressive drive is self-destruction. As with the sexual drive, aggression is flexible and can take a number of forms, such as teasing, gossip, sarcasm, humilia- tion. humor, and the enjoyment of other people’s suffering. The aggressive tendency is present in everyone and is the explanation for wars, atrocities, and religious per- secution.

The aggressive drive also explains the need for the barriers that people have erected to check aggression. For example, commandments such as “Love thy neigh- bor as thyself ” are necessary, Freud believed, to inhibit the strong, though usually unconscious, drive to inflict injury on others. These precepts are actually reaction formations. They involve the repression of strong hostile impulses and the overt and obvious expression of the opposite tendency.

Throughout our lifetime, life and death impulses constantly struggle against one another for ascendancy, but at the same time, both must bow to the reality prin- ciple, which represents the claims of the outer world. These demands of the real world prevent a direct, covert, and unopposed fulfillment of either sex or aggression. They frequently create anxiety, which relegates many sexual and aggressive desires to the realm of the unconscious.

Anxiety Sex and aggression share the center of Freudian dynamic theory with the concept of anxiety. In defining anxiety, Freud (1933/1964) emphasized that it is a felt, affective, unpleasant state accompanied by a physical sensation that warns the person against impending danger. The unpleasantness is often vague and hard to pinpoint, but the anxiety itself is always felt.

Only the ego can produce or feel anxiety, but the id, superego, and external world each are involved in one of three kinds of anxiety—neurotic, moral, and real- istic. The ego’s dependence on the id results in neurotic anxiety; its dependence on

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the superego produces moral anxiety; and its dependence on the outer world leads to realistic anxiety.

Neurotic anxiety is defined as apprehension about an unknown danger. The feeling itself exists in the ego, but it originates from id impulses. People may expe- rience neurotic anxiety in the presence of a teacher, employer, or some other author- ity figure because they previously experienced unconscious feelings of destruction against one or both parents. During childhood, these feelings of hostility are often accompanied by fear of punishment, and this fear becomes generalized into uncon- scious neurotic anxiety.

A second type of anxiety, moral anxiety, stems from the conflict between the ego and the superego. After children establish a superego—usually by the age of 5 or 6—they may experience anxiety as an outgrowth of the conflict between realistic needs and the dictates of their superego. Moral anxiety, for example, would result from sexual temptations if a child believes that yielding to the temptation would be morally wrong. It may also result from the failure to behave consistently with what they regard as morally right, for example, failing to care for aging parents.

A third category of anxiety, realistic anxiety, is closely related to fear. It is de- fined as an unpleasant, nonspecific feeling involving a possible danger. For example, we may experience realistic anxiety while driving in heavy, fast-moving traffic in an unfamiliar city, a situation fraught with real, objective danger. However, realistic anxiety is different from fear in that it does not involve a specific fearful object. We would experience fear, for example, if our motor vehicle suddenly began sliding out of control on an icy highway.

These three types of anxiety are seldom clear-cut or easily separated. They often exist in combination, as when fear of water, a real danger, becomes dispropor- tionate to the situation and hence precipitates neurotic anxiety as well as realistic anxiety. This situation indicates that an unknown danger is connected with the ex- ternal one.

Anxiety serves as an ego-preserving mechanism because it signals us that some danger is at hand (Freud, 1933/1964). For example, an anxiety dream signals our censor of an impending danger, which allows us to better disguise the dream im- ages. Anxiety allows the constantly vigilant ego to be alert for signs of threat and danger. The signal of impending danger stimulates us to mobilize for either flight or defense.

Anxiety is also self-regulating because it precipitates repression, which in turn reduces the pain of anxiety (Freud, 1933/1964). If the ego had no recourse to defen- sive behavior, the anxiety would become intolerable. Defensive behaviors, therefore, serve a useful function by protecting the ego against the pain of anxiety.

Defense Mechanisms Freud first elaborated on the idea of defense mechanisms in 1926 (Freud, 1926/1959a), and his daughter Anna further refined and organized the concept (A. Freud, 1946). Although defense mechanisms are normal and universally used, when carried to an extreme they lead to compulsive, repetitive, and neurotic behavior. Be- cause we must expend psychic energy to establish and maintain defense mecha- nisms, the more defensive we are, the less psychic energy we have left to satisfy id

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impulses. This, of course, is precisely the ego’s purpose in establishing defense mechanisms—to avoid dealing directly with sexual and aggressive implosives and to defend itself against the anxiety that accompanies them (Freud, 1926/1959a).

The principal defense mechanisms identified by Freud include repression, re- action formation, displacement, fixation, regression, projection, introjection, and sublimation.

Repression The most basic defense mechanism, because it is involved in each of the others, is repression. Whenever the ego is threatened by undesirable id impulses, it protects it- self by repressing those impulses; that is, it forces threatening feelings into the un- conscious (Freud, 1926/1959a). In many cases the repression is then perpetuated for a lifetime. For example, a young girl may permanently repress her hostility for a younger sister because her hateful feelings create too much anxiety.

No society permits a complete and uninhibited expression of sex and aggres- sion. When children have their hostile or sexual behaviors punished or otherwise suppressed, they learn to be anxious whenever they experience these impulses. Al- though this anxiety seldom leads to a complete repression of aggressive and sexual drives, it often results in their partial repression.

What happens to these impulses after they have become unconscious? Freud (1933/1964) believed that several possibilities exist. First, the impulses may remain unchanged in the unconscious. Second, they could force their way into conscious- ness in an unaltered form, in which case they would create more anxiety than the per- son could handle, and the person would be overwhelmed with anxiety. A third and much more common fate of repressed drives is that they are expressed in displaced or disguised forms. The disguise, of course, must be clever enough to deceive the ego. Repressed drives may be disguised as physical symptoms, for example, sexual impotency in a man troubled by sexual guilt. The impotency prevents the man from having to deal with the guilt and anxiety that would result from normal enjoyable sexual activity. Repressed drives may also find an outlet in dreams, slips of the tongue, or one of the other defense mechanisms.

Reaction Formation One of the ways in which a repressed impulse may become conscious is through adopting a disguise that is directly opposite its original form. This defense mecha- nism is called a reaction formation. Reactive behavior can be identified by its ex- aggerated character and by its obsessive and compulsive form (Freud, 1926/1959a). An example of a reaction formation can be seen in a young woman who deeply re- sents and hates her mother. Because she knows that society demands affection to- ward parents, such conscious hatred for her mother would produce too much anxi- ety. To avoid painful anxiety, the young woman concentrates on the opposite impulse—love. Her “love” for her mother, however, is not genuine. It is showy, ex- aggerated, and overdone. Other people may easily see the true nature of this love, but the woman must deceive herself and cling to her reaction formation, which helps conceal the anxiety-arousing truth that she unconsciously hates her mother.

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Displacement Freud (1926/1959a) believed that reaction formations are limited to a single object; for example, people with reactive love shower affection only on the person toward whom they feel unconscious hatred. In displacement, however, people can redirect their unacceptable urges onto a variety of people or objects so that the original im- pulse is disguised or concealed. For example, a woman who is angry at her room- mate may displace her anger onto her employees, her pet cat, or a stuffed animal. She remains friendly to her roommate, but unlike the workings of a reaction formation, she does not exaggerate or overdo her friendliness.

Throughout his writings, Freud used the term “displacement” in several ways. In our discussion of the sexual drive, for example, we saw that the sexual object can be displaced or transformed onto a variety of other objects, including one’s self. Freud (1926/1959a) also used displacement to refer to the replacement of one neu- rotic symptom for another; for example, a compulsive urge to masturbate may be re- placed by compulsive hand washing. Displacement also is involved in dream forma- tion, as when the dreamer’s destructive urges toward a parent are placed onto a dog or wolf. In this event, a dream about a dog being hit by a car might reflect the dreamer’s unconscious wish to see the parent destroyed. (We discuss dream forma- tion more completely in the section on dream analysis.)

Fixation Psychical growth normally proceeds in a somewhat continuous fashion through the various stages of development. The process of psychologically growing up, however, is not without stressful and anxious moments. When the prospect of taking the next step becomes too anxiety provoking, the ego may resort to the strategy of remaining at the present, more comfortable psychological stage. Such a defense is called fixa- tion. Technically, fixation is the permanent attachment of the libido onto an earlier, more primitive stage of development (Freud, 1917/1963). Like other defense mech- anisms, fixations are universal. People who continually derive pleasure from eating, smoking, or talking may have an oral fixation, whereas those who are obsessed with neatness and orderliness may possess an anal fixation.

Regression Once the libido has passed a developmental stage, it may, during times of stress and anxiety, revert back to that earlier stage. Such a reversion is known as regression (Freud, 1917/1963). Regressions are quite common and are readily visible in chil- dren. For example, a completely weaned child may regress to demanding a bottle or nipple when a baby brother or sister is born. The attention given to the new baby poses a threat to the older child. Regressions are also frequent in older children and in adults. A common way for adults to react to anxiety-producing situations is to re- vert to earlier, safer, more secure patterns of behavior and to invest their libido onto more primitive and familiar objects. Under extreme stress one adult may adopt the fetal position, another may return home to mother, and still another may react by re- maining all day in bed, well covered from the cold and threatening world. Regressive behavior is similar to fixated behavior in that it is rigid and infantile. Regressions,

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however, are usually temporary, whereas fixations demand a more or less permanent expenditure of psychic energy.

Projection When an internal impulse provokes too much anxiety, the ego may reduce that anx- iety by attributing the unwanted impulse to an external object, usually another per- son. This is the defense mechanism of projection, which can be defined as seeing in others unacceptable feelings or tendencies that actually reside in one’s own uncon- scious (Freud, 1915/1957b). For example, a man may consistently interpret the ac- tions of older women as attempted seductions. Consciously, the thought of sexual in- tercourse with older women may be intensely repugnant to him, but buried in his unconscious is a strong erotic attraction to these women. In this example, the young man deludes himself into believing that he has no sexual feelings for older women. Although this projection erases most of his anxiety and guilt, it permits him to main- tain a sexual interest in women who remind him of his mother.

An extreme type of projection is paranoia, a mental disorder characterized by powerful delusions of jealousy and persecution. Paranoia is not an inevitable out- come of projection but simply a severe variety of it. According to Freud (1922/1955), a crucial distinction between projection and paranoia is that paranoia is always char- acterized by repressed homosexual feelings toward the persecutor. Freud believed that the persecutor is inevitably a former friend of the same sex, although sometimes people may transfer their delusions onto a person of the opposite sex. When homo- sexual impulses become too powerful, persecuted paranoiacs defend themselves by reversing these feelings and then projecting them onto their original object. For men, the transformation proceeds as follows. Instead of saying, “I love him,” the paranoid person says, “I hate him.” Because this also produces too much anxiety, he says, “He hates me.” At this point, the person has disclaimed all responsibility and can say, “I like him fine, but he’s got it in for me.” The central mechanism in all paranoia is pro- jection with accompanying delusions of jealousy and persecution.

Introjection Whereas projection involves placing an unwanted impulse onto an external object, introjection is a defense mechanism whereby people incorporate positive qualities of another person into their own ego. For example, an adolescent may introject or adopt the mannerisms, values, or lifestyle of a movie star. Such an introjection gives the adolescent an inflated sense of self-worth and keeps feelings of inferiority to a minimum. People introject characteristics that they see as valuable and that will per- mit them to feel better about themselves.

Freud (1926/1959a) saw the resolution of the Oedipus complex as the prototype of introjection. During the Oedipal period, the young child introjects the authority and values of one or both parents—an introjection that sets into motion the begin- ning of the superego. When children introject what they perceive to be their parents’ values, they are relieved from the work of evaluating and choosing their own beliefs and standards of conduct. As children advance through the latency period of devel- opment (approximately ages 6 to 12), their superego becomes more personalized;

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that is, it moves away from a rigid identification with parents. Nevertheless, people of any age can reduce the anxiety associated with feelings of inadequacy by adopt- ing or introjecting the values, beliefs, and mannerisms of other people.

Sublimation Each of these defense mechanisms serves the individual by protecting the ego from anxiety, but each is of dubious value from society’s viewpoint. According to Freud (1917/1963), one mechanism—sublimation—helps both the individual and the so- cial group. Sublimation is the repression of the genital aim of Eros by substituting a cultural or social aim. The sublimated aim is expressed most obviously in creative cultural accomplishments such as art, music, and literature, but more subtly, it is part of all human relationships and all social pursuits. Freud (1914/1953) believed that the art of Michelangelo, who found an indirect outlet for his libido in painting and sculpting, was an excellent example of sublimation. In most people, sublimations combine with direct expression of Eros and result in a kind of balance between so- cial accomplishments and personal pleasures. Most of us are capable of sublimating a part of our libido in the service of higher cultural values, while at the same time retaining sufficient amounts of the sexual drive to pursue individual erotic pleasure.

In summary, all defense mechanisms protect the ego against anxiety. They are universal in that everyone engages in defensive behavior to some degree. Each defense mechanism combines with repression, and each can be carried to the point of psychopathology. Normally, however, defense mechanisms are benefi- cial to the individual and harmless to society. In addition, one defense mechanism— sublimation—usually benefits both the individual and society.

Stages of Development Although Freud had little firsthand experience with children (including his own), his developmental theory is almost exclusively a discussion of early childhood. To Freud, the first 4 or 5 years of life, or the infantile stage, are the most crucial for per- sonality formation. This stage is followed by a 6- or 7-year period of latency during which time little or no sexual growth takes place. Then at puberty, a renaissance of sexual life occurs, and the genital stage is ushered in. Psychosexual development eventually culminates in maturity.

Infantile Period One of Freud’s (1905/1953b, 1923/1961b) most important assumptions is that in- fants possess a sexual life and go through a period of pregenital sexual development during the first 4 or 5 years after birth. At the time Freud originally wrote about in- fantile sexuality, the concept, though not new, was met with some resistance. Today, however, nearly all close observers accept the idea that children show an interest in the genitals, delight in sexual pleasure, and manifest sexual excitement. Childhood sexuality differs from adult sexuality in that it is not capable of reproduction and is exclusively autoerotic. With both children and adults, however, the sexual impulses

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can be satisfied through organs other than the genitals. The mouth and anus are par- ticularly sensitive to erogenous stimulation (Freud, 1933/1964).

Freud (1917/1963) divided the infantile stage into three phases according to which of the three primary erogenous zones is undergoing the most salient develop- ment. The oral phase begins first and is followed in order by the anal phase and the phallic phase. The three infantile stages overlap, with one another and each contin- ues after the onset of later stages.

Oral Phase Because the mouth is the first organ to provide an infant with pleasure, Freud’s first infantile stage of development is the oral phase. Infants obtain life-sustaining nour- ishment through the oral cavity, but beyond that, they also gain pleasure through the act of sucking.

The sexual aim of early oral activity is to incorporate or receive into one’s body the object-choice, that is, the nipple. During this oral-receptive phase, infants feel no ambivalence toward the pleasurable object and their needs are usually satis- fied with a minimum of frustration and anxiety. As they grow older, however, they are more likely to experience feelings of frustration and anxiety as a result of sched- uled feedings, increased time lapses between feedings, and eventual weaning. These anxieties are generally accompanied by feelings of ambivalence toward their love ob- ject (mother), and by the increased ability of their budding ego to defend itself against the environment and against anxiety (Freud, 1933/1964).

Infants’ defense against the environment is greatly aided by the emergence of teeth. At this point, they pass into a second oral phase, which Freud (1933/1964) called the oral-sadistic period. During this phase, infants respond to others through

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Infants satisfy oral needs one way or another.

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biting, cooing, closing their mouth, smiling, and crying. Their first autoerotic expe- rience is thumb sucking, a defense against anxiety that satisfies their sexual but not their nutritional needs.

As children grow older, the mouth continues to be an erogenous zone, and by the time they become adults, they are capable of gratifying their oral needs in a va- riety of ways, including sucking candy, chewing gum, biting pencils, overeating, smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars, and making biting, sarcastic remarks.

Anal Phase The aggressive drive, which during the first year of life takes the form of oral sadism, reaches fuller development during the second year when the anus emerges as a sex- ually pleasurable zone. Because this period is characterized by satisfaction gained through aggressive behavior and through the excretory function, Freud (1933/1964) called it the sadistic-anal phase or, more briefly, the anal phase of development. This phase is divided into two subphases, the early anal and the late anal.

During the early anal period, children receive satisfaction by destroying or losing objects. At this time, the destructive nature of the sadistic drive is stronger than the erotic one, and children often behave aggressively toward their parents for frustrating them with toilet training.

Then, when children enter the late anal period, they sometimes take a friendly interest toward their feces, an interest that stems from the erotic pleasure of defecat- ing. Frequently, children will present their feces to the parents as a valued prize (Freud, 1933/1964). If their behavior is accepted and praised by their parents, then children are likely to grow into generous and magnanimous adults. However, if their “gift” is rejected in a punitive fashion, children may adopt another method of ob- taining anal pleasure—withholding the feces until the pressure becomes both painful and erotically stimulating. This mode of narcissistic and masochistic pleasure lays the foundation for the anal character—people who continue to receive erotic satis- faction by keeping and possessing objects and by arranging them in an excessively neat and orderly fashion. Freud (1933/1964) hypothesized that people who grow into anal characters were, as children, overly resistant to toilet training, often holding back their feces and prolonging the time of training beyond that usually required. This anal eroticism becomes transformed into the anal triad of orderliness, stingi- ness, and obstinacy that typifies the adult anal character.

Freud (1933/1964) believed that, for girls, anal eroticism is carried over into penis envy during the phallic stage and can eventually be expressed by giving birth to a baby. He also believed that in the unconscious the concepts of penis and baby— because both are referred to as a “little one”—mean the same thing. Also, feces, be- cause of its elongated shape and because it has been removed from the body, is in- distinguishable from baby, and all three concepts—penis, baby, and feces—are represented by the same symbols in dreams.

During the oral and anal stages, no basic distinction exists between male and female psychosexual growth. Children of either gender can develop an active or a passive orientation. The active attitude often is characterized by what Freud (1933/1964) considered the masculine qualities of dominance and sadism, whereas the passive orientation is usually marked by the feminine qualities of voyeurism and

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masochism. However, either orientation, or any combination of the two, can develop in both girls and boys.

Phallic Phase At approximately 3 or 4 years of age, children begin a third stage of infantile devel- opment—the phallic phase, a time when the genital area becomes the leading erogenous zone. This stage is marked for the first time by a dichotomy between male and female development, a distinction that Freud (1925/1961) believed to be due to the anatomical differences between the sexes. Freud (1924/1961, p. 178) took Napoleon’s remark that “History is destiny” and changed it to “Anatomy is destiny.” This dictum underlies Freud’s belief that physical differences between males and fe- males account for many important psychological differences.

Masturbation, which originated during the oral stage, now enters a second, more crucial phase. During the phallic stage, masturbation is nearly universal, but because parents generally suppress these activities, children usually repress their conscious desire to masturbate by the time their phallic period comes to an end. Just as chil- dren’s earlier experiences with weaning and toilet training helped shape the founda- tion of their psychosexual development, so too does their experience with the sup- pression of masturbation (Freud, 1933/1964). However, their experience with the Oedipus complex plays an even more crucial role in their personality development.

Male Oedipus Complex Freud (1925/1961) believed that preceding the phallic stage an infant boy forms an identification with his father; that is, he wants to be his father. Later he develops a sexual desire for his mother; that is, he wants to have his mother. These two wishes do not appear mutually contradictory to the underdevel- oped ego, so they are able to exist side by side for a time. When the boy finally rec- ognizes their inconsistency, he gives up his identification with his father and retains the stronger feeling—the desire to have his mother. The boy now sees his father as a rival for the mother’s love. He desires to do away with his father and possess his mother in a sexual relationship. This condition of rivalry toward the father and in- cestuous feelings toward the mother is known as the simple male Oedipus complex. The term is taken from the Greek tragedy by Sophocles in which Oedipus, King of Thebes, is destined by fate to kill his father and marry his mother.

Freud (1923/1961a) believed that the bisexual nature of the child (of either gender) complicates this picture. Before a young boy enters the Oedipus stage, he develops some amount of a feminine disposition. During the Oedipal period, there- fore, his feminine nature may lead him to display affection toward his father and ex- press hostility toward his mother, while at the same time his masculine tendency dis- poses him toward hostility for father and lust for mother. During this ambivalent condition, known as the complete Oedipus complex, affection and hostility coexist because one or both feelings may be unconscious. Freud believed that these feelings of ambivalence in a boy play a role in the evolution of the castration complex, which for boys takes the form of castration anxiety or the fear of losing the penis.

To Freud (1905/1953b, 1917/1963, 1923/1961b), the castration complex begins after a young boy (who has assumed that all other people, including girls, have genitals like his own) becomes aware of the absence of a penis on girls. This

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awareness becomes the greatest emotional shock of his life. After a period of men- tal struggle and attempts at denial, the young boy is forced to conclude that the girl has had her penis cut off. This belief may be reinforced by parental threats to punish the boy for his sexual behaviors. The boy is then forced to conclude that the little girl has been punished by having her penis removed because she masturbated or because she seduced her mother. For the boy, the threat of castration now becomes a dreaded possibility. Because this castration anxiety cannot long be tolerated, the boy re- presses his impulses toward sexual activity, including his fantasies of carrying out a seduction of his mother.

Prior to his sudden experience of castration anxiety, the little boy may have “seen” the genital area of little girls or his mother, but this sight does not automati- cally instigate the castration complex. Castration anxiety bursts forth only when the boy’s ego is mature enough to comprehend the connection between sexual desires and the removal of the penis.

Freud believed that castration anxiety was present in all boys, even those not personally threatened with the removal of their penis or the stunting of its growth. According to Freud (1933/1964), a boy does not need to receive a clear threat of cas- tration. Any mention of injury or shrinkage in connection with the penis is sufficient to activate the child’s phylogenetic endowment. Phylogenetic endowment is capable of filling the gaps of our individual experiences with the inherited experiences of our ancestors. Ancient man’s fear of castration supports the individual child’s experi- ences and results in universal castration anxiety. Freud stated: “It is not a question of whether castration is really carried out; what is decisive is that the danger threatens from the outside and that the child believes in it.” He went on to say that

hints at . . . punishment must regularly find a phylogenetic reinforcement in him. It is our suspicion that during the human family’s primaeval period castration used actually to be carried out by a jealous and cruel father upon growing boys, and that circumcision, which so frequently plays a part in puberty rites among primitive peoples, is a clearly recognizable relic of it. (pp. 86–87)

Once his Oedipus complex is dissolved or repressed, the boy surrenders his in- cestuous desires, changes them into feelings of tender love, and begins to develop a primitive superego. He may identify with either the father or the mother, depending on the strength of his feminine disposition. Normally identification is with the father, but it is not the same as pre-Oedipal identification. The boy no longer wants to be his father; instead, he uses his father as a model for determining right and wrong be- havior. He introjects or incorporates his father’s authority into his own ego, thereby sowing the seeds of a mature superego. The budding superego takes over his father’s prohibitions against incest and ensures the continued repression of the Oedipus complex (Freud, 1933/1964).

Female Oedipus Complex The phallic phase takes a more complicated path for girls than for boys, and these differences are due to anatomical differences between the sexes (Freud, 1925/1961). Like boys, pre-Oedipal girls assume that all other chil- dren have genitals similar to their own. Soon they discover that boys not only pos- sess different genital equipment, but apparently something extra. Girls then become envious of this appendage, feel cheated, and desire to have a penis. This experience

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of penis envy is a powerful force in the formation of girls’ personality. Unlike cas- tration anxiety in boys, which is quickly repressed, penis envy may last for years in one form or another. Freud (1933/1964) believed that penis envy is often expressed as a wish to be a boy or a desire to have a man. Almost universally, it is carried over into a wish to have a baby, and eventually it may find expression in the act of giving birth to a baby, especially a boy.

Preceding the castration complex, a girl establishes an identification with her mother similar to that developed by a boy; that is, she fantasizes being seduced by her mother. These incestuous feelings, according to Freud (1933/1964), are later turned into hostility when the girl holds her mother responsible for bringing her into the world without a penis. Her libido is then turned toward her father, who can sat- isfy her wish for a penis by giving her a baby, an object that to her has become a sub- stitute for the phallus. The desire for sexual intercourse with the father and accom- panying feelings of hostility for the mother are known as the simple female Oedipus complex. Incidentally, Freud (1920/1955b, 1931/1961) objected to the term Electra complex, sometimes used by others when referring to the female Oedipus complex, because it suggests a direct parallel between male and female development during the phallic stage. Freud believed that no such parallel exists and that differences in anatomy determine different courses in male and female sexual development after the phallic stage.

Not all girls, however, transfer their sexual interest onto their father and de- velop hostility toward their mother. Freud (1931/1961, 1933/1964) suggested that when pre-Oedipal girls acknowledge their castration and recognize their inferiority to boys, they will rebel in one of three ways. First, they may give up their sexuality— both the feminine and the masculine dispositions—and develop an intense hostility toward their mother; second, they may cling defiantly to their masculinity, hoping for a penis and fantasizing being a man; and third, they may develop normally: that is, they may take their father as a sexual choice and undergo the simple Oedipus com- plex. A girl’s choice is influenced in part by her inherent bisexuality and the degree of masculinity she developed during the pre-Oedipal period.

The simple female Oedipus complex is resolved when a girl gives up mastur- batory activity, surrenders her sexual desire for her father, and identifies once again with her mother. However, the female Oedipus complex is usually broken up more slowly and less completely than is the male’s. Because the superego is built from the relics of the shattered Oedipus complex, Freud (1924/1961, 1933/1964) believed that the girl’s superego is usually weaker, more flexible, and less severe than the boy’s. The reason the girl’s superego is not as strict as the boy’s is traceable to the differ- ence between the sexes during their Oedipal histories. For boys, castration anxiety follows the Oedipus complex, breaks it up nearly completely, and renders unneces- sary the continued expenditure of psychic energy on its remnants. Once the Oedipus complex is shattered, energy used to maintain it is free to establish a superego. For girls, however, the Oedipus complex follows the castration complex (penis envy), and because girls do not experience a threat of castration, they experience no trau- matic sudden shock. The female Oedipus complex is only incompletely resolved by the girl’s gradual realization that she may lose the love of her mother and that sexual intercourse with her father is not forthcoming. Her libido thus remains partially ex- pended to maintain the castration complex and its relics, thereby blocking some

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psychic energy that might otherwise be used to build a strong superego (Freud, (1931/1961).

In summary, the female and male phallic stages take quite different routes. First, the castration complex for girls takes the form of penis envy—not castration anxiety. Second, penis envy precedes the female Oedipus complex, whereas for boys the opposite is true; that is, the castration anxiety follows the male Oedipus complex. Third, because penis envy takes place prior to the female Oedipus complex, little girls do not experience a traumatic event comparable to boys’ castration anxiety. Fourth, because girls do not experience this traumatic event, the female Oedipus complex is more slowly and less completely dissolved than the male Oedipus complex.

The simple male and female Oedipus complexes are summarized in Table 2.1. Freud presented his views on the female Oedipus complex more tentatively

than he did his ideas regarding the male phallic stage. Although he framed these views on femininity in a tentative and provisional manner, he soon began to vigorously defend them. When some of his followers objected to his harsh view of women, Freud became even more adamant in his position and insisted that psychological differences between men and women could not be erased by culture because they were the inevitable consequences of anatomical differences between the sexes (Freud, 1925/1961). This rigid public stance on feminine development has led some writers (Brannon, 2005; Breger, 2000; Chodorow, 1989, 1991, 1994; Irigaray, 1986; Krausz, 1994) to criticize him as being sexist and uncomplimentary to women.

Despite his steadfast public position, Freud privately was uncertain that his views on women represented a final answer. One year after his pronouncement that “anatomy is destiny,” he expressed some doubts, admitting that his understanding of girls and women was incomplete. “We know less about the sexual life of little girls than of boys. But we need not feel ashamed of this distinction; after all, the sexual life of adult women is a ‘dark continent’ for psychology” (Freud 1926/1959b, p. 212).

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T A B L E 2 . 1

Parallel Paths of the Simple Male and Female Phallic Phases

Male Phallic Phase

1. Oedipus complex (sexual desires for the mother/hostility for the father)

2. Castration complex in the form of castration anxiety shatters the Oedipus complex

3. Identification with the father 4. Strong superego replaces the nearly

completely dissolved Oedipus complex

Female Phallic Phase

1. Castration complex in the form of penis envy

2. Oedipus complex develops as an attempt to obtain a penis (sexual desires for the father; hostility for the mother)

3. Gradual realization that the Oedipal desires are self-defeating

4. Identification with the mother 5. Weak superego replaces the partially

dissolved Oedipus complex

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Throughout his career, Freud often proposed theories without much clinical or experimental evidence to support them. He would later come to see most of these theories as established facts, even though he possessed no intervening substantiating evidence. For as long as he lived, however, he remained doubtful of the absolute va- lidity of his theories on women. Freud once admitted to his friend Marie Bonaparte that he did not understand women: “The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul is ‘What does a woman want?’ ” (E. Jones, 1955, p. 421). Such a question posed after many years of theorizing suggests that Freud regarded women not only as quite different from men, but as enigmas, not comprehensible to the male gender.

Beyond Biography Did Freud misunderstand women? For information on Freud’s lifelong struggle to understand women, see our website at

Latency Period Freud believed that, from the 4th or 5th year until puberty, both boys and girls usu- ally, but not always, go through a period of dormant psychosexual development. This latency stage is brought about partly by parents’ attempts to punish or discourage sexual activity in their young children. If parental suppression is successful, children will repress their sexual drive and direct their psychic energy toward school, friend- ships, hobbies, and other nonsexual activities.

However, the latency stage may also have roots in our phylogenetic endow- ment. Freud (1913/1953, 1926/1951b) suggested that the Oedipus complex and the subsequent period of sexual latency might be explained by the following hypothesis. Early in human development, people lived in families headed by a powerful father who reserved all sexual relationships to himself and who killed or drove away his sons, whom he saw as a threat to his authority. Then one day the sons joined together, overwhelmed, killed, and devoured (ate) their father. However, the brothers were in- dividually too weak to take over their father’s heritage, so they banded together in a clan or totem and established prohibitions against what they had just done; that is, they outlawed both killing one’s father and having sexual relations with female mem- bers of one’s family. Later, when they became fathers, they suppressed sexual activ- ity in their own children whenever it became noticeable, probably around 3 or 4 years of age. When suppression became complete, it led to a period of sexual latency. After this experience was repeated over a period of many generations, it became an active though unconscious force in an individual’s psychosexual development. Thus, the prohibition of sexual activity is part of our phylogenetic endowment and needs no personal experiences of punishment for sexual activities to repress the sexual drive. Freud (1926/1951b) merely suggested this hypothesis as one possible explanation for the latency period, and he was careful to point out that it was unsupported by an- thropological data.

Continued latency is reinforced through constant suppression by parents and teachers and by internal feelings of shame, guilt, and morality. The sexual drive, of course, still exists during latency, but its aim has been inhibited. The sublimated libido now shows itself in social and cultural accomplishments. During this time


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children form groups or cliques, an impossibility during the infantile period when the sexual drive was completely autoerotic.

Genital Period Puberty signals a reawakening of the sexual aim and the beginning of the genital pe- riod. During puberty, the diphasic sexual life of a person enters a second stage, which has basic differences from the infantile period (Freud, 1923/1961b). First, adolescents give up autoeroticism and direct their sexual energy toward another per- son instead of toward themselves. Second, reproduction is now possible. Third, al- though penis envy may continue to linger in girls, the vagina finally obtains the same status for them that the penis had for them during infancy. Parallel to this, boys now see the female organ as a sought-after object rather than a source of trauma. Fourth, the entire sexual drive takes on a more complete organization, and the component drives that had operated somewhat independently during the early infantile period gain a kind of synthesis during adolescence; thus, the mouth, anus, and other pleasure-producing areas take an auxiliary position to the genitals, which now attain supremacy as an erogenous zone.

This synthesis of Eros, the elevated status of the vagina, the reproductive ca- pacity of the sexual drive, and ability of people to direct their libido outward rather than onto the self represent the major distinctions between infantile and adult sexu- ality. In several other ways, however, Eros remains unchanged. It may continue to be repressed, sublimated; or expressed in masturbation or other sexual acts. The subor- dinated erogenous zones also continue as vehicles of erotic pleasure. The mouth, for example, retains many of its infantile activities; a person may discontinue thumb sucking but may add smoking or prolonged kissing.

Maturity The genital period begins at puberty and continues throughout the individual’s life- time. It is a stage attained by everyone who reaches physical maturity. In addition to the genital stage, Freud alluded to but never fully conceptualized a period of psy- chological maturity, a stage attained after a person has passed through the earlier de- velopmental periods in an ideal manner. Unfortunately, psychological maturity sel- dom happens, because people have too many opportunities to develop pathological disorders or neurotic predispositions.

Although Freud never fully conceptualized the notion of psychological matu- rity, we can draw a sketch of psychoanalytically mature individuals. Such people would have a balance among the structures of the mind, with their ego controlling their id and superego but at the same time allowing for reasonable desires and de- mands (see Figure 2.3). Therefore, their id impulses would be expressed honestly and consciously with no traces of shame or guilt, and their superego would move be- yond parental identification and control with no remnants of antagonism or incest. Their ego-ideal would be realistic and congruent with their ego, and in fact, the boundary between their superego and their ego would become nearly imperceptible.

Consciousness would play a more important role in the behavior of mature people, who would have only a minimal need to repress sexual and aggressive urges.

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Indeed, most of the repressions of psychologically healthy individuals would emerge in the form of sublimations rather than neurotic symptoms. Because the Oedipus complex of mature people is completely or nearly completely dissolved, their libido, which formerly was directed toward parents, would be released to search for both tender and sensual love. In short, psychologically mature people would come through the experiences of childhood and adolescence in control of their psychic en- ergy and with their ego functioning in the center of an ever-expanding world of con- sciousness.

Applications of Psychoanalytic Theory Freud was an innovative speculator, probably more concerned with theory building than with treating sick people. He spent much of his time conducting therapy not only to help patients but to gain the insight into human personality necessary to ex- pound psychoanalytic theory. This section looks at Freud’s early therapeutic tech- nique, his later technique, and his views on dreams and unconscious slips.

Freud’s Early Therapeutic Technique Prior to his use of the rather passive psychotherapeutic technique of free association, Freud had relied on a much more active approach. In Studies on Hysteria (Breuer & Freud, 1895/1955), Freud described his technique of extracting repressed childhood memories:

I placed my hand on the patient’s forehead or took her head between my hands and said: “You will think of it under the pressure of my hand. At the moment at which I relax my pressure you will see something in front of you or something will come into your head. Catch hold of it. It will be what we are looking for.— Well, what have you seen or what has occurred to you?”

On the first occasions on which I made use of this procedure . . . I myself was surprised to find that it yielded me the precise results that I needed. (pp. 110–111)

Indeed, such a highly suggestive procedure was very likely to yield the precise re- sults Freud needed, namely, the confession of a childhood seduction. Moreover, while using both dream interpretation and hypnosis, Freud told his patients to expect that scenes of childhood sexual experiences would come forth (Freud, 1896/1962).

In his autobiography written nearly 30 years after he abandoned his seduction theory, Freud (1925/1959) stated that under the pressure technique, a majority of his patients reproduced childhood scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some adult. When he was obliged to recognize that “these scenes of seduction had never taken place, and that they were only phantasies which my patients had made up or which I myself had perhaps forced upon them [italics added], I was for some time completely at a loss” (p. 34). He was at a loss, however, for a very short time. Within days after his September 21, 1897, letter to Fliess, he concluded that “the neurotic symptoms were not related directly to actual events but to phantasies. . . . I had in fact stumbled for the first time upon the Oedipus complex” (Freud, 1925/1959, p. 34).

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In time, Freud came to realize that his highly suggestive and even coercive tac- tics may have elicited memories of seduction from his patients and that he lacked clear evidence that these memories were real. Freud became increasingly convinced that neurotic symptoms were related to childhood fantasies rather than to material reality, and he gradually adopted a more passive psychotherapeutic technique.

Freud’s Later Therapeutic Technique The primary goal of Freud’s later psychoanalytic therapy was to uncover repressed memories through free association and dream analysis. “Our therapy works by trans- forming what is unconscious into what is conscious, and it works only in so far as it is in a position to effect that transformation” (Freud, 1917/1963, p. 280). More specifically, the purpose of psychoanalysis is “to strengthen the ego, to make it more independent of the superego, to widen its field of perception and enlarge its organi- zation, so that it can appropriate fresh portions of the id. Where id was, there ego shall be” (Freud, 1933/1964, p. 80).

With free association, patients are required to verbalize every thought that comes to their mind, no matter how irrelevant or repugnant it may appear. The pur- pose of free association is to arrive at the unconscious by starting with a present con- scious idea and following it through a train of associations to wherever it leads. The process is not easy and some patients never master it. For this reason, dream analy- sis remained a favorite therapeutic technique with Freud. (We discuss dream analy- sis in the next section.)

In order for analytic treatment to be successful, libido previously expended on the neurotic symptom must be freed to work in the service of the ego. This takes

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place in a two-phase procedure. “In the first, all the libido is forced from the symp- toms into the transference and concentrated there; in the second, the struggle is waged around this new object and the libido is liberated from it” (Freud, 1917/1963, p. 455).

The transference situation is vital to psychoanalysis. Transference refers to the strong sexual or aggressive feelings, positive or negative, that patients develop toward their analyst during the course of treatment. Transference feelings are un- earned by the therapist and are merely transferred to her or him from patients’ ear- lier experiences, usually with their parents. In other words, patients feel toward the analyst the same way they previously felt toward one or both parents. As long as these feelings manifest themselves as interest or love, transference does not interfere with the process of treatment but is a powerful ally to the therapeutic progress. Pos- itive transference permits patients to more or less relive childhood experiences within the nonthreatening climate of the analytic treatment. However, negative transference in the form of hostility must be recognized by the therapist and ex- plained to patients so that they can overcome any resistance to treatment (Freud, 1905/1953a, 1917/1963). Resistance, which refers to a variety of unconscious re- sponses used by patients to block their own progress in therapy, can be a positive sign because it indicates that therapy has advanced beyond superficial material.

Freud (1933/1964) noted several limitations of psychoanalytic treatment. First, not all old memories can or should be brought into consciousness. Second, treatment is not as effective with psychoses or with constitutional illnesses as it is with pho- bias, hysterias, and obsessions. A third limitation, by no means peculiar to psycho- analysis, is that a patient, once cured, may later develop another psychic problem. Recognizing these limitations, Freud felt that psychoanalysis could be used in con- junction with other therapies. However, he repeatedly insisted that it could not be shortened or modified in any essential way.

Ideally, when analytic treatment is successful, patients no longer suffer from debilitating symptoms, they use their psychic energy to perform ego functions, and they have an expanded ego that includes previously repressed experiences. They do not experience a major personality change, but they do become what they might have been under the most favorable conditions.

Dream Analysis Freud used dream analysis to transform the manifest content of dreams to the more important latent content. The manifest content of a dream is the surface meaning or the conscious description given by the dreamer, whereas the latent content refers to its unconscious material.

The basic assumption of Freud’s dream analysis is that nearly all dreams are wish fulfillments. Some wishes are obvious and are expressed through the manifest content, as when a person goes to sleep hungry and dreams of eating large quanti- ties of delicious food. Most wish fulfillments, however, are expressed in the latent content and only dream interpretation can uncover that wish. An exception to the rule that dreams are wish fulfillments is found in patients suffering from a traumatic experience. Dreams of these people follow the principle of repetition compulsion rather than wish fulfillment. These dreams are frequently found in people with

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posttraumatic stress disorder who repeatedly dream of frightening or traumatic ex- periences (Freud, 1920/1955a, 1933/1964).

Freud believed that dreams are formed in the unconscious but try to work their way into the conscious. To become conscious, dreams must slip past both the pri- mary and the final censors (refer again to Figure 2.1). Even during sleep these guardians maintain their vigil, forcing unconscious psychic material to adopt a dis- guised form. The disguise can operate in two basic ways—condensation and dis- placement.

Condensation refers to the fact that the manifest dream content is not as ex- tensive as the latent level, indicating that the unconscious material has been abbre- viated or condensed before appearing on the manifest level. Displacement means that the dream image is replaced by some other idea only remotely related to it (Freud, 1900/1953). Condensation and displacement of content both take place through the use of symbols. Certain images are almost universally represented by seemingly innocuous figures. For example, the phallus may be symbolized by elon- gated objects such as sticks, snakes, or knives; the vagina often appears as any small box, chest, or oven; parents appear in the form of the president, a teacher, or one’s boss; and castration anxiety can be expressed in dreams of growing bald, losing teeth, or any act of cutting (Freud, 1900/1953, 1901/1953, 1917/1963).

Dreams can also deceive the dreamer by inhibiting or reversing the dreamer’s affect. For example, a man with homicidal feelings for his father may dream that his father has died, but in the manifest dream content, he feels neither joy nor sorrow; that is, his affect is inhibited. Unpleasant feelings can also be reversed at the mani- fest dream level. For example, a woman who unconsciously hates her mother and would unconsciously welcome her extinction may dream of her mother’s death, but the unconscious joy and hatred she feels is expressed as sorrow and love during the manifest level of the dream. Thus, she is fooled into believing that hate is love and that joy is sorrow (Freud, 1900/1953, 1901/1953, 1915/1957a).

After the dream’s latent (unconscious) content has been distorted and its affect inhibited or reversed, it appears in a manifest form that can be recalled by the dreamer. The manifest content, which nearly always relates to conscious or precon- scious experience of the previous day, has little or no psychoanalytic significance; only the latent content has meaning (Freud, 1900/1953).

In interpreting dreams, Freud (1917/1963) ordinarily followed one of two methods. The first was to ask patients to relate their dream and all their associations to it, no matter how unrelated or illogical these associations seemed. Freud believed that such associations revealed the unconscious wish behind the dream. If the dreamer was unable to relate association material, Freud used a second method— dream symbols—to discover the unconscious elements underlying the manifest con- tent. The purpose of both methods (associations and symbols) was to trace the dream formation backward until the latent content was reached. Freud (1900/1953, p. 608) believed that dream interpretation was the most reliable approach to the study of un- conscious processes and referred to it as the “royal road” to knowledge of the un- conscious.

Anxiety dreams offer no contradiction to the rule that dreams are wish fulfill- ments. The explanation is that anxiety belongs to the preconscious system, whereas the wish belongs to the unconscious. Freud (1900/1953) reported three typical anx-

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iety dreams: the embarrassment dream of nakedness, dreams of the death of a beloved person, and dreams of failing an examination.

In the embarrassment dream of nakedness, the dreamer feels shame or embar- rassment at being naked or improperly dressed in the presence of strangers. The spectators usually appear quite indifferent, although the dreamer is very much em- barrassed. The origin of this dream is the early childhood experience of being naked in the presence of adults. In the original experience, the child feels no embarrass- ment but the adults often register disapproval. Freud believed that wish fulfillment is served in two ways by this dream. First, the indifference of the spectators fulfills the infantile wish that the witnessing adults refrain from scolding. Second, the fact of nakedness fulfills the wish to exhibit oneself, a desire usually repressed in adults but present in young children.

Dreams of the death of a beloved person also originate in childhood and are wish fulfillments. If a person dreams of the death of a younger person, the uncon- scious may be expressing the wish for the destruction of a younger brother or sister who was a hated rival during the infantile period. When the deceased is an older per- son, the dreamer is fulfilling the Oedipal wish for the death of a parent. If the dreamer feels anxiety and sorrow during the dream, it is because the affect has been reversed. Dreams of the death of a parent are typical in adults, but they do not mean that the dreamer has a present wish for the death of that parent. These dreams were interpreted by Freud as meaning that, as a child, the dreamer longed for the death of the parent, but the wish was too threatening to find its way into consciousness. Even during adulthood the death wish ordinarily does not appear in dreams unless the af- fect has been changed to sorrow.

A third typical anxiety dream is failing an examination in school. According to Freud (1900/1953), the dreamer always dreams of failing an examination that has already been successfully passed, never one that was failed. These dreams usually occur when the dreamer is anticipating a difficult task. By dreaming of failing an ex- amination already passed, the ego can reason, “I passed the earlier test that I was worried about. Now I’m worried about another task, but I’ll pass it too. Therefore, I need not be anxious over tomorrow’s test.” The wish to be free from worry over a dif- ficult task is thus fulfilled.

With each of these three typical dreams, Freud had to search for the wish be- hind the manifest level of the dream. Finding the wish fulfillment required great cre- ativity. For example, one clever woman told Freud that she had dreamed that her mother-in-law was coming for a visit. In her waking life, she despised her mother- in-law and dreaded spending any amount of time with her. To challenge Freud’s no- tion that dreams are wish fulfillments, she asked him, “Where was the wish?” Freud’s (1900/1953) explanation was that this woman was aware of Freud’s belief that a wish lies behind every nontraumatic dream. Thus, by dreaming of spending time with a hated mother-in-law, the woman fulfilled her wish to spite Freud and to disprove his wish fulfillment hypothesis!

In summary, Freud believed that dreams are motivated by wish fulfillments. The latent content of dreams is formed in the unconscious and usually goes back to childhood experiences, whereas the manifest content often stems from experiences of the previous day. The interpretation of dreams serves as the “royal road” to knowl- edge of the unconscious, but dreams should not be interpreted without the dreamer’s

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associations to the dream. Latent material is transformed into manifest content through the dream work. The dream work achieves its goal by the processes of con- densation, displacement, and inhibition of affect. The manifest dream may have lit- tle resemblance to the latent material, but Freud believed that an accurate interpreta- tion will reveal the hidden connection by tracing the dream work backward until the unconscious images are revealed.

Freudian Slips Freud believed that many everyday slips of the tongue or pen, misreading, incorrect hearing, misplacing objects, and temporarily forgetting names or intentions are not chance accidents but reveal a person’s unconscious intentions. In writing of these faulty acts, Freud (1901/1960) used the German Fehlleistung, or “faulty function,” but James Strachey, one of Freud’s translators, invented the term parapraxes to refer to what many people now simply call “Freudian slips.”

Parapraxes or unconscious slips are so common that we usually pay little at- tention to them and deny that they have any underlying significance. Freud, however, insisted that these faulty acts have meaning; they reveal the unconscious intention of the person: “They are not chance events but serious mental acts; they have a sense; they arise from the concurrent actions—or perhaps rather, the mutually opposing ac- tion—of two different intentions” (Freud, 1917/1963, p. 44). One opposing action emanates from the unconscious; the other, from the preconscious. Unconscious slips, therefore, are similar to dreams in that they are a product of both the uncon- scious and the preconscious, with the unconscious intention being dominant and in- terfering with and replacing the preconscious one.

The fact that most people strongly deny any meaning behind their parapraxes was seen by Freud as evidence that the slip, indeed, had relevance to unconscious im- ages that must remain hidden from consciousness. A young man once walked into a convenience store, became immediately attracted to the young female clerk, and asked for a “sex-pack of beer.” When the clerk accused him of improper behavior, the young man vehemently protested his innocence. Examples such as this can be extended almost indefinitely. Freud provided many in his book Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901/1960), and many of them involved his own faulty acts. One day after worrying about monetary matters, Freud strolled the tobacco store that he vis- ited every day. On this particular day, he picked up his usual supply of cigars and left the store without paying for them. Freud attributed his neglect to earlier thoughts about budgetary issues. In all Freudian slips, the intentions of the unconscious sup- plant the weaker intentions of the preconscious, thereby revealing a person’s true purpose.

Related Research The scientific status of Freud’s theory is one of the more hotly contested and disputed questions in all Freudian theory. Was it science or mere armchair speculation? Did Freud propose testable hypotheses? Are his ideas experimentally verifiable, testable, or falsifiable?

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Karl Popper, the philosopher of science who proposed the criterion of falsifia- bility, contrasted Freud’s theory with Einstein’s and concluded that the former was not falsifiable and therefore not science. It would be fair to say that for much of the 20th century, most academic psychologists dismissed Freudian ideas as fanciful speculations that may have contained insights into human nature but were not science.

During the last 5 to 10 years, the scientific status of Freudian theory has begun to change, at least among certain circles of cognitive psychologists and neuroscien- tists. Neuroscience is currently experiencing an explosive growth through its inves- tigations of brain activity during a variety of cognitive and emotional tasks. Much of this growth has been due to brain imaging technology afforded by functional mag- netic resonance imaging (MRI) that maps regions of the brain that are active during particular tasks. At about the same time, certain groups of cognitive psychologists began doing research on the importance of nonconscious processing of information and memory, or what they called “implicit” cognition. John Bargh, one of the leaders in the field of social-cognitive psychology, reviewed the literature on the “automatic- ity of being” and concluded that roughly 95% of our behaviors are unconsciously de- termined (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999). This conclusion is completely consistent with Freud’s metaphor that consciousness is merely the “tip of the iceberg.”

By the late 1990s, the findings from neuroscience and cognitive psychology began to converge on many cognitive and affective processes that were very consis- tent with basic Freudian theory. These commonalties have become the foundation for a movement started by some cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, and psychia- trists who are convinced that Freud’s theory is one of the more compelling integra- tive theories—one that could explain many of these findings. In 1999, a group of sci- entists began a society called Neuro-Psychoanalysis and a scientific journal by the same name. For the first time, some eminent cognitive and neuroscience psycholo- gists such as Nobel laureate for physiology, Eric Kandel, along with Joseph LeDoux, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Schacter, and Vilayanur Ramachandran, were publicly de- claring the value of Freud’s theory and contending that “psychoanalysis is still the most coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind” (as cited in Solms, 2004, p. 84). Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote: “I believe we can say that Freud’s in- sights on the nature of consciousness are consonant with the most advanced contem- porary neuroscience views” (as cited in Solms & Turnbull, 2002, p. 93). Twenty years ago, such pronouncements from neuroscientists would have been nearly unthinkable.

Mark Solms is probably the most active person involved in integrating psy- choanalytic theory and neuroscientific research (Solms 2000, 2004; Solms & Turn- bull, 2002). He argued, for instance, that the following Freudian concepts have sup- port from modern neuroscience: unconscious motivation, repression, the pleasure principle, primitive drives, and dreams (Solms, 2004). Similarly, Kandel (1999) ar- gued that psychoanalysis and neuroscience together could make useful contributions in these eight domains: the nature of unconscious mental processes; the nature of psychological causality; psychological causality and psychopathology; early experi- ence and the predisposition to mental illness; the preconscious, the unconscious, and the prefrontal cortex; sexual orientation; psychotherapy and structural changes in the brain; and psychopharmacology as an adjunct to psychoanalysis.

Although there are some gaps in the evidence (Hobson, 2004), the overlap be- tween Freud’s theory and neuroscience is sufficient to make at least a suggestive, if

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not compelling, case for their integration. We have reviewed some of the empirical evidence for unconscious mental processing, the id and the pleasure principle and the ego and the reality principle, repression and defense mechanisms, and dreams.

Unconscious Mental Processing Many scientists and philosophers have recognized two different forms of conscious- ness. First is the state of not being aware or awake, and second is the state of being aware. The former is referred to as “core consciousness,” whereas the latter is re- ferred to as “extended consciousness.” The brain stem, and the ascending activating system in particular, is the part of the brain most directly associated with core con- sciousness, or unconsciousness in the sense of not being awake. For instance, comas come from damage to this region of the brain stem and render a person unconscious. In contrast, being aware and able to reflect on one’s knowledge and self is more a function of activity in the prefrontal cortex (the dorsal frontal cortex) (Solms, 2004; Solms & Turnbull, 2002).

Moreover, a major theme of cognitive psychology over the last 20 years has been the phenomenon of nonconscious mental processing, or what is referred to as “implicit,” “nonconscious,” or “automatic” thought and memory (Bargh & Chartrand, 1999; Schacter, 1987). By this, cognitive psychologists are referring to mental processes that are neither in awareness nor under intentional control, and thereby come close to Freud’s definition of unconscious. Of course, Freud’s concept of the unconscious was more dynamic, repressive, and inhibiting, but—as we see next— cognitive neuroscience is uncovering a similar kind of unconscious.

Pleasure and the Id: Inhibition and the Ego Findings from many different neuroscientific programs of research have established that the pleasure-seeking drives have their neurological origins in two brain structures, namely the brain stem and the limbic system (Solms, 2004; Solms & Turnbull, 2002). Moreover, the neurotransmitter dopamine is most centrally involved in most pleasure- seeking behaviors. In Freud’s language, these are the drives and instincts of the id.

In 1923, when Freud modified his view of how the mind works and proposed the structural view of id, ego, and superego, the ego became a structure that was mostly unconscious, but whose main function was to inhibit drives. If the part of the brain that functions to inhibit impulses and drives is damaged, we should see an in- crease in the id-based pleasure-seeking impulses. That is precisely what happens when the frontal-limbic system is damaged. Many case studies and more systematic brain-imaging research have demonstrated the connection between the frontal-limbic system and impulse regulation (Chow & Cummings, 1999; Pincus, 2001; Raine, Buchsbaum, & LaCasse, 1997). The first reported and best-known case of this was the 19th-century railroad worker Phineas Gage. While working on the railroad, an explosion caused a metal rod to shoot upward and through the bottom of his jaw up and out the top of his forehead, damaging his frontal lobes. Amazingly, perhaps because the speed of the rod cauterized brain tissue, Gage never lost consciousness and survived. Physically (except for loss of brain tissue) he was relatively fine, but his personality changed. By all accounts, this rather mild-mannered, responsible, and reliable worker became, in the words of his doctor, “fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting

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but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating” (as cited in Solms & Turnbull, 2002, p. 3). In other words, he became hostile, impulsive, and not at all concerned with social norms and appropriateness. In Freudian lingo, his ego no longer could inhibit basic drives and instincts and he became very id-driven.

According to Solms, the underlying theme in the frontal lobe-injured patients is their inability to stay “reality-bound” (ego) and their propensity to interpret events much more through “wishes” (id); that is, they create the reality they wanted or wished for. All of this, according to Solms, provides support for Freud’s ideas con- cerning the pleasure principle of the id and the reality principle of the ego.

Repression, Inhibition, and Defense Mechanisms Another core component of Freud’s theory involved the defense mechanisms, espe- cially repression. The unconscious actively (dynamically) keeps ideas, feelings, and unpleasant or threatening impulses out of consciousness. The area of defense mech- anisms remains an active area of study for personality researchers. Some of this re- search has focused on the use of projection and identification in childhood and ado- lescence (Cramer, 2007), whereas other work has investigated who is more likely to be a target of projection (Govorun, Fuegen, & Payne, 2006).

From the neuropsychological perspective, Solms (2004) reports cases that explore the areas of the brain that may be implicated in the use and perseverance of defense mechanisms. Specifically, Solms (2004) describes cases demonstrating re- pression of unpalatable information when damage occurs to the right hemisphere and, if this damaged region becomes artificially stimulated, the repression goes away; that is, awareness returns. Additionally, these patients frequently rationalize away un- welcome facts by fabricating stories. In other words, they employ Freudian wish- fulfilling defense mechanisms. For instance, one patient, when asked about the scar on his head, confabulated a story about its being a result of dental surgery or a coro- nary bypass, both of which he had had years before. Furthermore, when the doctor asked this patient who he was, the patient would variously respond that he (the doctor) was either a colleague, a drinking partner, or a teammate from college. All of these interpretations were more wish than reality.

A study by Howard Shevrin and colleagues (Shevrin, Ghannam, & Libet, 2002) examined the neurophysiological underpinnings of repression. More specifically, they addressed the question of whether people with repressive personality styles actually require longer periods of stimulation for a brief stimulus to be consciously perceived. Prior research had established that people in general vary from 200 ms to 800 ms in how long a stimulus needs to be present before being consciously perceived. The study by Shevrin et al. included six clinical participants between the ages of 51 and 70, all of whom years prior had undergone surgical treatment for motoric problems (mainly parkinsonism). During these surgeries, a procedure had been performed in which electrodes stimulated parts of the motor cortex, and the length of time it took for the stimulus to be consciously perceived was recorded. The results of this proce- dure showed that these six participants also ranged from 200 ms to 800 ms in how long they took to consciously perceive the stimulus. For this, four psychological tests were administered at the patients’ homes and then scored on their degree of repres- sive tendencies. These tests were the Rorschach Inkblot Test, the Early Memories Test,

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the Vocabulary Test of the WAIS (an IQ test), and the Hysteroid-Obsessoid Question- naire. The first three tests were rated by three “blind” clinical judges on their degree of repression, and the fourth test was scored objectively for its degree of repression.

The results showed that the combined ratings from the three judges were sig- nificantly and positively associated with the time it took for a stimulus to be con- sciously perceived. Moreover, the objectively scored Hysteroid-Obsessoid Question- naire confirmed the result. In other words, the more repressive style people have, the longer it takes them to consciously perceive a stimulus. Neither age nor IQ is related to the length of time it takes for the stimulus to be perceived. As the authors ac- knowledge, this finding is but a first step in demonstrating how repression might op- erate to keep things out of conscious awareness, but it is the first study to report the neurophysiological underpinnings of repression.

Research on Dreams In the 1950s, when the phenomenon of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was first discovered and found to be strongly associated with dreaming, many scientists began to discount Freud’s theory of dreams, which was based on the idea that dreams have meaning and are attempts at fulfilling unconscious wishes. Moreover, the REM re- search showed that only brain-stem regions and not higher cortical regions were in- volved with REM states. If these cortical structures were not involved in REM sleep and yet they were where higher level thinking took place, then dreams are simply ran- dom mental activity and could not have any inherent meaning. From the perspective of this so-called activation-synthesis theory, meaning is what the waking mind gives to these more or less random brain activities, but meaning is not inherent in the dream.

Solms’s primary research area is dreams and, based on current dream research, including his own, he takes issue with each of the assumptions of the activation- synthesis theory of dreams (Solms, 2000, 2004). Most importantly, Solms argued that dreaming and REM are not one and the same. First, in about 5% to 30% of the wakings during REM sleep, patients report no dreams, and during about 5% to 10% of non-REM wakings patients do report dreaming. So there is no one-to-one corre- spondence between REM and dreaming. Second, lesions (due to injury or surgery) to the brain stem do not completely eliminate dreaming, whereas lesions to the fore- brain regions (in the frontal lobes and parietal-temporal-occipital juncture) have eliminated dreaming and yet preserved REM sleep.

In addition, dreams appear not to be random in content. Daniel Wegner and col- leagues (2004) tested one aspect of Freud’s theory of dreams. As Freud wrote in Interpretation of Dreams, “wishes suppressed during the day assert themselves in dreams” (1900/1953, p. 590). Wegner and colleagues examined whether this was so in a group of more than 300 college students. First, participants were instructed right before bed (they opened the instructions only directly before going to sleep) to think of two people, one whom they had had a “crush” on and one whom they were “fond of ” but did not have a crush on.

Next, participants were assigned to one of three conditions: suppression, ex- pression, and mention. In the suppression condition, students were instructed not to think about a target person (either the “crush” or the “fond of ” person) for 5 minutes; in the expression condition, different participants were instructed to think about the

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target person during this 5-minute period; and in the mention condition, other partici- pants were instructed to think about anything at all after noting (mentioning) the target person’s initials. Moreover, during the 5-minute period when they were either to think or not think about the target person, they wrote a “stream-of-consciousness” report and put a check mark on the side of the report every time they thought of the target person. This was a validity check to establish whether the suppression manipulation technique worked. It did. When they awoke the next morning, participants reported whether they dreamed, and if so, how much they dreamed and how much they dreamed of the target and nontarget people (self-rated dreaming). Lastly, they wrote a report describing the dream (dream report). The stream-of-consciousness and dream reports were coded by a rater blind to conditions on frequency of target and nontarget appearances.

Results showed that students dreamed more about the suppressed targets than nonsuppressed ones; they also dreamed more about the suppressed targets than the suppressed nontargets. In other words, students were more likely to dream about people they spend some time thinking about (target), but especially those targets they actively try not to think about (suppression). Suppressed thoughts, the authors con- cluded, are likely to “rebound” and appear in dreams. This finding is quite consistent with Freud’s theory and not consistent with the activation-synthesis theory that REM sleep provides random activation of brain activity that is devoid of meaning. In the words of Wegner et al. (2004), “although there remains much to be learned about how dreams are formed, the finding that suppressed thoughts rebound in dreams pro- vides a bridge linking an early insight of psychoanalysis to the discoveries of cogni- tive neuroscience” (p. 236).

However, the current trends in neuropsychoanalytic research neither confirm nor even mention Freud’s psychosexual stage theory, especially its more controver- sial elements of Oedipal conflicts, castration anxiety, and penis envy. Instead, neu- ropsychoanalytic research has focused on those parts of Freud’s theory that appear to be empirically standing the test of time. The neglect of Freud’s psychosexual stage theory is somewhat consistent with much post-Freudian and neo-Freudian theorizing that has either downplayed or abandoned this part of Freud’s theory. So, while many of Freud’s major ideas—unconscious, pleasure seeking, repression, id, ego, and dreams—might be garnering neuroscientific support, not all are, and still others are in need of modification.

One area that has recently received attention is the work of the dream censor (Boag, 2006). The dream censor, according to Freud (1917/1963), is the mechanism that converts the latent content of dreams into the more palatable and less frighten- ing manifest content. Boag (2006) articulates how one conceptualization of the dream sensor is to think of it as a mechanism that engages in repression and/or inhi- bition. This conceptualization is helpful if one is interested in empirically testing Freud’s notions regarding dreams because there is a large amount of neuroscience re- search on inhibition (Aron & Poldrack, 2005; Praamstra & Seiss, 2005). Specifically, Boag (2006) proposes that the basal ganglia and amygdala may be key brain struc- tures responsible for dreams including the conversion of latent content into manifest content. Arguments such as Boag’s (2006) and those of other scholars in the neu- ropsychoanalysis field make an out-of-hand dismissal of Freud from a scientific per- spective more and more difficult as findings from cognitive psychology and neuro- science accumulate that support basic assumptions of Freud’s theory.

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Critique of Freud In criticizing Freud, we must first ask two questions: (1) Did Freud understand women? (2) Was Freud a scientist?

Did Freud Understand Women? A frequent criticism of Freud is that he did not understand women and that his the- ory of personality was strongly oriented toward men. There is a large measure of truth to this criticism, and Freud acknowledged that he lacked a complete under- standing of the female psyche.

Why didn’t Freud have a better understanding of the feminine psyche? One an- swer is that he was a product of his times, and society was dominated by men dur- ing those times. In 19th-century Austria, women were second-class citizens, with few rights or privileges. They had little opportunity to enter a profession or to be a member of a professional organization—such as Freud’s Wednesday Psychological Society.

Thus, during the first quarter century of psychoanalysis, the movement was an all-men’s club. After World War I, women gradually became attracted to psycho- analysis and some of these women, such as Marie Bonaparte, Ruth Mack Brunswick, Helene Deutsch, Melanie Klein, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and Anna Freud, were able to exercise some influence on Freud. However, they were never able to convince him that similarities between the genders outweighed differences.

Freud himself was a proper bourgeois Viennese gentleman whose sexual atti- tudes were fashioned during a time when women were expected to nurture their hus- bands, manage the household, care for the children, and stay out of their husband’s business or profession. Freud’s wife, Martha, was no exception to this rule (Gay, 1988).

Freud, as the oldest and most favored child, ruled over his sisters, advising them on books to read and lecturing to them about the world in general. An incident with a piano reveals further evidence of Freud’s favored position within his family. Freud’s sisters enjoyed music and found pleasure in playing a piano. When music from their piano annoyed Freud, he complained to his parents that he couldn’t con- centrate on his books. The parents immediately removed the piano from the house, leaving Freud to understand that the wishes of five girls did not equal the preference of one boy.

Like many other men of his day, Freud regarded women as the “tender sex,” suitable for caring for the household and nurturing children but not equal to men in scientific and scholarly affairs. His love letters to his future wife Martha Bernays are filled with references to her as “my little girl,” “my little woman,” or “my princess” (Freud, 1960). Freud undoubtedly would have been surprised to learn that 130 years later these terms of endearment are seen by many as disparaging to women.

Freud continually grappled with trying to understand women, and his views on femininity changed several times during his lifetime. As a young student, he ex- claimed to a friend, “How wise our educators that they pester the beautiful sex so lit- tle with scientific knowledge” (quoted in Gay, 1988, p. 522).

During the early years of his career, Freud viewed male and female psycho- sexual growth as mirror images of each other, with different but parallel lines of

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development. However, he later proposed the notion that little girls are failed boys and that adult women are akin to castrated men. Freud originally proposed these ideas tentatively, but as time passed, he defended them adamantly and refused to compromise his views. When people criticized his notion of femininity, Freud re- sponded by adopting an increasingly more rigid stance. By the 1920s, he was insist- ing that psychological differences between men and women were due to anatomical differences and could not be explained by different socialization experiences (Freud, 1924/1961). Nevertheless, he always recognized that he did not understand women as well as he did men. He called them the “dark continent for psychology” (Freud, 1926/1959b, p. 212). In his final statement on the matter, Freud (1933/1964) sug- gested that “if you want to know more about femininity, enquire from your own ex- periences of life or turn to the poets” (p. 135).

Although some of Freud’s close associates inhabited the “dark continent” of womanhood, his most intimate friends were men. Moreover, women such as Marie Bonaparte, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and Minna Bernays (his sister-in-law), who did exert some influence on Freud, were mostly cut from a similar pattern. Ernest Jones (1955) referred to them as intellectual women with a “masculine cast” (p. 421). These women were quite apart from Freud’s mother and wife, both of whom were proper Viennese wives and mothers whose primary concerns were for their husbands and children. Freud’s female colleagues and disciples were selected for their intelli- gence, emotional strength, and loyalty—the same qualities Freud found attractive in men. But none of these women could substitute for an intimate male friend. In Au- gust of 1901, Freud (1985) wrote to his friend Wilhelm Fliess, “In my life, as you know, woman has never replaced the comrade, the friend” (p. 447).

Why was Freud unable to understand women? Given his upbringing during the middle of the 19th century, parental acceptance of his domination of his sisters, a tendency to exaggerate differences between women and men, and his belief that women inhabited the “dark continent” of humanity, it seems unlikely that Freud pos- sessed the necessary experiences to understand women. Toward the end of his life, he still had to ask, “What does a woman want?” (E. Jones, 1955, p. 421). The ques- tion itself reveals Freud’s gender bias because it assumes that women all want the same things and that their wants are somehow different from those of men.

Was Freud a Scientist? A second area of criticism of Freud centers around his status as a scientist. Although he repeatedly insisted that he was primarily a scientist and that psychoanalysis was a science, Freud’s definition of science needs some explanation. When he called psy- choanalysis a science, he was attempting to separate it from a philosophy or an ide- ology. He was not claiming that it was a natural science. The German language and culture of Freud’s day made a distinction between a natural science (Naturwis- senschaften) and a human science (Geisteswissenschaften). Unfortunately, James Strachey’s translations in the Standard Edition make Freud seem to be a natural sci- entist. However, other scholars (Federn, 1988; Holder, 1988) believe that Freud clearly saw himself as a human scientist, that is, a humanist or scholar and not a nat- ural scientist. In order to render Freud’s works more accurate and more humanistic, a group of language scholars are currently producing an updated translation of Freud. (See, for example, Freud, 1905/2002.)

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Bruno Bettelheim (1982, 1983) was also critical of Strachey’s translations. He contended that the Standard Edition used precise medical concepts and misleading Greek and Latin terms instead of the ordinary, often ambiguous, German words that Freud had chosen. Such precision tended to render Freud more scientific and less hu- manistic than he appears to the German reader. For example, Bettelheim, whose in- troduction to Freud was in German, believed that Freud saw psychoanalytic therapy as a spiritual journey into the depths of the soul (translated by Strachey as “mind”) and not a mechanistic analysis of the mental apparatus.

As a result of Freud’s 19th-century German view of science, many contempo- rary writers regard his theory-building methods as untenable and rather unscientific (Breger, 2000; Crews, 1995, 1996; Sulloway, 1992; Webster, 1995). His theories were not based on experimental investigation but rather on subjective observations that Freud made of himself and his clinical patients. These patients were not repre- sentative of people in general but came mostly from the middle and upper classes.

Apart from this widespread popular and professional interest, the question re- mains: Was Freud scientific? Freud’s (1915/1957a) own description of science per- mits much room for subjective interpretations and indefinite definitions:

We have often heard it maintained that sciences should be built up on clear and sharply defined basic concepts. In actual fact no science, not even the most exact, begins with such definitions. The true beginning of scientific activity consists rather in describing phenomena and then in proceeding to group, classify and correlate them. Even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying certain abstract ideas to the material in hand, ideas derived from somewhere or other but certainly not from the new observations alone. (p. 117)

Perhaps Freud himself left us with the best description of how he built his the- ories. In 1900, shortly after the publication of Interpretation of Dreams, he wrote to his friend Wilhelm Fliess, confessing that “I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, not an experimenter, not a thinker. I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador—an adventurer . . . with all the curiosity, daring, and tenacity char- acteristic of a man of this sort” (Freud, 1985, p. 398).

Although Freud at times may have seen himself as a conquistador, he also be- lieved that he was constructing a scientific theory. How well does that theory meet the six criteria for a useful theory that we identified in Chapter 1?

Despite serious difficulties in testing Freud’s assumptions, researchers have conducted studies that relate either directly or indirectly to psychoanalytic theory. Thus, we rate Freudian theory about average in its ability to generate research.

Second, a useful theory should be falsifiable. Because much of the research ev- idence consistent with Freud’s ideas can also be explained by other models, Freudian theory is nearly impossible to falsify. A good example of the difficulty of falsifying psychoanalysis is the story of the woman who dreamed that her mother-in-law was coming for a visit. The content of his dream could not be a wish fulfillment because the woman hated her mother-in-law and would not wish for a visit from her. Freud escaped this conundrum by explaining that the woman had the dream merely to spite Freud and to prove to him that not all dreams are wish fulfillments. This kind of rea- soning clearly gives Freudian theory a very low rating on its ability to generate fal- sifiable hypotheses.

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A third criterion of any useful theory is its ability to organize knowledge into a meaningful framework. Unfortunately, the framework of Freud’s personality the- ory, with its emphasis on the unconscious, is so loose and flexible that seemingly in- consistent data can coexist within its boundaries. Compared with other theories of personality, psychoanalysis ventures more answers to questions concerning why people behave as they do. But only some of these answers come from scientific in- vestigations—most are simply logical extensions of Freud’s basic assumptions. Thus, we rate psychoanalysis as having only moderate ability to organize knowledge.

Fourth, a useful theory should serve as a guide for the solution of practical problems. Because Freudian theory is unusually comprehensive, many psychoana- lytically trained practitioners rely on it to find solutions to practical day-to-day prob- lems. However, psychoanalysis no longer dominates the field of psychotherapy, and most present-day therapists use other theoretical orientations in their practice. Thus, we give psychoanalysis a low rating as a guide to the practitioner.

The fifth criterion of a useful theory deals with internal consistency, including operationally defined terms. Psychoanalysis is an internally consistent theory, if one remembers that Freud wrote over a period of more than 40 years and gradually al- tered the meaning of some concepts during that time. However, at any single point in time, the theory generally possessed internal consistency, although some specific terms were used with less than scientific rigor.

Does psychoanalysis possess a set of operationally defined terms? Here the theory definitely falls short. Such terms as id, ego, superego, conscious, precon- scious, unconscious, oral stage, sadistic-anal stage, phallic stage, Oedipus complex, latent level of dreams, and many others are not operationally defined; that is, they are not spelled out in terms of specific operations or behaviors. Researchers must origi- nate their own particular definition of most psychoanalytic terms.

Sixth, psychoanalysis is not a simple or parsimonious theory, but considering its comprehensiveness and the complexity of human personality, it is not needlessly cumbersome.

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Concept of Humanity In Chapter 1, we outlined several dimensions for a concept of humanity. Where does Freud’s theory fall on these various dimensions?

The first of these is determinism versus free choice. On this dimension Freud’s views on the nature of human nature would easily fall toward determinism. Freud believed that most of our behavior is determined by past events rather than molded by present goals. Humans have little control over their present actions because many of their behaviors are rooted in unconscious strivings that lie beyond pres- ent awareness. Although people usually believe that they are in control of their own lives, Freud insisted that such beliefs are illusions.

Adult personality is largely determined by childhood experiences—especially the Oedipus complex—that have left their residue in the unconscious mind. Freud (1917/1955a) held that humanity in its history has suffered three great blows to

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its narcissistic ego. The first was the rediscovery by Copernicus that the earth is not the center of the universe; the second was Darwin’s discovery that humans are quite similar to other animals; the third, and most damaging blow of all, was Freud’s own discovery that we are not in control of our own actions or, as he stated it, “the ego is not master in its own house” (p. 143).

A second and related issue is pessimism versus optimism. According to Freud, we come into the world in a basic state of conflict, with life and death forces op- erating on us from opposing sides. The innate death wish drives us incessantly to- ward self-destruction or aggression, while the sexual drive causes us to seek blindly after pleasure. The ego experiences a more or less permanent state of conflict, at- tempting to balance the contradictory demands of the id and superego while at the same time making concessions to the external world. Underneath a thin veneer of civilization, we are savage beasts with a natural tendency to exploit others for sex- ual and destructive satisfaction. Antisocial behavior lies just underneath the sur- face of even the most peaceful person, Freud believed. Worse yet, we are not ordi- narily aware of the reasons for our behavior nor are we conscious of the hatred we feel for our friends, family, and lovers. For these reasons, psychoanalytic theory is essentially pessimistic.

A third approach for viewing humanity is the dimension of causality versus teleology. Freud believed that present behavior is mostly shaped by past causes rather than by people’s goals for the future. People do not move toward a self- determined goal; instead, they are helplessly caught in the struggle between Eros and Thanatos. These two powerful drives force people to compulsively repeat prim- itive patterns of behavior. As adults, their behavior is one long series of reactions. People constantly attempt to reduce tension; to relieve anxieties; to repress un- pleasant experiences; to regress to earlier, more secure stages of development; and to compulsively repeat behaviors that are familiar and safe. Therefore, we rate Freud’s theory very high on causality.

On the dimension of conscious versus unconscious, psychoanalytic theory ob- viously leans heavily in the direction of unconscious motivation. Freud believed that everything from slips of the tongue to religious experiences is the result of a deep-rooted desire to satisfy sexual or aggressive drives. These motives make us slaves to our unconscious. Although we are aware of our actions, Freud believed that the motivations underlying those actions are deeply embedded in our uncon- scious and are frequently quite different from what we believe them to be.

A fifth dimension is social versus biological influences. As a physician, Freud’s medical training disposed him to see human personality from a biological view- point. Yet Freud (1913/1953, 1985) frequently speculated about the consequences of prehistoric social units and about the consequences of an individual’s early so- cial experiences. Because Freud believed that many infantile fantasies and anxieties are rooted in biology, we rate him low on social influences.

Sixth is the issue of uniqueness versus similarities. On this dimension, psy- choanalytic theory takes a middle position. Humanity’s evolutionary past gives rise to a great many similarities among people. Nevertheless, individual experiences, es- pecially those of early childhood, shape people in a somewhat unique manner and account for many of the differences among personalities.

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Key Terms and Concepts

• Freud identified three levels of mental life—unconscious, preconscious, and conscious.

• Early childhood experiences that create high levels of anxiety are repressed into the unconscious, where they may influence behavior, emotions, and attitudes for years.

• Events that are not associated with anxiety but are merely forgotten make up the contents of the preconscious.

• Conscious images are those in awareness at any given time. • Freud recognized three provinces of the mind—id, ego, and superego. • The id is unconscious, chaotic, out of contact with reality, and in service

of the pleasure principle. • The ego is the executive of personality, in contact with the real world, and

in service of the reality principle. • The superego serves the moral and idealistic principles and begins to form

after the Oedipus complex is resolved. • All motivation can be traced to sexual and aggressive drives. Childhood

behaviors related to sex and aggression are often punished, which leads to either repression or anxiety.

• To protect itself against anxiety, the ego initiates various defense mechanisms, the most basic of which is repression.

• Freud outlined three major stages of development—infancy, latency, and a genital period—but he devoted most attention to the infantile stage.

• The infantile stage is divided into three substages—oral, anal, and phallic, the last of which is accompanied by the Oedipus complex.

• During the simple Oedipal stage, a child desires sexual union with one parent while harboring hostility for the other.

• Freud believed that dreams and Freudian slips are disguised means of expressing unconscious impulses.

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Adler: Individual Psychology

B Overview of Individual Psychology B Biography of Alfred Adler B Introduction to Adlerian Theory B Striving for Success or Superiority

The Final Goal

The Striving Force as Compensation

Striving for Personal Superiority

Striving for Success

B Subjective Perceptions Fictionalism

Physical Inferiorities

B Unity and Self-Consistency of Personality Organ Dialect

Conscious and Unconscious

B Social Interest Origins of Social Interest

Importance of Social Interest

B Style of Life B Creative Power B Abnormal Development

General Description

External Factors in Maladjustment

Exaggerated Physical Deficiencies

Pampered Style of Life

Neglected Style of Life

Safeguarding Tendencies




Masculine Protest

Origins of the Masculine Protest

Adler, Freud, and the Masculine Protest


B Applications of Individual Psychology Family Constellation

Early Recollections



B Related Research Early Recollections and Career Choice

Early Childhood and Health-Related Issues

Early Recollections and Counseling Outcomes

B Critique of Adler B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


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In 1937, a young Abraham Maslow was having dinner in a New York restaurantwith a somewhat older colleague. The older man was widely known for his earlier association with Sigmund Freud, and many people, including Maslow, regarded him as a disciple of Freud. When Maslow casually asked the older man about being Freud’s follower, the older man became quite angry, and according to Maslow, he nearly shouted that

this was a lie and a swindle for which he blamed Freud entirely, whom he then called names like swindler, sly, schemer. . . . He said that he had never been a student of Freud or a disciple or a follower. He made it clear from the beginning that he didn’t agree with Freud and that he had his own opinions. (Maslow, 1962, p. 125)

Maslow, who had known the older man as an even-tempered, congenial person, was stunned by his outburst.

The older man, of course, was Alfred Adler, who battled throughout his pro- fessional life to dispel the notion that he had ever been a follower of Freud. When- ever reporters and other people would inquire about his early relationship with Freud, Adler would produce the old faded postcard with Freud’s invitation to Adler to join Freud and three other physicians to meet at Freud’s home the following Thurs- day evening. Freud closed the invitation saying, “With hearty greetings as your col- league” (quoted in Hoffman, 1994, p. 42). This friendly remark gave Adler some tangible evidence that Freud considered him to be his equal.

However, the warm association between Adler and Freud came to a bitter end, with both men hurling caustic remarks toward the other. For example, after World War I, when Freud elevated aggression to a basic human drive, Adler, who had long since abandoned the concept, commented sarcastically: “I enriched psychoanalysis by the aggressive drive. I gladly make them a present of it” (quoted in Bottome, 1939, p. 64).

During the acrimonious breakup between the two men, Freud accused Adler of having paranoid delusions and of using terrorist tactics. He told one of his friends that the revolt by Adler was that of “an abnormal individual driven mad by ambition” (quoted in Gay, 1988, p. 223).

Overview of Individual Psychology Alfred Adler was neither a terrorist nor a person driven mad by ambition. Indeed, his individual psychology presents an optimistic view of people while resting heavily on the notion of social interest, that is, a feeling of oneness with all humankind. In addition to Adler’s more optimistic look at people, several other differences made the relationship between Freud and Adler quite tenuous.

First, Freud reduced all motivation to sex and aggression, whereas Adler saw people as being motivated mostly by social influences and by their striving for supe- riority or success; second, Freud assumed that people have little or no choice in shap- ing their personality, whereas Adler believed that people are largely responsible for who they are; third, Freud’s assumption that present behavior is caused by past ex- periences was directly opposed to Adler’s notion that present behavior is shaped by people’s view of the future; and fourth, in contrast to Freud, who placed very heavy

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emphasis on unconscious components of behavior, Adler believed that psycho- logically healthy people are usually aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it.

As we have seen, Adler was an original member of the small clique of physi- cians who met in Freud’s home on Wednesday evenings to discuss psychological top- ics. However, when theoretical and personal differences between Adler and Freud emerged, Adler left the Freud circle and established an opposing theory, which be- came known as individual psychology.

Biography of Alfred Adler Alfred Adler was born on February 7, 1870, in Rudolfsheim, a village near Vienna. His mother, Pauline, was a hard-working homemaker who kept busy with her seven children. His father, Leopold, was a middle-class Jewish grain merchant from Hun- gary. As a young boy, Adler was weak and sickly and at age 5, he nearly died of pneu- monia. He had gone ice-skating with an older boy who abandoned young Alfred. Cold and shivering, Adler managed to find his way home where he immediately fell asleep on the living room couch. As Adler gradually gained consciousness, he heard a doctor say to his parents, “Give yourself no more trouble. The boy is lost” (Hoff- man, 1994, p. 8). This experience, along with the death of a younger brother, moti- vated Adler to become a physician.

Adler’s poor health was in sharp contrast to the health of his older brother Sig- mund. Several of Adler’s earliest memories were concerned with the unhappy com- petition between his brother’s good health and his own illness. Sigmund Adler, the childhood rival whom Adler attempted to surpass, remained a worthy opponent, and in later years he became very successful in business and even helped Alfred finan- cially. By almost any standard, however, Alfred Adler was much more famous than Sigmund Adler. Like many secondborn children, however, Alfred continued the ri- valry with his older brother into middle age. He once told one of his biographers, Phyllis Bottome (1939, p. 18), “My eldest brother is a good industrious fellow—he was always ahead of me . . . and he is still ahead of me!”

The lives of Freud and Adler have several interesting parallels. Although both men came from middle- or lower-middle-class Viennese Jewish parents, neither was devoutly religious. However, Freud was much more conscious of his Jewishness than was Adler and often believed himself to be persecuted because of his Jewish back- ground. On the other hand, Adler never claimed to have been mistreated, and in 1904, while still a member of Freud’s inner circle, he converted to Protestantism. De- spite this conversion, he held no deep religious convictions, and in fact, one of his biographers (Rattner, 1983) regarded him as an agnostic.

Like Freud, Adler had a younger brother who died in infancy. This early expe- rience profoundly affected both men but in vastly different ways. Freud, by his own account, had wished unconsciously for the death of his rival and when the infant Julius did in fact die, Freud was filled with guilt and self-reproach, conditions that continued into his adulthood.

In contrast, Adler would seem to have had a more powerful reason to be trau- matized by the death of his younger brother Rudolf. At age 4, Adler awoke one

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morning to find Rudolf dead in the bed next to his. Rather than being terrified or feeling guilty, Adler saw this experience, along with his own near death from pneu- monia, as a challenge to overcome death. Thus, at age 5, he decided that his goal in life would be to conquer death. Because medicine offered some chance to forestall death, Adler decided at that early age to become a physician (Hoffman, 1994).

Although Freud was surrounded by a large family, including seven younger brothers and sisters, two grown half-brothers, and a nephew and niece about his age, he felt more emotionally attached to his parents, especially his mother, than to these other family members. In contrast, Adler was more interested in social relationships, and his siblings and peers played a pivotal role in his childhood development. Per- sonality differences between Freud and Adler continued throughout adulthood, with Freud preferring intense one-to-one relationships and Adler feeling more comfort- able in group situations. These personality differences were also reflected in their professional organizations. Freud’s Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and International Psychoanalytic Association were highly structured in pyramid fashion, with an inner circle of six of Freud’s trusted friends forming a kind of oligarchy at the top. Adler, by comparison, was more democratic, often meeting with colleagues and friends in Vienna coffeehouses where they played a piano and sang songs. Adler’s Society for Individual Psychology, in fact, suffered from a loose organization, and Adler had a relaxed attitude toward business details that did not enhance his movement (Ellen- berger, 1970).

Adler attended elementary school with neither difficulty nor distinction. How- ever, when he entered the Gymnasium in preparation for medical school, he did so poorly that his father threatened to remove him from school and apprentice him to a shoemaker (Grey, 1998). As a medical student he once again completed work with no special honors, probably because his interest in patient care conflicted with his professors’ interest in precise diagnoses (Hoffman, 1994). When he received his medical degree near the end of 1895, he had realized his childhood goal of becom- ing a physician.

Because his father had been born in Hungary, Adler was a Hungarian citizen and was thus obliged to serve a tour of military duty in the Hungarian army. He ful- filled that obligation immediately after receiving his medical degree and then re- turned to Vienna for postgraduate study. (Adler became an Austrian citizen in 1911). He began private practice as an eye specialist, but gave up that specialization and turned to psychiatry and general medicine.

Scholars disagree on the first meeting of Adler and Freud (Bottome, 1939; El- lenberger, 1970; Fiebert, 1997; Handlbauer, 1998), but all agree that in the late fall of 1902, Freud invited Adler and three other Viennese physicians to attend a meet- ing in Freud’s home to discuss psychology and neuropathology. This group was known as the Wednesday Psychological Society until 1908, when it became the Vi- enna Psychoanalytic Society. Although Freud led these discussion groups, Adler never considered Freud to be his mentor and believed somewhat naively that he and others could make contributions to psychoanalysis—contributions that would be ac- ceptable to Freud. Although Adler was one of the original members of Freud’s inner circle, the two men never shared a warm personal relationship. Neither man was quick to recognize theoretical differences even after Adler’s 1907 publication of Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Psychical Compensation (1907/1917), which

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assumed that physical deficiencies—not sex—formed the foundation for human mo- tivation.

During the next few years, Adler became even more convinced that psycho- analysis should be much broader than Freud’s view of infantile sexuality. In 1911, Adler, who was then president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, presented his views before the group, expressing opposition to the strong sexual proclivities of psychoanalysis and insisting that the drive for superiority was a more basic motive than sexuality. Both he and Freud finally recognized that their differences were ir- reconcilable, and in October of 1911 Adler resigned his presidency and membership in the Psychoanalytic Society. Along with nine other former members of the Freudian circle, he formed the Society for Free Psychoanalytic Study, a name that ir- ritated Freud with its implication that Freudian psychoanalysis was opposed to a free expression of ideas. Adler, however, soon changed the name of his organization to the Society for Individual Psychology—a name that clearly indicated he had aban- doned psychoanalysis.

Like Freud, Adler was affected by events surrounding World War I. Both men had financial difficulties, and both reluctantly borrowed money from relatives— Freud from his brother-in-law Edward Bernays and Adler from his brother Sigmund. Each man also made important changes in his theory. Freud elevated aggression to the level of sex after viewing the horrors of war, and Adler suggested that social in- terest and compassion could be the cornerstones of human motivation. The war years also brought a major disappointment to Adler when his application for an unpaid lec- ture position at the University of Vienna was turned down. Adler wanted this posi- tion to gain another forum for spreading his views, but he also desperately desired to attain the same prestigious position that Freud had held for more than a dozen years. Adler never attained this position, but after the war he was able to advance his theories through lecturing, establishing child guidance clinics, and training teachers.

During the last several years of his life, Adler frequently visited the United States, where he taught individual psychology at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. By 1932, he was a permanent resident of the United States and held the position of Visiting Professor for Medical Psychology at Long Island College of Medicine, now Downstate Medical School, State University of New York. Unlike Freud, who disliked Americans and their superficial understanding of psychoanalysis, Adler was impressed by Americans and admired their optimism and open-mindedness. His popularity as a speaker in the United States during the mid- 1930s had few rivals, and he aimed his last several books toward a receptive Amer- ican market (Hoffman, 1994).

Adler married a fiercely independent Russian woman, Raissa Epstein, in De- cember of 1897. Raissa was an early feminist and much more political than her hus- band. In later years, while Adler lived in New York, she remained mostly in Vienna and worked to promote Marxist-Leninist views that were quite different from Adler’s notion of individual freedom and responsibility. After several years of requests by her husband to move to New York, Raissa finally came to stay in New York only a few months before Adler’s death. Ironically, Raissa, who did not share her husband’s love for America, continued to live in New York until her own death, nearly a quar- ter of a century after Adler had died (Hoffman, 1994).

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Raissa and Alfred had four children: Alexandra and Kurt, who became psy- chiatrists and continued their father’s work; Valentine (Vali), who died as a political prisoner of the Soviet Union in about 1942; and Cornelia (Nelly), who aspired to be an actress.

Adler’s favorite relaxation was music, but he also maintained an active inter- est in art and literature. In his work he often borrowed examples from fairy tales, the Bible, Shakespeare, Goethe, and numerous other literary works. He identified him- self closely with the common person, and his manner and appearance were consis- tent with that identification. His patients included a high percentage of people from the lower and middle classes, a rarity among psychiatrists of his time. His personal qualities included an optimistic attitude toward the human condition, an intense competitiveness coupled with friendly congeniality, and a strong belief in the basic gender equality, which combined with a willingness to forcefully advocate women’s rights.

From middle childhood until after his 67th birthday, Adler enjoyed robust health. Then, in the early months of 1937, while concerned with the fate of his daughter Vali who had disappeared somewhere in Moscow, Adler felt chest pains while on a speaking tour in the Netherlands. Ignoring the doctor’s advice to rest, he continued on to Aberdeen, Scotland, where on May 28, 1937, he died of a heart at- tack. Freud, who was 14 years older than Adler, had outlived his longtime adversary. On hearing of Adler’s death, Freud (as quoted in E. Jones, 1957) sarcastically re- marked, “For a Jew boy out of a Viennese suburb a death in Aberdeen is an unheard- of career in itself and a proof of how far he had got on. The world really rewarded him richly for his service in having contradicted psychoanalysis” (p. 208).

Introduction to Adlerian Theory Although Alfred Adler has had a profound effect on such later theorists as Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, Julian Rotter, Abraham H. Maslow, Carl Rogers, Al- bert Ellis, Rollo May, and others (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999), his name is less well known than that of either Freud or Carl Jung. At least three reasons account for this. First, Adler did not establish a tightly run organization to perpetuate his theories. Second, he was not a particularly gifted writer, and most of his books were compiled by a series of editors using Adler’s scattered lectures. Third, many of his views were incorporated into the works of such later theorists as Maslow, Rogers, and Ellis and thus are no longer associated with Adler’s name.

Although his writings revealed great insight into the depth and complexities of human personality, Adler evolved a basically simple and parsimonious theory. To Adler, people are born with weak, inferior bodies—a condition that leads to feelings of inferiority and a consequent dependence on other people. Therefore, a feeling of unity with others (social interest) is inherent in people and the ultimate standard for psychological health. More specifically, the main tenets of Adlerian theory can be stated in outline form. The following is adapted from a list that represents the final statement of individual psychology (Adler, 1964).

1. The one dynamic force behind people’s behavior is the striving for success or superiority.

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2. People’s subjective perceptions shape their behavior and personality. 3. Personality is unified and self-consistent. 4. The value of all human activity must be seen from the viewpoint of social

interest. 5. The self-consistent personality structure develops into a person’s style of life. 6. Style of life is molded by people’s creative power.

Striving for Success or Superiority The first tenet of Adlerian theory is: The one dynamic force behind people’s behav- ior is the striving for success or superiority.

Adler reduced all motivation to a single drive—the striving for success or su- periority. Adler’s own childhood was marked by physical deficiencies and strong feelings of competitiveness with his older brother. Individual psychology holds that everyone begins life with physical deficiencies that activate feelings of inferiority— feelings that motivate a person to strive for either superiority or success. Psycholog- ically unhealthy individuals strive for personal superiority, whereas psychologically healthy people seek success for all humanity.

Early in his career, Adler believed that aggression was the dynamic power be- hind all motivation, but he soon became dissatisfied with this term. After rejecting aggression as a single motivational force, Adler used the term masculine protest, which implied will to power or a domination of others. However, he soon abandoned masculine protest as a universal drive while continuing to give it a limited role in his theory of abnormal development.

Next, Adler called the single dynamic force striving for superiority. In his final theory, however, he limited striving for superiority to those people who strive for personal superiority over others and introduced the term striving for success to de- scribe actions of people who are motivated by highly developed social interest (Adler, 1956). Regardless of the motivation for striving, each individual is guided by a final goal.

The Final Goal According to Adler (1956), people strive toward a final goal of either personal supe- riority or the goal of success for all humankind. In either case, the final goal is fic- tional and has no objective existence. Nevertheless, the final goal has great signifi- cance because it unifies personality and renders all behavior comprehensible.

Each person has the power to create a personalized fictional goal, one con- structed out of the raw materials provided by heredity and environment. However, the goal is neither genetically nor environmentally determined. Rather, it is the prod- uct of the creative power, that is, people’s ability to freely shape their behavior and create their own personality. By the time children reach 4 or 5 years of age, their cre- ative power has developed to the point that they can set their final goal. Even infants have an innate drive toward growth, completion, or success. Because infants are small, incomplete, and weak, they feel inferior and powerless. To compensate for this deficiency, they set a fictional goal to be big, complete, and strong. Thus, a person’s

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final goal reduces the pain of inferiority feelings and points that person in the direc- tion of either superiority or success.

If children feel neglected or pampered, their goal remains largely unconscious. Adler (1964) hypothesized that children will compensate for feelings of inferiority in devious ways that have no apparent relationship to their fictional goal. The goal of superiority for a pampered girl, for example, may be to make permanent her parasitic relationship with her mother. As an adult, she may appear dependent and self-deprecating, and such behavior may seem inconsistent with a goal of supe- riority. However, it is quite consistent with her unconscious and misunderstood goal of being a parasite that she set at age 4 or 5, a time when her mother appeared large and powerful, and attachment to her became a natural means of attaining superiority.

Conversely, if children experience love and security, they set a goal that is largely conscious and clearly understood. Psychologically secure children strive to- ward superiority defined in terms of success and social interest. Although their goal never becomes completely conscious, these healthy individuals understand and pur- sue it with a high level of awareness.

In striving for their final goal, people create and pursue many preliminary goals. These subgoals are often conscious, but the connection between them and the final goal usually remains unknown. Furthermore, the relationship among prelimi- nary goals is seldom realized. From the point of view of the final goal, however, they fit together in a self-consistent pattern. Adler (1956) used the analogy of the play- wright who builds the characteristics and the subplots of the play according to the final goal of the drama. When the final scene is known, all dialogue and every sub- plot acquire new meaning. When an individual’s final goal is known, all actions make sense and each subgoal takes on new significance.

The Striving Force as Compensation People strive for superiority or success as a means of compensation for feelings of inferiority or weakness. Adler (1930) believed that all humans are “blessed” at birth with small, weak, and inferior bodies. These physical deficiencies ignite feelings of inferiority only because people, by their nature, possess an innate tendency toward completion or wholeness. People are continually pushed by the need to overcome in- feriority feelings and pulled by the desire for completion. The minus and plus situa- tions exist simultaneously and cannot be separated because they are two dimensions of a single force.

The striving force itself is innate, but its nature and direction are due both to feelings of inferiority and to the goal of superiority. Without the innate movement to- ward perfection, children would never feel inferior; but without feelings of inferior- ity, they would never set a goal of superiority or success. The goal, then, is set as compensation for the deficit feeling, but the deficit feeling would not exist unless a child first possessed a basic tendency toward completion (Adler, 1956).

Although the striving for success is innate, it must be developed. At birth it ex- ists as potentiality, not actuality; each person must actualize this potential in his or her own manner. At about age 4 or 5, children begin this process by setting a direc- tion to the striving force and by establishing a goal either of personal superiority or

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of social success. The goal provides guidelines for motivation, shaping psychologi- cal development and giving it an aim.

As a creation of the individual, the goal may take any form. It is not necessar- ily a mirror image of the deficiency, even though it is a compensation for it. For ex- ample, a person with a weak body will not necessarily become a robust athlete but instead may become an artist, an actor, or a writer. Success is an individualized con- cept and all people formulate their own definition of it. Although creative power is swayed by the forces of heredity and environment, it is ultimately responsible for people’s personality. Heredity establishes the potentiality, whereas environment con- tributes to the development of social interest and courage. The forces of nature and nurture can never deprive a person of the power to set a unique goal or to choose a unique style of reaching for the goal (Adler, 1956).

In his final theory, Adler identified two general avenues of striving. The first is the socially nonproductive attempt to gain personal superiority; the second involves social interest and is aimed at success or perfection for everyone.

Striving for Personal Superiority Some people strive for superiority with little or no concern for others. Their goals are personal ones, and their strivings are motivated largely by exaggerated feelings of personal inferiority, or the presence of an inferiority complex. Murder- ers, thieves, and con artists are obvious examples of people who strive for personal gain. Some people create clever disguises for their personal striving and may con- sciously or unconsciously hide their self-centeredness behind the cloak of social concern. A college teacher, for example, may appear to have a great interest in his students because he establishes a personal relationship with many of them. By con- spicuously displaying much sympathy and concern, he encourages vulnerable stu- dents to talk to him about their personal problems. This teacher possesses a private intelligence that allows him to believe that he is the most accessible and dedicated teacher in his college. To a casual observer, he may appear to be motivated by social interest, but his actions are largely self-serving and motivated by overcompensation for his exaggerated feelings of personal superiority.

Striving for Success In contrast to people who strive for personal gain are those psychologically healthy people who are motivated by social interest and the success of all humankind. These healthy individuals are concerned with goals beyond themselves, are capable of helping others without demanding or expecting a personal payoff, and are able to see others not as opponents but as people with whom they can cooperate for social ben- efit. Their own success is not gained at the expense of others but is a natural tendency to move toward completion or perfection.

People who strive for success rather than personal superiority maintain a sense of self, of course, but they see daily problems from the view of society’s develop- ment rather than from a strictly personal vantage point. Their sense of personal worth is tied closely to their contributions to human society. Social progress is more im- portant to them than personal credit (Adler, 1956).

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Subjective Perceptions Adler’s second tenet is: People’s subjective perceptions shape their behavior and personality.

People strive for superiority or success to compensate for feelings of inferior- ity, but the manner in which they strive is not shaped by reality but by their subjec- tive perceptions of reality, that is, by their fictions, or expectations of the future.

Fictionalism Our most important fiction is the goal of superiority or success, a goal we created early in life and may not clearly understand. This subjective, fictional final goal guides our style of life, gives unity to our personality. Adler’s ideas on fictionalism originated with Hans Vaihinger’s book The Philosophy of “As If” (1911/1925). Vai- hinger believed that fictions are ideas that have no real existence, yet they influence people as if they really existed. One example of a fiction might be: “Men are supe- rior to women.” Although this notion is a fiction, many people, both men and women, act as if it were a reality. A second example might be: “Humans have a free will that enables them to make choices.” Again, many people act as if they and others have a free will and are thus responsible for their choices. No one can prove that free will exists, yet this fiction guides the lives of most of us. People are motivated not by what is true but by their subjective perceptions of what is true. A third example of a fic- tion might be a belief in an omnipotent God who rewards good and punishes evil. Such a belief guides the daily lives of millions of people and helps shape many of their actions. Whether true or false, fictions have a powerful influence on people’s lives.

Adler’s emphasis on fictions is consistent with his strongly held teleological view of motivation. Teleology is an explanation of behavior in terms of its final pur- pose or aim. It is opposed to causality, which considers behavior as springing from a specific cause. Teleology is usually concerned with future goals or ends, whereas causality ordinarily deals with past experiences that produce some present effect. Freud’s view of motivation was basically causal; he believed that people are driven by past events that activate present behavior. In contrast, Adler adopted a teleologi- cal view, one in which people are motivated by present perceptions of the future. As fictions, these perceptions need not be conscious or understood. Nevertheless, they bestow a purpose on all of people’s actions and are responsible for a consistent pat- tern that runs throughout their life.

Beyond Biography Why did Adler really break with Freud? For motivations behind the Adler-Freud breakup, see our website at

Physical Inferiorities Because people begin life small, weak, and inferior, they develop a fiction or belief system about how to overcome these physical deficiencies and become big, strong, and superior. But even after they attain size, strength, and superiority, they may act as if they are still small, weak, and inferior.


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Adler (1929/1969) insisted that the whole human race is “blessed” with organ inferiorities. These physical handicaps have little or no importance by themselves but become meaningful when they stimulate subjective feelings of inferiority, which serve as an impetus toward perfection or completion. Some people compensate for these feelings of inferiority by moving toward psychological health and a useful style of life, whereas others overcompensate and are motivated to subdue or retreat from other people.

History provides many examples of people like Demosthenes or Beethoven overcoming a handicap and making significant contributions to society. Adler him- self was weak and sickly as a child, and his illness moved him to overcome death by becoming a physician and by competing with his older brother and with Sigmund Freud.

Adler (1929/1969) emphasized that physical deficiencies alone do not cause a particular style of life; they simply provide present motivation for reaching future goals. Such motivation, like all aspects of personality, is unified and self-consistent.

Unity and Self-Consistency of Personality The third tenet of Adlerian theory is: Personality is unified and self-consistent.

In choosing the term individual psychology, Adler wished to stress his belief that each person is unique and indivisible. Thus, individual psychology insists on the fundamental unity of personality and the notion that inconsistent behavior does not exist. Thoughts, feelings, and actions are all directed toward a single goal and serve a single purpose. When people behave erratically or unpredictably, their behavior forces other people to be on the defensive, to be watchful so as not to be confused by capricious actions. Although behaviors may appear inconsistent, when they are viewed from the perspective of a final goal, they appear as clever but probably un- conscious attempts to confuse and subordinate other people. This confusing and seemingly inconsistent behavior gives the erratic person the upper hand in an inter- personal relationship. Although erratic people are often successful in their attempt to gain superiority over others, they usually remain unaware of their underlying motive and may stubbornly reject any suggestion that they desire superiority over other people.

Adler (1956) recognized several ways in which the entire person operates with unity and self-consistency. The first of these he called organ jargon, or organ dialect.

Organ Dialect According to Adler (1956), the whole person strives in a self-consistent fashion to- ward a single goal, and all separate actions and functions can be understood only as parts of this goal. The disturbance of one part of the body cannot be viewed in iso- lation; it affects the entire person. In fact, the deficient organ expresses the direction of the individual’s goal, a condition known as organ dialect. Through organ di- alect, the body’s organs “speak a language which is usually more expressive and dis- closes the individual’s opinion more clearly than words are able to do” (Adler, 1956, p. 223).

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One example of organ dialect might be a man suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in his hands. His stiff and deformed joints voice his whole style of life. It is as if they cry out, “See my deformity. See my handicap. You can’t expect me to do manual work.” Without an audible sound, his hands speak of his desire for sympathy from others.

Adler (1956) presented another example of organ dialect—the case of a very obedient boy who wet the bed at night to send a message that he does not wish to obey parental wishes. His behavior is “really a creative expression, for the child is speaking with his bladder instead of his mouth” (p. 223).

Conscious and Unconscious A second example of a unified personality is the harmony between conscious and un- conscious actions. Adler (1956) defined the unconscious as that part of the goal that is neither clearly formulated nor completely understood by the individual. With this definition, Adler avoided a dichotomy between the unconscious and the conscious, which he saw as two cooperating parts of the same unified system. Conscious thoughts are those that are understood and regarded by the individual as helpful in striving for success, whereas unconscious thoughts are those that are not helpful.

We cannot oppose “consciousness” to “unconsciousness” as if they were antagonistic halves of an individual’s existence. The conscious life becomes unconscious as soon as we fail to understand it—and as soon as we understand an unconscious tendency it has already become conscious. (Adler, 1929/1964, p. 163)

Whether people’s behaviors lead to a healthy or an unhealthy style of life de- pends on the degree of social interest that they developed during their childhood years.

Social Interest The fourth of Adler’s tenets is: The value of all human activity must be seen from the viewpoint of social interest.

Social interest is Adler’s somewhat misleading translation of his original Ger- man term, Gemeinschaftsgefühl. A better translation might be “social feeling” or “community feeling,” but Gemeinschaftsgefühl actually has a meaning that is not fully expressed by any English word or phrase. Roughly, it means a feeling of one- ness with all humanity; it implies membership in the social community of all peo- ple. A person with well-developed Gemeinschaftsgefühl strives not for personal su- periority but for perfection for all people in an ideal community. Social interest can be defined as an attitude of relatedness with humanity in general as well as an em- pathy for each member of the human community. It manifests itself as cooperation with others for social advancement rather than for personal gain (Adler, 1964).

Social interest is the natural condition of the human species and the adhesive that binds society together (Adler, 1927). The natural inferiority of individuals ne- cessitates their joining together to form a society. Without protection and nourish- ment from a father or mother, a baby would perish. Without protection from the fam- ily or clan, our ancestors would have been destroyed by animals that were stronger,

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more ferocious, or endowed with keener senses. Social interest, therefore, is a ne- cessity for perpetuating the human species.

Origins of Social Interest Social interest is rooted as potentiality in everyone, but it must be developed before it can contribute to a useful style of life. It originates from the mother-child rela- tionship during the early months of infancy. Every person who has survived infancy was kept alive by a mothering person who possessed some amount of social interest. Thus, every person has had the seeds of social interest sown during those early months.

Adler believed that marriage and parenthood is a task for two. However, the two parents may influence a child’s social interest in somewhat different ways. The mother’s job is to develop a bond that encourages the child’s mature social interest and fosters a sense of cooperation. Ideally, she should have a genuine and deep- rooted love for her child—a love that is centered on the child’s well-being, not on her own needs or wants. This healthy love relationship develops from a true caring for her child, her husband, and other people. If the mother has learned to give and re- ceive love from others, she will have little difficulty broadening her child’s social in- terest. But if she favors the child over the father, her child may become pampered and spoiled. Conversely, if she favors her husband or society, the child will feel ne- glected and unloved.

The father is a second important person in a child’s social environment. He must demonstrate a caring attitude toward his wife as well as to other people. The ideal father cooperates on an equal footing with the child’s mother in caring for the child and treating the child as a human being. According to Adler’s (1956) standards, a successful father avoids the dual errors of emotional detachment and paternal

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Both mother and father can contribute powerfully to the developing social interest of their children.

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authoritarianism. These errors may represent two attitudes, but they are often found in the same father. Both prevent the growth and spread of social interest in a child. A father’s emotional detachment may influence the child to develop a warped sense of social interest, a feeling of neglect, and possibly a parasitic attachment to the mother. A child who experiences paternal detachment creates a goal of personal superiority rather than one based on social interest. The second error—paternal authoritarian- ism—may also lead to an unhealthy style of life. A child who sees the father as a tyrant learns to strive for power and personal superiority.

Adler (1956) believed that the effects of the early social environment are ex- tremely important. The relationship a child has with the mother and father is so pow- erful that it smothers the effects of heredity. Adler believed that after age 5, the ef- fects of heredity become blurred by the powerful influence of the child’s social environment. By that time, environmental forces have modified or shaped nearly every aspect of a child’s personality.

Importance of Social Interest Social interest was Adler’s yardstick for measuring psychological health and is thus “the sole criterion of human values” (Adler, 1927, p. 167). To Adler, social interest is the only gauge to be used in judging the worth of a person. As the barometer of normality, it is the standard to be used in determining the usefulness of a life. To the degree that people possess social interest, they are psychologically mature. Imma- ture people lack Gemeinschaftsgefühl, are self-centered, and strive for personal power and superiority over others. Healthy individuals are genuinely concerned about people and have a goal of success that encompasses the well-being of all people.

Social interest is not synonymous with charity and unselfishness. Acts of phi- lanthropy and kindness may or may not be motivated by Gemeinschaftsgefühl. A wealthy woman may regularly give large sums of money to the poor and needy, not because she feels a oneness with them, but, quite to the contrary, because she wishes to maintain a separateness from them. The gift implies, “You are inferior, I am su- perior, and this charity is proof of my superiority.” Adler believed that the worth of all such acts can only be judged against the criterion of social interest.

In summary, people begin life with a basic striving force that is activated by ever-present physical deficiencies. These organic weaknesses lead inevitably to feel- ings of inferiority. Thus, all people possess feelings of inferiority, and all set a final goal at around age 4 or 5. However, psychologically unhealthy individuals develop exaggerated feelings of inferiority and attempt to compensate by setting a goal of personal superiority. They are motivated by personal gain rather than by social in- terest, whereas healthy people are motivated by normal feelings of incompleteness and high levels of social interest. They strive toward the goal of success, defined in terms of perfection and completion for everyone. Figure 3.1 illustrates how the in- nate striving force combines with inevitable physical deficiencies to produce univer- sal feelings of inferiority, which can be either exaggerated or normal. Exaggerated feelings of inferiority lead to a neurotic style of life, whereas normal feelings of in- completion result in a healthy style of life. Whether a person forms a useless style of life or a socially useful one depends on how that person views these inevitable feel- ings of inferiority.

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Style of Life Adler’s fifth tenet is: The self-consistent personality structure develops into a per- son’s style of life.

Style of life is the term Adler used to refer to the flavor of a person’s life. It in- cludes a person’s goal, self-concept, feelings for others, and attitude toward the world. It is the product of the interaction of heredity, environment, and a person’s creative power. Adler (1956) used a musical analogy to elucidate style of life. The separate notes of a composition are meaningless without the entire melody, but the melody takes on added significance when we recognize the composer’s style or unique manner of expression.

A person’s style of life is fairly well established by age 4 or 5. After that time, all our actions revolve around our unified style of life. Although the final goal is sin- gular, style of life need not be narrow or rigid. Psychologically unhealthy individu- als often lead rather inflexible lives that are marked by an inability to choose new ways of reacting to their environment. In contrast, psychologically healthy people behave in diverse and flexible ways with styles of life that are complex, enriched, and changing. Healthy people see many ways of striving for success and continually seek to create new options for themselves. Even though their final goal remains constant, the way in which they perceive it continually changes. Thus, they can choose new options at any point in life.

People with a healthy, socially useful style of life express their social interest through action. They actively struggle to solve what Adler regarded as the three major problems of life—neighborly love, sexual love, and occupation—and they do so through cooperation, personal courage, and a willingness to make a contribution to the welfare of another. Adler (1956) believed that people with a socially useful style of life represent the highest form of humanity in the evolutionary process and are likely to populate the world of the future.

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FIGURE 3.1 Two Basic Methods of Striving toward the Final Goal.

Personal superiority

Personal gain

Exaggerated feelings


Social interest

Normal feelings of incompletion

Feelings of inferiority

Physical deficiencies

Innate striving force

Final goal dimly perceived

Final goal clearly perceived

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Creative Power The final tenet of Adlerian theory is: Style of life is molded by people’s creative power.

Each person, Adler believed, is empowered with the freedom to create her or his own style of life. Ultimately, all people are responsible for who they are and how they behave. Their creative power places them in control of their own lives, is re- sponsible for their final goal, determines their method of striving for that goal, and contributes to the development of social interest. In short, creative power makes each person a free individual. Creative power is a dynamic concept implying movement, and this movement is the most salient characteristic of life. All psychic life involves movement toward a goal, movement with a direction (Adler, 1964).

Adler (1956) acknowledged the importance of heredity and environment in forming personality. Except for identical twins, every child is born with a unique ge- netic makeup and soon comes to have social experiences different from those of any other human. People, however, are much more than a product of heredity and envi- ronment. They are creative beings who not only react to their environment but also act on it and cause it to react to them.

Each person uses heredity and environment as the bricks and mortar to build personality, but the architectural design reflects that person’s own style. Of primary importance is not what people have been given, but how they put those materials to use. The building materials of personality are secondary. We are our own architect and can build either a useful or a useless style of life. We can choose to construct a gaudy façade or to expose the essence of the structure. We are not compelled to grow in the direction of social interest, inasmuch as we have no inner nature that forces us to be good. Conversely, we have no inherently evil nature from which we must es- cape. We are who we are because of the use we have made of our bricks and mortar.

Adler (1929/1964) used an interesting analogy, which he called “the law of the low doorway.” If you are trying to walk through a doorway four feet high, you have two basic choices. First, you can use your creative power to bend down as you ap- proach the doorway, thereby successfully solving the problem. This is the manner in which the psychologically healthy individual solves most of life’s problems. Con- versely, if you bump your head and fall back, you must still solve the problem cor- rectly or continue bumping your head. Neurotics often choose to bump their head on the realities of life. When approaching the low doorway, you are neither compelled to stoop nor forced to bump your head. You have a creative power that permits you to follow either course.

Abnormal Development Adler believed that people are what they make of themselves. The creative power en- dows humans, within certain limits, with the freedom to be either psychologically healthy or unhealthy and to follow either a useful or useless style of life.

General Description According to Adler (1956), the one factor underlying all types of maladjustments is underdeveloped social interest. Besides lacking social interest, neurotics tend to (1) set their goals too high, (2) live in their own private world, and (3) have a rigid

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and dogmatic style of life. These three characteristics follow inevitably from a lack of social interest. In short, people become failures in life because they are overconcerned with themselves and care little about others. Maladjusted people set extravagant goals as an overcompensation for exaggerated feelings of inferiority. These lofty goals lead to dogmatic behavior, and the higher the goal, the more rigid the striving. To compensate for deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy and basic insecurity, these individuals narrow their perspective and strive compulsively and rigidly for unreal- istic goals.

The exaggerated and unrealistic nature of neurotics’ goals sets them apart from the community of other people. They approach the problems of friendship, sex, and occupation from a personal angle that precludes successful solutions. Their view of the world is not in focus with that of other individuals and they possess what Adler (1956) called “private meaning” (p. 156). These people find everyday living to be hard work, requiring great effort. Adler (1929/1964) used an analogy to describe how these people go through life.

In a certain popular music hall, the “strong” man comes on and lifts an enormous weight with care and intense difficulty. Then, during the hearty applause of the audience, a child comes in and gives away the fraud by carrying the dummy weight off with one hand. There are plenty of neurotics who swindle us with such weights, and who are adepts at appearing overburdened. They could really dance with the load under which they stagger. (p. 91)

External Factors in Maladjustment Why do some people create maladjustments? Adler (1964) recognized three con- tributing factors, any one of which is sufficient to contribute to abnormality: (1) ex- aggerated physical deficiencies, (2) a pampered style of life, and (3) a neglected style of life.

Exaggerated Physical Deficiencies Exaggerated physical deficiencies, whether congenital or the result of injury or dis- ease, are not sufficient to lead to maladjustment. They must be accompanied by ac- centuated feelings of inferiority. These subjective feelings may be greatly encour- aged by a defective body, but they are the progeny of the creative power.

Each person comes into the world “blessed” with physical deficiencies, and these deficiencies lead to feelings of inferiority. People with exaggerated physical deficiencies sometimes develop exaggerated feelings of inferiority because they overcompensate for their inadequacy. They tend to be overly concerned with them- selves and lack consideration for others. They feel as if they are living in enemy country, fear defeat more than they desire success, and are convinced that life’s major problems can be solved only in a selfish manner (Adler, 1927).

Pampered Style of Life A pampered style of life lies at the heart of most neuroses. Pampered people have weak social interest but a strong desire to perpetuate the pampered, parasitic rela- tionship they originally had with one or both of their parents. They expect others to

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look after them, overprotect them, and satisfy their needs. They are characterized by extreme discouragement, indecisiveness, oversensitivity, impatience, and exagger- ated emotion, especially anxiety. They see the world with private vision and believe that they are entitled to be first in everything (Adler, 1927, 1964).

Pampered children have not received too much love; rather, they feel unloved. Their parents have demonstrated a lack of love by doing too much for them and by treating them as if they were incapable of solving their own problems. Because these children feel pampered and spoiled, they develop a pampered style of life. Pampered children may also feel neglected. Having been protected by a doting parent, they are fearful when separated from that parent. Whenever they must fend for themselves, they feel left out, mistreated, and neglected. These experiences add to the pampered child’s stockpile of inferiority feelings.

Neglected Style of Life The third external factor contributing to maladjustment is neglect. Children who feel unloved and unwanted are likely to borrow heavily from these feelings in creating a neglected style of life. Neglect is a relative concept. No one feels totally neglected or completely unwanted. The fact that a child survived infancy is proof that some- one cared for that child and that the seed of social interest has been planted (Adler, 1927).

Abused and mistreated children develop little social interest and tend to create a neglected style of life. They have little confidence in themselves and tend to over- estimate difficulties connected with life’s major problems. They are distrustful of other people and are unable to cooperate for the common welfare. They see society as enemy country, feel alienated from all other people, and experience a strong sense of envy toward the success of others. Neglected children have many of the charac- teristics of pampered ones, but generally they are more suspicious and more likely to be dangerous to others (Adler, 1927).

Safeguarding Tendencies Adler believed that people create patterns of behavior to protect their exaggerated sense of self-esteem against public disgrace. These protective devices, called safe- guarding tendencies, enable people to hide their inflated self-image and to maintain their current style of life.

Adler’s concept of safeguarding tendencies can be compared to Freud’s con- cept of defense mechanisms. Basic to both is the idea that symptoms are formed as a protection against anxiety. However, there are important differences between the two concepts. Freudian defense mechanisms operate unconsciously to protect the ego against anxiety, whereas Adlerian safeguarding tendencies are largely conscious and shield a person’s fragile self-esteem from public disgrace. Also, Freud’s defense mechanisms are common to everyone, but Adler (1956) discussed safeguarding ten- dencies only with reference to the construction of neurotic symptoms. Excuses, ag- gression, and withdrawal are three common safeguarding tendencies, each designed to protect a person’s present style of life and to maintain a fictional, elevated feeling of self-importance (Adler, 1964).

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Excuses The most common of the safeguarding tendencies are excuses, which are typically expressed in the “Yes, but” or “If only” format. In the “Yes, but” excuse, people first state what they claim they would like to do—something that sounds good to others— then they follow with an excuse. A woman might say, “Yes, I would like to go to col- lege, but my children demand too much of my attention.” An executive explains, “Yes, I agree with your proposal, but company policy will not allow it.”

The “If only” statement is the same excuse phrased in a different way. “If only my husband were more supportive, I would have advanced faster in my profession.” “If only I did not have this physical deficiency, I could compete successfully for a job.” These excuses protect a weak—but artificially inflated—sense of self-worth and deceive people into believing that they are more superior than they really are (Adler, 1956).

Aggression Another common safeguarding tendency is aggression. Adler (1956) held that some people use aggression to safeguard their exaggerated superiority complex, that is, to protect their fragile self-esteem. Safeguarding through aggression may take the form of depreciation, accusation, or self-accusation.

Depreciation is the tendency to undervalue other people’s achievements and to overvalue one’s own. This safeguarding tendency is evident in such aggressive be- haviors as criticism and gossip. “The only reason Kenneth got the job I applied for is because he is an African American.” “If you look closely, you’ll notice that Jill works hardest at avoiding work.” The intention behind each act of depreciation is to belittle another so that the person, by comparison, will be placed in a favorable light.

Accusation, the second form of an aggressive safeguarding device, is the ten- dency to blame others for one’s failures and to seek revenge, thereby safeguarding one’s own tenuous self-esteem. “I wanted to be an artist, but my parents forced me to go to medical school. Now I have a job that makes me miserable.” Adler (1956) believed that there is an element of aggressive accusation in all unhealthy lifestyles. Unhealthy people invariably act to cause the people around them to suffer more than they do.

The third form of neurotic aggression, self-accusation, is marked by self- torture and guilt. Some people use self-torture, including masochism, depression, and suicide, as means of hurting people who are close to them. Guilt is often aggressive, self-accusatory behavior. “I feel distressed because I wasn’t nicer to my grandmother while she was still living. Now, it’s too late.”

Self-accusation is the converse of depreciation, although both are aimed to- ward gaining personal superiority. With depreciation, people who feel inferior de- value others to make themselves look good. With self-accusation, people devalue themselves in order to inflict suffering on others while protecting their own magni- fied feelings of self-esteem (Adler, 1956).

Withdrawal Personality development can be halted when people run away from difficulties. Adler referred to this tendency as withdrawal, or safeguarding through distance. Some people unconsciously escape life’s problems by setting up a distance between them- selves and those problems.

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Adler (1956) recognized four modes of safeguarding through withdrawal: (1) moving backward, (2) standing still, (3) hesitating, and (3) constructing obstacles.

Moving backward is the tendency to safeguard one’s fictional goal of superi- ority by psychologically reverting to a more secure period of life. Moving backward is similar to Freud’s concept of regression in that both involve attempts to return to earlier, more comfortable phases of life. Whereas regression takes place uncon- sciously and protects people against anxiety-filled experiences, moving backward may sometimes be conscious and is directed at maintaining an inflated goal of supe- riority. Moving backward is designed to elicit sympathy, the deleterious attitude of- fered so generously to pampered children.

Psychological distance can also be created by standing still. This withdrawal tendency is similar to moving backward but, in general, it is not as severe. People who stand still simply do not move in any direction; thus, they avoid all responsibil- ity by ensuring themselves against any threat of failure. They safeguard their fic- tional aspirations because they never do anything to prove that they cannot accom- plish their goals. A person who never applies to graduate school can never be denied entrance; a child who shies away from other children will not be rejected by them. By doing nothing, people safeguard their self-esteem and protect themselves against failure.

Closely related to standing still is hesitating. Some people hesitate or vacillate when faced with difficult problems. Their procrastinations eventually give them the excuse “It’s too late now.” Adler believed that most compulsive behaviors are at- tempts to waste time. Compulsive hand washing, retracing one’s steps, behaving in an obsessive orderly manner, destroying work already begun, and leaving work un- finished are examples of hesitation. Although hesitating may appear to other people to be self-defeating, it allows neurotic individuals to preserve their inflated sense of self-esteem.

The least severe of the withdrawal safeguarding tendencies is constructing obstacles. Some people build a straw house to show that they can knock it down. By overcoming the obstacle, they protect their self-esteem and their prestige. If they fail to hurdle the barrier, they can always resort to an excuse.

In summary, safeguarding tendencies are found in nearly everyone, but when they become overly rigid, they lead to self-defeating behaviors. Overly sensitive peo- ple create safeguarding tendencies to buffer their fear of disgrace, to eliminate their exaggerated inferiority feelings, and to attain self-esteem. However, safeguarding tendencies are self-defeating because their built-in goals of self-interest and personal superiority actually block them from securing authentic feelings of self-esteem. Many people fail to realize that their self-esteem would be better safeguarded if they gave up their self-interest and developed a genuine caring for other people. Adler’s idea of safeguarding tendencies and Freud’s notion of defense mechanisms are com- pared in Table 3.1.

Masculine Protest In contrast to Freud, Adler (1930, 1956) believed that the psychic life of women is essentially the same as that of men and that a male-dominated society is not natural but rather an artificial product of historical development. According to Adler, cul- tural and social practices—not anatomy—influence many men and women to

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overemphasize the importance of being manly, a condition he called the masculine protest.

Origins of the Masculine Protest In many societies, both men and women place an inferior value on being a woman. Boys are frequently taught early that being masculine means being courageous, strong, and dominant. The epitome of success for boys is to win, to be powerful, to be on top. In contrast, girls often learn to be passive and to accept an inferior posi- tion in society.

Some women fight against their feminine roles, developing a masculine orien- tation and becoming assertive and competitive; others revolt by adopting a passive role, becoming exceedingly helpless and obedient; still others become resigned to the belief that they are inferior human beings, acknowledging men’s privileged posi- tion by shifting responsibilities to them. Each of these modes of adjustment results from cultural and social influences, not from inherent psychic difference between the two genders.

Adler, Freud, and the Masculine Protest In the previous chapter we saw that Freud (1924/1961) believed that “anatomy is destiny” (p. 178), and that he regarded women as the “‘dark continent’ for psychol- ogy” (Freud 1926/1959b, p. 212). Moreover, near the end of his life, he was still ask- ing, “What does a woman want?” (E. Jones, 1955, p. 421). According to Adler, these attitudes toward women would be evidence of a person with a strong masculine

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T A B L E 3 . 1

Comparison of Safeguarding Tendencies with Defense Mechanisms

Adler’s Safeguarding Tendencies

1. Limited mostly to the construction of a neurotic style of life

2. Protect the person’s fragile self- esteem from public disgrace

3. Can be partly conscious 4. Common types include:

A. excuses B. aggression

(1) depreciation (2) accusation (3) self-accusation

C. withdrawal (1) moving backward (2) standing still (3) hesitating (4) constructing obstacles

Freud’s Defense Mechanisms

1. Found in everyone 2. Protect the ego from the pain of

anxiety 3. Operate only on an unconscious

level 4. Common types include:

A. repression B. reaction formation C. displacement D. fixation E. regression F . projection G. introjection H. sublimation

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protest. In contrast to Freud’s views on women, Adler assumed that women—be- cause they have the same physiological and psychological needs as men—want more or less the same things that men want.

These opposing views on femininity were magnified in the women Freud and Adler chose to marry. Martha Bernays Freud was a subservient housewife dedicated to her children and husband, but she had no interest in her husband’s professional work. In contrast, Raissa Epstein Adler was an intensely independent woman who abhorred the traditional domestic role, preferring a politically active career.

During the early years of their marriage, Raissa and Alfred Adler had some- what compatible political views, but in time, these views diverged. Alfred became more of a capitalist, advocating personal responsibility, while Raissa became in- volved in the dangerous Communist politics of her native Russia. Such indepen- dence pleased Adler, who was as much a feminist as his strong-willed wife.

Applications of Individual Psychology We have divided the practical applications of individual psychology into four areas: (1) family constellation, (2) early recollections, (3) dreams, and (4) psychotherapy.

Family Constellation In therapy, Adler almost always asked patients about their family constellation, that is, their birth order, the gender of their siblings, and the age spread between them. Although people’s perception of the situation into which they were born is more im- portant than numerical rank, Adler did form some general hypotheses about birth order.

Firstborn children, according to Adler (1931), are likely to have intensified feelings of power and superiority, high anxiety, and overprotective tendencies. (Re- call that Freud was his mother’s firstborn child.) Firstborn children occupy a unique position, being an only child for a time and then experiencing a traumatic dethrone- ment when a younger sibling is born. This event dramatically changes the situation and the child’s view of the world.

If firstborn children are age 3 or older when a baby brother or sister is born, they incorporate this dethronement into a previously established style of life. If they have already developed a self-centered style of life, they likely will feel hostility and resentment toward the new baby, but if they have formed a cooperating style, they will eventually adopt this same attitude toward the new sibling. If firstborn children are less than 3 years old, their hostility and resentment will be largely unconscious, which makes these attitudes more resistant to change in later life.

According to Adler, secondborn children (such as himself ) begin life in a bet- ter situation for developing cooperation and social interest. To some extent, the per- sonalities of secondborn children are shaped by their perception of the older child’s attitude toward them. If this attitude is one of extreme hostility and vengeance, the second child may become highly competitive or overly discouraged. The typical sec- ond child, however, does not develop in either of these two directions. Instead, the secondborn child matures toward moderate competitiveness, having a healthy desire to overtake the older rival. If some success is achieved, the child is likely to develop

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a revolutionary attitude and feel that any authority can be challenged. Again, chil- dren’s interpretations are more important than their chronological position.

Youngest children, Adler believed, are often the most pampered and, conse- quently, run a high risk of being problem children. They are likely to have strong feelings of inferiority and to lack a sense of independence. Nevertheless, they pos- sess many advantages. They are often highly motivated to exceed older siblings and to become the fastest runner, the best musician, the most skilled athlete, or the most ambitious student.

Only children are in a unique position of competing, not against brothers and sisters, but against father and mother. Living in an adult world, they often develop an exaggerated sense of superiority and an inflated self-concept. Adler (1931) stated that only children may lack well-developed feelings of cooperation and social inter- est, possess a parasitic attitude, and expect other people to pamper and protect them. Typical positive and negative traits of oldest, second, youngest, and only children are shown in Table 3.2.

Early Recollections To gain an understanding of patients’ personality, Adler would ask them to reveal their early recollections (ERs). Although he believed that the recalled memories yield clues for understanding patients’ style of life, he did not consider these mem- ories to have a causal effect. Whether the recalled experiences correspond with ob- jective reality or are complete fantasies is of no importance. People reconstruct the

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Siblings may feel superior or inferior and may adopt different attitudes toward the world depending in part on their order of birth.

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events to make them consistent with a theme or pattern that runs throughout their lives.

Adler (1929/1969, 1931) insisted that early recollections are always consistent with people’s present style of life and that their subjective account of these experi- ences yields clues to understanding both their final goal and their present style of life. One of Adler’s earliest recollections was of the great contrast between his brother Sigmund’s good health and his own sickly condition. As an adult, Adler re- ported that

One of my earliest recollections is of sitting on a beach . . . bandaged up on account of rickets, with my healthier elder brother sitting opposite me. He could run, jump, and move about quite effortlessly, while for me movement of any sort was a strain. . . . Everyone went to great pains to help me. (Bottome, 1957, p. 30)

If Adler’s assumption that early recollections are a valid indicator of a person’s style of life, then this memory should yield clues about Adler’s adult style of life.

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T A B L E 3 . 2

Adler’s View of Some Possible Traits by Birth Order

Positive Traits Negative Traits

Oldest Child

Second Child

Highly anxious Exaggerated feelings of power Unconscious hostility Fights for acceptance Must always be “right,” whereas

others are always “wrong” Highly critical of others Uncooperative

Nurturing and protective of others Good organizer

Highly motivated Cooperative Moderately competitive

Highly competitive Easily discouraged

Realistically ambitious Pampered style of life Dependent on others Wants to excel in everything Unrealistically ambitious

Socially mature Exaggerated feelings of superiority Low feelings of cooperation Inflated sense of self Pampered style of life

Youngest Child

Only Child

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First, it tells us that he must have seen himself as an underdog, competing valiantly against a powerful foe. However, this early recollection also indicates that he be- lieved he had the help of others. Receiving aid from other people would have given Adler the confidence to compete against such a powerful rival. This confidence cou- pled with a competitive attitude likely carried over to his relationship with Sigmund Freud, making that association tenuous from the beginning.

Adler (1929/1964) presented another example of the relationship between early recollections and style of life. During therapy an outwardly successful man who greatly distrusted women reported the following early memory: “I was going with my mother and little brother to market. Suddenly it began to rain and my mother took me in her arms, and then, remembering that I was the older, she put me down and took up my younger brother” (p. 123). Adler saw that this recollection related di- rectly to the man’s current distrust of women. Having initially gained a favorite po- sition with his mother, he eventually lost it to his younger brother. Although others may claim to love him, they will soon withdraw their love. Note that Adler did not believe that the early childhood experiences caused the man’s current distrust of women, but rather that his current distrustful style of life shapes and colors his early recollections.

Adler believed that highly anxious patients will often project their current style of life onto their memory of childhood experiences by recalling fearful and anxiety- producing events, such as being in a motor vehicle crash, losing parents either temporarily or permanently, or being bullied by other children. In contrast, self- confident people tend to recall memories that include pleasant relations with other people. In either case the early experience does not determine the style of life. Adler believed that the opposite was true; that is, recollections of early experiences are simply shaped by present style of life.

Dreams Although dreams cannot foretell the future, they can provide clues for solving future problems. Nevertheless, the dreamer frequently does not wish to solve the problem in a productive manner. Adler (1956) reported the dream of a 35-year-old man who was considering marriage. In the dream, the man “crossed the border between Aus- tria and Hungary, and they wanted to imprison me” (p. 361). Adler interpreted this dream to mean that the dreamer wants to come to a standstill because he would be defeated if he went on. In other words, the man wanted to limit his scope of activity and had no deep desire to change his marital status. He did not wish to be “impris- oned” by marriage. Any interpretation of this or any dream must be tentative and open to reinterpretation. Adler (1956) applied the golden rule of individual psychol- ogy to dream work, namely, “Everything can be different” (p. 363). If one interpre- tation doesn’t feel right, try another.

Immediately before Adler’s first trip to the United States in 1926, he had a vivid and anxious dream that related directly to his desire to spread his individual psychology to a new world and to free himself from the constraints of Freud and Vi- enna. The night before he was to depart for America, Adler dreamed that he was on board the ship when

suddenly it capsized and sunk. All of Adler’s worldly possessions were on it and were destroyed by the raging waves. Hurled into the ocean, Adler was forced to

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swim for his life. Alone he thrashed and struggled through the choppy water. But through the force of will and determination, he finally reached land in safety. (Hoffman, 1994, p. 151)

Adler interpreted this dream to mean that he had to muster the courage to venture into a new world and to break from old worldly possessions.

Although Adler believed that he could easily interpret this dream, he con- tended that most dreams are self-deceptions and not easily understood by the dreamer. Dreams are disguised to deceive the dreamer, making self-interpretation difficult. The more an individual’s goal is inconsistent with reality, the more likely that person’s dreams will be used for self-deception. For example, a man may have the goal of reaching the top, being above, or becoming an important military figure. If he also possesses a dependent style of life, his ambitious goal may be expressed in dreams of being lifted onto another person’s shoulders or being shot from a can- non. The dream unveils the style of life, but it fools the dreamer by presenting him with an unrealistic, exaggerated sense of power and accomplishment. In contrast, a more courageous and independent person with similar lofty ambitions may dream of unaided flying or reaching a goal without help, much as Adler had done when he dreamed of escaping from a sinking ship.

Psychotherapy Adlerian theory postulates that psychopathology results from lack of courage, exag- gerated feelings of inferiority, and underdeveloped social interest. Thus, the chief purpose of Adlerian psychotherapy is to enhance courage, lessen feelings of inferi- ority, and encourage social interest. This task, however, is not easy because patients struggle to hold on to their existing, comfortable view of themselves. To overcome this resistance to change, Adler would sometimes ask patients, “What would you do if I cured you immediately?” Such a question usually forced patients to examine their goals and to see that responsibility for their current misery rests with them.

Adler often used the motto “Everybody can accomplish everything.” Except for certain limitations set by heredity, he strongly believed this maxim and repeat- edly emphasized that what people do with what they have is more important than what they have (Adler, 1925/1968, 1956). Through the use of humor and warmth, Adler tried to increase the patient’s courage, self-esteem, and social interest. He be- lieved that a warm, nurturing attitude by the therapist encourages patients to expand their social interest to each of the three problems of life: sexual love, friendship, and occupation.

Adler innovated a unique method of therapy with problem children by treating them in front of an audience of parents, teachers, and health professionals. When children receive therapy in public, they more readily understand that their problems are community problems. Adler (1964) believed that this procedure would enhance children’s social interest by allowing them to feel that they belong to a community of concerned adults. Adler was careful not to blame the parents for a child’s misbe- havior. Instead, he worked to win the parents’ confidence and to persuade them to change their attitudes toward the child.

Although Adler was quite active in setting the goal and direction of psy- chotherapy, he maintained a friendly and permissive attitude toward the patient. He established himself as a congenial coworker, refrained from moralistic preaching,

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and placed great value on the human relationship. By cooperating with their thera- pists, patients establish contact with another person. The therapeutic relationship awakens their social interest in the same manner that children gain social interest from their parents. Once awakened, the patients’ social interest must spread to fam- ily, friends, and people outside the therapeutic relationship (Adler, 1956).

Related Research Adlerian theory continues to generate a moderate amount of research on such topics as career choice, eating disorders, binge drinking, and other important issues. Each of these topics can provide a potentially rich source for understanding various Adler- ian concepts.

Early Recollections and Career Choice Do early recollections predict career choice among young students? Adler believed that career choices reflect a person’s personality. “If ever I am called on for voca- tional guidance, I always ask the individual what he was interested in during his first years. His memories of this period show conclusively what he has trained himself for most continuously” (Adler, 1958, as quoted in Kasler & Nevo, 2005, p. 221). Re- searchers inspired by Adler therefore predicted that the kind of career one chooses as an adult is often reflected in one’s earliest recollections.

In order to test this hypothesis, Jon Kasler and Ofra Nevo (2005) gathered ear- liest memories from 130 participants. These recollections were then coded by two judges on the kind of career the memory reflected. The recollections were classified using Holland’s (1973) vocational interest types, namely Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (see Table 3.3 for description of these interest types). For example, an early recollection that reflects a social career interest later in life was: “I went to nursery school for the first time in my life at the age of four or five. I don’t remember my feelings that day but I went with my mother and the moment I arrived I met my first friend, a boy by the name of P. I remember a clear picture of P playing on the railings and somehow I joined him. I had fun all day” (Kasler & Nevo, 2005, p. 226). This early recollection centers around social in- teraction and relationships. An example of an early recollection that reflects a real- istic career interest was: “When I was a little boy, I used to like to take things apart, especially electrical appliances. One day I wanted to find out what was inside the tel- evision, so I decided to take a knife and break it open. Because I was so small I didn’t have the strength and anyway my father caught me and yelled at me” (Kasler & Nevo, 2005, p. 225).

Career interest of participants was assessed by a self-report measure, the Self- Directed Search (SDS) questionnaire (Holland, 1973). The SDS measures vocational interests, which were independently categorized into the same six Holland types that early recollections were placed into. The researchers therefore had early recollec- tions and adult career interests both classified into the six career types, and they wanted to examine whether early recollections matched career interest.

Kasler and Nevo (2005) found that early recollections in childhood did match career type as an adult, at least for the three career types that were well represented

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T A B L E 3 . 3

Qualities of Holland’s Six Career Types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional


• Likes to work with animals, tools, or machines; generally avoids social activities like teaching, healing, and informing others;

• Has good skills in working with tools, mechanical or electrical drawings, machines, or plants and animals;

• Values practical things you can see, touch, and use like plants and animals, tools, equipment, or machines; and

• Sees self as practical, mechanical, and realistic.


• Likes to study and solve math or science problems; generally avoids leading, selling, or persuading people;

• Is good at understanding and solving science and math problems; • Values science; and • Sees self as precise, scientific, and intellectual.


• Likes to do creative activities like art, drama, crafts, dance, music, or creative writing; generally avoids highly ordered or repetitive activities;

• Has good artistic abilities—in creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art; • Values the creative arts—like drama, music, art, or the works of creative writers; and • Sees self as expressive, original, and independent.


• Likes to do things to help people—like teaching, nursing, or giving first aid, providing information; generally avoids using machines, tools, or animals to achieve a goal;

• Is good at teaching, counseling, nursing, or giving information; • Values helping people and solving social problems; and • Sees self as helpful, friendly, and trustworthy.


• Likes to lead and persuade people, and to sell things and ideas; generally avoids activities that require careful observation and scientific, analytical thinking;

• Is good at leading people and selling things or ideas; • Values success in politics, leadership, or business; and • Sees self as energetic, ambitious, and sociable.


• Likes to work with numbers, records, or machines in a set, orderly way; generally avoids ambiguous, unstructured activities;

• Is good at working with written records and numbers in a systematic, orderly way; • Values success in business; and • Sees self as orderly, and good at following a set plan.

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in their sample (Realistic, Artistic, and Social). The general direction of a participant’s career path could be identified from themes seen in early recollections. These vignettes are consistent with Alder’s view of early recollections and demonstrate how style of life may relate to occupational choice.

Early Childhood and Health-Related Issues Psychologists have been studying health-related issues for a number of years, but only recently have these topics become of interest to Adlerian psychologists. As it turns out, Adler’s theory of inferiority, superiority, and social feeling can be applied to explain health-related behaviors such as eating disorders and binge drinking.

According to Susan Belangee (2006), dieting, overeating, and bulimia can be viewed as common ways of expressing inferiority feelings. Belangee cites a report by Lowes and Tiggeman (2003), who looked at body satisfaction in 135 children 5 to 8 years old and found that 59% of them wanted to be thinner. Other research found that 35% of young dieters progressed to pathological dieting. Adlerian psychologists have recognized this progression and have seen it as a means of compensating for in- feriority or a sense of worthlessness. In other words, the eating disorder and its striv- ing toward superiority are an unhealthy means of compensating for inferiority. More- over, eating disorders suggest that a person’s Gemeinschaftsgefühl, or social feeling, is out of whack. Rather than being focused on helping others and feeling compas- sion for others, persons with eating disorders are very much focused on their own lives and difficulties (Belangee, 2007).

Adlerian theory can also shed light on another health-related behavior—binge drinking. Although heavy drinking among college students has a long and destruc- tive history, this pattern of alcohol consumption has increased in recent years with male students being more likely than female students to engage in excessive drink- ing over a relatively short period of time (Brannon & Feist, 2007). College men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 have the highest risk for heavy drinking. How- ever, drinking rates among these students have not been analyzed according to birth order, gender of siblings, ethnicity, and other Adlerian topics.

Recently, however, Teresa Laird and Andrea Shelton (2006) examined the issue of binge drinking and birth order among men and women attending college. These researchers found significant differences among students with regard to family dy- namics, alcohol consumption, and drinking patterns. That is, the youngest children in a family were more likely to binge drink, whereas older children demonstrated more drinking restraint. The authors explained this association using Adlerian theory: Youngest children are more dependent upon others, and when people who are de- pendent are stressed, they are more likely to cope by heavy drinking.

Early Recollections and Counseling Outcomes If early recollections are fictional constructions amenable to present shifts in a person’s style of life, then early recollections should change as style of life changes. This hypothesis is difficult to test because researchers would need to (1) measure early recollections, (2) assess current style of life, (3) bring about changes in style of life,

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and (4) reassess early recollections. If changes in early recollections tend to track changes in personality variables, then ERs could be used as criteria for measures of psychotherapy outcomes.

Some evidence exists that early recollections do change through the course of counseling. For example, Gary Savill and Daniel Eckstein (1987) obtained early rec- ollections and mental status of psychiatric patients both before and after counseling and compared them to ERs and mental status of a matched group of control partici- pants. They found significant changes in both mental status and early recollections for the counseling group but not for the controls. Consistent with Adlerian theory, this finding indicates that when counseling is successful, patients change their early recollections.

Similarly, Jane Statton and Bobbie Wilborn (1991) looked at the three earliest recollections of 5- to 12-year-old children after each of 10 weekly counseling ses- sions and compared them with the early recollections of a control group of children that did not receive counseling. The researchers found that the counseling group showed greater changes in the theme, character, setting, amount of detail, and level of affect of their early memories. In addition, they reported one dramatic example of how early recollections can change as style of life changes. One young child recalled that

my uncle and dad took me fishing. They were fishing and my uncle got his line hung on a tree stump in the water. He yanked on the pole and the hook came back and hooked me in the head. . . . I waited for them to pull it out of my head. (p. 341)

After counseling, the child recast this passive early recollection in a more active light.

I went fishing when I was about 5. . . . I caught a fish . . . and my uncle threw his line out and he got it hung on a tree stump and he yanked it back and the hook came back and got me in the head. . . . I pulled it out. (p. 344)

This research is intriguing because it suggests that early recollections may change as a result of psychotherapy or some other life-altering experience. These results tend to support Adler’s teleological approach to personality; namely, early childhood experiences are less important than the adult’s view of those experiences.

Critique of Adler Adler’s theory, like that of Freud, produced many concepts that do not easily lend themselves to either verification or falsification. For example, although research has consistently shown a relationship between early childhood recollections and a per- son’s present style of life (Clark, 2002), these results do not verify Adler’s notion that present style of life shapes one’s early recollections. An alternate, causal explanation is also possible; that is, early experiences may cause present style of life. Thus, one of Adler’s most important concepts—the assumption that present style of life deter- mines early memories rather than vice versa—is difficult to either verify or falsify.

Another function of a useful theory is to generate research, and on this criterion we rate Adler’s theory above average. Much of the research suggested by

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individual psychology has investigated early recollections, social interest, and style of life. Arthur J. Clark (2002), for example, cites evidence showing that early recol- lections relate to myriad personality factors, including dimensions or personality clinical disorders, vocational choice, explanatory style, and psychotherapy processes and outcomes. In addition, Adler’s theory has encouraged researchers to construct several social interest scales, for example, the Social Interest Scale (Crandall, 1975, 1981), the Social Interest Index (Greever, Tseng, & Friedland, 1973), and the Sulli- man Scale of Social Interest (Sulliman, 1973). Research activity on these scales and on birth order, early recollections, and style of life gives Adlerian theory a moderate to high rating on its ability to generate research.

How well does Adlerian theory organize knowledge into a meaningful frame- work? In general, individual psychology is sufficiently broad to encompass possible explanations for much of what is known about human behavior and development. Even seemingly self-defeating and inconsistent behaviors can be fit into the frame- work of striving for superiority. Adler’s practical view of life’s problems allows us to rate his theory high on its ability to make sense out of what we know about human behavior.

We also rate Adlerian theory high on its ability to guide action. The theory serves the psychotherapist, the teacher, and the parent with guidelines for the solu- tion to practical problems in a variety of settings. Adlerian practitioners gather in- formation through reports on birth order, dreams, early recollections, childhood dif- ficulties, and physical deficiencies. They then use this information to understand a person’s style of life and to apply those specific techniques that will both increase that person’s individual responsibility and broaden his or her freedom of choice.

Is individual psychology internally consistent? Does it include a set of opera- tionally defined terms? Although Adlerian theory is a model for self-consistency, it suffers from a lack of precise operational definitions. Terms such as goal of superi- ority and creative power have no scientific definition. Nowhere in Adler’s works are they operationally defined, and the potential researcher will look in vain for precise definitions that lend themselves to rigorous study. The term creative power is an es- pecially illusory one. Just what is this magical force that takes the raw materials of heredity and environment and molds a unique personality? How does the creative power transform itself into specific actions or operations needed by the scientist to carry out an investigation? Unfortunately, individual psychology is somewhat philo- sophical—even moralistic—and does not provide answers to these questions.

The concept of creative power is a very appealing one. Probably most people prefer to believe that they are composed of something more than the interactions of heredity and environment. Many people intuitively feel that they have some agent (soul, ego, self, creative power) within them that allows them to make choices and to create their style of life. As inviting as it is, however, the concept of creative power is simply a fiction and cannot be scientifically studied. Due to lack of operational definitions, therefore, we rate individual psychology low on internal consistency.

The final criterion of a useful theory is simplicity, or parsimony. On this stan- dard we rate individual psychology about average. Although Adler’s awkward and unorganized writings distract from the theory’s rating on parsimony, the work of Ansbacher and Ansbacher (Adler, 1956, 1964) has made individual psychology more parsimonious.

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Chapter 3 Adler: Individual Psychology 95

Concept of Humanity Adler believed that people are basically self-determined and that they shape their personalities from the meaning they give to their experiences. The building mate- rial of personality is provided by heredity and environment, but the creative power shapes this material and puts it to use. Adler frequently emphasized that the use that people make of their abilities is more important than the quantity of those abilities. Heredity endows people with certain abilities and environment gives them some opportunity to enhance those abilities, but we are ultimately responsible for the use they make of these abilities.

Adler also believed that people’s interpretations of experiences are more im- portant than the experiences themselves. Neither the past nor the future deter- mines present behavior. Instead, people are motivated by their present perceptions of the past and their present expectations of the future. These perceptions do not necessarily correspond with reality, and as Adler (1956) stated, “meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations” (p. 208).

People are forward moving, motivated by future goals rather than by innate instincts or causal forces. These future goals are often rigid and unrealistic, but people’s personal freedom allows them to reshape their goals and thereby change their lives. People create their personalities and are capable of altering them by learning new attitudes. These attitudes encompass an understanding that change can occur, that no other person or circumstance is responsible for what a person is, and that personal goals must be subordinated to social interest.

Although our final goal is relatively fixed during early childhood, we remain free to change our style of life at any time. Because the goal is fictional and un- conscious, we can set and pursue temporary goals. These momentary goals are not rigidly circumscribed by the final goal but are created by us merely as partial solu- tions. Adler (1927) expressed this idea as follows: “We must understand that the reactions of the human soul are not final and absolute: Every response is but a par- tial response, valid temporarily, but in no way to be considered a final solution of a problem” (p. 24). In other words, even though our final goal is set during child- hood, we are capable of change at any point in life. However, Adler maintained that not all our choices are conscious and that style of life is created through both con- scious and unconscious choices.

Adler believed that ultimately people are responsible for their own personal- ities. People’s creative power is capable of transforming feelings of inadequacy into either social interest or into the self-centered goal of personal superiority. This ca- pacity means that people remain free to choose between psychological health and neuroticism. Adler regarded self-centeredness as pathological and established so- cial interest as the standard of psychological maturity. Healthy people have a high level of social interest, but throughout their lives, they remain free to accept or re- ject normality and to become what they will.

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Key Terms and Concepts

• People begin life with both an innate striving force and physical deficiencies, which combine to produce feelings of inferiority.

• These feelings stimulate people to set a goal of overcoming their inferiority.

• People who see themselves as having more than their share of physical deficiencies or who experience a pampered or neglected style of life overcompensate for these deficiencies and are likely to have exaggerated feelings of inferiority, strive for personal gain, and set unrealistically high goals.

• People with normal feelings of inferiority compensate for these feelings by cooperating with others and developing a high level of social interest.

• Social interest, or a deep concern for the welfare of other people, is the sole criterion by which human actions should be judged.

• The three major problems of life—neighborly love, work, and sexual love—can only be solved through social interest.

• All behaviors, even those that appear to be incompatible, are consistent with a person’s final goal.

• Human behavior is shaped neither by past events nor by objective reality, but rather by people’s subjective perception of a situation.

• Heredity and environment provide the building material of personality, but people’s creative power is responsible for their style of life.

• All people, but especially neurotics, make use of various safeguarding tendencies—such as excuses, aggression, and withdrawal—as conscious or unconscious attempts to protect inflated feelings of superiority against public disgrace.

• The masculine protest—the belief that men are superior to women—is a fiction that lies at the root of many neuroses, both for men and for women.

• Adlerian therapy uses birth order, early recollections, and dreams to foster courage, self-esteem, and social interest.

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On the six dimensions of a concept of humanity listed in Chapter 1, we rate Adler very high on free choice and optimism; very low on causality; moderate on un- conscious influences; and high on social factors and on the uniqueness of individu- als. In summary, Adler held that people are self-determining social creatures, for- ward moving and motivated by present fictions to strive toward perfection for themselves and society.

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Jung: Analytical Psychology

B Overview of Analytical Psychology B Biography of Carl Jung B Levels of the Psyche


Personal Unconscious

Collective Unconscious






Great Mother

Wise Old Man



B Dynamics of Personality Causality and Teleology

Progression and Regression

B Psychological Types Attitudes








B Development of Personality Stages of Development




Middle Life

Old Age


B Jung’s Methods of Investigation Word Association Test

Dream Analysis

Active Imagination


B Related Research Personality Type and Investing Money

Personality Type and Interest in and Attrition From Engineering

B Critique of Jung B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


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The middle-aged doctor sat at his desk in deep contemplation and concern. A 6-year relationship with an older friend and mentor had recently ended on bitter terms, and the doctor felt frustrated and uncertain of his future. He no longer had confidence in his manner of treating patients and had begun to simply allow them to talk, not offering any specific advice or treatment.

For some months the doctor had been having bizarre, inexplicable dreams and seeing strange, mysterious visions. None of this seemed to make sense to him. He felt lost and disoriented—unsure whether or not the work he had been trained to do was indeed science.

A moderately gifted artist, he had begun to illustrate his dreams and visions with little or no comprehension of what the finished product might mean. He had also been writing down his fantasies without really trying to understand them.

On this particular day, he began to ponder: “What am I really doing?” He doubted if his work was science but was uncertain about what it was. Suddenly, to his astonishment, he heard a clear, distinct feminine voice from within him say, “It is art.” He recognized the voice as that of a gifted female patient who had strong, positive feelings for him. He protested to the voice that his work was not art, but no answer was immediately forthcoming. Then, returning to his writing, he again heard the voice say, “That is art.” When he tried to argue with the voice, no answer came. He reasoned that the “woman from within” had no speech center so he suggested that she use his. This she did, and a lengthy conversation followed.

The middle-aged doctor who talked to the “woman from within” was Carl Gus- tav Jung, and the time was the winter of 1913–1914. Jung had been an early admirer and friend of Sigmund Freud, but when theoretical differences arose, their personal relationship broke up, leaving Jung with bitter feelings and a deep sense of loss.

The above story is but one of many strange and bizarre occurrences experienced by Jung during his midlife “confrontation with the unconscious.” An interesting ac- count of his unusual journey into the recesses of his psyche is found in Jung’s auto- biography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Jung, 1961).

Overview of Analytical Psychology An early colleague of Freud, Carl Gustav Jung broke from orthodox psychoanalysis to establish a separate theory of personality called analytical psychology, which rests on the assumption that occult phenomena can and do influence the lives of everyone. Jung believed that each of us is motivated not only by repressed experi- ences but also by certain emotionally toned experiences inherited from our ances- tors. These inherited images make up what Jung called the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious includes those elements that we have never experienced individually but which have come down to us from our ancestors.

Some elements of the collective unconscious become highly developed and are called archetypes. The most inclusive archetype is the notion of self-realization, which can be achieved only by attaining a balance between various opposing forces of personality. Thus, Jung’s theory is a compendium of opposites. People are both in- troverted and extraverted; rational and irrational; male and female; conscious and unconscious; and pushed by past events while being pulled by future expectations.

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This chapter looks with some detail into the long and colorful life of Carl Jung and uses fragments from his life history to illustrate his concepts and theories. Jung’s notion of a collective unconscious makes his theory one of the most intriguing of all conceptions of personality.

Biography of Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, a town on Lake Constance in Switzerland. His paternal grandfather, the elder Carl Gustav Jung, was a promi- nent physician in Basel and one of the best-known men of that city. A local rumor suggested that the elder Carl Jung was the illegitimate son of the great German poet Goethe. Although the elder Jung never acknowledged the rumor, the younger Jung, at least sometimes, believed himself to be the great-grandson of Goethe (Ellen- berger, 1970).

Both of Jung’s parents were the youngest of 13 children, a situation that may have contributed to some of the difficulties they had in their marriage. Jung’s father, Johann Paul Jung, was a minister in the Swiss Reformed Church, and his mother, Emilie Preiswerk Jung, was the daughter of a theologian. In fact, eight of Jung’s ma- ternal uncles and two of his paternal uncles were pastors, so both religion and med- icine were prevalent in his family. Jung’s mother’s family had a tradition of spiritu- alism and mysticism, and his maternal grandfather, Samuel Preiswerk, was a believer in the occult and often talked to the dead. He kept an empty chair for the ghost of his first wife and had regular and intimate conversations with her. Quite understandably, these practices greatly annoyed his second wife.

Jung’s parents had three children, a son born before Carl but who lived only 3 days and a daughter 9 years younger than Carl. Thus, Jung’s early life was that of an only child.

Jung (1961) described his father as a sentimental idealist with strong doubts about his religious faith. He saw his mother as having two separate dispositions. On one hand, she was realistic, practical, and warmhearted, but on the other, she was un- stable, mystical, clairvoyant, archaic, and ruthless. An emotional and sensitive child, Jung identified more with this second side of his mother, which he called her No. 2 or night personality (Alexander, 1990). At age 3 years, Jung was separated from his mother, who had to be hospitalized for several months, and this separation deeply troubled young Carl. For a long time after, he felt distrustful whenever the word “love” was mentioned. Years later he still associated “woman” with unreliability, whereas the word “father” meant reliable—but powerless (Jung, 1961).

Before Jung’s fourth birthday, his family moved to a suburb of Basel. It is from this period that his earliest dream stems. This dream, which was to have a profound effect on his later life and on his concept of a collective unconscious, will be de- scribed later.

During his school years, Jung gradually became aware of two separate aspects of his self, and he called these his No. 1 and No. 2 personalities. At first he saw both personalities as parts of his own personal world, but during adolescence he became aware of the No. 2 personality as a reflection of something other than himself—an old man long since dead. At that time Jung did not fully comprehend these separate powers, but in later years he recognized that No. 2 personality had been in touch with

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feelings and intuitions that No. 1 personality did not perceive. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1961) wrote of his No. 2 personality:

I experienced him and his influence in a curiously unreflective manner; when he was present, No. 1 personality paled to the point of nonexistence, and when the ego that became increasingly identical with No. 1 personality dominated the scene, the old man, if remembered at all, seemed a remote and unreal dream. (p. 68)

Between his 16th and 19th years, Jung’s No. 1 personality emerged as more domi- nant and gradually “repressed the world of intuitive premonitions” (Jung, 1961, p. 68). As his conscious, everyday personality prevailed, he could concentrate on school and career. In Jung’s own theory of attitudes, his No. 1 personality was ex- traverted and in tune to the objective world, whereas his No. 2 personality was in- troverted and directed inward toward his subjective world. Thus, during his early school years, Jung was mostly introverted, but when the time came to prepare for a profession and meet other objective responsibilities, he became more extraverted, an attitude that prevailed until he experienced a midlife crisis and entered a period of extreme introversion.

Jung’s first choice of a profession was archeology, but he was also interested in philology, history, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Despite a somewhat aris- tocratic background, Jung had limited financial resources (Noll, 1994). Forced by lack of money to attend a school near home, he enrolled in Basel University, a school without an archeology teacher. Having to select another field of study, Jung chose natural science because he twice dreamed of making important discoveries in the natural world (Jung, 1961). His choice of a career eventually narrowed to medicine. That choice was narrowed further when he learned that psychiatry deals with sub- jective phenomena (Singer, 1994).

While Jung was in his first year of medical school, his father died, leaving him in care of his mother and sister. Also while still in medical school, Jung began to at- tend a series of seances with relatives from the Preiswerk family, including his first cousin Helene Preiswerk, who claimed she could communicate with dead people. Jung attended these seances mostly as a family member, but later, when he wrote his medical dissertation on the occult phenomenon, he reported that these seances had been controlled experiments (McLynn, 1996).

After completing his medical degree from Basel University in 1900, Jung be- came a psychiatric assistant to Eugene Bleuler at Burghöltzli Mental Hospital in Zürich, possibly the most prestigious psychiatric teaching hospital in the world at that time. During 1902–1903, Jung studied for 6 months in Paris with Pierre Janet, successor to Charcot. When he returned to Switzerland in 1903, he married Emma Rauschenbach, a young sophisticated woman from a wealthy Swiss family. Two years later, while continuing his duties at the hospital, he began teaching at the Uni- versity of Zürich and seeing patients in his private practice.

Jung had read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1900/1953) soon after it appeared, but he was not much impressed with it (Singer, 1994). When he reread the book a few years later, he had a better understanding of Freud’s ideas and was moved to begin interpreting his own dreams. In 1906, Jung and Freud began a steady correspondence (see McGuire & McGlashan, 1994, for the Freud/Jung letters). The

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following year, Freud invited Carl and Emma Jung to Vienna. Immediately, both Freud and Jung developed a strong mutual respect and affection for one another, talking during their first meeting for 13 straight hours and well into the early morn- ing hours. During this marathon conversation, Martha Freud and Emma Jung busied themselves with polite conversation (Ferris, 1997).

Freud believed that Jung was the ideal person to be his successor. Unlike other men in Freud’s circle of friends and followers, Jung was neither Jewish nor Viennese. In addition, Freud had warm personal feelings for Jung and regarded him as a man of great intellect. These qualifications prompted Freud to select Jung as the first pres- ident of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

In 1909, G. Stanley Hall, the president of Clark University and one of the first psychologists in the United States, invited Jung and Freud to deliver a series of lectures at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Together with Sándor Ferenczi, another psychoanalyst, the two men journeyed to America, the first of Jung’s nine visits to the United States (Bair, 2003). During their 7-week trip and while they were in daily contact, an underlying tension between Jung and Freud slowly began to simmer. This personal tension was not diminished when the two now-famous psychoanalysts began to interpret each other’s dreams, a pastime likely to strain any relationship.

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1961) claimed that Freud was un- willing to reveal details of his personal life—details Jung needed in order to inter- pret one of Freud’s dreams. According to Jung’s account, when asked for intimate de- tails, Freud protested, “But I cannot risk my authority!” (Jung, 1961, p. 158). At that moment, Jung concluded, Freud indeed had lost his authority. “That sentence burned itself into my memory, and in it the end of our relationship was already foreshad- owed” (p. 158).

Jung also asserted that, during the trip to America, Freud was unable to inter- pret Jung’s dreams, especially one that seemed to contain rich material from Jung’s collective unconscious. Later, we discuss this dream in more detail, but here we merely present those aspects of the dream that may relate to some of the lifelong problems Jung had with women. In this dream, Jung and his family were living on the second floor of his house when he decided to explore hitherto unknown levels of his house. At the bottom level of his dwelling, he came upon a cave where he found “two human skulls, very old and half disintegrated” (p. 159).

After Jung described the dream, Freud became interested in the two skulls, but not as collective unconscious material. Instead, he insisted that Jung associate the skulls to some wish. Whom did Jung wish dead? Not yet completely trusting his own judgment and knowing what Freud expected, Jung answered, “My wife and my sister-in-law—after all, I had to name someone whose death was worth the wishing!”

“I was newly married at the time and knew perfectly well that there was noth- ing within myself which pointed to such wishes” (Jung, 1961, pp. 159–160).

Although Jung’s interpretation of this dream may be more accurate than Freud’s, it is quite possible that Jung did indeed wish for the death of his wife. At that time, Jung was not “newly married” but had been married for nearly 7 years, and for the previous 5 of those years he was deeply involved in an intimate relationship with a former patient named Sabina Spielrein. Frank McLynn (1996) claimed that Jung’s “mother complex” caused him to harbor animosity toward his wife, but a

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more likely explanation is that Jung needed more than one woman to satisfy the two aspects of his personality.

However, the two women who shared Jung’s life for nearly 40 years were his wife Emma and another former patient named Antonia (Toni) Wolff (Bair, 2003). Emma Jung seemed to have related better to Jung’s No. 1 personality while Toni Wolff was more in touch with his No. 2 personality. The three-way relationship was not always amiable, but Emma Jung realized that Toni Wolff could do more for Carl than she (or anyone else) could, and she remained grateful to Wolff (Dunne, 2000).

Although Jung and Wolff made no attempt to hide their relationship, the name Toni Wolff does not appear in Jung’s posthumously published autobiography, Mem- ories, Dreams, Reflections. Alan Elms (1994) discovered that Jung had written a whole chapter on Toni Wolff, a chapter that was never published. The absence of Wolff’s name in Jung’s autobiography is probably due to the lifelong resentments Jung’s children had toward her. They remembered when she had carried on openly with their father, and as adults with some veto power over what appeared in their fa- ther’s autobiography, they were not in a generous mood to perpetuate knowledge of the affair.

In any event, little doubt exists that Jung needed women other than his wife. In a letter to Freud dated January 30, 1910, Jung wrote: “The prerequisite for a good marriage, it seems to me, is the license to be unfaithful” (McGuire, 1974, p. 289).

Almost immediately after Jung and Freud returned from their trip to the United States, personal as well as theoretical differences became more intense as their friendship cooled. In 1913, they terminated their personal correspondence and the following year, Jung resigned the presidency and shortly afterward withdrew his membership in the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Jung’s break with Freud may have been related to events not discussed in Mem- ories, Dreams, Reflections (Jung, 1961). In 1907, Jung wrote to Freud of his “bound- less admiration” for him and confessed that his veneration “has something of the character of a ‘religious’ crush” and that it had an “undeniable erotic undertone” (McGuire, 1974, p. 95). Jung continued his confession, saying: “This abominable feeling comes from the fact that as a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshipped” (p. 95). Jung was actually 18 years old at the time of the sexual assault and saw the older man as a fatherly friend in whom he could confide nearly everything. Alan Elms (1994) contended that Jung’s erotic feelings toward Freud—coupled with his early experience of the sexual assault by an older man he once worshipped—may have been one of the major reasons why Jung eventually broke from Freud. Elms further suggested that Jung’s rejection of Freud’s sexual the- ories may have stemmed from his ambivalent sexual feelings toward Freud.

The years immediately following the break with Freud were filled with loneli- ness and self-analysis for Jung. From December of 1913 until 1917, he underwent the most profound and dangerous experience of his life—a trip through the under- ground of his own unconscious psyche. Marvin Goldwert (1992) referred to this time in Jung’s life as a period of “creative illness,” a term Henri Ellenberger (1970) had used to describe Freud in the years immediately following his father’s death. Jung’s period of “creative illness” was similar to Freud’s self-analysis. Both men began their search for self while in their late 30s or early 40s: Freud, as a reaction to the death of his father; Jung, as a result of his split with his spiritual father, Freud.

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Both underwent a period of loneliness and isolation and both were deeply changed by the experience.

Although Jung’s journey into the unconscious was dangerous and painful, it was also necessary and fruitful. By using dream interpretation and active imagina- tion to force himself through his underground journey, Jung eventually was able to create his unique theory of personality.

During this period he wrote down his dreams, drew pictures of them, told him- self stories, and then followed these stories wherever they moved. Through these pro- cedures he became acquainted with his personal unconscious. (See Jung, 1979, and Dunne, 2000, for a collection of many of his paintings during this period.) Prolong- ing the method and going more deeply, he came upon the contents of the collective unconscious—the archetypes. He heard his anima speak to him in a clear feminine voice; he discovered his shadow, the evil side of his personality; he spoke with the wise old man and the great mother archetypes; and finally, near the end of his jour- ney, he achieved a kind of psychological rebirth called individuation (Jung, 1961).

Although Jung traveled widely in his study of personality, he remained a citi- zen of Switzerland, residing in Küsnacht, near Zürich. He and his wife, who was also an analyst, had five children, four girls and a boy. Jung was a Christian, but did not attend church. His hobbies included wood carving, stone cutting, and sailing his boat on Lake Constance. He also maintained an active interest in alchemy, archeology, gnosticism, Eastern philosophies, history, religion, mythology, and ethnology.

In 1944, he became professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel, but poor health forced him to resign his position the following year. After his wife died in 1955, he was mostly alone, the “wise old man of Küsnacht.” He died June 6, 1961, in Zürich, a few weeks short of his 86th birthday. At the time of his death, Jung’s reputation was worldwide, extending beyond psychology to include philosophy, religion, and popular culture (Brome, 1978).

Levels of the Psyche Jung, like Freud, based his personality theory on the assumption that the mind, or psyche, has both a conscious and an unconscious level. Unlike Freud, however, Jung strongly asserted that the most important portion of the unconscious springs not from personal experiences of the individual but from the distant past of human exis- tence, a concept Jung called the collective unconscious. Of lesser importance to Jun- gian theory are the conscious and the personal unconscious.

Conscious According to Jung, conscious images are those that are sensed by the ego, whereas unconscious elements have no relationship with the ego. Jung’s notion of the ego is more restrictive than Freud’s. Jung saw the ego as the center of consciousness, but not the core of personality. Ego is not the whole personality, but must be completed by the more comprehensive self, the center of personality that is largely unconscious. In a psychologically healthy person, the ego takes a secondary position to the un- conscious self (Jung, 1951/1959a). Thus, consciousness plays a relatively minor role in analytical psychology, and an overemphasis on expanding one’s conscious psyche

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can lead to psychological imbalance. Healthy individuals are in contact with their conscious world, but they also allow themselves to experience their unconscious self and thus to achieve individuation, a concept we discuss in the section titled Self- Realization.

Personal Unconscious The personal unconscious embraces all repressed, forgotten, or subliminally per- ceived experiences of one particular individual. It contains repressed infantile mem- ories and impulses, forgotten events, and experiences originally perceived below the threshold of our consciousness. Our personal unconscious is formed by our individ- ual experiences and is therefore unique to each of us. Some images in the personal unconscious can be recalled easily, some remembered with difficulty, and still others are beyond the reach of consciousness. Jung’s concept of the personal unconscious differs little from Freud’s view of the unconscious and preconscious combined (Jung, 1931/1960b).

Contents of the personal unconscious are called complexes. A complex is an emotionally toned conglomeration of associated ideas. For example, a person’s ex- periences with Mother may become grouped around an emotional core so that the person’s mother, or even the word “mother,” sparks an emotional response that blocks the smooth flow of thought. Complexes are largely personal, but they may also be partly derived from humanity’s collective experience. In our example, the mother complex comes not only from one’s personal relationship with mother but also from the entire species’ experiences with mother. In addition, the mother com- plex is partly formed by a person’s conscious image of mother. Thus, complexes may be partly conscious and may stem from both the personal and the collective uncon- scious (Jung, 1928/1960).

Collective Unconscious In contrast to the personal unconscious, which results from individual experiences, the collective unconscious has roots in the ancestral past of the entire species. It rep- resents Jung’s most controversial, and perhaps his most distinctive, concept. The physical contents of the collective unconscious are inherited and pass from one gen- eration to the next as psychic potential. Distant ancestors’ experiences with univer- sal concepts such as God, mother, water, earth, and so forth have been transmitted through the generations so that people in every clime and time have been influenced by their primitive ancestors’ primordial experiences (Jung, 1937/1959). Therefore, the contents of the collective unconscious are more or less the same for people in all cultures (Jung, 1934/1959).

The contents of the collective unconscious do not lie dormant but are active and influence a person’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. The collective unconscious is responsible for people’s many myths, legends, and religious beliefs. It also pro- duces “big dreams,” that is, dreams with meaning beyond the individual dreamer and that are filled with significance for people of every time and place (Jung, 1948/1960b).

The collective unconscious does not refer to inherited ideas but rather to hu- mans’ innate tendency to react in a particular way whenever their experiences stim-

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ulate a biologically inherited response tendency. For example, a young mother may unexpectedly react with love and tenderness to her newborn infant, even though she previously had negative or neutral feelings toward the fetus. The tendency to respond was part of the woman’s innate potential or inherited blueprint, but such innate po- tential requires an individual experience before it will become activated. Humans, like other animals, come into the world with inherited predispositions to act or react in certain ways if their present experiences touch on these biologically based predis- positions. For example, a man who falls in love at first sight may be greatly surprised and perplexed by his own reactions. His beloved may not resemble his conscious ideal of a woman, yet something within him moves him to be attracted to her. Jung would suggest that the man’s collective unconscious contained biologically based impressions of woman and that these impressions were activated when the man first saw his beloved.

How many biologically based predispositions do humans have? Jung said that people have as many of these inherited tendencies as they have typical situations in life. Countless repetitions of these typical situations have made them part of the human biological constitution. At first, they are “forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action” (Jung, 1937/1959, p. 48). With more repetition these forms begin to develop some content and to emerge as relatively autonomous archetypes.

Archetypes Archetypes are ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective uncon- scious. They are similar to complexes in that they are emotionally toned collections of associated images. But whereas complexes are individualized components of the personal unconscious, archetypes are generalized and derive from the contents of the collective unconscious.

Archetypes should also be distinguished from instincts. Jung (1948/1960a) de- fined an instinct as an unconscious physical impulse toward action and saw the ar- chetype as the psychic counterpart to an instinct. In comparing archetypes to in- stincts, Jung (1975) wrote:

As animals of the same kind show the same instinctual phenomena all over the world, man also shows the same archetypal forms no matter where he lives. As animals have no need to be taught their instinctive activities, so man also possesses his primordial psychic patterns and repeats them spontaneously, independently of any kind of teaching. Inasmuch as man is conscious and capable of introspection, it is quite possible that he can perceive his instinctual patterns in the form of archetypal representations. (p. 152)

In summary, both archetypes and instincts are unconsciously determined, and both can help shape personality.

Archetypes have a biological basis but originate through the repeated experi- ences of humans’ early ancestors. The potential for countless numbers of archetypes exists within each person, and when a personal experience corresponds to the latent primordial image, the archetype becomes activated.

The archetype itself cannot be directly represented, but when activated, it ex- presses itself through several modes, primarily dreams, fantasies, and delusions.

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During his midlife encounter with his unconscious, Jung had many archetypal dreams and fantasies. He frequently initiated fantasies by imagining that he was de- scending into a deep cosmic abyss. He could make little sense of his visions and dreams at that time, but later, when he began to understand that dream images and fantasy figures were actually archetypes, these experiences took on a completely new meaning (Jung, 1961).

Dreams are the main source of archetypal material, and certain dreams offer what Jung considered proof for the existence of the archetype. These dreams produce motifs that could not have been known to the dreamer through personal experience. The motifs often coincide with those known to ancient people or to natives of con- temporary aboriginal tribes.

Jung believed that hallucinations of psychotic patients also offered evidence for universal archetypes (Bair, 2003). While working as a psychiatric assistant at Burghöltzli, Jung observed a paranoid schizophrenic patient looking through a win- dow at the sun. The patient begged the young psychiatrist to also observe.

He said I must look at the sun with eyes half shut, and then I could see the sun’s phallus. If I moved my head from side to side the sun-phallus would move too, and that was the origin of the wind. (Jung, 1931/1960b, p. 150)

Four years later Jung came across a book by the German philologist Albrecht Di- eterich that had been published in 1903, several years after the patient was commit- ted. The book, written in Greek, dealt with a liturgy derived from the so-called Paris magic papyrus, which described an ancient rite of the worshippers of Mithras, the Persian god of light. In this liturgy, the initiate was asked to look at the sun until he could see a tube hanging from it. The tube, swinging toward the east and west, was the origin of the wind. Dieterich’s account of the sun-phallus of the Mithraic cult was nearly identical to the hallucination of the mental patient who, almost certainly, had no personal knowledge of the ancient initiation rite. Jung (1931/1960b) offered many similar examples as proof of the existence of archetypes and the collective uncon- scious.

As noted in Chapter 2, Freud also believed that people collectively inherit pre- dispositions to action. His concept of phylogenetic endowment, however, differs somewhat from Jung’s formulation. One difference was that Freud looked first to the personal unconscious and resorted to the phylogenetic endowment only when indi- vidual explanations failed—as he sometimes did when explaining the Oedipus com- plex (Freud, 1933/1964). In contrast, Jung placed primary emphasis on the collective unconscious and used personal experiences to round out the total personality.

The major distinction between the two, however, was Jung’s differentiation of the collective unconscious into autonomous forces called archetypes, each with a life and a personality of its own. Although a great number of archetypes exist as vague images, only a few have evolved to the point where they can be conceptualized. The most notable of these include the persona, shadow, anima, animus, great mother, wise old man, hero, and self.

Persona The side of personality that people show to the world is designated as the persona. The term is well chosen because it refers to the mask worn by actors in the early the- ater. Jung’s concept of the persona may have originated from experiences with his

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No. 1 personality, which had to make accommodations to the outside world. Each of us, Jung believed, should project a particular role, one that society dictates to each of us. A physician is expected to adopt a characteristic “bedside manner,” a politi- cian must show a face to society that can win the confidence and votes of the peo- ple; an actor exhibits the style of life demanded by the public (Jung, 1950/1959).

Although the persona is a necessary side of our personality, we should not con- fuse our public face with our complete self. If we identify too closely with our per- sona, we remain unconscious of our individuality and are blocked from attaining self-realization. True, we must acknowledge society, but if we over identify with our persona, we lose touch with our inner self and remain dependent on society’s expec- tations of us. To become psychologically healthy, Jung believed, we must strike a bal- ance between the demands of society and what we truly are. To be oblivious of one’s persona is to underestimate the importance of society, but to be unaware of one’s deep individuality is to become society’s puppet (Jung, 1950/1959).

During Jung’s near break with reality from 1913 to 1917, he struggled hard to remain in touch with his persona. He knew that he must maintain a normal life, and his work and family provided that contact. He was frequently forced to tell himself, “I have a medical diploma from a Swiss university, I must help my patients, I have a wife and five children, I live at 228 Seestrasse in Küsnacht” (Jung, 1961, p. 189). Such self-talk kept Jung’s feet rooted to the ground and reassured him that he really existed.

Shadow The shadow, the archetype of darkness and repression, represents those qualities we do not wish to acknowledge but attempt to hide from ourselves and others. The shadow consists of morally objectionable tendencies as well as a number of con- structive and creative qualities that we, nevertheless, are reluctant to face (Jung, 1951/1959a).

Jung contended that, to be whole, we must continually strive to know our shadow and that this quest is our first test of courage. It is easier to project the dark side of our personality onto others, to see in them the ugliness and evil that we re- fuse to see in ourselves. To come to grips with the darkness within ourselves is to achieve the “realization of the shadow.” Unfortunately, most of us never realize our shadow but identify only with the bright side of our personality. People who never realize their shadow may, nevertheless, come under its power and lead tragic lives, constantly running into “bad luck” and reaping harvests of defeat and discourage- ment for themselves (Jung, 1954/1959a).

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1961) reported a dream that took place at the time of his break from Freud. In this dream his shadow, a brown-skinned savage, killed the hero, a man named Siegfried, who represented the German people. Jung interpreted the dream to mean that he no longer needed Sig Freud (Siegfried); thus, his shadow performed the constructive task of eradicating his former hero.

Anima Like Freud, Jung believed that all humans are psychologically bisexual and possess both a masculine and a feminine side. The feminine side of men originates in the collective unconscious as an archetype and remains extremely resistant to

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consciousness. Few men become well acquainted with their anima because this task requires great courage and is even more difficult than becoming acquainted with their shadow. To master the projections of the anima, men must overcome intellec- tual barriers, delve into the far recesses of their unconscious, and realize the femi- nine side of their personality.

As we reported in the opening vignette in this chapter, Jung first encountered his own anima during his journey through his unconscious psyche soon after his break with Freud. The process of gaining acquaintance with his anima was Jung’s second test of courage. Like all men, Jung could recognize his anima only after learning to feel comfortable with his shadow (Jung, 1954/1959a, 1954/1959b).

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung vividly described this experience. In- trigued by this “woman from within,” Jung (1961) concluded that

she must be the “soul,” in the primitive sense, and I began to speculate on the reasons why the name “anima” was given to the soul. Why was it thought of as feminine? Later I came to see that this inner feminine figure plays a typical, or archetypal, role in the unconscious of a man, and I called her the “anima.” The corresponding figure in the unconscious of woman I called the “animus.” (p. 186)

Jung believed that the anima originated from early men’s experiences with women—mothers, sisters, and lovers—that combined to form a generalized picture of woman. In time, this global concept became embedded in the collective uncon- scious of all men as the anima archetype. Since prehistoric days, every man has come into the world with a predetermined concept of woman that shapes and molds all his relationships with individual women. A man is especially inclined to project his anima onto his wife or lover and to see her not as she really is but as his personal and collective unconscious have determined her. This anima can be the source of much misunderstanding in male-female relationships, but it may also be responsible for the alluring mystique woman has in the psyche of men (Hayman, 2001; Hillman, 1985).

A man may dream about a woman with no definite image and no particular identity. The woman represents no one from his personal experience, but enters his dream from the depths of his collective unconscious. The anima need not appear in dreams as a woman, but can be represented by a feeling or mood (Jung, 1945/1953). Thus, the anima influences the feeling side in man and is the explanation for certain irrational moods and feelings. During these moods a man almost never admits that his feminine side is casting her spell; instead, he either ignores the irrationality of the feelings or tries to explain them in a very rational masculine manner. In either event he denies that an autonomous archetype, the anima, is responsible for his mood.

The anima’s deceptive qualities were elucidated by Jung (1961) in his descrip- tion of the “woman from within” who spoke to him during his journey into the un- conscious and while he was contemplating whether his work was science.

What the anima said seemed to me full of a deep cunning. If I had taken these fantasies of the unconscious as art, they would have carried no more conviction than visual perceptions, as if I were watching a movie. I would have felt no moral obligation toward them. The anima might then have easily seduced me into believing that I was a misunderstood artist, and that my so-called artistic nature gave me the right to neglect reality. If I had followed her voice, she would in all probability have said to me one day, “Do you imagine the nonsense you’re engaged in is really art? Not a bit.” Thus the insinuations of the anima, the mouthpiece of the unconscious, can utterly destroy a man. (p. 187)

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Animus The masculine archetype in women is called the animus. Whereas the anima repre- sents irrational moods and feelings, the animus is symbolic of thinking and reason- ing. It is capable of influencing the thinking of a woman, yet it does not actually be- long to her. It belongs to the collective unconscious and originates from the encounters of prehistoric women with men. In every female-male relationship, the woman runs a risk of projecting her distant ancestors’ experiences with fathers, brothers, lovers, and sons onto the unsuspecting man. In addition, of course, her per- sonal experiences with men, buried in her personal unconscious, enter into her rela- tionships with men. Couple these experiences with projections from the man’s anima and with images from his personal unconscious, and you have the basic ingredients of any female-male relationship.

Jung believed that the animus is responsible for thinking and opinion in women just as the anima produces feelings and moods in men. The animus is also the explanation for the irrational thinking and illogical opinions often attributed to women. Many opinions held by women are objectively valid, but according to Jung, close analysis reveals that these opinions were not thought out, but existed ready- made. If a woman is dominated by her animus, no logical or emotional appeal can shake her from her prefabricated beliefs (Jung, 1951/1959a). Like the anima, the an- imus appears in dreams, visions, and fantasies in a personified form.

Great Mother Two other archetypes, the great mother and the wise old man, are derivatives of the anima and animus. Everyone, man or woman, possesses a great mother archetype. This preexisting concept of mother is always associated with both positive and neg- ative feelings. Jung (1954/1959c), for example, spoke of the “loving and terrible mother” (p. 82). The great mother, therefore, represents two opposing forces—fer- tility and nourishment on the one hand and power and destruction on the other. She is capable of producing and sustaining life (fertility and nourishment), but she may also devour or neglect her offspring (destruction). Recall that Jung saw his own mother as having two personalities—one loving and nurturing; the other uncanny, ar- chaic, and ruthless.

Jung (1954/1959c) believed that our view of a personal loving and terrible mother is largely overrated. “All those influences which the literature describes as being exerted on the children do not come from the mother herself, but rather from the archetype projected upon her, which gives her a mythological background” (p. 83). In other words, the strong fascination that mother has for both men and women, often in the absence of a close personal relationship, was taken by Jung as evidence for the great mother archetype.

The fertility and nourishment dimension of the great mother archetype is sym- bolized by a tree, garden, plowed field, sea, heaven, home, country, church, and hol- low objects such as ovens and cooking utensils. Because the great mother also rep- resents power and destruction, she is sometimes symbolized as a godmother, the Mother of God, Mother Nature, Mother Earth, a stepmother, or a witch. One exam- ple of the opposing forces of fertility and destruction is the story of Cinderella, whose fairy godmother is able to create for her a world of horses, carriages, fancy balls, and a charming prince. However, the powerful godmother could also destroy

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that world at the strike of midnight. Legends, myths, religious beliefs, art, and liter- ary stories are filled with other symbols of the great mother, a person who is both nurturing and destructive.

Fertility and power combine to form the concept of rebirth, which may be a separate archetype, but its relation to the great mother is obvious. Rebirth is repre- sented by such processes as reincarnation, baptism, resurrection, and individuation or self-realization. People throughout the world are moved by a desire to be reborn: that is, to reach self-realization, nirvana, heaven, or perfection (Jung, 1952/1956, 1954/1959c).

Wise Old Man The wise old man, archetype of wisdom and meaning, symbolizes humans’ preex- isting knowledge of the mysteries of life. This archetypal meaning, however, is un- conscious and cannot be directly experienced by a single individual. Politicians and others who speak authoritatively—but not authentically—often sound sensible and wise to others who are all too willing to be misled by their own wise old man ar- chetypes. Similarly, the wizard in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz was an impressive and captivating speaker whose words, however, rang hollow. A man or woman dom- inated by the wise old man archetype may gather a large following of disciples by using verbiage that sounds profound but that really makes little sense because the collective unconscious cannot directly impart its wisdom to an individual. Political, religious, and social prophets who appeal to reason as well as emotion (archetypes are always emotionally tinged) are guided by this unconscious archetype. The dan- ger to society comes when people become swayed by the pseudoknowledge of a powerful prophet and mistake nonsense for real wisdom. Recall that Jung saw the preachings of his own father (a pastor) as hollow pontifications, not backed by any strong religious conviction.

The wise old man archetype is personified in dreams as father, grandfather, teacher, philosopher, guru, doctor, or priest. He appears in fairy tales as the king, the sage, or the magician who comes to the aid of the troubled protagonist and, through superior wisdom, he helps the protagonist escape from myriad misadventures. The wise old man is also symbolized by life itself. Literature is replete with stories of young people leaving home, venturing out into the world, experiencing the trials and sorrows of life, and in the end acquiring a measure of wisdom (Jung, 1954/1959a).

Hero The hero archetype is represented in mythology and legends as a powerful person, sometimes part god, who fights against great odds to conquer or vanquish evil in the form of dragons, monsters, serpents, or demons. In the end, however, the hero often is undone by some seemingly insignificant person or event (Jung, 1951/1959b). For example, Achilles, the courageous hero of the Trojan War, was killed by an arrow in his only vulnerable spot—his heel. Similarly, Macbeth was a heroic figure with a sin- gle tragic flaw—ambition. This ambition was also the source of his greatness, but it contributed to his fate and his downfall. Heroic deeds can be performed only by someone who is vulnerable, such as Achilles or the comic book character Superman,

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whose only weakness was the chemical element kryptonite. An immortal person with no weakness cannot be a hero.

The image of the hero touches an archetype within us, as demonstrated by our fascination with the heroes of movies, novels, plays, and television programs. When the hero conquers the villain, he or she frees us from feelings of impotence and mis- ery; at the same time, serving as our model for the ideal personality (Jung, 1934/1954a).

The origin of the hero motif goes back to earliest human history—to the dawn of consciousness. In conquering the villain, the hero is symbolically overcoming the darkness of prehuman unconsciousness. The achievement of consciousness was one of our ancestors’ greatest accomplishments, and the image of the archetypal con- quering hero represents victory over the forces of darkness (Jung, 1951/1959b).

Self Jung believed that each person possesses an inherited tendency to move toward growth, perfection, and completion, and he called this innate disposition the self. The most comprehensive of all archetypes, the self is the archetype of archetypes because it pulls together the other archetypes and unites them in the process of self- realization. Like the other archetypes, it possesses conscious and personal uncon- scious components, but it is mostly formed by collective unconscious images.

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As an archetype, the self is symbolized by a person’s ideas of perfection, com- pletion, and wholeness, but its ultimate symbol is the mandala, which is depicted as a circle within a square, a square within a circle, or any other concentric fig- ure. It represents the strivings of the collective unconscious for unity, balance, and wholeness.

The self includes both personal and collective unconscious images and thus should not be confused with the ego, which represents consciousness only. In Figure 4.1, consciousness (the ego) is represented by the outer circle and is only a small part of total personality; the personal unconscious is depicted by the middle circle; the collective unconscious is represented by the inner circle; and totality of all three cir- cles symbolizes the self. Only four archetypes—persona, shadow, animus, and anima—have been drawn in this mandala, and each has been idealistically depicted as being the same size. For most people the persona is more conscious than the shadow, and the shadow may be more accessible to consciousness than either the anima or the animus. As shown in Figure 4.1, each archetype is partly conscious, partly personal unconscious, and partly collective unconscious.

The balance shown in Figure 4.1 between consciousness and the total self is also somewhat idealistic. Many people have an overabundance of consciousness and thus lack the “soul spark” of personality; that is, they fail to realize the richness and vitality of their personal unconscious and especially of their collective unconscious.

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FIGURE 4.1 Jung’s Conception of Personality.

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On the other hand, people who are overpowered by their unconscious are often pathological, with one-sided personalities (Jung, 1951/1959a).

Although the self is almost never perfectly balanced, each person has in the collective unconscious a concept of the perfect, unified self. The mandala represents the perfect self, the archetype of order, unity, and totality. Because self-realization involves completeness and wholeness, it is represented by the same symbol of per- fection (the mandala) that sometimes signifies divinity. In the collective uncon- scious, the self appears as an ideal personality, sometimes taking the form of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, or other deified figures.

Jung found evidence for the self archetype in the mandala symbols that appear in dreams and fantasies of contemporary people who have never been conscious of their meaning. Historically, people produced countless mandalas without appearing to have understood their full significance. Jung (1951/1959a) believed that psychotic patients experience an increasing number of mandala motifs in their dreams at the exact time that they are undergoing a period of serious psychic disorder and that this experience is further evidence that people strive for order and balance. It is as if the unconscious symbol of order counterbalances the conscious manifestation of disorder.

In summary, the self includes both the conscious and unconscious mind, and it unites the opposing elements of psyche—male and female, good and evil, light and dark forces. These opposing elements are often represented by the yang and yin (see Figure 4.2), whereas the self is usually symbolized by the mandala. This latter motif stands for unity, totality, and order—that is, self-realization. Complete self-realization is seldom if ever achieved, but as an ideal it exists within the collective unconscious of everyone. To actualize or fully experience the self, people must overcome their

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FIGURE 4.2 The Yang and the Yin.



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fear of the unconscious; prevent their persona from dominating their personality; recognize the dark side of themselves (their shadow); and then muster even greater courage to face their anima or animus.

On one occasion during his midlife crisis, Jung had a vision in which he con- fronted a bearded old man who was living with a beautiful blind young girl and a large black snake. The old man explained that he was Elijah and that the young girl was Salome, both biblical figures. Elijah had a certain, sharp intelligence, although Jung did not clearly understand him. Salome gave Jung a feeling of distinct suspi- ciousness, while the serpent showed a remarkable fondness for Jung. At the time he experienced this vision, Jung was unable to comprehend its meaning, but many years later he came to see the three figures as archetypes. Elijah represented the wise old man, seemingly intelligent, but not making a good deal of sense; the blind Salome was an anima figure, beautiful and seductive, but unable to see the meaning of things; and the snake was the counterpart of the hero, showing an affinity for Jung, the hero of the vision. Jung (1961) believed that he had to identify these unconscious images in order to maintain his own identity and not lose himself to the powerful forces of the collective unconscious. He later wrote:

The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power. It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it. (p. 187)

Dynamics of Personality In this section on the dynamics of personality, we look at Jung’s ideas on causality and teleology and on progression and regression.

Causality and Teleology Does motivation spring from past causes or from teleological goals? Jung insisted that it comes from both. Causality holds that present events have their origin in pre- vious experiences. Freud relied heavily on a causal viewpoint in his explanations of adult behavior in terms of early childhood experiences (see Chapter 2). Jung criti- cized Freud for being one-sided in his emphasis on causality and insisted that a causal view could not explain all motivation. Conversely, teleology holds that pres- ent events are motivated by goals and aspirations for the future that direct a person’s destiny. Adler held this position, insisting that people are motivated by conscious and unconscious perceptions of fictional final goals (see Chapter 3). Jung was less criti- cal of Adler than of Freud, but he insisted that human behavior is shaped by both causal and teleological forces and that causal explanations must be balanced with teleological ones.

Jung’s insistence on balance is seen in his conception of dreams. He agreed with Freud that many dreams spring from past events; that is, they are caused by ear-

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lier experiences. On the other hand, Jung claimed that some dreams can help a per- son make decisions about the future, just as dreams of making important discover- ies in the natural sciences eventually led to his own career choice.

Progression and Regression To achieve self-realization, people must adapt not only to their outside environment but to their inner world as well. Adaptation to the outside world involves the forward flow of psychic energy and is called progression, whereas adaptation to the inner world relies on a backward flow of psychic energy and is called regression. Both progression and regression are essential if people are to achieve individual growth or self-realization.

Progression inclines a person to react consistently to a given set of environ- mental conditions, whereas regression is a necessary backward step in the success- ful attainment of a goal. Regression activates the unconscious psyche, an essential aid in the solution of most problems. Alone, neither progression nor regression leads to development. Either can bring about too much one-sidedness and failure in adap- tation; but the two, working together, can activate the process of healthy personality development (Jung, 1928/1960).

Regression is exemplified in Jung’s midlife crisis, during which time his psy- chic life was turned inward toward the unconscious and away from any significant outward accomplishments. He spent most of his energy becoming acquainted with his unconscious psyche and did little in the way of writing or lecturing. Regression dominated his life while progression nearly ceased. Subsequently, he emerged from this period with a greater balance of the psyche and once again became interested in the extraverted world. However, his regressive experiences with the introverted world had left him permanently and profoundly changed. Jung (1961) believed that the regressive step is necessary to create a balanced personality and to grow toward self-realization.

Psychological Types Besides the levels of the psyche and the dynamics of personality, Jung recognized various psychological types that grow out of a union of two basic attitudes—intro- version and extraversion—and four separate functions—thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting.

Attitudes Jung (1921/1971) defined an attitude as a predisposition to act or react in a charac- teristic direction. He insisted that each person has both an introverted and an ex- traverted attitude, although one may be conscious while the other is unconscious. Like other opposing forces in analytical psychology, introversion and extraversion serve in a compensatory relationship to one another and can be illustrated by the yang and yin motif (see Figure 4.2).

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Introversion According to Jung, introversion is the turning inward of psychic energy with an ori- entation toward the subjective. Introverts are tuned in to their inner world with all its biases, fantasies, dreams, and individualized perceptions. These people perceive the external world, of course, but they do so selectively and with their own subjective view (Jung, 1921/1971).

The story of Jung’s life shows two episodes when introversion was clearly the dominant attitude. The first was during early adolescence when he became cognizant of a No. 2 personality, one beyond awareness to his extraverted personality. The sec- ond episode was during his midlife confrontation with his unconscious when he car- ried on conversations with his anima, experienced bizarre dreams, and induced strange visions that were the “stuff of psychosis” (Jung, 1961, p. 188). During his nearly completely introverted midlife crisis, his fantasies were individualized and subjective. Other people, including even Jung’s wife, could not accurately compre- hend what he was experiencing. Only Toni Wolff seemed capable of helping him emerge from his confrontation with the unconscious. During that introverted con- frontation, Jung suspended or discontinued much of his extraverted or objective at- titude. He stopped actively treating his patients, resigned his position as lecturer at the University of Zürich, ceased his theoretical writing, and for 3 years, found him- self “utterly incapable of reading a scientific book” (p. 193). He was in the process of discovering the introverted pole of his existence.

Jung’s voyage of discovery, however, was not totally introverted. He knew that unless he retained some hold on his extraverted world, he would risk becoming ab- solutely possessed by his inner world. Afraid that he might become completely psy- chotic, he forced himself to continue as much of a normal life as possible with his family and his profession. By this technique, Jung eventually emerged from his inner journey and established a balance between introversion and extraversion.

Extraversion In contrast to introversion, extraversion is the attitude distinguished by the turning outward of psychic energy so that a person is oriented toward the objective and away from the subjective. Extraverts are more influenced by their surroundings than by their inner world. They tend to focus on the objective attitude while suppressing the subjective. Like Jung’s childhood No. 1 personality, they are pragmatic and well rooted in the realities of everyday life. At the same time, they are overly suspicious of the subjective attitude, whether their own or that of someone else.

In summary, people are neither completely introverted nor completely ex- traverted. Introverted people are like an unbalanced teeter-totter with a heavy weight on one end and a very light weight on the other (see Figure 4.3 A). Conversely, ex- traverted people are unbalanced in the other direction, with a heavy extraverted atti- tude and a very light introverted one (see Figure 4.3 B). However, psychologically healthy people attain a balance of the two attitudes, feeling equally comfortable with their internal and their external worlds (see Figure 4.3 C).

In Chapter 3, we said that Adler developed a theory of personality that was quite opposite to that of Freud. Where did Jung place these two theories on the ex- traversion/introversion pole? Jung (1921/1971) said that “Freud’s view is essentially extraverted, Adler’s introverted” (p. 62). Our biographical sketches of Freud and

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Adler reveal that the opposite appears to be true: Freud was personally somewhat in- troverted, in tune to his dreams and fantasy life, whereas Adler was personally ex- traverted, feeling most comfortable in group settings, singing songs and playing the piano in the coffeehouses of Vienna. Yet Jung held that Freud’s theory was ex- traverted because it reduced experiences to the external world of sex and aggression, Conversely, Jung believed that Adler’s theory was introverted because it emphasized fictions and subjective perceptions. Jung, of course, saw his own theory as balanced, able to accept both the objective and the subjective.

Functions Both introversion and extraversion can combine with any one or more of four func- tions, forming eight possible orientations, or types. The four functions—sensing, thinking, feeling, and intuiting—can be briefly defined as follows: Sensing tells peo- ple that something exists; thinking enables them to recognize its meaning; feeling tells them its value or worth; and intuition allows them to know about it without knowing how they know.

Thinking Logical intellectual activity that produces a chain of ideas is called thinking. The thinking type can be either extraverted or introverted, depending on a person’s basic attitude.

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FIGURE 4.3 The Balance of Introversion and Extraversion.

Introverted Extroverted




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Extraverted thinking people rely heavily on concrete thoughts, but they may also use abstract ideas if these ideas have been transmitted to them from without, for example, from parents or teachers. Mathematicians and engineers make frequent use of extraverted thinking in their work. Accountants, too, are extraverted thinking types because they must be objective and not subjective in their approach to num- bers. Not all objective thinking, however, is productive. Without at least some indi- vidual interpretation, ideas are merely previously known facts with no originality or creativity (Jung, 1921/1971).

Introverted thinking people react to external stimuli, but their interpretation of an event is colored more by the internal meaning they bring with them than by the objective facts themselves. Inventors and philosophers are often introverted thinking types because they react to the external world in a highly subjective and creative manner, interpreting old data in new ways. When carried to an extreme, introverted thinking results in unproductive mystical thoughts that are so individualized that they are useless to any other person (Jung, 1921/1971).

Feeling Jung used the term feeling to describe the process of evaluating an idea or event. Per- haps a more accurate word would be valuing, a term less likely to be confused with either sensing or intuiting. For example, when people say, “This surface feels smooth,” they are using their sensing function, and when they say, “I have a feeling that this will be my lucky day,” they are intuiting, not feeling.

The feeling function should be distinguished from emotion. Feeling is the evaluation of every conscious activity, even those valued as indifferent. Most of these evaluations have no emotional content, but they are capable of becoming emo- tions if their intensity increases to the point of stimulating physiological changes within the person. Emotions, however, are not limited to feelings; any of the four functions can lead to emotion when their strength is increased.

Extraverted feeling people use objective data to make evaluations. They are not guided so much by their subjective opinion, but by external values and widely accepted standards of judgment. They are likely to be at ease in social situations, knowing on the spur of the moment what to say and how to say it. They are usually well liked because of their sociability, but in their quest to conform to social standards, they may appear artificial, shallow, and unreliable. Their value judgments will have an easily detectable false ring. Extraverted feeling people often become businesspeople or politicians because these professions demand and reward the making of value judgments based on objective information (Jung, 1921/1971).

Introverted feeling people base their value judgments primarily on subjective perceptions rather than objective facts. Critics of the various art forms make much use of introverted feeling, making value judgments on the basis of subjective indi- vidualized data. These people have an individualized conscience, a taciturn de- meanor, and an unfathomable psyche. They ignore traditional opinions and beliefs, and their nearly complete indifference to the objective world (including people) often causes persons around them to feel uncomfortable and to cool their attitude to- ward them (Jung, 1921/1971).

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Sensing The function that receives physical stimuli and transmits them to perceptual con- sciousness is called sensation. Sensing is not identical to the physical stimulus but is simply the individual’s perception of sensory impulses. These perceptions are not dependent on logical thinking or feeling but exist as absolute, elementary facts within each person.

Extraverted sensing people perceive external stimuli objectively, in much the same way that these stimuli exist in reality. Their sensations are not greatly influ- enced by their subjective attitudes. This facility is essential in such occupations as proofreader, house painter, wine taster, or any other job demanding sensory dis- criminations congruent with those of most people (Jung, 1921/1971).

Introverted sensing people are largely influenced by their subjective sensations of sight, sound, taste, touch, and so forth. They are guided by their interpretation of sense stimuli rather than the stimuli themselves. Portrait artists, especially those whose paintings are extremely personalized, rely on an introverted-sensing attitude. They give a subjective interpretation to objective phenomena yet are able to com- municate meaning to others. When the subjective sensing attitude is carried to its ex- treme, however, it may result in hallucinations or esoteric and incomprehensible speech (Jung, 1921/1971).

Intuiting Intuition involves perception beyond the workings of consciousness. Like sensing, it is based on the perception of absolute elementary facts, ones that provide the raw material for thinking and feeling. Intuiting differs from sensing in that it is more cre- ative, often adding or subtracting elements from conscious sensation.

Extraverted intuitive people are oriented toward facts in the external world. Rather than fully sensing them, however, they merely perceive them subliminally. Because strong sensory stimuli interfere with intuition, intuitive people suppress many of their sensations and are guided by hunches and guesses contrary to sensory data. An example of an extraverted intuitive type might be inventors who must in- hibit distracting sensory data and concentrate on unconscious solutions to objective problems. They may create things that fill a need few other people realized existed.

Introverted intuitive people are guided by unconscious perception of facts that are basically subjective and have little or no resemblance to external reality. Their subjective intuitive perceptions are often remarkably strong and capable of motivat- ing decisions of monumental magnitude. Introverted intuitive people, such as mys- tics, prophets, surrealistic artists, or religious fanatics, often appear peculiar to peo- ple of other types who have little comprehension of their motives. Actually, Jung (1921/1971) believed that introverted intuitive people may not clearly understand their own motivations, yet they are deeply moved by them. (See Table 4.1 for the eight Jungian types with some possible examples of each.)

The four functions usually appear in a hierarchy, with one occupying a supe- rior position, another a secondary position, and the other two inferior positions. Most people cultivate only one function, so they characteristically approach a situa- tion relying on the one dominant or superior function. Some people develop two functions, and a few very mature individuals have cultivated three. A person who has

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theoretically achieved self-realization or individuation would have all four functions highly developed.

Development of Personality Jung believed that personality develops through a series of stages that culminate in individuation, or self-realization. In contrast to Freud, he emphasized the second half of life, the period after age 35 or 40, when a person has the opportunity to bring together the various aspects of personality and to attain self-realization. However, the opportunity for degeneration or rigid reactions is also present at that time. The psychological health of middle-aged people is related to their ability in achiev- ing balance between the poles of the various opposing processes. This ability is proportional to the success achieved in journeying through the previous stages of life.

Stages of Development Jung grouped the stages of life into four general periods—childhood, youth, middle life, and old age. He compared the trip through life to the journey of the sun through the sky, with the brightness of the sun representing consciousness. The early morn- ing sun is childhood, full of potential, but still lacking in brilliance (consciousness); the morning sun is youth, climbing toward the zenith, but unaware of the impending decline; the early afternoon sun is middle life, brilliant like the late morning sun, but obviously headed for the sunset; the evening sun is old age, its once bright con- sciousness now markedly dimmed (see Figure 4.4). Jung (1931/1960a) argued that values, ideals, and modes of behavior suitable for the morning of life are inappro- priate for the second half, and that people must learn to find new meaning in their declining years of life.

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T A B L E 4 . 1

Examples of the Eight Jungian Types





Philosophers, theoretical scientists, some inventors

Subjective movie critics, art appraisers

Artists, classical musicians

Prophets, mystics, religious fanatics

Research scientists, accountants, mathematicians

Real estate appraisers, objective movie critics

Wine tasters, proofreaders, popular musicians, house painters

Some inventors, religious reformers

Functions Attitudes

Introversion Extraversion

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Childhood Jung divided childhood into three substages: (1) the anarchic, (2) the monarchic, and (3) the dualistic. The anarchic phase is characterized by chaotic and sporadic con- sciousness. “Islands of consciousness” may exist, but there is little or no connection among these islands. Experiences of the anarchic phase sometimes enter conscious- ness as primitive images, incapable of being accurately verbalized.

The monarchic phase of childhood is characterized by the development of the ego and by the beginning of logical and verbal thinking. During this time children see themselves objectively and often refer to themselves in the third person. The is- lands of consciousness become larger, more numerous, and inhabited by a primitive ego. Although the ego is perceived as an object, it is not yet aware of itself as per- ceiver.

The ego as perceiver arises during the dualistic phase of childhood when the ego is divided into the objective and subjective. Children now refer to themselves in the first person and are aware of their existence as separate individuals. Dur- ing the dualistic period, the islands of consciousness become continuous land, inhab- ited by an ego-complex that recognizes itself as both object and subject (Jung, 1931/1960a).

Youth The period from puberty until middle life is called youth. Young people strive to gain psychic and physical independence from their parents, find a mate, raise a family, and make a place in the world. According to Jung (1931/1960a), youth is, or should be, a period of increased activity, maturing sexuality, growing consciousness, and recognition that the problem-free era of childhood is gone forever. The major diffi- culty facing youth is to overcome the natural tendency (found also in middle and later years) to cling to the narrow consciousness of childhood, thus avoiding prob- lems pertinent to the present time of life. This desire to live in the past is called the conservative principle.

A middle-aged or elderly person who attempts to hold on to youthful values faces a crippled second half of life, handicapped in the capacity to achieve self-realization and impaired in the ability to establish new goals and seek new meaning to life (Jung, 1931/1960a).

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FIGURE 4.4 Jung Compares the Stages of Life to the Sun’s Journey through the Sky, with the Brilliance of the Sun Representing Consciousness.


Youth Middle life

Old age

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Middle Life Jung believed that middle life begins at approximately age 35 or 40, by which time the sun has passed its zenith and begins its downward descent. Although this decline can present middle-aged people with increasing anxieties, middle life is also a pe- riod of tremendous potential.

If middle-aged people retain the social and moral values of their early life, they become rigid and fanatical in trying to hold on to their physical attractiveness and agility. Finding their ideals shifting, they may fight desperately to maintain their youthful appearance and lifestyle. Most of us, wrote Jung (1931/1960a), are unpre- pared to “take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. . . . We can- not live in the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie” (p. 399).

How can middle life be lived to its fullest? People who have lived youth by nei- ther childish nor middle-aged values are well prepared to advance to middle life and to live fully during that stage. They are capable of giving up the extraverted goals of youth and moving in the introverted direction of expanded consciousness. Their psy- chological health is not enhanced by success in business, prestige in society, or sat- isfaction with family life. They must look forward to the future with hope and an- ticipation, surrender the lifestyle of youth, and discover new meaning in middle life. This step often, but not always, involves a mature religious orientation, especially a belief in some sort of life after death (Jung, 1931/1960a).

Old Age As the evening of life approaches, people experience a diminution of consciousness just as the light and warmth of the sun diminish at dusk. If people fear life during the early years, then they will almost certainly fear death during the later ones. Fear of death is often taken as normal, but Jung believed that death is the goal of life and that life can be fulfilling only when death is seen in this light. In 1934, during his 60th year, Jung wrote:

Ordinarily we cling to our past and remain stuck in the illusion of youthfulness. Being old is highly unpopular. Nobody seems to consider that not being able to grow old is just as absurd as not being able to outgrow child’s-size shoes. A still infantile man of thirty is surely to be deplored, but a youthful septuagenarian— isn’t that delightful? And yet both are perverse, lacking in style, psychological monstrosities. A young man who does not fight and conquer has missed the best part of his youth, and an old man who does not know how to listen to the secrets of the brooks, as they tumble down from the peaks to the valleys, makes no sense; he is a spiritual mummy who is nothing but a rigid relic of the past. (Jung, 1934/1960, p. 407)

Most of Jung’s patients were middle aged or older, and many of them suffered from a backward orientation, clinging desperately to goals and lifestyles of the past and going through the motions of life aimlessly. Jung treated these people by help- ing them establish new goals and find meaning in living by first finding meaning in death. He accomplished this treatment through dream interpretation, because the dreams of elderly people are often filled with symbols of rebirth, such as long jour-

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neys or changes in location. Jung used these and other symbols to determine pa- tients’ unconscious attitudes toward death and to help them discover a meaningful philosophy of life (Jung, 1934/1960).

Self-Realization Psychological rebirth, also called self-realization or individuation, is the process of becoming an individual or whole person (Jung, 1939/1959, 1945/1953). Analytical psychology is essentially a psychology of opposites, and self-realization is the process of integrating the opposite poles into a single homogeneous individual. This process of “coming to selfhood” means that a person has all psychological compo- nents functioning in unity, with no psychic process atrophying. People who have gone through this process have achieved realization of the self, minimized their per- sona, recognized their anima or animus, and acquired a workable balance between introversion and extraversion. In addition, these self-realized individuals have ele- vated all four of the functions to a superior position, an extremely difficult accom- plishment.

Self-realization is extremely rare and is achieved only by people who are able to assimilate their unconscious into their total personality. To come to terms with the unconscious is a difficult process that demands courage to face the evil nature of one’s shadow and even greater fortitude to accept one’s feminine or masculine side. This process is almost never achieved before middle life and then only by men and women who are able to remove the ego as the dominant concern of personality and replace it with the self. The self-realized person must allow the unconscious self to become the core of personality. To merely expand consciousness is to inflate the ego and to produce a one-sided person who lacks the soul spark of personality. The self- realized person is dominated neither by unconscious processes nor by the conscious ego but achieves a balance between all aspects of personality.

Self-realized people are able to contend with both their external and their in- ternal worlds. Unlike psychologically disturbed individuals, they live in the real world and make necessary concessions to it. However, unlike average people, they are aware of the regressive process that leads to self-discovery. Seeing unconscious images as potential material for new psychic life, self-realized people welcome these images as they appear in dreams and introspective reflections (Jung, 1939/1959; 1945/1953).

Jung’s Methods of Investigation Jung looked beyond psychology in his search for data to build his conception of hu- manity. He made no apologies for his ventures into the fields of sociology, history, anthropology, biology, physics, philology, religion, mythology, and philosophy. He strongly believed that the study of personality was not the prerogative of any single discipline and that the whole person could be understood only by pursuing knowl- edge wherever it existed. Like Freud, Jung persistently defended himself as a scien- tific investigator, eschewing the labels of mystic and philosopher. In a letter to Calvin Hall, dated October 6, 1954, Jung argued: “If you call me an occultist because I am seriously investigating religious, mythological, folkloristic and philosophical

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fantasies in modern individuals and ancient texts, then you are bound to diagnose Freud as a sexual pervert since he is doing likewise with sexual fantasies” (Jung, 1975, p. 186). Nevertheless, Jung asserted that the psyche could not be understood by the intellect alone but must be grasped by the total person. Along the same line, he once said, “Not everything I bring forth is written out of my head, but much of it comes from the heart also” (Jung, 1943/1953, p. 116).

Jung gathered data for his theories from extensive reading in many disciplines, but he also gathered data from his use of the word association test, dream analysis, active imagination, and psychotherapy. This information was then combined with readings on medieval alchemy, occult phenomena, or any other subject in an effort to confirm the hypotheses of analytical psychology.

Word Association Test Jung was not the first to use the word association test, but he can be credited with helping develop and refine it. He originally used the technique as early as 1903 when he was a young psychiatric assistant at Burghöltzli, and he lectured on the word as- sociation test during his trip with Freud to the United States in 1909. However, he seldom employed it in his later career. In spite of this inattention, the test continues to be closely linked with Jung’s name.

His original purpose in using the word association test was to demonstrate the validity of Freud’s hypothesis that the unconscious operates as an autonomous process. However, the basic purpose of the test in Jungian psychology today is to un- cover feeling-toned complexes. As noted in the section of levels of the psyche, a complex is an individualized, emotionally toned conglomeration of images grouped around a central core. The word association test is based on the principle that com- plexes create measurable emotional responses.

In administering the test, Jung typically used a list of about 100 stimulus words chosen and arranged to elicit an emotional reaction. He instructed the person to re- spond to each stimulus word with the first word that came to mind. Jung recorded each verbal response, time taken to make a response, rate of breathing, and galvanic skin response. Usually, he would repeat the experiment to determine test-retest con- sistency.

Certain types of reactions indicate that the stimulus word has touched a com- plex. Critical responses include restricted breathing, changes in the electrical con- ductivity of the skin, delayed reactions, multiple responses, disregard of instructions, inability to pronounce a common word, failure to respond, and inconsistency on test- retest. Other significant responses include blushing, stammering, laughing, cough- ing, sighing, clearing the throat, crying, excessive body movement, and repetition of the stimulus word. Any one or combination of these responses might indicate that a complex has been reached (Jung, 1935/1968; Jung & Riklin, 1904/1973).

Dream Analysis Jung agreed with Freud that dreams have meaning and that they should be taken se- riously. He also agreed with Freud that dreams spring from the depths of the uncon-

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scious and that their latent meaning is expressed in symbolic form. However, he ob- jected to Freud’s notion that nearly all dreams are wish fulfillments and that most dream symbols represent sexual urges. Jung (1964) believed that people used sym- bols to represent a variety of concepts—not merely sexual ones—to try to compre- hend the “innumerable things beyond the range of human understanding” (p. 21). Dreams are our unconscious and spontaneous attempt to know the unknowable, to comprehend a reality that can only be expressed symbolically.

The purpose of Jungian dream interpretation is to uncover elements from the personal and collective unconscious and to integrate them into consciousness in order to facilitate the process of self-realization. The Jungian therapist must realize that dreams are often compensatory; that is, feelings and attitudes not expressed during waking life will find an outlet through the dream process. Jung believed that the natural condition of humans is to move toward completion or self-realization. Thus, if a person’s conscious life is incomplete in a certain area, then that person’s unconscious self will strive to complete that condition through the dream process. For example, if the anima in a man receives no conscious devel- opment, she will express herself through dreams filled with self-realization motifs, thus balancing the man’s masculine side with his feminine disposition (Jung, 1916/1960).

Jung felt that certain dreams offered proof for the existence of the collective unconscious. These dreams included big dreams, which have special meaning for all people; typical dreams, which are common to most people; and earliest dreams re- membered.

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1961) wrote about a big dream he had while traveling to the United States with Freud in 1909. In this dream—briefly mentioned in our biographical sketch of Jung—Jung was living in the upper floor of a two-story house. This floor had an inhabited atmosphere, although its furnishings were somewhat old. In the dream, Jung realized that he did not know what the ground floor was like, so he decided to explore it. After descending the stairs, he no- ticed that all the furnishings were medieval and dated to the 15th or 16th century. While exploring this floor, he discovered a stone stairway that led down into a cel- lar. “Descending again, I found myself in a beautifully vaulted room which looked exceedingly ancient. . . . As soon as I saw this I knew that the walls dated from Roman times” (Jung, 1961, p. 159). While exploring the floor of this cellar, Jung no- ticed a ring on one of the stone slabs. When he lifted it, he saw another narrow stair- way leading to an ancient cave. There, he saw broken pottery, scattered animal bones, and two very old human skulls. In his own words, he had “discovered the world of the primitive man within myself—a world which can scarcely be reached or illumi- nated by consciousness” (Jung, 1961, p. 160).

Jung later accepted this dream as evidence for different levels of the psyche. The upper floor had an inhabited atmosphere and represented consciousness, the top layer of the psyche. The ground floor was the first layer of the unconscious—old but not as alien or ancient as the Roman artifacts in the cellar, which symbolized a deeper layer of the personal unconscious. In the cave, Jung discovered two human skulls—the ones for which Freud insisted Jung harbored death wishes. Jung, how- ever, saw these ancient human skulls as representing the depths of his collective un- conscious.

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Beyond Biography Did Jung wish for the death of his wife? For insight into Jung’s relationship with women and to see how one of his big dreams may have reflected a wish for his wife’s death, see our website at

The second kind of collective dreams is the typical dreams, those that are com- mon to most people. These dreams include archetypal figures, such as mother, father, God, devil, or wise old man. They may also touch on archetypal events, such as birth, death, separation from parents, baptism, marriage, flying, or exploring a cave. They may also include archetypal objects, such as sun, water, fish, snakes, or predatory animals.

The third category includes earliest dreams remembered. These dreams can be traced back to about age 3 or 4 and contain mythological and symbolic images and motifs that could not have reasonably been experienced by the individual child. These early childhood dreams often contain archetypal motifs and symbols such as the hero, the wise old man, the tree, the fish, and the mandala. Jung (1948/1960b) wrote of these images and motifs: “Their frequent appearance in individual case ma- terial, as well as their universal distribution, prove that the human psyche is unique and subjective or personal only in part, and for the rest is collective and objective” (p. 291).

Jung (1961) presented a vivid illustration in one of his earliest dreams, which took place before his 4th birthday. He dreamed he was in a meadow when suddenly he saw a dark rectangular hole in the ground. Fearfully, he descended a flight of stairs and at the bottom encountered a doorway with a round arch covered by a heavy green curtain. Behind the curtain was a dimly lit room with a red carpet running from the entrance to a low platform. On the platform was a throne and on the throne was an elongated object that appeared to Jung to be a large tree trunk. “It was a huge thing, reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: It was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward” (p. 12). Filled with terror, the young boy heard his mother say, “Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!” This comment frightened him even more and jolted him awake.

Jung thought often about the dream, but 30 years would pass before the obvi- ous phallus became apparent to him. An additional number of years were required before he could accept the dream as an expression of his collective unconscious rather than the product of a personal memory trace. In his own interpretation of the dream, the rectangular hole represented death; the green curtain symbolized the mystery of Earth with her green vegetation; the red carpet signified blood; and the tree, resting majestically on a throne, was the erect penis, anatomically accurate in every detail. After interpreting the dream, Jung was forced to conclude that no 31/2- year-old boy could produce such universally symbolic material solely from his own experiences. A collective unconscious, common to the species, was his explanation (Jung, 1961).

Active Imagination A technique Jung used during his own self-analysis as well as with many of his pa- tients was active imagination. This method requires a person to begin with any im- pression—a dream image, vision, picture, or fantasy—and to concentrate until the


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impression begins to “move.” The person must follow these images to wherever they lead and then courageously face these autonomous images and freely communicate with them.

The purpose of active imagination is to reveal archetypal images emerging from the unconscious. It can be a useful technique for people who want to become better acquainted with their collective and personal unconscious and who are willing to overcome the resistance that ordinarily blocks open communication with the un- conscious. Jung believed that active imagination has an advantage over dream analy- sis in that its images are produced during a conscious state of mind, thus making them more clear and reproducible. The feeling tone is also quite specific, and ordi- narily a person has little difficulty reproducing the vision or remembering the mood (Jung, 1937/1959).

As a variation to active imagination, Jung sometimes asked patients who were so inclined to draw, paint, or express in some other nonverbal manner the progres- sion of their fantasies. Jung relied on this technique during his own self-analysis, and many of these reproductions, rich in universal symbolism and often exhibiting the mandala, are scattered throughout his books. Man and His Symbols (1964), Word and Image (1979), Psychology and Alchemy (1952/1968), and Claire Dunne’s (2000) illustrated biography, Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul, are especially prolific sources for these drawings and photographs.

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Carl Jung, the wise old man of Küsnacht.

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In 1961, Jung wrote about his experiences with active imagination during his midlife confrontation with the unconscious:

When I look back upon it all today and consider what happened to me during the period of my work on the fantasies, it seems as though a message had come to me with overwhelming force. There were things in the images which concerned not only myself but many others also. It was then that I ceased to belong to myself alone, ceased to have the right to do so. From then on, my life belonged to the generality. . . . It was then that I dedicated myself to service of the psyche: I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth. My delivering myself over to it, as it were, was the only way by which I could endure my existence and live it as fully as possible. (p. 192)

Psychotherapy Jung (1931/1954b) identified four basic approaches to therapy, representing four de- velopmental stages in the history of psychotherapy. The first is confession of a path- ogenic secret. This is the cathartic method practiced by Josef Breuer and his patient Anna O. For patients who merely have a need to share their secrets, catharsis is ef- fective. The second stage involves interpretation, explanation, and elucidation. This approach, used by Freud, gives the patients insight into the causes of their neuroses, but may still leave them incapable of solving social problems. The third stage, there- fore, is the approach adopted by Adler and includes the education of patients as so- cial beings. Unfortunately, says Jung, this approach often leaves patients merely so- cially well adjusted.

To go beyond these three approaches, Jung suggested a fourth stage, trans- formation. By transformation, he meant that the therapist must first be transformed into a healthy human being, preferably by undergoing psychotherapy. Only after transformation and an established philosophy of life is the therapist able to help pa- tients move toward individuation, wholeness, or self-realization. This fourth stage is especially employed with patients who are in the second half of life and who are con- cerned with realization of the inner self, with moral and religious problems, and with finding a unifying philosophy of life (Jung, 1931/1954b).

Jung was quite eclectic in his theory and practice of psychotherapy. His treat- ment varied according to the age, stage of development, and particular problem of the patient. About two thirds of Jung’s patients were in the second half of life, and a great many of them suffered from a loss of meaning, general aimlessness, and a fear of death. Jung attempted to help these patients find their own philosophical orien- tation.

The ultimate purpose of Jungian therapy is to help neurotic patients be- come healthy and to encourage healthy people to work independently toward self- realization. Jung sought to achieve this purpose by using such techniques as dream analysis and active imagination to help patients discover personal and collective un- conscious material and to balance these unconscious images with their conscious at- titude (Jung, 1931/1954a).

Although Jung encouraged patients to be independent, he admitted the impor- tance of transference, particularly during the first three stages of therapy. He re- garded both positive and negative transference as a natural concomitant to patients’

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revelation of highly personal information. He thought it quite all right that a number of male patients referred to him as “Mother Jung” and quite understandable that oth- ers saw him as God or savior. Jung also recognized the process of countertransfer- ence, a term used to describe a therapist’s feelings toward the patient. Like transfer- ence, countertransference can be either a help or a hindrance to treatment, depending on whether it leads to a better relationship between doctor and patient, something that Jung felt was indispensable to successful psychotherapy.

Because Jungian psychotherapy has many minor goals and a variety of tech- niques, no universal description of a person who has successfully completed analyt- ical treatment is possible. For the mature person, the goal may be to find meaning in life and strive toward achieving balance and wholeness. The self-realized person is able to assimilate much of the unconscious self into consciousness but, at the same time, remains fully aware of the potential dangers hidden in the far recess of the un- conscious psyche. Jung once warned against digging too deeply in land not properly surveyed, comparing this practice to a person digging for an artesian well and run- ning the risk of activating a volcano.

Related Research Jung’s approach to personality was very influential in the early development of per- sonality psychology. In recent times, however, its influence has waned, even though there are still a few institutions around the world dedicated to analytical psychology. Today, most research related to Jung focuses on his descriptions of personality types. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; Myers, 1962) is the most frequently used measure of Jung’s personality types and is often used by school counselors to direct students toward rewarding avenues of study. For example, research has found that people high on the intuition and feeling dimensions are likely to find teaching re- warding (Willing, Guest, & Morford, 2001). More recently, researchers have extended work on the usefulness of Jungian personality types by exploring the role of types in how people manage their personal finances and the kinds of careers they pursue.

Personality Type and Investing Money Research on personality is not only conducted by personality psychologists. Because personality is the study of the uniqueness of each person, it is relevant to any person and any place. For example, although research on psychology and finance do not typically cross paths, personality can be a common factor in both areas because unique aspects of individuals are important in both areas. Recently, business finance researchers were interested in studying how personality affected the way people in- vest their money (Filbeck, Hatfield, & Horvath, 2005). Specifically, Filbeck and col- leagues (2005) wanted to better understand the level of risk individuals are willing to tolerate when it comes to investing money. Investments are often quite volatile. It is true that you can make a lot of money playing the stock market, but you can also lose everything. Some people have natural tolerance for wide fluctuations in their investments, whereas others do not. What kinds of people are willing to take such risks?

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Filbeck and colleagues (2005) used the MBTI to determine which of Jung’s personality types were more likely to tolerate risk when investing money. The MBTI is a self-report measure with items that assess each of the eight Jungian personality types outlined in Table 4.1. To measure risk tolerance when investing money, the re- searchers used a questionnaire on which people were presented with several differ- ent hypothetical situations of either increasing or decreasing their wealth. Based on responses to these hypothetical situations, the researchers were able to determine at which point (i.e., what percentage gain/loss) people felt their investments were too volatile and risky. The researchers recruited a sample of students and adults to com- plete the MBTI and risk tolerance questionnaire and then tested their hypothesis that some personality types would tolerate more risk than others.

Their findings revealed that the MBTI is a good predictor of who is willing to tolerate risk and who is not. Specifically, the researchers found that those who are of the thinking type have a high tolerance for risk, whereas those of the feeling type have a relatively low tolerance for the same level of risk. Surprisingly, the extraversion- introversion dimension was not a good predictor of risk tolerance, so it is difficult to predict what specific type of thinkers and feelers (e.g., extraverted or introverted) are most tolerant or intolerant of risk. Still, the findings are informative and in line with Jungian types. For example, the thinking personality type (provided one is not of the extremely extraverted or extremely introverted type) is one who places importance on logical intellectual activity. Logically speaking, stock markets go up and down, and therefore it is wise to tolerate risk even when investments are down because they will likely go back up (eventually) as the economy strengthens. The feeling person- ality type describes the way people evaluate information, and this evaluation is not necessarily circumscribed by the rules of logic and reason. Therefore, the feeling type is more likely to base their risk tolerance on their own personal evaluation of the situation, which may or may not be in line with the logical trends of the stock market. Though not all of the Jungian personality types were related to risk tolerance in this study, the researchers concluded that personality of investors is an important factor for financial advisors to consider when creating an investment portfolio that best meets the needs and personal values of the investor.

Personality Type and Interest in and Attrition From Engineering Attrition from engineering seems to be a particularly acute problem given that nearly 50% of the students who start the major do not graduate in it. The two most common explanations are poor performance in “weeding out” courses and poor self-perceived fit with the typical engineer. A study in the Journal of Psychological Type examined whether personality type and fit predicted interest in and attrition from engineering in a sample of engineering majors at Georgia Tech (Thomas, Benne, Marr, Thomas, & Hume, 2000). The researchers looked at 195 students (72% male) enrolled in a known “weeding out” engineering class (electricity and magneticism), where 30% of the students traditionally received grades below a C. The students completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in a laboratory session. Thomas and col- leagues predicted MBTI scores would be related to scores on the final exam, grade for the course, and withdrawing from the course.

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As might be expected, results showed that as a group, the sample was over- represented by the Thinking (75%), Introversion (57%), and Judging (56%) types and was almost evenly split on Intuitive-Sensing (51% Sensing). More importantly, students who withdrew from the course had high scores on the Extraversion and Feeling scales, with 96% of the dropouts scoring high on at least one of those scales. Interestingly, personality type was not related to course grades. In addition, Thomas et al. found that students who were most likely to drop out were exactly the opposite types of those who were least likely to enter engineering to begin with. This result supports the congruency or fit theory of persons and organizations, which states that those who do best in certain professions are those whose personality type matches closest with those already in the profession (Schneider, 1987).

Critique of Jung Carl Jung’s writings continue to fascinate students of humanity. Despite its subjec- tive and philosophical quality, Jungian psychology has attracted a wide audience of both professional and lay people. His study of religion and mythology may resonate with some readers but repel others. Jung, however, regarded himself as a scientist and insisted that his scientific study of religion, mythology, folklore, and philosoph- ical fantasies did not make him a mystic any more than Freud’s study of sex made Freud a sexual pervert (Jung, 1975).

Nevertheless, analytical psychology, like any theory, must be evaluated against the six criteria of a useful theory established in Chapter 1. First, a useful theory must generate testable hypotheses and descriptive research, and second, it must have the capacity for either verification or falsification. Unfortunately, Jung’s theory, like Freud’s, is nearly impossible to either verify or falsify. The collective unconscious, the core of Jung’s theory, remains a difficult concept to test empirically.

Much of the evidence for the concepts of archetype and the collective uncon- scious has come from Jung’s own inner experiences, which he admittedly found dif- ficult to communicate to others, so that acceptance of these concepts rests more on faith than on empirical evidence. Jung (1961) claimed that “archetypal statements are based upon instinctive preconditions and have nothing to do with reason; they are neither rationally grounded nor can they be banished by rational argument” (p. 353). Such a statement may be acceptable to the artist or the theologian, but it is not likely to win adherents among scientific researchers faced with the problems of designing studies and formulating hypotheses.

On the other hand, that part of Jung’s theory concerned with classification and typology, that is, the functions and attitudes, can be studied and tested and have gen- erated a moderate amount of research. Because the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has yielded a great number of investigations, we give Jung’s theory a moderate rating on its ability to generate research.

Third, a useful theory should organize observations into a meaningful frame- work. Analytical psychology is unique because it adds a new dimension to personal- ity theory, namely, the collective unconscious. Those aspects of human personality dealing with the occult, the mysterious, and the parapsychological are not touched on by most other personality theories. Even though the collective unconscious is not the only possible explanation for these phenomena, and other concepts could be

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Concept of Humanity Jung saw humans as complex beings with many opposing poles. His view of hu- manity was neither pessimistic nor optimistic, neither deterministic nor purposive. To him, people are motivated partly by conscious thoughts, partly by images from their personal unconscious, and partly by latent memory traces inherited from their ancestral past. Their motivation comes from both causal and teleological factors.

The complex makeup of humans invalidates any simple or one-sided descrip- tion. According to Jung, each person is a composition of opposing forces. No one is completely introverted or totally extraverted; all male or all female; solely a

postulated to account for them, Jung is the only modern personality theorist to make a serious attempt to include such a broad scope of human activity within a single the- oretical framework. For these reasons, we have given Jung’s theory a moderate rat- ing on its ability to organize knowledge.

A fourth criterion of a useful theory is its practicality. Does the theory aid therapists, teachers, parents, or others in solving everyday problems? The theory of psychological types or attitudes and the MBTI are used by many clinicians, but the usefulness of most analytical psychology is limited to those therapists who subscribe to basic Jungian tenets. The concept of a collective unconscious does not easily lend itself to empirical research, but it may have some usefulness in helping people un- derstand cultural myths and adjust to life’s traumas. Overall, however, we can give Jung’s theory only a low rating in practicality.

Is Jung’s theory of personality internally consistent? Does it possess a set of operationally defined terms? The first question receives a qualified affirmative an- swer; the second, a definite negative one. Jung generally used the same terms con- sistently, but he often employed several terms to describe the same concept. The words regression and introverted are so closely related that they can be said to de- scribe the same process. This is also true of progression and extraverted, and the list could be expanded to include several other terms such as individuation and self- realization, which also are not clearly differentiated. Jung’s language is often arcane, and many of his terms are not adequately defined. As for operational definitions, Jung, like other early personality theorists, did not define terms operationally. There- fore, we rate his theory as low on internal consistency.

The final criterion of a useful theory is parsimony. Jung’s psychology is not simple, but neither is human personality. However, because it is more cumbersome than necessary, we can give it only a low rating on parsimony. Jung’s proclivity for searching for data from a variety of disciplines and his willingness to explore his own unconscious, even beneath the personal level, contribute to the great complexi- ties and the broad scope of his theory. The law of parsimony states, “When two the- ories are equally useful, the simpler one is preferred.” In fact, of course, no two are ever equal, but Jung’s theory, while adding a dimension to human personality not greatly dealt with by others, is probably more complex than necessary.

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Key Terms and Concepts

• The personal unconscious is formed by the repressed experiences of one particular individual and is the reservoir of the complexes.

• Humans inherit a collective unconscious that helps shape many of their attitudes, behaviors, and dreams.

• Archetypes are contents of the collective unconscious. Typical archetypes include persona, shadow, anima, animus, great mother, wise old man, hero, and self.

• The persona represents the side of personality that people show to the rest of the world. Psychologically healthy people recognize their persona but do not mistake it for the whole of personality.

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thinking, feeling, sensing, or intuitive person; and no one proceeds invariably in the direction of either progression or regression.

The persona is but a fraction of an individual. What one wishes to show oth- ers is usually only the socially acceptable side of personality. Every person has a dark side, a shadow, and most try to conceal it from both society and themselves. In addition, each man possesses an anima and every woman an animus.

The various complexes and archetypes cast their spell over people and are re- sponsible for many of their words and actions and most of their dreams and fan- tasies. Although people are not masters in their own houses, neither are they com- pletely dominated by forces beyond their control. People have some limited capacity to determine their lives. Through strong will and with great courage, they can explore the hidden recesses of their psyche. They can recognize their shadow as their own, become partially conscious of their feminine or masculine side, and cultivate more than a single function. This process, which Jung called individua- tion or self-realization, is not easy and demands more fortitude than most people can muster. Ordinarily, a person who has achieved self-realization has reached mid- dle life and has lived successfully through the stages of childhood and youth. Dur- ing middle age, they must be willing to set aside the goals and behaviors of youth and adopt a new style appropriate to their stage of psychic development.

Even after people have achieved individuation, made an acquaintance with their inner world, and brought the various opposing forces into balance, they re- main under the influence of an impersonal collective unconscious that controls many of their prejudices, interests, fears, dreams, and creative activities.

On the dimension of biological versus social aspects of personality, Jung’s theory leans strongly in the direction of biology. The collective unconscious, which is responsible for so many actions, is part of our biological inheritance. Except for the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship, Jung had little to say about differential effects of specific social practices. In fact, in his studies of var- ious cultures, he found the differences to be superficial, the similarities profound. Thus, analytical psychology can also be rated high on similarities among people and low on individual differences.

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• The anima is the feminine side of men and is responsible for many of their irrational moods and feelings.

• The animus, the masculine side of women, is responsible for irrational thinking and illogical opinions in women.

• The great mother is the archetype of fertility and destruction. • The wise old man archetype is the intelligent but deceptive voice of

accumulated experience. • The hero is the unconscious image of a person who conquers an evil foe

but who also has a tragic flaw. • The self is the archetype of completeness, wholeness, and perfection. • The two attitudes of introversion and extraversion can combine with any

one or more of the four functions—thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition—to produce eight basic types.

• A healthy middle life and old age depend on proper solutions to the problems of childhood and youth.

• Jungian therapists use dream analysis and active imagination to discover the contents of patients’ collective unconscious.

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Klein: Object Relations Theory

B Overview of Object Relations Theory B Biography of Melanie Klein B Introduction to Object Relations Theory B Psychic Life of the Infant



B Positions Paranoid-Schizoid Position

Depressive Position

B Psychic Defense Mechanisms Introjection



Projective Identification

B Internalizations Ego


Oedipus Complex

Female Oedipal Development

Male Oedipal Development

B Later Views on Object Relations Margaret Mahler’s View

Heinz Kohut’s View

John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

Mary Ainsworth and the Strange Situation



C H A P T E R 5

B Psychotherapy B Related Research

Object Relations and Eating Disorders

Attachment Theory and Adult Relationships

B Critique of Object Relations Theory B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts

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Melanie Klein, the woman who developed a theory that emphasized the nurtur-ing and loving relationship between parent and child, had neither a nurturant nor a loving relationship to her own daughter Melitta. The rift between mother and daughter began early. Melitta was the oldest of three children born to parents who did not particularly like one another. When Melitta was 15, her parents separated, and Melitta blamed her mother for this separation and for the divorce that followed. As Melitta matured, her relationship with her mother became more acrimonious.

After Melitta received a medical degree, underwent a personal analysis, and presented scholarly papers to the British Psycho-Analytical Society, she was offi- cially a member of that society, professionally equal to her mother.

Her analyst, Edward Glover, was a bitter rival of Melanie Klein. Glover, who encouraged Melitta’s independence, was at least indirectly responsible for Melitta’s virulent attacks on her mother. The animosity between mother and daughter became even more intense when Melitta married Walter Schmideberg, another analyst who strongly opposed Klein and who openly supported Anna Freud, Klein’s most bitter rival.

Despite being a full member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, Melitta Schmideberg felt that her mother saw her as an appendage, not a colleague. In a strongly worded letter to her mother in the summer of 1934, Melitta wrote:

I hope you will . . . also allow me to give you some advice. . . . I am very different from you. I already told you years ago that nothing causes a worse reaction in me than trying to force feelings into me—it is the surest way to kill all feelings. . . . I am now grown up and must be independent. I have my own life, my husband. (quoted in Grosskurth, 1986, p. 199.)

Melitta went on to say that she would no longer relate to her mother in the neurotic manner of her younger years. She now had a shared profession with her mother and insisted that she be treated as an equal.

The story of Melanie Klein and her daughter takes on a new perspective in light of the emphasis that object relations theory places on the importance of the mother-child relationship.

Overview of Object Relations Theory The object relations theory of Melanie Klein was built on careful observations of young children. In contrast to Freud, who emphasized the first 4 to 6 years of life, Klein stressed the importance of the first 4 to 6 months after birth. She insisted that the infant’s drives (hunger, sex, and so forth) are directed to an object—a breast, a penis, a vagina, and so on. According to Klein, the child’s relation to the breast is fundamental and serves as a prototype for later relations to whole objects, such as mother and father. The very early tendency of infants to relate to partial objects gives their experiences an unrealistic or fantasy-like quality that affects all later interper- sonal relations. Thus, Klein’s ideas tend to shift the focus of psychoanalytic theory from organically based stages of development to the role of early fantasy in the for- mation of interpersonal relationships.

In addition to Klein, other theorists have speculated on the importance of a child’s early experiences with the mother. Margaret Mahler believed that children’s

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sense of identity rests on a three-step relationship with their mother. First, infants have basic needs cared for by their mother; next, they develop a safe symbiotic rela- tionship with an all-powerful mother; and finally, they emerge from their mother’s protective circle and establish their separate individuality. Heinz Kohut theorized that children develop a sense of self during early infancy when parents and others treat them as if they had an individualized sense of identity. John Bowlby investi- gated infants’ attachment to their mother as well as the negative consequences of being separated from their mother. Mary Ainsworth and her colleagues developed a technique for measuring the type of attachment style an infant develops toward its caregiver.

Biography of Melanie Klein Melanie Reizes Klein was born March 30, 1882, in Vienna, Austria. The youngest of four children born to Dr. Moriz Reizes and his second wife, Libussa Deutsch Reizes, Klein believed that her birth was unplanned—a belief that led to feelings of being rejected by her parents. She felt especially distant to her father, who favored his old- est daughter, Emilie (Sayers, 1991). By the time Melanie was born, her father had long since rebelled against his early Orthodox Jewish training and had ceased to practice any religion. As a consequence, Klein grew up in a family that was neither proreligious nor antireligious.

During her childhood Klein observed both parents working at jobs they did not enjoy. Her father was a physician who struggled to make a living in medicine and eventually was relegated to working as a dental assistant. Her mother ran a shop sell- ing plants and reptiles, a difficult, humiliating, and fearful job for someone who ab- horred snakes (H. Segal, 1979). Despite her father’s meager income as a doctor, Klein aspired to become a physician.

Klein’s early relationships were either unhealthy or ended in tragedy. She felt neglected by her elderly father, whom she saw as cold and distant, and although she loved and idolized her mother, she felt suffocated by her. Klein had a special fond- ness for her older sister Sidonie, who was 4 years older and who taught Melanie arithmetic and reading. Unfortunately, when Melanie was 4 years old, Sidonie died. In later years, Klein confessed that she never got over grieving for Sidonie (H. Segal, 1992). After her sister’s death, Klein became deeply attached to her only brother, Emmanuel, who was nearly 5 years older and who became her close confidant. She idol- ized her brother, and this infatuation may have contributed to her later difficulties in relating to men. Like Sidonie earlier, Emmanuel tutored Melanie, and his excellent instructions helped her pass the entrance examinations of a reputable preparatory school (Petot, 1990).

When Klein was 18, her father died, but a greater tragedy occurred 2 years later when her beloved brother, Emmanuel, died. Emmanuel’s death left Klein devas- tated. While still in mourning over her brother’s death, she married Arthur Klein, an engineer who had been Emmanuel’s close friend. Melanie believed that her marriage at age 21 prevented her from becoming a physician, and for the rest of her life, she regretted that she had not reached that goal (Grosskurth, 1986).

Unfortunately, Klein did not have a happy marriage; she dreaded sex and abhorred pregnancy (Grosskurth, 1986). Nevertheless, her marriage to Arthur

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produced three children: Melitta, born in 1904; Hans, born in 1907; and Erich, born in 1914. In 1909, the Kleins moved to Budapest, where Arthur had been transferred. There, Klein met Sandor Ferenczi, a member of Freud’s inner circle and the person who introduced her into the world of psychoanalysis. When her mother died in 1914, Klein became depressed and entered analysis with Ferenczi, an experience that served as a turning point in her life. That same year she read Freud’s On Dreams (1901/1953) “and realized immediately that was what I was aiming at, at least dur- ing those years when I was so very keen to find out what would satisfy me intellec- tually and emotionally” (quoted in Grosskurth, 1986, p. 69). At about the same time that she discovered Freud, her youngest child, Erich, was born. Klein was deeply taken by psychoanalysis and trained her son according to Freudian principles. As part of this training, she began to psychoanalyze Erich from the time he was very young. In addition, she also attempted to analyze Melitta and Hans, both of whom eventually went to other analysts. Melitta, who became a psychoanalyst, was ana- lyzed by Karen Horney (see Chapter 6) as well as by others (Grosskurth, 1986). An interesting parallel between Horney and Klein is that Klein later analyzed Horney’s two youngest daughters when they were 12 and 9 years old. (Horney’s oldest daugh- ter was 14 and refused to be analyzed.) Unlike Melitta’s voluntary analysis by Hor- ney, the two Horney children were compelled to attend analytic sessions, not for treatment of any neurotic disorder but as a preventive measure (Quinn, 1987).

Klein separated from her husband in 1919 but did not obtain a divorce for sev- eral years. After the separation, she established a psychoanalytic practice in Berlin and made her first contributions to the psychoanalytic literature with a paper dealing with her analysis of Erich, who was not identified as her son until long after Klein’s death (Grosskurth, 1998). Not completely satisfied with her own analysis by Fer- enczi, she ended the relationship and began an analysis with Karl Abraham, another member of Freud’s inner circle. After only 14 months, however, Klein experienced another tragedy when Abraham died. At this point of her life, Klein decided to begin a self-analysis, one that continued for the remainder of her life. Before 1919, psy- choanalysts, including Freud, based their theories of child development on their ther- apeutic work with adults. Freud’s only case study of a child was Little Hans, a boy whom he saw as a patient only once. Melanie Klein changed that situation by psy- choanalyzing children directly. Her work with very young children, including her own, convinced her that children internalize both positive and negative feelings to- ward their mother and that they develop a superego much earlier than Freud had be- lieved. Her slight divergence from standard psychoanalytic theory brought much criticism from her colleagues in Berlin, causing her to feel increasingly uncomfort- able in that city. Then, in 1926, Ernest Jones invited her to London to analyze his children and to deliver a series of lectures on child analysis. These lectures later re- sulted in her first book, The Psycho-Analysis of Children (Klein, 1932). In 1927, she took up permanent residency in England, remaining there until her death on Sep- tember 22, 1960. On the day of her memorial service, her daughter Melitta delivered a final posthumous insult by giving a professional lecture wearing flamboyant red boots, which scandalized many in her audience (Grosskurth, 1986).

Klein’s years in London were marked by division and controversy. Although she continued to regard herself as a Freudian, neither Freud nor his daughter Anna accepted her emphasis on the importance of very early childhood or her analytic

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technique with children. Her differences with Anna Freud began while the Freuds were still living in Vienna, but they climaxed after Anna moved with her father and mother to London in 1938. Before the arrival of Anna Freud, the English school of psychoanalysis was steadily becoming the “Kleinian School,” and Klein’s battles were limited mostly to those with her daughter, Melitta, and these battles were both fierce and personal.

In 1934, Klein’s older son, Hans, was killed in a fall. Melitta, who had recently moved to London with her psychoanalyst husband, Walter Schmideberg, maintained that her brother had committed suicide, and she blamed her mother for his death. During that same year, Melitta began an analysis with Edward Glover, one of Klein’s rivals in the British Society. Klein and her daughter then became even more person- ally estranged and professionally antagonistic, and Melitta maintained her animosity even after her mother’s death.

Although Melitta Schmideberg was not a supporter of Anna Freud, her per- sistent antagonism toward Klein increased the difficulties of Klein’s struggle with Anna Freud, who never recognized the possibility of analyzing young children (King & Steiner, 1991; Mitchell & Black, 1995). The friction between Klein and Anna Freud never abated, with each side claiming to be more “Freudian” than the other (Hughes, 1989). Finally, in 1946 the British Society accepted three training proce- dures—the traditional one of Melanie Klein, the one advocated by Anna Freud, and a Middle Group that accepted neither training school but was more eclectic in its ap- proach. By such a division, the British Society remained intact, albeit with an uneasy alliance.

Introduction to Object Relations Theory Object relations theory is an offspring of Freud’s instinct theory, but it differs from its ancestor in at least three general ways. First, object relations theory places less emphasis on biologically based drives and more importance on consistent patterns of interpersonal relationships. Second, as opposed to Freud’s rather paternalistic the- ory that emphasizes the power and control of the father, object relations theory tends to be more maternal, stressing the intimacy and nurturing of the mother. Third, ob- ject relations theorists generally see human contact and relatedness—not sexual pleasure—as the prime motive of human behavior.

More specifically, however, the concept of object relations has many meanings, just as there are many object relations theorists. This chapter concentrates primarily on Melanie Klein’s work, but it also briefly discusses the theories of Margaret S. Mahler, Heinz Kohut, John Bowlby, and Mary Ainsworth. In general, Mahler’s work was concerned with the infant’s struggle to gain autonomy and a sense of self; Kohut’s, with the formation of the self; Bowlby’s, with the stages of separation anx- iety; and Ainsworth’s, with styles of attachment.

If Klein is the mother of object relations theory, then Freud himself is the fa- ther. Recall from Chapter 2 that Freud (1915/1957a) believed instincts or drives have an impetus, a source, an aim, and an object, with the latter two having the greater psychological significance. Although different drives may seem to have separate aims, their underlying aim is always the same—to reduce tension: that is, to achieve pleasure. In Freudian terms, the object of the drive is any person, part of a person,

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or thing through which the aim is satisfied. Klein and other object relations theorists begin with this basic assumption of Freud and then speculate on how the infant’s real or fantasized early relations with the mother or the breast become a model for all later interpersonal relationships. Adult relationships, therefore, are not always what they seem. An important portion of any relationship is the internal psychic repre- sentations of early significant objects, such as the mother’s breast or the father’s penis, that have been introjected, or taken into the infant’s psychic structure, and then projected onto one’s partner. These internal pictures are not accurate representations of the other person but are remnants of each person’s earlier experiences.

Although Klein continued to regard herself as a Freudian, she extended psy- choanalytic theory beyond the boundaries set by Freud. For his part, Freud chose mostly to ignore Klein. When pressed for an opinion on her work, Freud had little to say. For example, in 1925 when Ernest Jones wrote to him praising Klein’s “valuable work” with childhood analysis and play therapy, Freud simply replied that “Melanie Klein’s work has aroused considerable doubt and controversy here in Vienna” (Steiner, 1985, p. 30).

Psychic Life of the Infant Whereas Freud emphasized the first few years of life, Klein stressed the importance of the first 4 or 6 months. To her, infants do not begin life with a blank slate but with an inherited predisposition to reduce the anxiety they experience as a result of the conflict produced by the forces of the life instinct and the power of the death instinct. The infant’s innate readiness to act or react presupposes the existence of phyloge- netic endowment, a concept that Freud also accepted.

Phantasies One of Klein’s basic assumptions is that the infant, even at birth, possesses an active phantasy life. These phantasies are psychic representations of unconscious id in- stincts; they should not be confused with the conscious fantasies of older children and adults. In fact, Klein intentionally spelled phantasy this way to make it distin- guishable. When Klein (1932) wrote of the dynamic phantasy life of infants, she did not suggest that neonates could put thoughts into words. She simply meant that they possess unconscious images of “good” and “bad.” For example, a full stomach is good; an empty one is bad. Thus, Klein would say that infants who fall asleep while sucking on their fingers are phantasizing about having their mother’s good breast in- side themselves. Similarly, hungry infants who cry and kick their legs are phanta- sizing that they are kicking or destroying the bad breast. This idea of a good breast and a bad breast is comparable to Sullivan’s notion of a good mother and a bad mother (see Chapter 8 for Sullivan’s theory).

As the infant matures, unconscious phantasies connected with the breast con- tinue to exert an impact on psychic life, but newer ones emerge as well. These later unconscious phantasies are shaped by both reality and by inherited predispositions. One of these phantasies involves the Oedipus complex, or the child’s wish to destroy one parent and sexually possess the other. (Klein’s notion of the Oedipus complex is discussed more fully in the section titled Internalizations.) Because these phantasies are unconscious, they can be contradictory. For example, a little boy can phantasize

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both beating his mother and having babies with her. Such phantasies spring partly from the boy’s experiences with his mother and partly from universal predispositions to destroy the bad breast and to incorporate the good one.

Objects Klein agreed with Freud that humans have innate drives or instincts, including a death instinct. Drives, of course, must have some object. Thus, the hunger drive has the good breast as its object, the sex drive has a sexual organ as its object, and so on. Klein (1948) believed that from early infancy children relate to these external ob- jects, both in fantasy and in reality. The earliest object relations are with the mother’s breast, but “very soon interest develops in the face and in the hands which attend to his needs and gratify them” (Klein, 1991, p 757). In their active fantasy, infants in- troject, or take into their psychic structure, these external objects, including their fa- ther’s penis, their mother’s hands and face, and other body parts. Introjected objects are more than internal thoughts about external objects; they are fantasies of inter- nalizing the object in concrete and physical terms. For example, children who have introjected their mother believe that she is constantly inside their own body. Klein’s notion of internal objects suggests that these objects have a power of their own, com- parable to Freud’s concept of a superego, which assumes that the father’s or mother’s conscience is carried within the child.

Positions Klein (1946) saw human infants as constantly engaging in a basic conflict between the life instinct and the death instinct, that is, between good and bad, love and hate, creativity and destruction. As the ego moves toward integration and away from dis- integration, infants naturally prefer gratifying sensations over frustrating ones.

In their attempt to deal with this dichotomy of good and bad feelings, infants organize their experiences into positions, or ways of dealing with both internal and external objects. Klein chose the term “position” rather than “stage of development” to indicate that positions alternate back and forth; they are not periods of time or phases of development through which a person passes. Although she used psychi- atric or pathological labels, Klein intended these positions to represent normal social growth and development. The two basic positions are the paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position.

Paranoid-Schizoid Position During the earliest months of life, an infant comes into contact with both the good breast and the bad breast. These alternating experiences of gratification and frustra- tion threaten the very existence of the infant’s vulnerable ego. The infant desires to control the breast by devouring and harboring it. At the same time, the infant’s innate destructive urges create fantasies of damaging the breast by biting, tearing, or anni- hilating it. In order to tolerate both these feelings toward the same object at the same time, the ego splits itself, retaining parts of its life and death instincts while deflect- ing parts of both instincts onto the breast. Now, rather than fearing its own death

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instinct, the infant fears the persecutory breast. But the infant also has a relationship with the ideal breast, which provides love, comfort, and gratification. The infant de- sires to keep the ideal breast inside itself as a protection against annihilation by per- secutors. To control the good breast and to fight off its persecutors, the infant adopts what Klein (1946) called the paranoid-schizoid position, a way of organizing ex- periences that includes both paranoid feelings of being persecuted and a splitting of internal and external objects into the good and the bad.

According to Klein, infants develop the paranoid-schizoid position during the first 3 or 4 months of life, during which time the ego’s perception of the external world is subjective and fantastic rather than objective and real. Thus, the persecutory feelings are considered to be paranoid; that is, they are not based on any real or im- mediate danger from the outside world. The child must keep the good breast and bad breast separate, because to confuse them would be to risk annihilating the good breast and losing it as a safe harbor. In the young child’s schizoid world, rage and de- structive feelings are directed toward the bad breast, while feelings of love and com- fort are associated with the good breast.

Infants, of course, do not use language to identify the good and bad breast. Rather, they have a biological predisposition to attach a positive value to nourish- ment and the life instinct and to assign a negative value to hunger and the death in- stinct. This preverbal splitting of the world into good and bad serves as a prototype for the subsequent development of ambivalent feelings toward a single person. For example, Klein (1946) compared the infantile paranoid-schizoid position to trans- ference feelings that therapy patients often develop toward their therapist.

Under pressure of ambivalence, conflict and guilt, the patient often splits the figure of the analyst, then the analyst may at certain moments be loved, at other moments hated. Or the analyst may be split in such a way that he remains the good (or bad) figure while someone else becomes the opposite figure. (p. 19)

Ambivalent feelings, of course, are not limited to therapy situations. Most peo- ple have both positive and negative feelings toward their loved ones. Conscious am- bivalence, however, does not capture the essence of the paranoid-schizoid position. When adults adopt the paranoid-schizoid position, they do so in a primitive, uncon- scious fashion. As Ogden (1990) pointed out, they may experience themselves as a passive object rather than an active subject. They are likely to say “He’s dangerous” instead of saying “I am aware that he is dangerous to me.” Other people may project their unconscious paranoid feelings onto others as a means of avoiding their own de- struction by the malevolent breast. Still others may project their unconscious posi- tive feelings onto another person and see that person as being perfect while viewing themselves as empty or worthless.

Depressive Position Beginning at about the 5th or 6th month, an infant begins to view external objects as whole and to see that good and bad can exist in the same person. At that time, the in- fant develops a more realistic picture of the mother and recognizes that she is an in- dependent person who can be both good and bad. Also, the ego is beginning to ma- ture to the point at which it can tolerate some of its own destructive feelings rather than projecting them outward. However, the infant also realizes that the mother

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might go away and be lost forever. Fearing the possible loss of the mother, the infant desires to protect her and keep her from the dangers of its own destructive forces, those cannibalistic impulses that had previously been projected onto her. But the in- fant’s ego is mature enough to realize that it lacks the capacity to protect the mother, and thus the infant experiences guilt for its previous destructive urges toward the mother. The feelings of anxiety over losing a loved object coupled with a sense of guilt for wanting to destroy that object constitute what Klein called the depressive position.

Children in the depressive position recognize that the loved object and the hated object are now one and the same. They reproach themselves for their previous destructive urges toward their mother and desire to make reparation for these at- tacks. Because children see their mother as whole and also as being endangered, they are able to feel empathy for her, a quality that will be beneficial in their future inter- personal relations.

The depressive position is resolved when children fantasize that they have made reparation for their previous transgressions and when they recognize that their mother will not go away permanently but will return after each departure. When the depressive position is resolved, children close the split between the good and the bad mother. They are able not only to experience love from their mother, but also to dis- play their own love for her. However, an incomplete resolution of the depressive po- sition can result in lack of trust, morbid mourning at the loss of a loved one, and a variety of other psychic disorders.

Psychic Defense Mechanisms Klein (1955) suggested that, from very early infancy, children adopt several psychic defense mechanisms to protect their ego against the anxiety aroused by their own de- structive fantasies. These intense destructive feelings originate with oral-sadistic anxieties concerning the breast—the dreaded, destructive breast on the one hand and the satisfying, helpful breast on the other. To control these anxieties, infants use sev- eral psychic defense mechanisms, such as introjection, projection, splitting, and pro- jective identification.

Introjection By introjection, Klein simply meant that infants fantasize taking into their body those perceptions and experiences that they have had with the external object, origi- nally the mother’s breast. Introjection begins with an infant’s first feeding, when there is an attempt to incorporate the mother’s breast into the infant’s body. Ordinarily, the infant tries to introject good objects, to take them inside itself as a protection against anxiety. However, sometimes the infant introjects bad objects, such as the bad breast or the bad penis, in order to gain control over them. When dangerous objects are in- trojected, they become internal persecutors, capable of terrifying the infant and leav- ing frightening residues that may be expressed in dreams or in an interest in fairy tales such as “The Big Bad Wolf ” or “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Introjected objects are not accurate representations of the real objects but are colored by children’s fantasies. For example, infants will fantasize that their mother

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is constantly present; that is, they feel that their mother is always inside their body. The real mother, of course, is not perpetually present, but infants nevertheless de- vour her in fantasy so that she becomes a constant internal object.

Projection Just as infants use introjection to take in both good and bad objects, they use pro- jection to get rid of them. Projection is the fantasy that one’s own feelings and im- pulses actually reside in another person and not within one’s body. By projecting un- manageable destructive impulses onto external objects, infants alleviate the unbearable anxiety of being destroyed by dangerous internal forces (Klein, 1935).

Children project both bad and good images onto external objects, especially their parents. For example, a young boy who desires to castrate his father may in- stead project these castration fantasies onto his father, thus turning his castration wishes around and blaming his father for wanting to castrate him. Similarly, a young girl might fantasize devouring her mother but projects that fantasy onto her mother, who she fears will retaliate by persecuting her.

People can also project good impulses. For example, infants who feel good about their mother’s nurturing breast will attribute their own feelings of goodness onto the breast and imagine that the breast is good. Adults sometimes project their own feelings of love onto another person and become convinced that the other per- son loves them. Projection thus allows people to believe that their own subjective opinions are true.

Splitting Infants can only manage the good and bad aspects of themselves and of external ob- jects by splitting them, that is, by keeping apart incompatible impulses. In order to separate bad and good objects, the ego must itself be split. Thus, infants develop a picture of both the “good me” and the “bad me” that enables them to deal with both pleasurable and destructive impulses toward external objects.

Splitting can have either a positive or a negative effect on the child. If it is not extreme and rigid, it can be a positive and useful mechanism not only for infants but also for adults. It enables people to see both positive and negative aspects of them- selves, to evaluate their behavior as good or bad, and to differentiate between likable and unlikable acquaintances. On the other hand, excessive and inflexible splitting can lead to pathological repression. For instance, if children’s egos are too rigid to be split into good me and bad me, then they cannot introject bad experiences into the good ego. When children cannot accept their own bad behavior, they must then deal with destructive and terrifying impulses in the only way they can—by repressing them.

Projective Identification A fourth means of reducing anxiety is projective identification, a psychic defense mechanism in which infants split off unacceptable parts of themselves, project them into another object, and finally introject them back into themselves in a changed or distorted form. By taking the object back into themselves, infants feel that they have become like that object; that is, they identify with that object. For example, infants

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typically split off parts of their destructive impulse and project them into the bad, frustrating breast. Next, they identify with the breast by introjecting it, a process that permits them to gain control over the dreaded and wonderful breast.

Projective identification exerts a powerful influence on adult interpersonal re- lations. Unlike simple projection, which can exist wholly in phantasy, projective iden- tification exists only in the world of real interpersonal relationships. For example, a husband with strong but unwanted tendencies to dominate others will project those feelings into his wife, whom he then sees as domineering. The man subtly tries to get his wife to become domineering. He behaves with excessive submissiveness in an attempt to force his wife to display the very tendencies that he has deposited in her.

Internalizations When object relations theorists speak of internalizations, they mean that the person takes in (introjects) aspects of the external world and then organizes those introjec- tions into a psychologically meaningful framework. In Kleinian theory, three impor- tant internalizations are the ego, the superego, and the Oedipus complex.

Ego Klein (1930, 1946) believed that the ego, or one’s sense of self, reaches maturity at a much earlier stage than Freud had assumed. Although Freud hypothesized that the ego exists at birth, he did not attribute complex psychic functions to it until about the 3rd or 4th year. To Freud, the young child is dominated by the id. Klein, however, largely ignored the id and based her theory on the ego’s early ability to sense both destructive and loving forces and to manage them through splitting, projection, and introjection.

Klein (1959) believed that although the ego is mostly unorganized at birth, it nevertheless is strong enough to feel anxiety, to use defense mechanisms, and to form early object relations in both phantasy and reality. The ego begins to evolve with the infant’s first experience with feeding, when the good breast fills the infant not only with milk but with love and security. But the infant also experiences the bad breast—the one that is not present or does not give milk, love, or security. The infant introjects both the good breast and the bad breast, and these images provide a focal point for further expansion of the ego. All experiences, even those not connected with feeding, are evaluated by the ego in terms of how they relate to the good breast and the bad breast. For example, when the ego experiences the good breast, it expects similar good experiences with other objects, such as its own fingers, a pacifier, or the father. Thus, the infant’s first object relation (the breast) becomes the prototype not only for the ego’s future development but for the individual’s later interpersonal re- lations.

However, before a unified ego can emerge, it must first become split. Klein as- sumed that infants innately strive for integration, but at the same time, they are forced to deal with the opposing forces of life and death, as reflected in their expe- rience with the good breast and the bad breast. To avoid disintegration, the newly emerging ego must split itself into the good me and the bad me. The good me exists when infants are being enriched with milk and love; the bad me is experienced when

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they do not receive milk and love. This dual image of self allows them to manage the good and bad aspects of external objects. As infants mature, their perceptions be- come more realistic, they no longer see the world in terms of partial objects, and their egos become more integrated.

Superego Klein’s picture of the superego differs from Freud’s in at least three important re- spects. First, it emerges much earlier in life; second, it is not an outgrowth of the Oedipus complex; and third, it is much more harsh and cruel. Klein (1933) arrived at these differences through her analysis of young children, an experience Freud did not have.

There could be no doubt that a super-ego had been in full operation for some time in my small patients of between two-and-three-quarters and four years of age, whereas according to the accepted [Freudian] view the super-ego would not begin to be activated until the Oedipus complex had died down—i.e. until about the fifth year of life. Furthermore, my data showed that this early super-ego was immeasurably harsher and more cruel than that of the older child or adult, and that it literally crushed down the feeble ego of the small child. (p. 267)

Recall that Freud conceptualized the superego as consisting of two subsys- tems: an ego-ideal that produces inferiority feelings and a conscience that results in guilt feelings. Klein would concur that the more mature superego produces feelings of inferiority and guilt, but her analysis of young children led her to believe that the early superego produces not guilt but terror.

To Klein, young children fear being devoured, cut up, and torn into pieces— fears that are greatly out of proportion to any realistic dangers. Why are the chil- dren’s superegos so drastically removed from any actual threats by their parents? Klein (1933) suggested that the answer resides with the infant’s own destructive in- stinct, which is experienced as anxiety. To manage this anxiety, the child’s ego mo- bilizes libido (life instinct) against the death instinct. However, the life and death in- stincts cannot be completely separated, so the ego is forced to defend itself against its own actions. This early ego defense lays the foundation for the development of the superego, whose extreme violence is a reaction to the ego’s aggressive self- defense against its own destructive tendencies. Klein believed that this harsh, cruel superego is responsible for many antisocial and criminal tendencies in adults.

Klein would describe a 5-year-old child’s superego in much the same way Freud did. By the 5th or 6th year, the superego arouses little anxiety but a great measure of guilt. It has lost most of its severity while gradually being transformed into a realistic conscience. However, Klein rejected Freud’s notion that the superego is a consequence of the Oedipus complex. Instead, she insisted that it grows along with the Oedipus complex and finally emerges as realistic guilt after the Oedipus complex is resolved.

Oedipus Complex Although Klein believed that her view of the Oedipus complex was merely an ex- tension and not a refutation of Freud’s ideas, her conception departed from the Freudian one in several ways. First, Klein (1946, 1948, 1952) held that the Oedipus

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complex begins at a much earlier age than Freud had suggested. Freud believed that the Oedipus complex took place during the phallic stage, when children are about 4 or 5 years old and after they have experienced an oral and anal stage. In contrast, Klein held that the Oedipus complex begins during the earliest months of life, over- laps with the oral and anal stages, and reaches its climax during the genital stage at around age 3 or 4. (Klein preferred the term “genital” stage rather than “phallic,” be- cause the latter suggests a masculine psychology.) Second, Klein believed that a sig- nificant part of the Oedipus complex is children’s fear of retaliation from their par- ent for their fantasy of emptying the parent’s body. Third, she stressed the importance of children retaining positive feelings toward both parents during the Oedipal years. Fourth, she hypothesized that during its early stages, the Oedipus complex serves the same need for both genders, that is, to establish a positive attitude with the good or gratifying object (breast or penis) and to avoid the bad or terrifying object (breast or penis). In this position, children of either gender can direct their love either alter- nately or simultaneously toward each parent. Thus, children are capable of both ho- mosexual and heterosexual relations with both parents. Like Freud, Klein assumed that girls and boys eventually come to experience the Oedipus complex differently.

Female Oedipal Development At the beginning of the female Oedipal development—during the first months of life—a little girl sees her mother’s breast as both “good and bad. Then around 6 months of age, she begins to view the breast as more positive than negative. Later, she sees her whole mother as full of good things, and this attitude leads her to imag- ine how babies are made. She fantasizes that her father’s penis feeds her mother with riches, including babies. Because the little girl sees the father’s penis as the giver of children, she develops a positive relationship to it and fantasizes that her father will fill her body with babies. If the female Oedipal stage proceeds smoothly, the little girl adopts a “feminine” position and has a positive relationship with both parents.

However, under less ideal circumstances, the little girl will see her mother as a rival and will fantasize robbing her mother of her father’s penis and stealing her mother’s babies. The little girl’s wish to rob her mother produces a paranoid fear that her mother will retaliate against her by injuring her or taking away her babies. The little girl’s principal anxiety comes from a fear that the inside of her body has been injured by her mother, an anxiety that can be alleviated only when she later gives birth to a healthy baby. According to Klein (1945), penis envy stems from the little girl’s wish to internalize her father’s penis and to receive a baby from him. This fan- tasy precedes any desire for an external penis. Contrary to Freud’s view, Klein could find no evidence that the little girl blames her mother for bringing her into the world without a penis. Instead, Klein contended that the girl retains a strong attachment to her mother throughout the Oedipal period.

Male Oedipal Development Like the young girl, the little boy sees his mother’s breast as both good and bad (Klein, 1945). Then, during the early months of Oedipal development, a boy shifts some of his oral desires from his mother’s breast to his father’s penis. At this time the little boy is in his feminine position; that is, he adopts a passive homosexual attitude

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toward his father. Next, he moves to a heterosexual relationship with his mother, but because of his previous homosexual feeling for his father, he has no fear that his fa- ther will castrate him. Klein believed that this passive homosexual position is a pre- requisite for the boy’s development of a healthy heterosexual relationship with his mother. More simply, the boy must have a good feeling about his father’s penis be- fore he can value his own.

As the boy matures, however, he develops oral-sadistic impulses toward his fa- ther and wants to bite off his penis and to murder him. These feelings arouse castra- tion anxiety and the fear that his father will retaliate against him by biting off his penis. This fear convinces the little boy that sexual intercourse with his mother would be extremely dangerous to him.

The boy’s Oedipus complex is resolved only partially by his castration anxiety. A more important factor is his ability to establish positive relationships with both parents at the same time. At that point, the boy sees his parents as whole objects, a condition that enables him to work through his depressive position.

For both girls and boys, a healthy resolution of the Oedipus complex depends on their ability to allow their mother and father to come together and to have sexual intercourse with each other. No remnant of rivalry remains. Children’s positive feel- ings toward both parents later serve to enhance their adult sexual relations.

In summary, Klein believed that people are born with two strong drives—the life instinct and the death instinct. Infants develop a passionate caring for the good breast and an intense hatred for the bad breast, leaving a person to struggle a lifetime to reconcile these unconscious psychic images of good and bad, pleasure and pain. The most crucial stage of life is the first few months, a time when relationships with mother and other significant objects form a model for later interpersonal relations. A person’s adult ability to love or to hate originates with these early object relations.

Later Views on Object Relations Since Melanie Klein’s bold and insightful descriptions, a number of other theorists have expanded and modified object relations theory. Among the more prominent of these later theorists are Margaret Mahler, Heinz Kohut, John Bowlby, and Mary Ainsworth.

Margaret Mahler’s View Margaret Schoenberger Mahler (1897–1985) was born in Sopron, Hungary, and re- ceived a medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1923. In 1938, she moved to New York, where she was a consultant to the Children’s Service of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She later established her own observational studies at the Masters Children’s Center in New York. From 1955 to 1974, she was clinical pro- fessor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Mahler was primarily concerned with the psychological birth of the individual that takes place during the first 3 years of life, a time when a child gradually surren- ders security for autonomy. Originally, Mahler’s ideas came from her observation of the behaviors of disturbed children interacting with their mothers. Later, she

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observed normal babies as they bonded with their mothers during the first 36 months of life (Mahler, 1952).

To Mahler, an individual’s psychological birth begins during the first weeks of postnatal life and continues for the next 3 years or so. By psychological birth, Mahler meant that the child becomes an individual separate from his or her primary caregiver, an accomplishment that leads ultimately to a sense of identity.

To achieve psychological birth and indi- viduation, a child proceeds through a series of three major developmental stages and four sub- stages (Mahler, 1967, 1972; Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975). The first major developmental stage is normal autism, which spans the period from birth until about age 3 or 4 weeks. To de- scribe the normal autism stage, Mahler (1967) borrowed Freud’s (1911/1958) analogy that compared psychological birth with an unhatched bird egg. The bird is able to satisfy its nutritional needs autistically (with- out regard to external reality) because its food supply is enclosed in its shell. Simi- larly, a newborn infant satisfies various needs within the all-powerful protective orbit of a mother’s care. Neonates have a sense of omnipotence, because, like unhatched birds, their needs are cared for automatically and without their having to expend any effort. Unlike Klein, who conceptualized a newborn infant as being terrified, Mahler pointed to the relatively long periods of sleep and general lack of tension in a neonate. She believed that this stage is a period of absolute primary narcissism in which an infant is unaware of any other person. Thus, she referred to normal autism as an “objectless” stage, a time when an infant naturally searches for the mother’s breast. She disagreed with Klein’s notion that infants incorporate the good breast and other objects into their ego.

As infants gradually realize that they cannot satisfy their own needs, they begin to recognize their primary caregiver and to seek a symbiotic relationship with her, a condition that leads to normal symbiosis, the second developmental stage in Mahler’s theory. Normal symbiosis begins around the 4th or 5th week of age but reaches its zenith during the 4th or 5th month. During this time, “the infant behaves and functions as though he and his mother were an omnipotent system—a dual unity within one common boundary” (Mahler, 1967, p. 741). In the analogy of the bird egg, the shell is now beginning to crack, but a psychological membrane in the form of a symbiotic relationship still protects the newborn. Mahler recognized that this re- lationship is not a true symbiosis because, although the infant’s life is dependent on the mother, the mother does not absolutely need the infant. The symbiosis is charac- terized by a mutual cuing of infant and mother. The infant sends cues to the mother of hunger, pain, pleasure, and so forth, and the mother responds with her own cues, such as feeding, holding, or smiling. By this age the infant can recognize the mother’s face and can perceive her pleasure or distress. However, object relations have not yet begun—mother and others are still “preobjects.” Older children and

Margaret Mahler

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even adults sometimes regress to this stage, seeking the strength and safety of their mother’s care.

The third major developmental stage, separation-individuation, spans the pe- riod from about the 4th or 5th month of age until about the 30th to 36th month. Dur- ing this time, children become psychologically separated from their mothers, achieve a sense of individuation, and begin to develop feelings of personal identity. Because children no longer experience a dual unity with their mother, they must surrender their delusion of omnipotence and face their vulnerability to external threats. Thus, young children in the separation-individuation stage experience the external world as being more dangerous than it was during the first two stages.

Mahler divided the separation-individuation stage into four overlapping sub- stages. The first is differentiation, which lasts from about the 5th month until the 7th to 10th month of age and is marked by a bodily breaking away from the mother- infant symbiotic orbit. For this reason, the differentiation substage is analogous to the hatching of an egg. At this age, Mahler observed, infants smile in response to their own mother, indicating a bond with a specific other person. Psychologically healthy infants who expand their world beyond the mother will be curious about strangers and will inspect them; unhealthy infants will fear strangers and recoil from them.

As infants physically begin to move away from their mothers by crawling and walking, they enter the practicing substage of separation-individuation, a period from about the 7th to 10th month of age to about the 15th or 16th month. During this subphase, children easily distinguish their body from their mother’s, establish a spe- cific bond with their mother, and begin to develop an autonomous ego. Yet, during the early stages of this period, they do not like to lose sight of their mother; they fol- low her with their eyes and show distress when she is away. Later, they begin to walk and to take in the outside world, which they experience as fascinating and exciting.

From about 16 to 25 months of age, children experience a rapprochement with their mother; that is, they desire to bring their mother and themselves back together, both physically and psychologically. Mahler noticed that children of this age want to share with their mother every new acquisition of skill and every new experience. Now that they can walk with ease, children are more physically separate from the mother, but paradoxically, they are more likely to show separation anxiety during the rapprochement stage than during the previous period. Their increased cognitive skills make them more aware of their separateness, causing them to try various ploys to regain the dual unity they once had with their mother. Because these attempts are never completely successful, children of this age often fight dramatically with their mother, a condition called the rapprochement crisis.

The final subphase of the separation-individuation process is libidinal object constancy, which approximates the 3rd year of life. During this time, children must develop a constant inner representation of their mother so that they can tolerate being physically separate from her. If this libidinal object constancy is not developed, chil- dren will continue to depend on their mother’s physical presence for their own secu- rity. Besides gaining some degree of object constancy, children must consolidate their individuality; that is, they must learn to function without their mother and to develop other object relationships (Mahler et al., 1975).

The strength of Mahler’s theory is its elegant description of psychological birth based on empirical observations that she and her colleagues made on child-mother

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interactions. Although many of her tenets rely on inferences gleaned from reactions of preverbal infants, her ideas can easily be extended to adults. Any errors made dur- ing the first 3 years—the time of psychological birth—may result in later regressions to a stage when a person had not yet achieved separation from the mother and thus a sense of personal identity.

Heinz Kohut’s View Heinz Kohut (1913–1981) was born in Vienna to educated and talented Jewish par- ents (Strozier, 2001). On the eve of World War II, he emigrated to England and, a year later, he moved to the United States, where he spent most of his professional life. He was a professional lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at the Univer- sity of Chicago, a member of the faculty at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and visiting professor of psychoanalysis at the University of Cincinnati. A neurolo- gist and a psychoanalyst, Kohut upset many psychoanalysts in 1971 with his publi- cation of The Analysis of the Self, which replaced the ego with the concept of self. In addition to this book, aspects of his self psychology are found in The Restoration of the Self (1977) and The Kohut Seminars (1987), edited by Miriam Elson and pub- lished after Kohut’s death.

More than the other object relations theorists, Kohut emphasized the process by which the self evolves from a vague and undifferentiated image to a clear and pre- cise sense of individual identity. As did other object relations theorists, he focused on the early mother-child relationship as the key to understanding later development. Kohut believed that human relatedness, not innate instinctual drives, are at the core of human personality.

According to Kohut, infants require adult caregivers not only to gratify physi- cal needs but also to satisfy basic psychological needs. In caring for both physical and psychological needs, adults, or selfobjects, treat infants as if they had a sense of self. For example, parents will act with warmth, coldness, or indifference de- pending in part on their infant’s behavior. Through the process of empathic interaction, the infant takes in the selfobject’s responses as pride, guilt, shame, or envy—all attitudes that eventually form the building blocks of the self. Kohut (1977) defined the self as “the center of the individual’s psychological universe” (p. 311). The self gives unity and consistency to one’s ex- periences, remains relatively stable over time, and is “the center of initiative and a recipient of impressions” (p. 99). The self is also the child’s focus of interpersonal relations, shaping how he or she will relate to parents and other selfobjects.

Kohut (1971, 1977) believed that infants are naturally narcissistic. They are self-centered, looking out exclusively for their own welfare and wishing to be admired for who they are and what they do. The early self becomes crystallized Heinz Kohut

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around two basic narcissistic needs: (1) the need to exhibit the grandiose self and (2) the need to acquire an idealized image of one or both parents. The grandiose- exhibitionistic self is established when the infant relates to a “mirroring” selfobject who reflects approval of its behavior. The infant thus forms a rudimentary self-image from messages such as “If others see me as perfect, then I am perfect.” The idealized parent image is opposed to the grandiose self because it implies that someone else is perfect. Nevertheless, it too satisfies a narcissistic need because the infant adopts the attitude “You are perfect, but I am part of you.”

Both narcissistic self-images are necessary for healthy personality develop- ment. Both, however, must change as the child grows older. If they remain unaltered, they result in a pathologically narcissistic adult personality. Grandiosity must change into a realistic view of self, and the idealized parent image must grow into a realis- tic picture of the parents. The two self-images should not entirely disappear; the healthy adult continues to have positive attitudes toward self and continues to see good qualities in parents or parent substitutes. However, a narcissistic adult does not transcend these infantile needs and continues to be self-centered and to see the rest of the world as an admiring audience. Freud believed that such a narcissistic person was a poor candidate for psychoanalysis, but Kohut held that psychotherapy could be effective with these patients.

John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory John Bowlby (1907–1990) was born in London, where his father was a well-known surgeon. From an early age, Bowlby was interested in natural science, medicine, and psychology—subjects he studied at Cambridge University. After receiving a medical degree, he started his practice in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in 1933. At about the same time, he began training in child psychiatry under Melanie Klein. During World War II, Bowlby served as an army psychiatrist, and in 1946 he was appointed direc-

tor of the Department for Children and Parents of the Tavistock Clinic. During the late 1950s, Bowlby spent some time at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences but returned to London, where he remained until his death in 1990 (van Dijken, 1998).

In the 1950s, Bowlby became dissatisfied with the object relations perspective, primarily for its inadequate theory of motivation and its lack of empiricism. With his knowledge of ethology and evolutionary theory (especially Konrad Lorenz’s idea of early bonding to a mother-figure), he realized that object relations theory could be integrated with an evolutionary perspective. By forming such an integration he felt he could correct the empirical shortcomings of the theory and extend it in a new direction. Bowlby’s attachment theory also departed from psychoanalytic thinking by taking childhood asJohn Bowlby

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its starting point and then extrapolating forward to adulthood (Bowlby, 1969/1982, 1988). Bowlby firmly believed that the attachments formed during childhood have an important impact on adulthood. Because childhood attachments are crucial to later development, Bowlby argued that investigators should study childhood directly and not rely on distorted retrospective accounts from adults.

The origins of attachment theory came from Bowlby’s observations that both human and primate infants go through a clear sequence of reactions when separated from their primary caregivers. Bowlby observed three stages of this separation anx- iety. When their caregiver is first out of sight, infants will cry, resist soothing by other people, and search for their caregiver. This stage is the protest stage. As sepa- ration continues, infants become quiet, sad, passive, listless, and apathetic. This sec- ond stage is called despair. The last stage—the only one unique to humans—is de- tachment. During this stage, infants become emotionally detached from other people, including their caregiver. If their caregiver (mother) returns, infants will dis- regard and avoid her. Children who become detached are no longer upset when their mother leaves them. As they become older, they play and interact with others with little emotion but appear to be sociable. However, their interpersonal relations are su- perficial and lack warmth.

From such observations, Bowlby developed his attachment theory, which he published in a trilogy titled Attachment and Loss (1969/1982, 1973, 1980). Bowlby’s theory rests on two fundamental assumptions: First, a responsive and accessible caregiver (usually the mother) must create a secure base for the child. The infant needs to know that the caregiver is accessible and dependable. If this dependability is present, the child is better able to develop confidence and security in exploring the world. This bonding relationship serves the critical function of attaching the care- giver to the infant, thereby making survival of the infant, and ultimately the species, more likely.

A second assumption of attachment theory is that a bonding relationship (or lack thereof ) becomes internalized and serves as a mental working model on which future friendships and love relationships are built. The first bonding attachment is therefore the most critical of all relationships. However, for bonding to take place, an infant must be more than a mere passive receptor to the caregiver’s behavior, even if that behavior radiates accessibility and dependability. Attachment style is a rela- tionship between two people and not a trait given to the infant by the caregiver. It is a two-way street—the infant and the caregiver must be responsive to each other and each must influence the other’s behavior.

Mary Ainsworth and the Strange Situation Mary Dinsmore Salter Ainsworth (1919–1999) was born in Glendale, Ohio, the daughter of the president of an aluminum goods business. She received her BA, MA, and PhD, all from the University of Toronto, where she also served as instructor and lecturer. During her long career, she taught and conducted research at several uni- versities and institutes in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Uganda.

Influenced by Bowlby’s theory, Ainsworth and her associates (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) developed a technique for measuring the type of

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attachment style that exists between caregiver and infant, known as the Strange Situation. This procedure consists of a 20-minute laboratory session in which a mother and infant are initially alone in a playroom. Then a stranger comes into the room, and after a few minutes the stranger begins a brief interaction with the infant. The mother then goes away for two separate 2- minute periods. During the first period, the in- fant is left alone with the stranger; during the second period, the infant is left completely alone. The critical behavior is how the infant re- acts when the mother returns; this behavior is the basis of the attachment style rating. Ainsworth and her associates found three at- tachment style ratings: secure, anxious-resistant, and avoidant.

In a secure attachment, when their mother returns, infants are happy and enthusiastic and

initiate contact; for example, they will go over to their mother and want to be held. All securely attached infants are confident in the accessibility and responsiveness of their caregiver, and this security and dependability provides the foundation for play and exploration.

In an anxious-resistant attachment style, infants are ambivalent. When their mother leaves the room, they become unusually upset, and when their mother returns they seek contact with her but reject attempts at being soothed. With the anxious- resistant attachment style, infants give very conflicted messages. On the one hand, they seek contact with their mother, while on the other hand, they squirm to be put down and may throw away toys that their mother has offered them.

The third attachment style is anxious-avoidant. With this style, infants stay calm when their mother leaves; they accept the stranger, and when their mother re- turns, they ignore and avoid her. In both kinds of insecure attachment (anxious- resistant and anxious-avoidant), infants lack the ability to engage in effective play and exploration.

Psychotherapy Klein, Mahler, Kohut, and Bowlby were all psychoanalysts trained in orthodox Freudian practices. However, each modified psychoanalytic treatment to fit her or his own theoretical orientation. Because these theorists varied among themselves on therapeutic procedures, we will limit our discussion of therapy to the approach used by Melanie Klein.

Klein’s pioneering use of psychoanalysis with children was not well accepted by other analysts during the 1920s and 1930s. Anna Freud was especially resistive to the notion of childhood psychoanalysis, contending that young children who were still attached to their parents could not develop a transference to the therapist be-

Mary Ainsworth

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cause they have no unconscious fantasies or images. Therefore, she claimed, young children could not profit from psychoanalytic therapy. In contrast, Klein believed that both disturbed and healthy children should be psychoanalyzed; disturbed chil- dren would receive the benefit of therapeutic treatment, whereas healthy children would profit from a prophylactic analysis. Consistent with this belief, she insisted that her own children be analyzed. She also insisted that negative transference was an essential step toward successful treatment, a view not shared by Anna Freud and many other psychoanalysts.

To foster negative transference and aggressive fantasies, Klein provided each child with a variety of small toys, pencil and paper, paint, crayons, and so forth. She substituted play therapy for Freudian dream analysis and free association, believing that young children express their conscious and unconscious wishes through play therapy. In addition to expressing negative transference feelings as means of play, Klein’s young patients often attacked her verbally, which gave her an opportunity to interpret the unconscious motives behind these attacks (Klein, 1943).

The aim of Kleinian therapy is to reduce depressive anxieties and persecutory fears and to mitigate the harshness of internalized objects. To accomplish this aim, Klein encouraged her patients to reexperience early emotions and fantasies but this time with the therapist pointing out the differences between reality and fantasy, be- tween conscious and unconscious. She also allowed patients to express both positive and negative transference, a situation that is essential for patients’ understanding of how unconscious fantasies connect with present everyday situations. Once this con- nection is made, patients feel less persecuted by internalized objects, experience re- duced depressive anxiety, and are able to project previously frightening internal ob- jects onto the outer world.

Related Research Both object relations theory and attachment continue to spark some empirical re- search. For example, object relations has been used to explain the formation of eat- ing disorders. This research rests on the assumption that having an unresponsive or inconsistent caregiver leads to children’s inability to reduce anxiety and frustration. As applied to eating disorders, when these individuals feel anxious, they look for comfort in external sources; and food is a primary means of soothing and regulating their anxiety. Prior research has supported these assumptions, primarily in women. For instance, Smolak and Levine (1993) found that bulimia was associated with overseparation (detachment) from parents, whereas anorexia was associated with high levels of guilt and conflict over separation from parents.

Object Relations and Eating Disorders More recently, this line of theory and research has been applied to both men and women. Steven Huprich and colleagues (Huprich, Stepp, Graham, & Johnson, 2004), for instance, examined the connection between disturbed object relations and eating disorders in a nearly equal number of female and male college students. Because eat- ing disorders are much more common in women than in men (Brannon & Feist,

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2007), the investigation by Huprich and colleagues was an important addition to the research on eating disorders of both men and women. The researchers administered three measures of object relations and three measures of eating disorders to the par- ticipants to see whether the association between object relations and eating problems could be found in men as well as women.

The experimenters used three measures of object relations: (1) interpersonal dependency; (2) separation-individuation; and (3) a general measure of object rela- tions, which assessed alienation, insecure attachment, egocentricity, and social in- competence. The three measures of eating disorder assessed (1) anorexic tendencies, (2) bulimic tendencies, and (3) a person’s sense of control and self-efficacy over com- pulsive eating. Results showed gender differences on one object relations measure (the Interpersonal Dependency Scale). With regard to measures of eating disorder, men scored lower than women on all three measures of disordered eating. In other words, men have less trouble with binge and compulsive eating than women and are less interpersonally dependent than women. Nevertheless, some overlap existed be- tween college males and females, which suggests that gender differences, though usually significant, do not neatly divide men from women on such measures as in- terpersonal dependency and its relationship to eating disorders. For example, Huprich and colleagues found that both men and women who were insecurely at- tached and self-focused (egocentric) had greater difficulty in controlling their com- pulsive eating than those who were more securely attached and less self-focused. In other words, when insecurely attached people of either gender are threatened, “they turn to an external object (food) as a means by which to comfort themselves” (Huprich et al., 2004, p. 808).

Attachment Theory and Adult Relationships Attachment theory as originally conceptualized by John Bowlby emphasized the re- lationship between parent and child. Since the 1980s, however, researchers have begun to systematically examine attachment relationships in adults, especially in ro- mantic relationships.

A classic study of adult attachment was conducted by Cindy Hazan and Phil Shaver (1987), who predicted that different types of early attachment styles would distinguish the kind, duration, and stability of adult love relationships. More specif- ically, these investigators expected that people who had secure early attachments with their caregivers would experience more trust, closeness, and positive emotions in their adult love relationships than would people in either of the two insecure groups. Likewise, they predicted that avoidant adults would fear closeness and lack trust, whereas anxious-ambivalent adults would be preoccupied with and obsessed by their relationships.

Using college students and other adults, Hazan and Shaver found support for each of these predictions. Securely attached adults did experience more trust and close- ness in their love relationships than did avoidant or anxious-ambivalent adults. Moreover, the researchers found that securely attached adults were more likely than in- secure adults to believe that romantic love can be long lasting. In addition, securely at- tached adults were less cynical about love in general, had longer lasting relationships, and were less likely to divorce than either avoidant or anxious-ambivalent adults.

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Other researchers have continued to extend the research on attachment and adult romantic relationships. Steven Rholes and colleagues, for example, tested the idea that attachment style is related to the type of information people seek or avoid regarding their relationship and romantic partner (Rholes, Simpson, Tran, Martin, & Friedman, 2007). The researchers predicted that avoidant individuals would not seek out additional information about their partner’s intimate feelings and dreams, whereas anxious individuals would express a strong desire to gain more information about their romantic partner. Avoidant individuals typically strive to maintain emo- tional independence and therefore do not want any information that could increase closeness. Closeness subverts their goal of independence. Conversely, anxious indi- viduals tend to be chronically worried about the state of their relationship and want to strengthen emotional bonds by seeking out as much information about their part- ner’s most intimate feelings as possible.

To test their predictions, Rholes and colleagues recruited couples who had been dating for a while and had them come in to a psychology lab to complete mea- sures of attachment and information seeking. Attachment style was measured using a standard questionnaire containing self-report items about how anxious or avoidant the person feels within their romantic relationship. Information seeking was mea- sured using a clever (and bogus) computerized task whereby each participant inde- pendently completed several items about their relationship including each partner’s intimate feelings and goals for the future. Participants were told that the computer would then generate a profile of their relationship that both dating partners could view at the end of the study. The researchers then were able to measure how much of the information provided by the relationship profile each partner read about the other. In accord with their predictions, and attachment theory more generally, the avoidant individuals showed less interest in reading information about their partner contained in the relationship profile, whereas anxious individuals sought more in- formation about their partner’s intimacy-related issues and goals for the future.

Attachment style is not only related to parents and romantic partners. Recent research has explored the role of attachment style in the relationships between lead- ers and their followers (military officers and their soldiers, for example; Davidovitz, Mikulincer, Shaver, Izsak, & Popper, 2007; Popper & Mayseless, 2003). The theory is that attachment style is relevant in leader-follower relationships because leaders or authority figures can occupy the role of caregiver and be a source of security in a manner similar to the support offered by parents and romantic partners. Researchers predicted that leaders with a secure attachment style (neither anxious nor avoidant) are more effective than insecurely attached (anxious or avoidant) leaders.

To explore the role of attachment in leadership, Rivka Davidovitz and col- leagues (2007) studied a group of military officers and the soldiers in their charge. Officers completed the same measure of attachment used in the previously discussed study on attachment and information seeking (Rholes et al., 2007), but rather than reporting on their attachment within a romantic relationship they reported on their close relationships more generally. Soldiers then completed measures of the effec- tiveness of their officer’s leadership, cohesiveness of their military unit, and mea- sures of psychological well-being.

The results provided further support of the generality and importance of at- tachment style in multiple types of relationships. The units of officers who had an

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avoidant attachment style were less cohesive and the soldiers expressed lower psy- chological well-being compared to members of other units. Most likely, these effects of leaders’ avoidant attachment style are due to the avoidant officers’ desire to avoid information about the social and emotional well-being of their unit. Anxiously at- tached officers led units that were rated low on instrumental functioning (degree to which soldiers take their work seriously). Yet, those same units were rated high on socioemotional functioning (degree to which soldiers feel free to express their thoughts and feelings). This last finding regarding socioemotional functioning was surprising to the researchers but makes sense when considering the findings of Rholes and colleagues discussed above (Rholes et al., 2007): The anxiously attached officers were likely more interested in seeking out information about how their sol- diers were feeling and how they were getting along with others.

Attachment is a construct in personality psychology that continues to generate a substantial amount of research. While the work on attachment theory began as a way to understand differences in parent-child relationships, recent research has shown that those same dynamics (secure, avoidant, and anxious attachment styles) are im- portant to understanding a wide range of adult relationships—from romantic part- ners to military leaders and soldiers.

Critique of Object Relations Theory Currently, object relations theory continues to be more popular in the United King- dom than it is in the United States. The “British School,” which included not only Melanie Klein but also W. R. D. Fairbairn and D. W. Winnicott, has exerted a strong influence on psychoanalysts and psychiatrists in the United Kingdom. In the United States, however, the influence of object relations theorists, while growing, has been less direct.

How does object relations theory rate in generating research? In 1986, Morris Bell and colleagues published the Bell Object Relations Inventory (BORI), a self- report questionnaire that identifies four main aspects of object relations: Alienation, Attachment, Egocentricity, and Social Incompetence. To date, only a few studies have used the BORI to empirically investigate object relations. However, attachment theory is currently generating much research. Thus, we rate object relations theory low on its ability to generate research, but we judge attachment theory moderate to high on this criterion for a useful theory.

Because object relations theory grew out of orthodox psychoanalytic theory, it suffers from some of the same falsifications that confront Freud’s theory. Most of its tenets are based on what is happening inside the infant’s psyche, and thus these as- sumptions cannot be falsified. The theory does not lend itself to falsifications be- cause it generates very few testable hypotheses. Attachment theory, on the other hand, rates somewhat higher on falsification.

Perhaps the most useful feature of object relations theory is its ability to or- ganize information about the behavior of infants. More than most other personality theorists, object relations theorists have speculated on how humans gradually come to acquire a sense of identity. Klein, and especially Mahler, Bowlby, and Ainsworth, built their theories on careful observations of the mother-child relationship. They

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watched the interactions between infant and mother and drew inferences based on what they saw. However, beyond the early childhood years, object relations theory lacks usefulness as an organizer of knowledge.

As a guide to the practitioner, the theory fares somewhat better than it does in organizing data or suggesting testable hypotheses. Parents of young infants can learn of the importance of a warm, accepting, and nurturing caregiver. Psychotherapists may find object relations theory useful not only in understanding the early devel- opment of their clients but also in understanding and working with the transference relationship that clients form with the therapist, whom they view as a substitute parent.

On the criterion of consistency, each of the theories discussed in this chapter has a high level of internal consistency, but the different theorists disagree among themselves on a number of points. Even though they all place primary importance on human relationships, the differences among them far exceed the similarities.

In addition, we rate object relations theory low on the criterion of parsimony. Klein, especially, used needlessly complex phrases and concepts to express her theory.

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Concept of Humanity Object relations theorists generally see human personality as a product of the early mother-child relationship. The interaction between mother and infant lays the foundation for future personality development because that early interpersonal ex- perience serves as a prototype for subsequent interpersonal relations. Klein saw the human psyche as “unstable, fluid, constantly fending off psychotic anxieties” (Mitchell & Black, 1995, p. 87). Moreover, “each of us struggles with the deep ter- rors of annihilation . . . and utter abandonment” (p. 88).

Because they emphasize the mother-child relationship and view these expe- riences as crucial to later development, object relations theorists rate high on de- terminism and low on free choice.

For the same reason, these theorists can be either pessimistic or optimistic, depending on the quality of the early mother-infant relationship. If that relation- ship is healthy, then a child will grow into a psychologically healthy adult; if it is not, the child will acquire a pathological, self-absorbed personality.

On the dimension of causality versus teleology, object relations theory tends to be more causal. Early experiences are the primary shapers of personality. Expec- tations of the future play a very minor role in object relations theory.

We rate object relations theory high on unconscious determinants of behavior because most of the theorists trace the prime determinants of behavior to very early infancy, a time before verbal language. Thus, people acquire many personal traits and attitudes on a preverbal level and remain unaware of the complete na- ture of these traits and attitudes. In addition, Klein’s acceptance of an innately

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Key Terms and Concepts

• Object relations theories assume that the mother-child relationship during the first 4 or 5 months is the most critical time for personality development.

• Klein believed that an important part of any relationship is the internal psychic representations of early significant objects, such as the mother’s breast or the father’s penis.

• Infants introject these psychic representations into their own psychic structure and then project them onto an external object, that is, another person. These internal pictures are not accurate representations of the other person but are remnants of earlier interpersonal experiences.

• The ego, which exists at birth, can sense both destructive and loving forces, that is, both a nurturing and a frustrating breast.

• To deal with the nurturing breast and the frustrating breast, infants split these objects into good and bad while also splitting their own ego, giving them a dual image of self.

• Klein believed that the superego comes into existence much earlier than Freud had speculated and that it grows along with the Oedipal process rather than being a product of it.

• During the early female Oedipus complex, the little girl adopts a feminine position toward both parents. She has a positive feeling both for her mother’s breasts and for her father’s penis, which she believes will feed her with babies.

• Sometimes the little girl develops hostility toward her mother, who she fears will retaliate against her and rob her of her babies.

• With most girls, however, the female Oedipus complex is resolved without any antagonism or jealousy toward their mother.

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acquired phylogenetic endowment places her theory even further in the direction of unconscious determinants.

The emphasis that Klein placed on the death instinct and phylogenetic en- dowment would seem to suggest that she saw biology as more important than en- vironment in shaping personality. However, Klein shifted the emphasis from Freud’s biologically based infantile stages to an interpersonal one. Because the intimacy and nurturing that infants receive from their mother are environmental experiences, Klein and other object relations theorists lean more toward social determinants of personality.

On the dimension of uniqueness versus similarities, object relations theorists tend more toward similarities. As clinicians dealing mostly with disturbed patients, Klein, Mahler, Kohut, and Bowlby limited their discussions to the distinction be- tween healthy personalities and pathological ones and were little concerned with differences among psychologically healthy personalities.

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• The little boy also adopts a feminine position during the early Oedipal years. At that time, he has no fear of being castrated as punishment for his sexual feelings for his mother.

• Later, the boy projects his destructive drive onto his father, who he fears will bite or castrate him.

• The male Oedipus complex is resolved when the boy establishes good relations with both parents and feels comfortable about his parents having sexual intercourse with one another.

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Horney: Psychoanalytic Social Theory

B Overview of Psychoanalytic Social Theory

B Biography of Karen Horney

B Introduction to Psychoanalytic Social Theory

Horney and Freud Compared

The Impact of Culture

The Importance of Childhood Experiences

B Basic Hostility and Basic Anxiety B Compulsive Drives

Neurotic Needs

Neurotic Trends

Moving Toward People

Moving Against People

Moving Away From People

B Intrapsychic Conflicts The Idealized Self-Image

The Neurotic Search for Glory

Neurotic Claims

Neurotic Pride



B Feminine Psychology B Psychotherapy B Related Research

The Neurotic Compulsion to Avoid the Negative

Can Neuroticism Ever Be a Good Thing?

B Critique of Horney B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


C H A P T E R 6

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Please Mark These “True” or “False” as They Apply to You.

1. T F It’s very important to me to please other people.

2. T F When I feel distressed, I seek out an emotionally strong person to tell my troubles to.

3. T F I prefer routine more than change. 4. T F I enjoy being in a powerful leadership position. 5. T F I believe in and follow the advice: “Do unto others before they can

do unto me.” 6. T F I enjoy being the life of the party. 7. T F It’s very important to me to be recognized for my accomplishments. 8. T F I enjoy seeing the achievements of my friends. 9. T F I usually end relationships when they begin to get too close.

10. T F It’s very difficult for me to overlook my own mistakes and personal flaws.

These questions represent 10 important needs proposed by Karen Horney. We discuss these items in the section on neurotic needs. Please know that marking an item in the direction of neurotic needs does not indicate that you are emotionally unstable or driven by neurotic needs.

Overview of Psychoanalytic Social Theory The psychoanalytic social theory of Karen Horney (pronounced Horn-eye) was built on the assumption that social and cultural conditions, especially childhood ex- periences, are largely responsible for shaping personality. People who do not have their needs for love and affection satisfied during childhood develop basic hostility toward their parents and, as a consequence, suffer from basic anxiety. Horney theo- rized that people combat basic anxiety by adopting one of three fundamental styles of relating to others: (1) moving toward people, (2) moving against people, or (3) moving away from people. Normal individuals may use any of these modes of re- lating to other people, but neurotics are compelled to rigidly rely on only one. Their compulsive behavior generates a basic intrapsychic conflict that may take the form of either an idealized self-image or self-hatred. The idealized self-image is expressed as (1) neurotic search for glory, (2) neurotic claims, or (3) neurotic pride. Self- hatred is expressed as either self-contempt or alienation from self.

Although Horney’s writings are concerned mostly with the neurotic personal- ity, many of her ideas can also be applied to normal individuals. This chapter looks at Horney’s basic theory of neurosis, compares her ideas to those of Freud, examines her views on feminine psychology, and briefly discusses her ideas on psychotherapy.

As with other personality theorists, Horney’s views on personality are a re- flection of her life experiences. Bernard Paris (1994) wrote that “Horney’s insights were derived from her efforts to relieve her own pain, as well as that of her patients. If her suffering had been less intense, her insights would have been less profound” (p. xxv). We look now at the life of this often-troubled woman.

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Biography of Karen Horney The biography of Karen Horney has several parallels with the life of Melanie Klein (see Chapter 5). Each was born during the 1880s, the youngest child of a 50-year- old father and his second wife. Each had older siblings who were favored by the par- ents, and each felt unwanted and unloved. Also, each had wanted to become a physi- cian, but only Horney fulfilled that ambition. Finally, both Horney and Klein engaged in an extended self-analysis—Horney’s, beginning with her diaries from age 13 to 26, continuing with her analysis by Karl Abraham, and culminating with her book Self-Analysis (Quinn, 1987).

Karen Danielsen Horney was born in Eilbek, a small town near Hamburg, Germany, on September 15, 1885. She was the only daughter of Berndt (Wackels) Danielsen, a sea captain, and Clothilda van Ronzelen Danielsen, a woman nearly 18 years younger than her husband. The only other child of this marriage was a son, about 4 years older than Karen. However, the old sea captain had been married ear- lier and had four other children, most of whom were adults by the time Horney was born. The Danielsen family was an unhappy one, in part because Karen’s older half- siblings turned their father against his second wife. Karen felt great hostility toward her stern, devoutly religious father and regarded him as a religious hypocrite. How- ever, she idolized her mother, who both supported and protected her against the stern old sea captain. Nevertheless, Karen was not a happy child. She resented the favored treatment given to her older brother, and in addition, she worried about the bitterness and discord between her parents.

When she was 13, Horney decided to become a physician, but at that time no university in Germany admitted women. By the time she was 16, this situation had changed. So Horney—over the objections of her father, who wanted her to stay home and take care of the household—entered the gymnasium, a school that would lead to a university and then to medical school. On her own for the first time, Karen was to remain independent for the rest of her life. According to Paris (1994), however, Hor- ney’s independence was mostly superficial. On a deeper level, she retained a com- pulsive need to merge with a great man. This morbid dependency, which typically in- cluded idealization and fear of inciting angry rejection, haunted Horney during her relationships with a series of men.

In 1906, she entered the University of Freiburg, becoming one of the first women in Germany to study medicine. There she met Oskar Horney, a political sci- ence student. Their relationship began as a friendship, but it eventually became a ro- mantic one. After their marriage in 1909, the couple settled in Berlin, where Oskar, now with a PhD, worked for a coal company and Karen, not yet with an MD, spe- cialized in psychiatry.

By this time, Freudian psychoanalysis was becoming well established, and Karen Horney became familiar with Freud’s writings. Early in 1910, she began an analysis with Karl Abraham, one of Freud’s close associates and a man who later an- alyzed Melanie Klein. After Horney’s analysis was terminated, she attended Abra- ham’s evening seminars, where she became acquainted with other psychoanalysts. By 1917, she had written her first paper on psychoanalysis, “The Technique of Psy- choanalytic Therapy” (Horney, 1917/1968), which reflected the orthodox Freudian view and gave little indication of Horney’s subsequent independent thinking.

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The early years of her marriage were filled with many notable personal expe- riences for Horney. Her father and mother, who were now separated, died within less than a year of each other; she gave birth to three daughters in 5 years; she received her MD degree in 1915 after 5 years of psychoanalysis; and, in her quest for the right man, she had several love affairs (Paris, 1994; Quinn, 1987).

After World War I, the Horneys lived a prosperous, suburban lifestyle with several servants and a chauffeur. Oskar did well financially while Karen enjoyed a thriving psychiatric practice. This idyllic scene, however, soon ended. The inflation and economic disorder of 1923 cost Oskar his job, and the family was forced to move back to an apartment in Berlin. In 1926, Karen and Oskar separated but did not officially divorce until 1938 (Paris, 1994).

The early years following her separation from Oskar were the most productive of Horney’s life. In addition to seeing patients and caring for her three daughters, she became more involved with writing, teaching, traveling, and lecturing. Her papers now showed important differences with Freudian theory. She believed that culture, not anatomy, was responsible for psychic differences between men and women. When Freud reacted negatively to Horney’s position, she became even more outspo- ken in her opposition.

In 1932, Horney left Germany for a position as associate director of the newly established Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. Several factors contributed to her de- cision to immigrate—the anti-Jewish political climate in Germany (although Horney was not Jewish), increasing opposition to her unorthodox views, and an opportunity to extend her influence beyond Berlin. During the 2 years she spent in Chicago, she met Margaret Mead, John Dollard, and many of the same scholars who had influ- enced Harry Stack Sullivan (see Chapter 8). In addition, she renewed acquaintances with Erich Fromm and his wife, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, whom she had known in Berlin. During the next 10 years, Horney and Fromm were close friends, greatly in- fluencing one another and eventually becoming lovers (Hornstein, 2000).

After 2 years in Chicago, Horney moved to New York, where she taught at the New School for Social Research. While in New York, she became a member of the Zodiac group that included Fromm, Fromm-Reichmann, Sullivan, and others. Al- though Horney was a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, she seldom agreed with the established members. Moreover, her book New Ways in Psycho- analysis (1939) made her the leader of an opposition group. In this book, Horney called for abandoning the instinct theory and placing more emphasis on ego and so- cial influences. In 1941, she resigned from the institute over issues of dogma and or- thodoxy and helped form a rival organization—the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (AAP). This new group, however, also quickly suffered from in- ternal strife. In 1943, Fromm (whose intimate relationship with Horney had recently ended) and several others resigned from the AAP, leaving that organization without its strongest members. Despite this rift, the association continued, but under a new name—the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1952, Horney established the Karen Horney Clinic.

In 1950, Horney published her most important work, Neurosis and Human Growth. This book sets forth theories that were no longer merely a reaction to Freud but rather were an expression of her own creative and independent thinking. After a short illness, Horney died of cancer on December 4, 1952. She was 65 years old.

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Introduction to Psychoanalytic Social Theory The early writings of Karen Horney, like those of Adler, Jung, and Klein, have a dis- tinctive Freudian flavor. Like Adler and Jung, she eventually became disenchanted with orthodox psychoanalysis and constructed a revisionist theory that reflected her own personal experiences—clinical and otherwise.

Although Horney wrote nearly exclusively about neuroses and neurotic per- sonalities, her works suggest much that is appropriate to normal, healthy develop- ment. Culture, especially early childhood experiences, plays a leading role in shap- ing human personality, either neurotic or healthy. Horney, then, agreed with Freud that early childhood traumas are important, but she differed from him in her insis- tence that social rather than biological forces are paramount in personality develop- ment.

Horney and Freud Compared Horney criticized Freud’s theories on several accounts. First, she cautioned that strict adherence to orthodox psychoanalysis would lead to stagnation in both theoretical thought and therapeutic practice (Horney, 1937). Second, Horney (1937, 1939) ob- jected to Freud’s ideas on feminine psychology, a subject we return to later. Third, she stressed the view that psychoanalysis should move beyond instinct theory and emphasize the importance of cultural influences in shaping personality. “Man is ruled not by the pleasure principle alone but by two guiding principles: safety and satisfaction” (Horney, 1939, p. 73). Similarly, she claimed that neuroses are not the result of instincts but rather of the person’s “attempt to find paths through a wilder- ness full of unknown dangers” (p. 10). This wilderness is created by society and not by instincts or anatomy.

Despite becoming increasingly critical of Freud, Horney continued to recog- nize his perceptive insights. Her main quarrel with Freud was not so much the accu- racy of his observations but the validity of his interpretations. In general terms, she held that Freud’s explanations result in a pessimistic concept of humanity based on innate instincts and the stagnation of personality. In contrast, her view of humanity is an optimistic one and is centered on cultural forces that are amenable to change (Horney, 1950).

The Impact of Culture Although Horney did not overlook the importance of genetic factors, she repeatedly emphasized cultural influences as the primary bases for both neurotic and normal personality development. Modern culture, she contended, is based on competition among individuals. “Everyone is a real or potential competitor of everyone else” (Horney, 1937, p. 284). Competitiveness and the basic hostility it spawns result in feelings of isolation. These feelings of being alone in a potentially hostile world lead to intensified needs for affection, which, in turn, cause people to overvalue love. As a result, many people see love and affection as the solution for all their problems. Genuine love, of course, can be a healthy, growth-producing experience; but the des- perate need for love (such as that shown by Horney herself ) provides a fertile ground

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for the development of neuroses. Rather than benefiting from the need for love, neu- rotics strive in pathological ways to find it. Their self-defeating attempts result in low self-esteem, increased hostility, basic anxiety, more competitiveness, and a continu- ous excessive need for love and affection.

According to Horney, Western society contributes to this vicious circle in sev- eral respects. First, people of this society are imbued with the cultural teachings of kinship and humility. These teachings, however, run contrary to another prevailing attitude, namely, aggressiveness and the drive to win or be superior. Second, society’s demands for success and achievement are nearly endless, so that even when people achieve their material ambitions, additional goals are continually being placed be- fore them. Third, Western society tells people that they are free, that they can ac- complish anything through hard work and perseverance. In reality, however, the free- dom of most people is greatly restricted by genetics, social position, and the competitiveness of others.

These contradictions—all stemming from cultural influences rather than bio- logical ones—provide intrapsychic conflicts that threaten the psychological health of normal people and provide nearly insurmountable obstacles for neurotics.

The Importance of Childhood Experiences Horney believed that neurotic conflict can stem from almost any developmental stage, but childhood is the age from which the vast majority of problems arise. A va- riety of traumatic events, such as sexual abuse, beatings, open rejection, or pervasive neglect, may leave their impressions on a child’s future development; but Horney (1937) insisted that these debilitating experiences can almost invariably be traced to lack of genuine warmth and affection. Horney’s own lack of love from her father and her close relationship with her mother must have had a powerful effect on her per- sonal development as well as on her theoretical ideas.

Horney (1939) hypothesized that a difficult childhood is primarily responsible for neurotic needs. These needs become powerful because they are the child’s only means of gaining feelings of safety. Nevertheless, no single early experience is re- sponsible for later personality. Horney cautioned that “the sum total of childhood ex- periences brings about a certain character structure, or rather, starts its development” (p. 152). In other words, the totality of early relationships molds personality devel- opment. “Later attitudes to others, then, are not repetitions of infantile ones but em- anate from the character structure, the basis of which is laid in childhood” (p. 87).

Although later experiences can have an important effect, especially in normal individuals, childhood experiences are primarily responsible for personality devel- opment. People who rigidly repeat patterns of behavior do so because they interpret new experiences in a manner consistent with those established patterns.

Basic Hostility and Basic Anxiety Horney (1950) believed that each person begins life with the potential for healthy de- velopment, but like other living organisms, people need favorable conditions for growth. These conditions must include a warm and loving environment yet one that is not overly permissive. Children need to experience both genuine love and healthy

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discipline. Such conditions provide them with feelings of safety and satisfaction and permit them to grow in accordance with their real self.

Unfortunately, a multitude of adverse influences may interfere with these fa- vorable conditions. Primary among these is the parents’ inability or unwillingness to love their child. Because of their own neurotic needs, parents often dominate, ne- glect, overprotect, reject, or overindulge. If parents do not satisfy the child’s needs for safety and satisfaction, the child develops feelings of basic hostility toward the parents. However, children seldom overtly express this hostility as rage; instead, they repress their hostility toward their parents and have no awareness of it. Repressed hostility then leads to profound feelings of insecurity and a vague sense of appre- hension. This condition is called basic anxiety, which Horney (1950) defined as “a feeling of being isolated and helpless in a world conceived as potentially hostile” (p. 18). Earlier, she gave a more graphic description, calling basic anxiety “a feeling of being small, insignificant, helpless, deserted, endangered, in a world that is out to abuse, cheat, attack, humiliate, betray, envy” (Horney, 1937, p. 92).

Horney (1937, p. 75) believed that basic hostility and basic anxiety are “inex- tricably interwoven.” Hostile impulses are the principal source of basic anxiety, but basic anxiety can also contribute to feelings of hostility. As an example of how basic hostility can lead to anxiety, Horney (1937) wrote about a young man with repressed hostility who went on a hiking trip in the mountains with a young woman with whom he was deeply in love. His repressed hostility, however, also led him to become jeal- ous of the woman. While walking on a dangerous mountain pass, the young man suddenly suffered a severe “anxiety attack” in the form of rapid heart rate and heavy breathing. The anxiety resulted from a seemingly inappropriate but conscious im- pulse to push the young woman over the edge of the mountain pass.

In this case, basic hostility led to severe anxiety, but anxiety and fear can also lead to strong feelings of hostility. Children who feel threatened by their parents de- velop a reactive hostility in defense of that threat. This reactive hostility, in turn, may create additional anxiety, thus completing the interactive circle between hostility and anxiety. Horney (1937) contended that “it does not matter whether anxiety or hostil- ity has been the primary factor” (p. 74). The important point is that their reciprocal influence may intensify a neurosis without a person’s experiencing any additional outside conflict.

Basic anxiety itself is not a neurosis, but “it is the nutritive soil out of which a definite neurosis may develop at any time” (Horney, 1937, p. 89). Basic anxiety is constant and unrelenting, needing no particular stimulus such as taking a test in school or giving a speech. It permeates all relationships with others and leads to un- healthy ways of trying to cope with people.

Although she later amended her list of defenses against basic anxiety, Horney (1937) originally identified four general ways that people protect themselves against this feeling of being alone in a potentially hostile world. The first is affection, a strat- egy that does not always lead to authentic love. In their search for affection, some people may try to purchase love with self-effacing compliance, material goods, or sexual favors.

The second protective device is submissiveness. Neurotics may submit them- selves either to people or to institutions such as an organization or a religion. Neu- rotics who submit to another person often do so in order to gain affection.

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Neurotics may also try to protect themselves by striving for power, prestige, or possession. Power is a defense against the real or imagined hostility of others and takes the form of a tendency to dominate others; prestige is a protection against hu- miliation and is expressed as a tendency to humiliate others; possession acts as a buffer against destitution and poverty and manifests itself as a tendency to deprive others.

The fourth protective mechanism is withdrawal. Neurotics frequently protect themselves against basic anxiety either by developing an independence from others or by becoming emotionally detached from them. By psychologically withdrawing, neurotics feel that they cannot be hurt by other people.

These protective devices did not necessarily indicate a neurosis, and Horney believed that all people use them to some extent. They become unhealthy when peo- ple feel compelled to rely on them and are thus unable to employ a variety of inter- personal strategies. Compulsion, then, is the salient characteristic of all neurotic drives.

Compulsive Drives Neurotic individuals have the same problems that affect normal people, except neu- rotics experience them to a greater degree. Everyone uses the various protective de- vices to guard against the rejection, hostility, and competitiveness of others. But whereas normal individuals are able to use a variety of defensive maneuvers in a somewhat useful way, neurotics compulsively repeat the same strategy in an essen- tially unproductive manner.

Horney (1942) insisted that neurotics do not enjoy misery and suffering. They cannot change their behavior by free will but must continually and compulsively pro- tect themselves against basic anxiety. This defensive strategy traps them in a vicious circle in which their compulsive needs to reduce basic anxiety lead to behaviors that perpetuate low self-esteem, generalized hostility, inappropriate striving for power, inflated feelings of superiority, and persistent apprehension, all of which result in more basic anxiety.

Neurotic Needs At the beginning of this chapter, we asked you to select either “True” or “False” for each of 10 items that might suggest a neurotic need. For each item except number 8, a “True” response parallels one of Horney’s neurotic needs. For number 8, a “False” answer is consistent with the neurotic need for self-centeredness. Remember that en- dorsing most or even all of these statements in the “neurotic” direction is no indica- tion of emotional instability, but these items may give you a better understanding of what Horney meant by neurotic needs.

Horney tentatively identified 10 categories of neurotic needs that characterize neurotics in their attempts to combat basic anxiety. These needs were more specific than the four protective devices discussed earlier, but they describe the same basic defensive strategies. The 10 categories of neurotic needs overlapped one another, and a single person might employ more than one. Each of the following neurotic needs relates in some way or another to other people.

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1. The neurotic need for affection and approval. In their quest for affection and approval, neurotics attempt indiscriminately to please others. They try to live up to the expectations of others, tend to dread self-assertion, and are quite uncomfortable with the hostility of others as well as the hostile feelings within themselves.

2. The neurotic need for a powerful partner. Lacking self-confidence, neurotics try to attach themselves to a powerful partner. This need includes an overvaluation of love and a dread of being alone or deserted. Horney’s own life story reveals a strong need to relate to a great man, and she had a series of such relationships during her adult life.

3. The neurotic need to restrict one’s life within narrow borders. Neurotics frequently strive to remain inconspicuous, to take second place, and to be content with very little. They downgrade their own abilities and dread making demands on others.

4. The neurotic need for power. Power and affection are perhaps the two greatest neurotic needs. The need for power is usually combined with the needs for prestige and possession and manifests itself as the need to control others and to avoid feelings of weakness or stupidity.

5. The neurotic need to exploit others. Neurotics frequently evaluate others on the basis of how they can be used or exploited, but at the same time, they fear being exploited by others.

6. The neurotic need for social recognition or prestige. Some people combat basic anxiety by trying to be first, to be important, or to attract attention to themselves.

7. The neurotic need for personal admiration. Neurotics have a need to be admired for what they are rather than for what they possess. Their inflated self-esteem must be continually fed by the admiration and approval of others.

8. The neurotic need for ambition and personal achievement. Neurotics often have a strong drive to be the best—the best salesperson, the best bowler, the best lover. They must defeat other people in order to confirm their superiority.

9. The neurotic need for self-sufficiency and independence. Many neurotics have a strong need to move away from people, thereby proving that they can get along without others. The playboy who cannot be tied down by any woman exemplifies this neurotic need.

10. The neurotic need for perfection and unassailability. By striving relentlessly for perfection, neurotics receive “proof ” of their self-esteem and personal superiority. They dread making mistakes and having personal flaws, and they desperately attempt to hide their weaknesses from others.

Neurotic Trends As her theory evolved, Horney began to see that the list of 10 neurotic needs could be grouped into three general categories, each relating to a person’s basic attitude to- ward self and others. In 1945, she identified the three basic attitudes, or neurotic trends, as (1) moving toward people, (2) moving against people, and (3) moving away from people.

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Although these neurotic trends constitute Horney’s theory of neurosis, they also apply to normal individuals. There are, of course, important differences between normal and neurotic attitudes. Whereas normal people are mostly or completely con- scious of their strategies toward other people, neurotics are unaware of their basic at- titude; although normals are free to choose their actions, neurotics are forced to act; whereas normals experience mild conflict, neurotics experience severe and insoluble conflict; and whereas normals can choose from a variety of strategies, neurotics are limited to a single trend. Figure 6.1 shows Horney’s conception of the mutual influ- ence of basic hostility and basic anxiety as well as both normal and neurotic defenses against anxiety.

People can use each of the neurotic trends to solve basic conflict, but unfortu- nately, these solutions are essentially nonproductive or neurotic. Horney (1950) used the term basic conflict because very young children are driven in all three direc- tions—toward, against, and away from people.

In healthy children, these three drives are not necessarily incompatible. But the feelings of isolation and helplessness that Horney described as basic anxiety drive

FIGURE 6.1 The Interaction of Basic Hostility and Basic Anxiety with the Defenses against Anxiety.

Defenses against anxiety

Basic anxiety Results from parental threats or from a defense against hostility

Basic anxiety Results from parental threats or from a defense against hostility

Basic hostility Results from childhood feelings of rejection or neglect

by parents or from a defense against basic anxiety

Basic anxiety Results from parental threats or from a defense against hostility

Normal defenses

Spontaneous movement

Toward people (friendly, loving personality)

Against people (a survivor in a competitive society)

Away from people (autonomous, serene personality)

Neurotic defenses

Compulsive movement

Toward people (compliant personality)

Against people (aggressive personality)

Away from people (detached personality)

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some children to act compulsively, thereby limiting their repertoire to a single neu- rotic trend. Experiencing basically contradictory attitudes toward others, these chil- dren attempt to solve this basic conflict by making one of the three neurotic trends consistently dominant. Some children move toward people by behaving in a compli- ant manner as a protection against feelings of helplessness; other children move against people with acts of aggression in order to circumvent the hostility of others; and still other children move away from people by adopting a detached manner, thus alleviating feelings of isolation (Horney, 1945).

Moving Toward People Horney’s concept of moving toward people does not mean moving toward them in the spirit of genuine love. Rather, it refers to a neurotic need to protect oneself against feelings of helplessness.

In their attempts to protect themselves against feelings of helplessness, com- pliant people employ either or both of the first two neurotic needs; that is, they des- perately strive for affection and approval of others, or they seek a powerful partner who will take responsibility for their lives. Horney (1937) referred to these needs as “morbid dependency,” a concept that anticipated the term “codependency.”

The neurotic trend of moving toward people involves a complex of strategies. It is “a whole way of thinking, feeling, acting—a whole way of life” (Horney, 1945, p. 55). Horney also called it a philosophy of life. Neurotics who adopt this philoso- phy are likely to see themselves as loving, generous, unselfish, humble, and sensitive to other people’s feelings. They are willing to subordinate themselves to others, to see others as more intelligent or attractive, and to rate themselves according to what others think of them.

Moving Against People Just as compliant people assume that everyone is nice, aggressive people take for granted that everyone is hostile. As a result, they adopt the strategy of moving against people. Neurotically aggressive people are just as compulsive as compliant people are, and their behavior is just as much prompted by basic anxiety. Rather than moving toward people in a posture of submissiveness and dependence, these people move against others by appearing tough or ruthless. They are motivated by a strong need to exploit others and to use them for their own benefit. They seldom admit their mistakes and are compulsively driven to appear perfect, powerful, and superior.

Five of the 10 neurotic needs are incorporated in the neurotic trend of moving against people. They include the need to be powerful, to exploit others, to receive recognition and prestige, to be admired, and to achieve. Aggressive people play to win rather than for the enjoyment of the contest. They may appear to be hard work- ing and resourceful on the job, but they take little pleasure in the work itself. Their basic motivation is for power, prestige, and personal ambition.

In the United States, the striving for these goals is usually viewed with admi- ration. Compulsively aggressive people, in fact, frequently come out on top in many endeavors valued by American society. They may acquire desirable sex partners, high-paying jobs, and the personal admiration of many people. Horney (1945) said that it is not to the credit of American society that such characteristics are rewarded while love, affection, and the capacity for true friendship—the very qualities that ag- gressive people lack—are valued less highly.

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Moving toward others and moving against others are, in many ways, polar op- posites. The compliant person is compelled to receive affection from everyone, whereas the aggressive person sees everyone as a potential enemy. For both types, however, “the center of gravity lies outside the person” (Horney, 1945, p. 65). Both need other people. Compliant people need others to satisfy their feelings of help- lessness; aggressive people use others as a protection against real or imagined hos- tility. With the third neurotic trend, in contrast, other people are of lesser importance.

Moving Away From People In order to solve the basic conflict of isolation, some people behave in a detached manner and adopt a neurotic trend of moving away from people. This strategy is an expression of needs for privacy, independence, and self-sufficiency. Again, each of these needs can lead to positive behaviors, with some people satisfying these needs in a healthy fashion. However, these needs become neurotic when people try to sat- isfy them by compulsively putting emotional distance between themselves and other people.

Many neurotics find associating with others an intolerable strain. As a conse- quence, they are compulsively driven to move away from people, to attain autonomy and separateness. They frequently build a world of their own and refuse to allow any- one to get close to them. They value freedom and self-sufficiency and often appear to be aloof and unapproachable. If married, they maintain their detachment even from their spouse. They shun social commitments, but their greatest fear is to need other people.

All neurotics possess a need to feel superior, but detached persons have an in- tensified need to be strong and powerful. Their basic feelings of isolation can be

Moving away from people is a neurotic trend that many people use in an attempt to solve the basic conflict of isolation.

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T A B L E 6 . 1

Summary of Horney’s Neurotic Trends

Basic conflict or source of neurotic trend

Neurotic needs

Normal analog

The Compliant Personality

Feelings of helplessness

1. Affection and approval

2. Powerful partner

3. Narrow limits to life

Friendly, loving

The Detached Personality

Feelings of isolation

9. Self-sufficiency and independence

10. Perfection and prestige

Autonomous and serene

The Aggressive Personality

Protection against hostility of others

4. Power

5. Exploitation

6. Recognition and unassailability

7. Personal admiration

8. Personal achievement

Ability to survive in a competitive society

Neurotic Trends

Toward People Against People Away from People

tolerated only by the self-deceptive belief that they are perfect and therefore beyond criticism. They dread competition, fearing a blow to their illusory feelings of supe- riority. Instead, they prefer that their hidden greatness be recognized without any ef- fort on their part (Horney, 1945).

In summary, each of the three neurotic trends has an analogous set of charac- teristics that describe normal individuals. In addition, each of 10 neurotic needs can be easily placed within the three neurotic trends. Table 6.1 summarizes the three neu- rotic trends, the basic conflicts that give rise to them, the outstanding characteristics of each, the 10 neurotic needs that compose them, and the three analogous traits that characterize normal people.

Intrapsychic Conflicts The neurotic trends flow from basic anxiety, which in turn, stems from a child’s re- lationships with other people. To this point, our emphasis has been on culture and in- terpersonal conflict. However, Horney did not neglect the impact of intrapsychic fac-

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tors in the development of personality. As her theory evolved, she began to place greater emphasis on the inner conflicts that both normal and neurotic individuals ex- perience. Intrapsychic processes originate from interpersonal experiences; but as they become part of a person’s belief system, they develop a life of their own—an existence separate from the interpersonal conflicts that gave them life.

This section looks at two important intrapsychic conflicts: the idealized self- image and self-hatred. Briefly, the idealized self-image is an attempt to solve con- flicts by painting a godlike picture of oneself. Self-hatred is an interrelated yet equally irrational and powerful tendency to despise one’s real self. As people build an idealized image of their self, their real self lags farther and farther behind. This gap creates a growing alienation between the real self and the idealized self and leads neurotics to hate and despise their actual self because it falls so short in matching the glorified self-image (Horney, 1950).

The Idealized Self-Image Horney believed that human beings, if given an environment of discipline and warmth, will develop feelings of security and self-confidence and a tendency to move toward self-realization. Unfortunately, early negative influences often impede people’s natural tendency toward self-realization, a situation that leaves them with feelings of isolation and inferiority. Added to this failure is a growing sense of alien- ation from themselves.

Feeling alienated from themselves, people need desperately to acquire a stable sense of identity. This dilemma can be solved only by creating an idealized self- image, an extravagantly positive view of themselves that exists only in their personal belief system. These people endow themselves with infinite powers and unlimited capabilities; they see themselves as “a hero, a genius, a supreme lover, a saint, a god” (Horney, 1950, p. 22). The idealized self-image is not a global construction. Neu- rotics glorify and worship themselves in different ways. Compliant people see them- selves as good and saintly; aggressive people build an idealized image of themselves as strong, heroic, and omnipotent; and detached neurotics paint their self-portraits as wise, self-sufficient, and independent.

As the idealized self-image becomes solidified, neurotics begin to believe in the reality of that image. They lose touch with their real self and use the idealized self as the standard for self-evaluation. Rather than growing toward self-realization, they move toward actualizing their idealized self.

Horney (1950) recognized three aspects of the idealized image: (1) the neu- rotic search for glory, (2) neurotic claims, and (3) neurotic pride.

The Neurotic Search for Glory As neurotics come to believe in the reality of their idealized self, they begin to in- corporate it into all aspects of their lives—their goals, their self-concept, and their relations with others. Horney (1950) referred to this comprehensive drive toward ac- tualizing the ideal self as the neurotic search for glory.

In addition to self-idealization, the neurotic search for glory includes three other elements: the need for perfection, neurotic ambition, and the drive toward a vindictive triumph.

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The need for perfection refers to the drive to mold the whole personality into the idealized self. Neurotics are not content to merely make a few alterations; noth- ing short of complete perfection is acceptable. They try to achieve perfection by erecting a complex set of “shoulds” and “should nots.” Horney (1950) referred to this drive as the tyranny of the should. Striving toward an imaginary picture of per- fection, neurotics unconsciously tell themselves: “Forget about the disgraceful crea- ture you actually are; this is how you should be” (p. 64).

A second key element in the neurotic search for glory is neurotic ambition, that is, the compulsive drive toward superiority. Although neurotics have an exag- gerated need to excel in everything, they ordinarily channel their energies into those activities that are most likely to bring success. This drive, therefore, may take sev- eral different forms during a person’s lifetime (Horney, 1950). For example, while still in school, a girl may direct her neurotic ambition toward being the best student in school. Later, she may be driven to excel in business or to raise the very best show dogs. Neurotic ambition may also take a less materialistic form, such as being the most saintly or most charitable person in the community.

The third aspect of the neurotic search for glory is the drive toward a vindic- tive triumph, the most destructive element of all. The need for a vindictive triumph may be disguised as a drive for achievement or success, but “its chief aim is to put others to shame or defeat them through one’s very success; or to attain the power . . . to inflict suffering on them—mostly of a humiliating kind” (Horney, 1950, p. 27). Interestingly, in Horney’s personal relationship with men, she seemed to take plea- sure in causing them to feel ashamed and humiliated (Hornstein, 2000).

The drive for a vindictive triumph grows out of the childhood desire to take re- venge for real or imagined humiliations. No matter how successful neurotics are in vindictively triumphing over others, they never lose their drive for a vindictive tri- umph—instead, they increase it with each victory. Every success raises their fear of defeat and increases their feelings of grandeur, thus solidifying their need for further vindictive triumphs.

Neurotic Claims A second aspect of the idealized image is neurotic claims. In their search for glory, neurotics build a fantasy world—a world that is out of sync with the real world. Believing that something is wrong with the outside world, they proclaim that they are special and therefore entitled to be treated in accordance with their idealized view of themselves. Because these demands are very much in accord with their idealized self-image, they fail to see that their claims of special privilege are unreasonable.

Neurotic claims grow out of normal needs and wishes, but they are quite dif- ferent. When normal wishes are not fulfilled, people become understandably frus- trated; but when neurotic claims are not met, neurotics become indignant, bewil- dered, and unable to comprehend why others have not granted their claims. The difference between normal desires and neurotic claims is illustrated by a situation in which many people are waiting in line for tickets for a popular movie. Most people near the end of the line might wish to be up front, and some of them may even try some ploy to get a better position. Nevertheless, these people know that they don’t really deserve to cut ahead of others. Neurotic people, on the other hand, truly

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believe that they are enti- tled to be near the front of the line, and they feel no guilt or remorse in moving ahead of others.

Neurotic Pride The third aspect of an idealized image is neu- rotic pride, a false pride based not on a realistic view of the true self but on a spurious image of the idealized self. Neu- rotic pride is qualitatively different from healthy pride or realistic self- esteem. Genuine self- esteem is based on realis- tic attributes and accom- plishments and is gener- ally expressed with quiet dignity. Neurotic pride, on the other hand, is based on an idealized image of self and is usu-

ally loudly proclaimed in order to protect and support a glorified view of one’s self (Horney, 1950).

Neurotics imagine themselves to be glorious, wonderful, and perfect, so when others fail to treat them with special consideration, their neurotic pride is hurt. To prevent the hurt, they avoid people who refuse to yield to their neurotic claims, and instead, they try to become associated with socially prominent and prestigious insti- tutions and acquisitions.

Self-Hatred People with a neurotic search for glory can never be happy with themselves because when they realize that their real self does not match the insatiable demands of their idealized self, they will begin to hate and despise themselves:

The glorified self becomes not only a phantom to be pursued; it also becomes a measuring rod with which to measure his actual being. And this actual being is such an embarrassing sight when viewed from the perspective of a godlike perfection that he cannot but despise it. (Horney, 1950, p. 110)

Horney (1950) recognized six major ways in which people express self-hatred. First, self-hatred may result in relentless demands on the self, which are exemplified

Self-hatred is sometimes expressed through abuse of alcohol.

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by the tyranny of the should. For example, some people make demands on them- selves that don’t stop even when they achieve a measure of success. These people continue to push themselves toward perfection because they believe they should be perfect.

The second mode of expressing self-hatred is merciless self-accusation. Neu- rotics constantly berate themselves. “If people only knew me, they would realize that I’m pretending to be knowledgeable, competent, and sincere. I’m really a fraud, but no one knows it but me.” Self-accusation may take a variety of forms—from obvi- ously grandiose expressions, such as taking responsibility for natural disasters, to scrupulously questioning the virtue of their own motivations.

Third, self-hatred may take the form of self-contempt, which might be expressed as belittling, disparaging, doubting, discrediting, and ridiculing oneself. Self-contempt prevents people from striving for improvement or achieve- ment. A young man may say to himself, “You conceited idiot! What makes you think you can get a date with the best-looking woman in town?” A woman may attribute her successful career to “luck.” Although these people may be aware of their behavior, they have no perception of the self-hatred that moti- vates it.

A fourth expression of self-hatred is self-frustration. Horney (1950) distin- guished between healthy self-discipline and neurotic self-frustration. The former in- volves postponing or forgoing pleasurable activities in order to achieve reasonable goals. Self-frustration stems from self-hatred and is designed to actualize an inflated self-image. Neurotics are frequently shackled by taboos against enjoyment. “I don’t deserve a new car.” “I must not wear nice clothes because many people around the world are in rags.” “I must not strive for a better job because I’m not good enough for it.”

Fifth, self-hatred may be manifested as self-torment, or self-torture. Although self-torment can exist in each of the other forms of self-hatred, it becomes a separate category when people’s main intention is to inflict harm or suffering on themselves. Some people attain masochistic satisfaction by anguishing over a decision, exagger- ating the pain of a headache, cutting themselves with a knife, starting a fight that they are sure to lose, or inviting physical abuse.

The sixth and final form of self-hatred is self-destructive actions and impulses, which may be either physical or psychological, conscious or unconscious, acute or chronic, carried out in action or enacted only in the imagination. Overeating, abus- ing alcohol and other drugs, working too hard, driving recklessly, and suicide are common expressions of physical self-destruction. Neurotics may also attack them- selves psychologically, for example, quitting a job just when it begins to be fulfill- ing, breaking off a healthy relationship in favor of a neurotic one, or engaging in promiscuous sexual activities.

Horney (1950) summarized the neurotic search for glory and its attendant self- hatred with these descriptive words:

Surveying self-hate and its ravaging force, we cannot help but see in it a great tragedy, perhaps the greatest tragedy of the human mind. Man in reaching out for the Infinite and Absolute also starts destroying himself. When he makes a pact with the devil, who promises him glory, he has to go to hell—to the hell within himself. (p. 154)

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Feminine Psychology As a woman trained in the promasculine psychology of Freud, Horney gradually re- alized that the traditional psychoanalytic view of women was skewed. She then set forth her own theory, one that rejected several of Freud’s basic ideas.

For Horney, psychic differences between men and women are not the result of anatomy but rather of cultural and social expectations. Men who subdue and rule women and women who degrade or envy men do so because of the neurotic com- petitiveness that is rampant in many societies. Horney (1937) insisted that basic anx- iety is at the core of men’s need to subjugate women and women’s wish to humiliate men.

Although Horney (1939) recognized the existence of the Oedipus complex, she insisted that it was due to certain environmental conditions and not to biology. If it were the result of anatomy, as Freud contended, then it would be universal (as Freud indeed believed). However, Horney (1967) saw no evidence for a universal Oedipus complex. Instead, she held that it is found only in some people and is an expression of the neurotic need for love. The neurotic need for affection and the neurotic need for aggression usually begin in childhood and are two of the three basic neurotic trends. A child may passionately cling to one parent and express jealousy toward the other, but these behaviors are means of alleviating basic anxiety and not manifesta- tions of an anatomically based Oedipus complex. Even when there is a sexual aspect to these behaviors, the child’s main goal is security, not sexual intercourse.

Horney (1939) found the concept of penis envy even less tenable. She con- tended that here is no more anatomical reason why girls should be envious of the penis than boys should desire a breast or a womb. In fact, boys sometimes do express a de- sire to have a baby, but this desire is not the result of a universal male “womb envy.”

Horney agreed with Adler that many women possess a masculine protest; that is, they have a pathological belief that men are superior to women. This perception easily leads to the neurotic desire to be a man. The desire, however, is not an ex- pression of penis envy but rather “a wish for all those qualities or privileges which in our culture are regarded as masculine” (Horney, 1939, p. 108). (This view is nearly identical to that expressed by Erikson and discussed in Chapter 9).

In 1994, Bernard J. Paris published a talk that Horney had delivered in 1935 to a professional and business women’s club in which she summarized her ideas on feminine psychology. By that time Horney was less interested in differences between men and women than in a general psychology of both genders. Because culture and society are responsible for psychological differences between women and men, Hor- ney felt that “it was not so important to try to find the answer to the question about differences as to understand and analyze the real significance of this keen interest in feminine ‘nature’” (Horney, 1994, p. 233). Horney concluded her speech by saying that

once and for all we should stop bothering about what is feminine and what is not. Such concerns only undermine our energies. Standards of masculinity and femininity are artificial standards. All that we definitely know at present about sex differences is that we do not know what they are. Scientific differences between the two sexes certainly exist, but we shall never be able to discover what they are until we have first developed our potentialities as human beings. Paradoxical as it

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may sound, we shall find out about these differences only if we forget about them. (p. 238)

Psychotherapy Horney believed that neuroses grow out of basic conflict that usually begins in child- hood. As people attempt to solve this conflict, they are likely to adopt one of the three neurotic trends: namely, moving toward, against, or away from others. Each of these tactics can produce temporary relief, but eventually they drive the person farther away from actualizing the real self and deeper into a neurotic spiral (Horney, 1950).

The general goal of Horneyian therapy is to help patients gradually grow in the direction of self-realization. More specifically, the aim is to have patients give up their idealized self-image, relinquish their neurotic search for glory, and change self- hatred to an acceptance of the real self. Unfortunately, patients are usually convinced that their neurotic solutions are correct, so they are reluctant to surrender their neu- rotic trends. Even though patients have a strong investment in maintaining the status quo, they do not wish to remain ill. They find little pleasure in their sufferings and would like to be free of them. Unfortunately, they tend to resist change and cling to those behaviors that perpetuate their illness. The three neurotic trends can be cast in favorable terms such as “love,” “mastery,” or “freedom.” Because patients usually see their behaviors in these positive terms, their actions appear to them to be healthy, right, and desirable (Horney, 1942, 1950).

The therapist’s task is to convince patients that their present solutions are per- petuating rather than alleviating the core neurosis, a task that takes much time and hard work. Patients may look for quick cures or solutions, but only the long, labori- ous process of self-understanding can effect positive change. Self-understanding must go beyond information; it must be accompanied by an emotional experience. Patients must understand their pride system, their idealized image, their neurotic search for glory, their self-hatred, their shoulds, their alienation from self, and their conflicts. Moreover, they must see how all these factors are interrelated and operate to preserve their basic neurosis.

Although a therapist can help encourage patients toward self-understanding, ultimately successful therapy is built on self-analysis (Horney, 1942, 1950). Patients must understand the difference between their idealized self-image and their real self. Fortunately, people possess an inherent curative force that allows them to move in- evitably in the direction of self-realization once self-understanding and self-analysis are achieved.

As to techniques, Horneyian therapists use many of the same ones employed by Freudian therapists, especially dream interpretation and free association. Horney saw dreams as attempts to solve conflicts, but the solutions can be either neurotic or healthy. When therapists provide a correct interpretation, patients are helped toward a better understanding of their real self. “From dreams . . . the patient can catch a glimpse, even in the initial phase of analysis, of a world operating within him which is peculiarly his own and which is more true of his feelings than the world of his il- lusions” (Horney, 1950, p. 349).

With the second major technique, free association, patients are asked to say everything that comes to mind regardless of how trivial or embarrassing it may seem (Horney, 1987). They are also encouraged to express whatever feelings may arise

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from the associations. As with dream interpretation, free association eventually re- veals patients’ idealized self-image and persistent but unsuccessful attempts at ac- complishing it.

When therapy is successful, patients gradually develop confidence in their ability to assume responsibility for their psychological development. They move to- ward self-realization and all those processes that accompany it; they have a deeper and clearer understanding of their feelings, beliefs, and wishes; they relate to others with genuine feelings instead of using people to solve basic conflicts; at work, they take a greater interest in the job itself rather than seeing it as a means to perpetuate a neurotic search for glory.

Related Research Horney’s psychoanalytic social theory has not directly inspired a great deal of research in modern personality psychology. Her musings on neurotic trends however are quite relevant to much of the research being conducted today on neuroticism.

The Neurotic Compulsion to Avoid the Negative Most research on neuroticism highlights its negative side. High levels of neuroticism are associated with experiencing more negative emotion and being more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder (Borkovec & Sharpless, 2004). Neuroticism is also as- sociated with setting avoidance goals, in which a person avoids negative outcomes, rather than setting approach goals in which a person approaches positive outcomes (Elliot & Thrash, 2002). In Horney’s (1942) view, neurotics are compulsively pro- tecting themselves against basic anxiety and this defensive strategy traps them in a negative cycle. Setting goals that are framed as approaching positive outcomes is generally considered to be a healthier way of life than being preoccupied with avoid- ing negative outcomes, but neurotics are generally unable to break free from their avoidance mindset (Elliot & Thrash, 2002). These findings would not be too sur- prising to Horney as they fit quite well into her model of neurotic trends. Whether it’s the constant battle with basic anxiety or just being stuck in a frame of mind fo- cused on avoiding negative outcomes, neurotic defenses are not the path to a strong sense of positive well-being.

Can Neuroticism Ever Be a Good Thing? Horney’s theory, as well as most of the work in personality psychology, paints neu- roticism rather negatively. Based on the research reviewed in the previous section on neuroticism and avoidance goals and the associated negative outcomes, the negative bias toward neuroticism is understandable. Some recent research has begun investi- gating conditions under which neuroticism might not be all negative and, ironically, may actually have some benefits.

Michael Robinson and colleagues (Robinson, Ode, Wilkowski, & Amodio, 2007) asked the question “How could one be a successful neurotic?” For sure it’s tough to be a successful neurotic. People high in neuroticism are constantly drawn toward avoidance goals and dealing with basic anxiety by using all the detrimental

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neurotic defenses described by Horney. But there may be some cases where neuroti- cism is good, specifically in detecting threats. Neurotics are predisposed to avoid threats (and any negative outcome). Therefore, Robinson and colleagues designed a study to investigate the relationship between neuroticism, recognition of threats, and mood. They predicted that for those high in neuroticism, the ability to accurately rec- ognize threats in the environment would be related to decreased negative mood. In other words, the neurotic sensitivity to threat would serve a purpose in that such peo- ple could recognize problems, and presumably avoid them, and that successful avoidance would make them feel better.

To test this hypothesis, Robinson and colleagues (2007) had 181 students come into the lab and complete a self-report measure of neuroticism and then engage in a computer task that measured their ability to accurately detect threats and as- sessed what they did upon making an error in detecting a threat. If a person makes an error, the adaptive thing to do would be to slow down and assess the situation more carefully. But not everyone does this, and the computer task used by Robinson and colleagues measured whether people exhibited the appropriate response to mak- ing an error. The computer task consisted of a word appearing on a computer screen and then the participant, as quickly as possible, had to determine whether or not the word represented a threat. For example, the word “stench” does not represent a threat, but the word “knife” does. The computer kept track of how long participants took at deciding whether or not the word was a threat and whether or not the partic- ipant correctly identified the threat. Additionally, when the participant made an error, the computer also kept track of how long a participant took to determine whether or not the next word to appear on the screen represented a threat. Once the researchers had each participant’s neuroticism score and a good measure of how they detected threats and reacted to errors, participants were asked to keep track of their mood over the next 7 days.

Interestingly, Robinson and colleagues found that there actually is a way to be a “successful neurotic.” Specifically, they discovered that for those who are predis- posed toward being neurotic, the ability to react adaptively to errors (i.e., to slow down and think carefully) while assessing threat was related to experiencing less negative mood in daily life (Robinson et al., 2007).

Generally speaking, it may not be a positive thing to be neurotic and constantly obsessed with avoiding negative outcomes, but there is only so much about our per- sonality that is in our control. Neurotic people cannot simply wake up one day and stop being neurotic. Neurotic trends and related defenses outlined by Horney are sta- ble and durable aspects of individuals’ personalities that are not likely to change sud- denly. Therefore, it is important to realize that, though much research shows the dark side of neuroticism, it is not all bad news. Many neurotic people are quite skilled at avoiding negative outcomes, and the avoidance of these outcomes does indeed make them feel better on a daily basis.

Critique of Horney Horney’s social psychoanalytic theory provides interesting perspectives on the na- ture of humanity, but it suffers from lack of current research that might support her suppositions. The strength of Horney’s theory is her lucid portrayal of the neurotic

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personality. No other personality theorist has written so well (or so much) about neuroses. Her comprehensive descriptions of neurotic personalities provide an excellent framework for understanding unhealthy people. However, her nearly exclusive con- cern with neurotics is a serious limitation to her theory. Her references to the normal or healthy personality are general and not well explicated. She believed that people by their very nature will strive toward self-realization, but she suggested no clear pic- ture of what self-realization would be.

Horney’s theory falls short on its power both to generate research and to sub- mit to the criterion of falsifiability. Speculations from the theory do not easily yield testable hypotheses and therefore lack both verifiability and falsifiability. Horney’s theory was based largely on clinical experiences that put her in contact mostly with neurotic individuals. To her credit, she was reluctant to make specific assumptions about psychologically healthy individuals. Because her theory deals mostly with neurotics, it is rated high on its ability to organize knowledge of neurotics but very low on its capacity to explain what is known about people in general.

As a guide to action, Horney’s theory fares somewhat better. Teachers, thera- pists, and especially parents can use her assumptions concerning the development of neurotic trends to provide a warm, safe, and accepting environment for their stu- dents, patients, or children. Beyond these provisions, however, the theory is not spe- cific enough to give the practitioner a clear and detailed course of action. On this cri- terion, the theory receives a low rating.

Is Horney’s theory internally consistent, with clearly defined terms used uni- formly? In Horney’s book Neurosis and Human Growth (1950), her concepts and formulations are precise, consistent, and unambiguous. However, when all her works are examined, a different picture emerges. Through the years, she used terms such as “neurotic needs” and “neurotic trends” sometimes separately and sometimes inter- changeably. Also, the terms “basic anxiety” and “basic conflict” were not always clearly differentiated. These inconsistencies render her entire work somewhat incon- sistent, but again, her final theory (1950) is a model of lucidity and consistency.

Another criterion of a useful theory is parsimony, and Horney’s final theory, as expressed in the last chapter of Neurosis and Human Growth (Horney, 1950, Chap. 15), would receive a high mark on this standard. This chapter, which provides a use- ful and concise introduction to Horney’s theory of neurotic development, is relatively simple, straightforward, and clearly written.

Concept of Humanity Horney’s concept of humanity was based almost entirely on her clinical experiences with neurotic patients; therefore, her view of human personality is strongly colored by her concept of neurosis. According to Horney, the prime difference between a healthy person and a neurotic individual is the degree of compulsivity with which each moves toward, against, or away from people.

The compulsive nature of neurotic trends suggests that Horney’s concept of humanity is deterministic. However, a healthy person would have a large element

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of free choice. Even a neurotic individual, through psychotherapy and hard work, can wrest some control over those intrapsychic conflicts. For this reason, Horney’s psychoanalytic social theory is rated slightly higher on free choice than on deter- minism.

On the same basis, Horney’s theory is somewhat more optimistic than pes- simistic. Horney believed that people possess inherent curative powers that lead them toward self-realization. If basic anxiety (the feeling of being alone and help- less in a potentially hostile world) can be avoided, people will feel safe and secure in their interpersonal relations and consequently will develop healthy personalities.

My own belief is that man has the capacity as well as the desire to develop his potentialities and become a decent human being, and that these deteriorate if his relationship to others and hence to himself is, and continues to be, disturbed. I believe that man can change and go on changing as long as he lives. (Horney, 1945, p. 19)

On the dimension of causality versus teleology, Horney adopted a middle po- sition. She stated that the natural goal for people is self-realization, but she also believed that childhood experiences can block that movement. “The past in some way or other is always contained in the present” (Horney, 1939, p. 153). Included in people’s past experiences, however, is the formation of a philosophy of life and a set of values that give both their present and their future some direction

Although Horney adopted a middle stance regarding conscious versus uncon- scious motivation, she believed that most people have only limited awareness of their motives. Neurotics, especially, have little understanding of themselves and do not see that their behaviors guarantee the continuation of their neuroses. They mislabel their personal characteristics, couching them in socially acceptable terms, while remaining largely unaware of their basic conflict, their self-hate, their neu- rotic pride and neurotic claims, and their need for a vindictive triumph.

Horney’s concept of personality strongly emphasized social influences more than biological ones. Psychological differences between men and women, for ex- ample, are due more to cultural and societal expectations than to anatomy. To Hor- ney, the Oedipus complex and penis envy are not inevitable consequences of biol- ogy but rather are shaped by social forces. Horney did not neglect biological factors completely, but her main emphasis was on social influences.

Because Horney’s theory looks almost exclusively at neuroses, it tends to highlight similarities among people more than uniqueness. Not all neurotics are alike, of course, and Horney described three basic types—the helpless, the hostile, and the detached. However, she placed little emphasis on individual differences within each of these categories.

Key Terms and Concepts

• Horney insisted that social and cultural influences were more important than biological ones.

• Children who lack warmth and affection fail to meet their needs for safety and satisfaction.

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• These feelings of isolation and helplessness trigger basic anxiety, or feelings of isolation and helplessness in a potentially hostile world.

• The inability of people to use different tactics in their relationships with others generates basic conflict: that is, the incompatible tendency to move toward, against, and away from people.

• Horney called the tendencies to move toward, against, or away from people the three neurotic trends.

• Healthy people solve their basic conflict by using all three neurotic trends, whereas neurotics compulsively adopt only one of these trends.

• The three neurotic trends (moving toward, against, or away from people) are a combination of 10 neurotic trends that Horney had earlier identified.

• Both healthy and neurotic people experience intrapsychic conflicts that have become part of their belief system. The two major intrapsychic conflicts are the idealized self-image and self-hatred.

• The idealized self-image results in neurotics’ attempts to build a godlike picture of themselves.

• Self-hatred is the tendency for neurotics to hate and despise their real self. • Any psychological differences between men and women are due to cultural

and social expectations and not to biology. • The goal of Horneyian psychotherapy is to bring about growth toward

actualization of the real self.

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Fromm: Humanistic Psychoanalysis

B Overview of Humanistic Psychoanalysis B Biography of Erich Fromm B Fromm’s Basic Assumptions B Human Needs




Sense of Identity

Frame of Orientation

Summary of Human Needs

B The Burden of Freedom Mechanisms of Escape




Positive Freedom

B Character Orientations Nonproductive Orientations





The Productive Orientation

B Personality Disorders Necrophilia

Malignant Narcissism

Incestuous Symbiosis


B Psychotherapy B Fromm’s Methods of Investigation

Social Character in a Mexican Village

A Psychohistorical Study of Hitler

B Related Research Estrangement From Culture and Well-Being

The Burden of Freedom and Political Persuasions

B Critique of Fromm B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


C H A P T E R 7

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Why war? Why can’t nations get along? Why can’t people from different coun-tries relate to one another, if not in a respectful manner at least in an accept- able one? How can people avoid the violence that leads to and perpetuates slaughter on the battlefield?

As the young boy pondered these questions, a war raged throughout his home- land. This war that he saw firsthand was World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars. He saw that the people of his country—Germany—hated people of the op- posing countries—mostly France and England, and he was sure that the people of France and England hated the people of Germany. The war made no sense. Why would normally friendly and rational people revert to such senseless killing?

These questions weren’t the first to have bothered the young boy. He was also at a loss in trying to understand the suicide of a beautiful young artist who killed her- self immediately after the death of her father—an event that left the 12-year-old boy confused and perplexed. The young woman—a friend of the boy’s family—was both beautiful and talented, whereas her father was old and unattractive. Yet she left a sui- cide note stating that she wished to be buried with her father. The young boy could make no sense of either her wish or her actions. The beautiful artist seemed to have had much to live for, but she chose death rather than a life without her father. How could the young woman make such a decision?

A third experience that helped shape the young man’s early life was his train- ing by Talmudic teachers. He was especially moved by the compassionate and re- demptive tone of the Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos. Although he later abandoned organized religion, these early experiences with the Talmudic schol- ars, combined with his distaste for war and his puzzlement over the suicide of the young artist, contributed substantially to the humanistic views of Erich Fromm.

Overview of Humanistic Psychoanalysis Erich Fromm’s basic thesis is that modern-day people have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature and also with one another, yet they have the power of reasoning, foresight, and imagination. This combination of lack of animal instincts and presence of rational thought makes humans the freaks of the universe. Self- awareness contributes to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and homelessness. To es- cape from these feelings, people strive to become reunited with nature and with their fellow human beings.

Trained in Freudian psychoanalysis and influenced by Karl Marx, Karen Hor- ney, and other socially oriented theorists, Fromm developed a theory of personality that emphasizes the influence of sociobiological factors, history, economics, and class structure. His humanistic psychoanalysis assumes that humanity’s separation from the natural world has produced feelings of loneliness and isolation, a condition called basic anxiety.

Fromm was more than a personality theorist. He was a social critic, psy- chotherapist, philosopher, biblical scholar, cultural anthropologist, and psychobiog- rapher. His humanistic psychoanalysis looks at people from a historical and cultural perspective rather than a strictly psychological one. It is less concerned with the in- dividual and more concerned with those characteristics common to a culture.

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Fromm takes an evolutionary view of humanity. When humans emerged as a separate species in animal evolution, they lost most of their animal instincts but gained “an increase in brain development that permitted self-awareness, imagina- tion, planning, and doubt” (Fromm, 1992, p. 5). This combination of weak instincts and a highly developed brain makes humans distinct from all other animals.

A more recent event in human history has been the rise of capitalism, which on one hand has contributed to the growth of leisure time and personal freedom, but on the other hand, it has resulted in feelings of anxiety, isolation, and powerlessness. The cost of freedom, Fromm maintained, has exceeded its benefits. The isolation wrought by capitalism has been unbearable, leaving people with two alternatives: (1) to escape from freedom into interpersonal dependencies, or (2) to move to self-realization through productive love and work.

Biography of Erich Fromm Like the views of all personality theorists, Erich Fromm’s view of human nature was shaped by childhood experiences. For Fromm, a Jewish family life, the suicide of a young woman, and the extreme nationalism of the German people contributed to his conception of humanity.

Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, in Frankfurt, Germany, the only child of middle-class Orthodox Jewish parents. His father, Naphtali Fromm, was the son of a rabbi and the grandson of two rabbis. His mother, Rosa Krause Fromm, was the niece of Ludwig Krause, a well-known Talmudic scholar. As a boy, Erich studied the Old Testament with several prominent scholars, men who were regarded as “humanists of extraordinary tolerance” (Landis & Tauber, 1971, p. xi). Fromm’s humanistic psy- chology can be traced to the reading of these prophets, “with their vision of univer- sal peace and harmony, and their teachings that there are ethical aspects to history— that nations can do right and wrong, and that history has its moral laws” (p. x).

Fromm’s early childhood was less than ideal. He recalled that he had “very neurotic parents” and that he was “probably a rather unbearably neurotic child” (Evans, 1966, p. 56). He saw his father as being moody and his mother as prone to depression. Moreover, he grew up in two very distinct worlds, one the traditional Or- thodox Jewish world, the other the modern capitalist world. This split existence cre- ated tensions that were nearly unendurable, but it generated in Fromm a lifelong ten- dency to see events from more than one perspective (Fromm, 1986; Hausdorff, 1972).

The chapter opening vignette chronicled the shocking and puzzling suicide of an attractive artistic young woman who killed herself so she could be buried with her father, who had just died. How was it possible that this young woman could prefer death to being “alive to the pleasures of life and painting”? (Fromm, 1962, p. 4). This question haunted Fromm for the next 10 years and eventually led to an interest in Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis. As Fromm read Freud, he began to learn about the Oedipus complex and to understand how such an event might be possible. Later, Fromm would interpret the young woman’s irrational dependence on her father as a nonproductive symbiotic relationship, but in those early years he was content with the Freudian explanation.

Fromm was 14 when World War I began, too young to fight but not too young to be impressed by the irrationality of the German nationalism that he had observed

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firsthand. He was sure that the British and French were equally irrational, and once again he was struck by a troubling question: How could normally rational and peace- ful people become so driven by national ideologies, so intent on killing, so ready to die? “When the war ended in 1918, I was a deeply troubled young man who was ob- sessed by the question of how war was possible, by the wish to understand the irra- tionality of human mass behavior, by a passionate desire for peace and international understanding” (Fromm, 1962, p. 9).

During adolescence, Fromm was deeply moved by the writings of Freud and Karl Marx, but he was also stimulated by differences between the two. As he stud- ied more, he began to question the validity of both systems. “My main interest was clearly mapped out. I wanted to understand the laws that govern the life of the indi- vidual man, and the laws of society” (Fromm, 1962, p. 9).

After the war, Fromm became a socialist, although at that time, he refused to join the Socialist Party. Instead, he concentrated on his studies in psychology, phi- losophy, and sociology at the University of Heidelberg, where he received his PhD in sociology at either age 22 or 25. [Fromm was such a private person that his biog- raphers do not agree on many facts of his life (Hornstein, 2000).]

Still not confident that his training could answer such troubling questions as the suicide of the young woman or the insanity of war, Fromm turned to psycho- analysis, believing that it promised answers to questions of human motivation not of- fered in other fields. From 1925 until 1930 he studied psychoanalysis, first in Mu- nich, then in Frankfurt, and finally at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, where he was analyzed by Hanns Sachs, a student of Freud. Although Fromm never met Freud, most of his teachers during those years were strict adherents of Freudian theory (Knapp, 1989).

In 1926, the same year that he repudiated Orthodox Judaism, Fromm married Frieda Reichmann, his analyst, who was more than 10 years his senior. Reichmann would later obtain an international reputation for her work with schizophrenic pa- tients. G. P. Knapp (1989) claimed that Reichmann was clearly a mother figure to Fromm and that she even resembled his mother. Gail Hornstein (2000) added that Fromm seemed to have gone directly from being his mother’s darling to relationships with a number of older women who doted on him. In any event, the marriage of Fromm and Fromm-Reichmann was not a happy one. They separated in 1930 but were not divorced until much later, after both had emigrated to the United States.

In 1930, Fromm and several others founded the South German Institute for Psychoanalysis in Frankfurt, but with the Nazi threat becoming more intense, he soon moved to Switzerland where he joined the newly founded International Insti- tute of Social Research in Geneva. In 1933, he accepted an invitation to deliver a se- ries of lectures at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. The following year he emi- grated to the United States and opened a private practice in New York City.

In both Chicago and New York, Fromm renewed his acquaintance with Karen Horney, whom he had known casually at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. Horney, who was 15 years older than Fromm, eventually became a strong mother figure and mentor to him (Knapp, 1989). Fromm joined Horney’s newly formed Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (AAP) in 1941. Although he and Horney had been lovers, by 1943 dissension within the association had made them rivals. When students requested that Fromm, who did not hold an MD degree, teach a clinical course, the organization split over his qualifications. With Horney siding against

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him, Fromm, along with Harry Stack Sullivan, Clara Thompson, and several other members, quit the association and immediately made plans to begin an alternative organization (Quinn, 1987). In 1946, this group established the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology, with Fromm chairing both the faculty and the training committee.

In 1944, Fromm married Henny Gurland, a woman two years younger than Fromm and whose interest in religion and mystical thought furthered Fromm’s own inclinations toward Zen Buddhism. In 1951, the couple moved to Mexico for a more favorable climate for Gurland, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Fromm joined the faculty at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City, where he established a psychoanalytic department at the medical school. After his wife died in 1952, he continued to live in Mexico and commuted between his home in Cuer- navaca and the United States, where he held various academic positions, including professor of psychology at Michigan State University from 1957 to 1961 and adjunct professor at New York University from 1962 to 1970. While in Mexico, he met Annis Freeman, whom he married in 1953. In 1968, Fromm suffered a serious heart attack and was forced to slow down his busy schedule. In 1974 and still ill, he and his wife moved to Muralto, Switzerland, where he died March 18, 1980, a few days short of his 80th birthday.

What kind of person was Erich Fromm? Apparently, different people saw him in quite different ways. Hornstein (2000) listed a number of opposing traits that have been used to describe his personality. According to this account, Fromm was au- thoritarian, gentle, pretentious, arrogant, pious, autocratic, shy, sincere, phony, and brilliant.

Fromm began his professional career as a psychotherapist using orthodox psy- choanalytic technique, but after 10 years he became “bored” with the Freudian ap- proach and developed his own more active and confrontational methods (Fromm, 1986, 1992; Sobel, 1980). Over the years, his cultural, social, economic, and psy- chological ideas have attained a wide audience. Among his best-known books are Escape from Freedom (1941), Man for Himself (1947), Psychoanalysis and Religion (1950), The Sane Society (1955), The Art of Loving (1956), Marx’s Concept of Man (1961), The Heart of Man (1964), The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973), To Have or Be (1976), and For the Love of Life (1986).

Fromm’s theory of personality borrows from myriad sources and is, perhaps, the most broadly based theory in this book. Landis and Tauber (1971) listed five im- portant influences on Fromm’s thinking: (1) the teachings of the humanistic rabbis; (2) the revolutionary spirit of Karl Marx; (3) the equally revolutionary ideas of Sig- mund Freud; (4) the rationality of Zen Buddhism as espoused by D. T. Suzuki; and (5) the writings of Johann Jakob Bachofen (1815–1887) on matriarchal societies.

Fromm’s Basic Assumptions Fromm’s most basic assumption is that individual personality can be understood only in the light of human history. “The discussion of the human situation must precede that of personality, [and] psychology must be based on an anthropologic- philosophical concept of human existence” (Fromm, 1947, p. 45).

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Fromm (1947) believed that humans, unlike other animals, have been “torn away” from their prehistoric union with nature. They have no powerful instincts to adapt to a changing world; instead, they have acquired the facility to reason—a con- dition Fromm called the human dilemma. People experience this basic dilemma be- cause they have become separate from nature and yet have the capacity to be aware of themselves as isolated beings. The human ability to reason, therefore, is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it permits people to survive, but on the other, it forces them to attempt to solve basic insoluble dichotomies. Fromm referred to these as “existential dichotomies” because they are rooted in people’s very existence. Hu- mans cannot do away with these existential dichotomies; they can only react to these dichotomies relative to their culture and their individual personalities.

The first and most fundamental dichotomy is that between life and death. Self- awareness and reason tell us that we will die, but we try to negate this dichotomy by postulating life after death, an attempt that does not alter the fact that our lives end with death.

A second existential dichotomy is that humans are capable of conceptualizing the goal of complete self-realization, but we also are aware that life is too short to reach that goal. “Only if the life span of the individual were identical with that of mankind could he participate in the human development which occurs in the histor- ical process” (Fromm, 1947, p. 42). Some people try to solve this dichotomy by as- suming that their own historical period is the crowning achievement of humanity, while others postulate a continuation of development after death.

The third existential dichotomy is that people are ultimately alone, yet we can- not tolerate isolation. They are aware of themselves as separate individuals, and at the same time, they believe that their happiness depends on uniting with their fellow human beings. Although people cannot completely solve the problem of aloneness versus union, they must make an attempt or run the risk of insanity.

Human Needs As animals, humans are motivated by such physiological needs as hunger, sex, and safety; but they can never resolve their human dilemma by satisfying these animal needs. Only the distinctive human needs can move people toward a reunion with the natural world. These existential needs have emerged during the evolution of human culture, growing out of their attempts to find an answer to their existence and to avoid becoming insane. Indeed, Fromm (1955) contended that one important differ- ence between mentally healthy individuals and neurotic or insane ones is that healthy people find answers to their existence—answers that more completely correspond to their total human needs. In other words, healthy individuals are better able to find ways of reuniting to the world by productively solving the human needs of related- ness, transcendence, rootedness, a sense of identity, and a frame of orientation.

Relatedness The first human, or existential, need is relatedness, the drive for union with another person or other persons. Fromm postulated three basic ways in which a person may relate to the world: (1) submission, (2) power, and (3) love. A person can submit to

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another, to a group, or to an institution in order to become one with the world. “In this way he transcends the separateness of his individual existence by becoming part of somebody or something bigger than himself and experiences his identity in con- nection with the power to which he has submitted” (Fromm, 1981, p. 2).

Whereas submissive people search for a relationship with domineering people, power seekers welcome submissive partners. When a submissive person and a dom- ineering person find each other, they frequently establish a symbiotic relationship, one that is satisfying to both partners. Although such symbiosis may be gratifying, it blocks growth toward integrity and psychological health. The two partners “live on each other and from each other, satisfying their craving for closeness, yet suffering from the lack of inner strength and self-reliance which would require freedom and independence” (Fromm, 1981, p. 2).

People in symbiotic relationships are drawn to one another not by love but by a desperate need for relatedness, a need that can never be completely satisfied by such a partnership. Underlying the union are unconscious feelings of hostility. Peo- ple in symbiotic relationships blame their partners for not being able to completely satisfy their needs. They find themselves seeking additional submission or power, and as a result, they become more and more dependent on their partners and less and less of an individual.

Fromm believed that love is the only route by which a person can become united with the world and, at the same time, achieve individuality and integrity. He defined love as a “union with somebody, or something outside oneself under the con- dition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self ” (Fromm, 1981, p. 3). Love involves sharing and communion with another, yet it allows a person the

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freedom to be unique and separate. It enables a person to satisfy the need for relat- edness without surrendering integrity and independence. In love, two people become one yet remain two.

In The Art of Loving, Fromm (1956) identified care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge as four basic elements common to all forms of genuine love. Someone who loves another person must care for that person and be willing to take care of him or her. Love also means responsibility, that is, a willingness and ability to respond. A person who loves others responds to their physical and psychological needs, re- spects them for who they are, and avoids the temptation of trying to change them. But people can respect others only if they have knowledge of them. To know others means to see them from their own point of view. Thus, care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge are all entwined in a love relationship.

Transcendence Like other animals, humans are thrown into the world without their consent or will and then removed from it—again without their consent or will. But unlike other animals, human beings are driven by the need for transcendence, defined as the urge to rise above a passive and accidental existence and into “the realm of pur- posefulness and freedom” (Fromm, 1981, p. 4). Just as relatedness can be pursued through either productive or nonproductive methods, transcendence can be sought through either positive or negative approaches. People can transcend their passive nature by either creating life or by destroying it. Although other animals can create life through reproduction, only humans are aware of themselves as creators. Also, humans can be creative in other ways. They can create art, religions, ideas, laws, ma- terial production, and love.

To create means to be active and to care about that which we create. But we can also transcend life by destroying it and thus rising above our slain victims. In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Fromm (1973) argued that humans are the only species to use malignant aggression: that is, to kill for reasons other than survival. Although malignant aggression is a dominant and powerful passion in some indi- viduals and cultures, it is not common to all humans. It apparently was unknown to many prehistoric societies as well as some contemporary “primitive” societies.

Rootedness A third existential need is for rootedness, or the need to establish roots or to feel at home again in the world. When humans evolved as a separate species, they lost their home in the natural world. At the same time, their capacity for thought enabled them to realize that they were without a home, without roots. The consequent feelings of isolation and helplessness became unbearable.

Rootedness, too, can be sought in either productive or nonproductive strate- gies. With the productive strategy, people are weaned from the orbit of their mother and become fully born; that is, they actively and creatively relate to the world and become whole or integrated. This new tie to the natural world confers security and reestablishes a sense of belongingness and rootedness. However, people may also seek rootedness through the nonproductive strategy of fixation—a tenacious

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reluctance to move beyond the protective security provided by one’s mother. People who strive for rootedness through fixation are “afraid to take the next step of birth, to be weaned from the mother’s breast. [They] . . . have a deep craving to be moth- ered, nursed, protected by a motherly figure; they are the externally dependent ones, who are frightened and insecure when motherly protection is withdrawn” (Fromm, 1955, p. 40).

Rootedness can also be seen phylogenetically in the evolution of the human species. Fromm agreed with Freud that incestuous desires are universal, but he dis- agreed with Freud’s belief that they are essentially sexual. According to Fromm (1955, pp. 40–41), incestuous feelings are based in “the deep-seated craving to re- main in, or to return to, the all-enveloping womb, or to the all-nourishing breasts.” Fromm was influenced by Johann Jakob Bachofen’s (1861/1967) ideas on early ma- triarchal societies. Unlike Freud, who believed that early societies were patriarchal, Bachofen held that the mother was the central figure in these ancient social groups. It was she who provided roots for her children and motivated them either to develop their individuality and reason or to become fixated and incapable of psychological growth.

Fromm’s (1997) strong preference for Bachofen’s mother-centered theory of the Oedipal situation over Freud’s father-centered conception is consistent with his preference for older women. Fromm’s first wife, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, was more than 10 years older than Fromm, and his long-time lover, Karen Horney, was 15 years his senior. Fromm’s conception of the Oedipus complex as a desire to re- turn to the mother’s womb or breast or to a person with a mothering function should be viewed in light of his attraction to older women.

Sense of Identity The fourth human need is for a sense of identity, or the capacity to be aware of our- selves as a separate entity. Because we have been torn away from nature, we need to form a concept of our self, to be able to say, “I am I,” or “I am the subject of my ac- tions.” Fromm (1981) believed that primitive people identified more closely with their clan and did not see themselves as individuals existing apart from their group. Even during medieval times, people were identified largely by their social role in the feudal hierarchy. In agreement with Marx, Fromm believed that the rise of capital- ism has given people more economic and political freedom. However, this freedom has given only a minority of people a true sense of “I.” The identity of most people still resides in their attachment to others or to institutions such as nation, religion, occupation, or social group.

Instead of the pre-individualistic clan identity, a new herd identity develops in which the sense of identity rests on the sense of an unquestionable belonging to the crowd. That this uniformity and conformity are often not recognized as such, and are covered by the illusion of individuality, does not alter the facts. (p. 9)

Without a sense of identity, people could not retain their sanity, and this threat provides a powerful motivation to do almost anything to acquire a sense of identity. Neurotics try to attach themselves to powerful people or to social or political institutions. Healthy people, however, have less need to conform to the herd, less

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need to give up their sense of self. They do not have to surrender their freedom and individuality in order to fit into society because they possess an authentic sense of identity.

Frame of Orientation A final human need is for a frame of orientation. Being split off from nature, hu- mans need a road map, a frame of orientation, to make their way through the world. Without such a map, humans would be “confused and unable to act purposefully and consistently” (Fromm, 1973, p. 230). A frame of orientation enables people to or- ganize the various stimuli that impinge on them. People who possess a solid frame of orientation can make sense of these events and phenomena, but those who lack a reliable frame of orientation will, nevertheless, strive to put these events into some sort of framework in order to make sense of them. For example, an American with a shaky frame of orientation and a poor understanding of history may attempt to un- derstand the events of September 11, 2001, by blaming them on “evil” or “bad” people.

Every person has a philosophy, a consistent way of looking at things. Many people take for granted this philosophy or frame of reference so that anything at odds with their view is judged as “crazy” or “unreasonable.” Anything consistent with it is seen simply as “common sense.” People will do nearly anything to acquire and re- tain a frame of orientation, even to the extreme of following irrational or bizarre philosophies such as those espoused by fanatical political and religious leaders.

A road map without a goal or destination is worthless. Humans have the men- tal capacity to imagine many alternative paths to follow. To keep from going insane, however, they need a final goal or “object of devotion” (Fromm, 1976, p. 137). Ac- cording to Fromm, this goal or object of devotion focuses people’s energies in a sin- gle direction, enables us to transcend our isolated existence, and confers meaning to their lives.

Summary of Human Needs In addition to physiological or animal needs, people are motivated by five distinc- tively human needs—relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, a sense of identity, and a frame of orientation. These needs have evolved from human existence as a sepa- rate species and are aimed at moving people toward a reunion with the natural world. Fromm believed that lack of satisfaction of any of these needs is unbearable and re- sults in insanity. Thus, people are strongly driven to fulfill them in some way or an- other, either positively or negatively.

Table 7.1 shows that relatedness can be satisfied through submission, domina- tion, or love, but only love produces authentic fulfillment; transcendence can be sat- isfied by either destructiveness or creativeness, but only the latter permits joy; root- edness can be satisfied either by fixation to the mother or by moving forward into full birth and wholeness; the sense of identity can be based on adjustment to the group, or it can be satisfied through creative movement toward individuality; and a frame of orientation may be either irrational or rational, but only a rational philosophy can serve as a basis for the growth of total personality (Fromm, 1981).

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The Burden of Freedom The central thesis of Fromm’s writings is that humans have been torn from nature, yet they remain part of the natural world, subject to the same physical limitations as other animals. As the only animal possessing self-awareness, imagination, and rea- son, humans are “the freak[s] of the universe” (Fromm, 1955, p. 23). Reason is both a curse and a blessing. It is responsible for feelings of isolation and loneliness, but it is also the process that enables humans to become reunited with the world.

Historically, as people gained more and more economic and political freedom, they came to feel increasingly more isolated. For example, during the Middle Ages people had relatively little personal freedom. They were anchored to prescribed roles in society, roles that provided security, dependability, and certainty. Then, as they ac- quired more freedom to move both socially and geographically, they found that they were free from the security of a fixed position in the world. They were no longer tied to one geographic region, one social order, or one occupation. They became sepa- rated from their roots and isolated from one another.

A parallel experience exists on a personal level. As children become more in- dependent of their mothers, they gain more freedom to express their individuality, to move around unsupervised, to choose their friends, clothes, and so on. At the same time, they experience the burden of freedom; that is, they are free from the security of being one with the mother. On both a social and an individual level, this burden of freedom results in basic anxiety, the feeling of being alone in the world.

Mechanisms of Escape Because basic anxiety produces a frightening sense of isolation and aloneness, peo- ple attempt to flee from freedom through a variety of escape mechanisms. In Escape from Freedom, Fromm (1941) identified three primary mechanisms of escape— authoritarianism, destructiveness, and conformity. Unlike Horney’s neurotic trends (see Chapter 6), Fromm’s mechanisms of escape are the driving forces in normal people, both individually and collectively.

Authoritarianism Fromm (1941) defined authoritarianism as the “tendency to give up the indepen- dence of one’s own individual self and to fuse one’s self with somebody or something outside oneself, in order to acquire the strength which the individual is lacking”

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T A B L E 7 . 1

Summary of Fromm’s Human Needs

Relatedness Submission or domination Love Transcendence Destructiveness Creativeness Rootedness Fixation Wholeness Sense of identity Adjustment to a group Individuality Frame of orientation Irrational goals Rational goals

Negative Components Positive Components

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(p. 141). This need to unite with a powerful partner can take one of two forms— masochism or sadism. Masochism results from basic feelings of powerlessness, weakness, and inferiority and is aimed at joining the self to a more powerful person or institution. Masochistic strivings often are disguised as love or loyalty, but unlike love and loyalty, they can never contribute positively to independence and authen- ticity.

Compared with masochism, sadism is more neurotic and more socially harm- ful. Like masochism, sadism is aimed at reducing basic anxiety through achieving unity with another person or persons. Fromm (1941) identified three kinds of sadis- tic tendencies, all more or less clustered together. The first is the need to make oth- ers dependent on oneself and to gain power over those who are weak. The second is the compulsion to exploit others, to take advantage of them, and to use them for one’s benefit or pleasure. A third sadistic tendency is the desire to see others suffer, either physically or psychologically.

Destructiveness Like authoritarianism, destructiveness is rooted in the feelings of aloneness, isola- tion, and powerlessness. Unlike sadism and masochism, however, destructiveness does not depend on a continuous relationship with another person; rather, it seeks to do away with other people.

Both individuals and nations can employ destructiveness as a mechanism of escape. By destroying people and objects, a person or a nation attempts to restore lost feelings of power. However, by destroying other persons or nations, destructive people eliminate much of the outside world and thus acquire a type of perverted iso- lation.

Conformity A third means of escape is conformity. People who conform try to escape from a sense of aloneness and isolation by giving up their individuality and becoming what- ever other people desire them to be. Thus, they become like robots, reacting pre- dictably and mechanically to the whims of others. They seldom express their own opinion, cling to expected standards of behavior, and often appear stiff and auto- mated.

People in the modern world are free from many external bonds and are free to act according to their own will, but at the same time, they do not know what they want, think, or feel. They conform like automatons to an anonymous authority and adopt a self that is not authentic. The more they conform, the more powerless they feel; the more powerless they feel, the more they must conform. People can break this cycle of conformity and powerlessness only by achieving self-realization or pos- itive freedom (Fromm, 1941).

Positive Freedom The emergence of political and economic freedom does not lead inevitably to the bondage of isolation and powerlessness. A person “can be free and not alone, criti- cal and yet not filled with doubts, independent and yet an integral part of mankind” (Fromm, 1941, p. 257). People can attain this kind of freedom, called positive

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freedom, by a spontaneous and full expression of both their rational and their emo- tional potentialities. Spontaneous activity is frequently seen in small children and in artists who have little or no tendency to conform to whatever others want them to be. They act according to their basic natures and not according to conventional rules.

Positive freedom represents a successful solution to the human dilemma of being part of the natural world and yet separate from it. Through positive free- dom and spontaneous activity, people overcome the terror of aloneness, achieve union with the world, and maintain individuality. Fromm (1941) held that love and work are the twin components of positive freedom. Through active love and work, humans unite with one another and with the world without sacrificing their integrity. They affirm their uniqueness as individuals and achieve full realization of their potentialities.

Character Orientations In Fromm’s theory, personality is reflected in one’s character orientation, that is, a person’s relatively permanent way of relating to people and things. Fromm (1947) defined personality as “the totality of inherited and acquired psychic qualities which are characteristic of one individual and which make the individual unique” (p. 50). The most important of the acquired qualities of personality is character, defined as “the relatively permanent system of all noninstinctual strivings through which man relates himself to the human and natural world” (Fromm, 1973, p. 226). Fromm (1992) believed that character is a substitute for lack of instincts. Instead of acting according to their instincts, people act according to their character. If they had to stop and think about the consequences of their behavior, their actions would be very inefficient and inconsistent. By acting according to their character traits, humans can behave both efficiently and consistently.

People relate to the world in two ways—by acquiring and using things (assim- ilation) and by relating to self and others (socialization). In general terms, people can relate to things and to people either nonproductively or productively.

Nonproductive Orientations People can acquire things through any one of four nonproductive orientations: (1) re- ceiving things passively, (2) exploiting, or taking things through force, (3) hoarding objects, and (4) marketing or exchanging things. Fromm used the term “nonproduc- tive” to suggest strategies that fail to move people closer to positive freedom and self-realization. Nonproductive orientations are, however, not entirely negative; each has both a negative and a positive aspect. Personality is always a blend or combina- tion of several orientations, even though one orientation is dominant.

Receptive Receptive characters feel that the source of all good lies outside themselves and that the only way they can relate to the world is to receive things, including love, knowledge, and material possessions. They are more concerned with receiving than with giving, and they want others to shower them with love, ideas, and gifts.

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The negative qualities of receptive people include passivity, submissiveness, and lack of self-confidence. Their positive traits are loyalty, acceptance, and trust.

Exploitative Like receptive people, exploitative characters believe that the source of all good is outside themselves. Unlike receptive people, however, they aggressively take what they desire rather than passively receive it. In their social relationships, they are likely to use cunning or force to take someone else’s spouse, ideas, or property. An exploitative man may “fall in love” with a married woman, not so much because he is truly fond of her, but because he wishes to exploit her husband. In the realm of ideas, exploitative people prefer to steal or plagiarize rather than create. Unlike re- ceptive characters, they are willing to express an opinion, but it is usually an opin- ion that has been pilfered.

On the negative side, exploitative characters are egocentric, conceited, arro- gant, and seducing. On the positive side, they are impulsive, proud, charming, and self-confident.

Hoarding Rather than valuing things outside themselves, hoarding characters seek to save that which they have already obtained. They hold everything inside and do not let go of anything. They keep money, feelings, and thoughts to themselves. In a love rela- tionship, they try to possess the loved one and to preserve the relationship rather than allowing it to change and grow. They tend to live in the past and are repelled by any- thing new. They are similar to Freud’s anal characters in that they are excessively or- derly, stubborn, and miserly. Fromm (1964), however, believed that hoarding char- acters’ anal traits are not the result of sexual drives but rather are part of their general interest in all that is not alive, including the feces.

Negative traits of the hoarding personality include rigidity, sterility, obstinacy, compulsivity, and lack of creativity; positive characteristics are orderliness, cleanli- ness, and punctuality.

Marketing The marketing character is an outgrowth of modern commerce in which trade is no longer personal but carried out by large, faceless corporations. Consistent with the demands of modern commerce, marketing characters see themselves as com- modities, with their personal value dependent on their exchange value, that is, their ability to sell themselves.

Marketing, or exchanging, personalities must see themselves as being in con- stant demand; they must make others believe that they are skillful and salable. Their personal security rests on shaky ground because they must adjust their personality to that which is currently in fashion. They play many roles and are guided by the motto “‘I am as you desire me’” (Fromm, 1947, p. 73).

Marketing people are without a past or a future and have no permanent prin- ciples or values. They have fewer positive traits than the other orientations because they are basically empty vessels waiting to be filled with whatever characteristic is most marketable.

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Negative traits of marketing characters are aimless, opportunistic, inconsis- tent, and wasteful. Some of their positive qualities include changeability, open- mindedness, adaptability, and generosity.

The Productive Orientation The single productive orientation has three dimensions—working, loving, and rea- soning. Because productive people work toward positive freedom and a continuing realization of their potential, they are the most healthy of all character types. Only through productive activity can people solve the basic human dilemma: that is, to unite with the world and with others while retaining uniqueness and individuality. This solution can be accomplished only through productive work, love, and thought.

Healthy people value work not as an end in itself, but as a means of creative self- expression. They do not work to exploit others, to market themselves, to withdraw from others, or to accumulate needless material possessions. They are neither lazy nor compulsively active, but use work as a means of producing life’s necessities.

Productive love is characterized by the four qualities of love discussed ear- lier—care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. In addition to these four charac- teristics, healthy people possess biophilia: that is, a passionate love of life and all that is alive. Biophilic people desire to further all life—the life of people, animals, plants, ideas, and cultures. They are concerned with the growth and development of themselves as well as others. Biophilic individuals want to influence people through love, reason, and example—not by force.

Fromm believed that love of others and self-love are inseparable but that self- love must come first. All people have the capacity for productive love, but most do not achieve it because they cannot first love themselves.

Productive thinking, which cannot be separated from productive work and love, is motivated by a concerned interest in another person or object. Healthy peo- ple see others as they are and not as they would wish them to be. Similarly, they know themselves for who they are and have no need for self-delusion.

Fromm (1947) believed that healthy people rely on some combination of all five character orientations. Their survival as healthy individuals depends on their ability to receive things from other people, to take things when appropriate, to pre- serve things, to exchange things, and to work, love, and think productively.

Personality Disorders If healthy people are able to work, love, and think productively, then unhealthy per- sonalities are marked by problems in these three areas, especially failure to love pro- ductively. Fromm (1981) held that psychologically disturbed people are incapable of love and have failed to establish union with others. He discussed three severe per- sonality disorders—necrophilia, malignant narcissism, and incestuous symbiosis.

Necrophilia The term “necrophilia” means love of death and usually refers to a sexual perversion in which a person desires sexual contact with a corpse. However, Fromm (1964, 1973) used necrophilia in a more generalized sense to denote any attraction to

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death. Necrophilia is an alternative character orientation to biophilia. People natu- rally love life, but when social conditions stunt biophilia, they may adopt a necrophilic orientation.

Necrophilic personalities hate humanity; they are racists, warmongers, and bullies; they love bloodshed, destruction, terror, and torture; and they delight in de- stroying life. They are strong advocates of law and order; love to talk about sickness, death, and burials; and they are fascinated by dirt, decay, corpses, and feces. They prefer night to day and love to operate in darkness and shadow.

Necrophilous people do not simply behave in a destructive manner; rather, their destructive behavior is a reflection of their basic character. All people behave aggressively and destructively at times, but the entire lifestyle of the necrophilous person revolves around death, destruction, disease, and decay.

Malignant Narcissism Just as all people display some necrophilic behavior, so too do all have some narcis- sistic tendencies. Healthy people manifest a benign form of narcissism, that is, an interest in their own body. However, in its malignant form, narcissism impedes the perception of reality so that everything belonging to a narcissistic person is highly valued and everything belonging to another is devalued.

Narcissistic individuals are preoccupied with themselves, but this concern is not limited to admiring themselves in a mirror. Preoccupation with one’s body often leads to hypochondriasis, or an obsessive attention to one’s health. Fromm (1964) also discussed moral hypochondriasis, or a preoccupation with guilt about previ- ous transgressions. People who are fixated on themselves are likely to internalize ex- periences and to dwell on both physical health and moral virtues.

Narcissistic people possess what Horney (see Chapter 6) called “neurotic claims.” They achieve security by holding on to the distorted belief that their ex- traordinary personal qualities give them superiority over everyone else. Because what they have—looks, physique, wealth—is so wonderful, they believe that they need not do anything to prove their value. Their sense of worth depends on their nar- cissistic self-image and not on their achievements. When their efforts are criticized by others, they react with anger and rage, frequently striking out against their critics, trying to destroy them. If the criticism is overwhelming, they may be unable to de- stroy it, and so they turn their rage inward. The result is depression, a feeling of worthlessness. Although depression, intense guilt, and hypochondriasis may appear to be anything but self-glorification, Fromm believed that each of these could be symptomatic of deep underlying narcissism.

Incestuous Symbiosis A third pathological orientation is incestuous symbiosis, or an extreme dependence on the mother or mother surrogate. Incestuous symbiosis is an exaggerated form of the more common and more benign mother fixation. Men with a mother fixation need a woman to care for them, dote on them, and admire them; they feel somewhat anxious and depressed when their needs are not fulfilled. This condition is relatively normal and does not greatly interfere with their daily life.

With incestuous symbiosis, however, people are inseparable from the host person; their personalities are blended with the other person and their individual

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identities are lost. Incestuous symbiosis originates in infancy as a natural attachment to the mothering one. The attachment is more crucial and fundamental than any sex- ual interest that may develop during the Oedipal period. Fromm agreed more with Harry Stack Sullivan (see Chapter 8) than with Freud in suggesting that attachment to the mother rests on the need for security and not for sex. “Sexual strivings are not the cause of the fixation to mother, but the result” (Fromm, 1964, p. 99).

People living in incestuous symbiotic relationships feel extremely anxious and frightened if that relationship is threatened. They believe that they cannot live with- out their mother substitute. (The host need not be another human—it can be a fam- ily, a business, a church, or a nation.) The incestuous orientation distorts reasoning powers, destroys the capacity for authentic love, and prevents people from achieving independence and integrity.

Some pathologic individuals possess all three personality disorders; that is, they are attracted to death (necrophilia), take pleasure in destroying those whom they regard as inferiors (malignant narcissism), and possess a neurotic symbiotic rela- tionship with their mother or mother substitute (incestuous symbiosis). Such people formed what Fromm called the syndrome of decay. He contrasted these pathological people with those who are marked by the syndrome of growth, which is made up of the opposite qualities: namely, biophilia, love, and positive freedom. As shown in Figure 7.1, both the syndrome of decay and the syndrome of growth are extreme forms of development; most people have average psychological health.

Psychotherapy Fromm was trained as an orthodox Freudian analyst but became bored with standard analytic techniques. “With time I came to see that my boredom stemmed from the fact that I was not in touch with the life of my patients” (Fromm, 1986, p. 106). He then evolved his own system of therapy, which he called humanistic psychoanalysis. Compared with Freud, Fromm was much more concerned with the interpersonal as- pects of a therapeutic encounter. He believed that the aim of therapy is for patients to come to know themselves. Without knowledge of ourselves, we cannot know any other person or thing.

Fromm believed that patients come to therapy seeking satisfaction of their basic human needs—relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, a sense of identity, and a frame of orientation. Therefore, therapy should be built on a personal relationship between therapist and patient. Because accurate communication is essential to ther- apeutic growth, the therapist must relate “as one human being to another with utter concentration and utter sincerity” (Fromm, 1963, p. 184). In this spirit of related- ness, the patient will once again feel at one with another person. Although transfer- ence and even countertransference may exist within this relationship, the important point is that two real human beings are involved with one another.

As part of his attempt to achieve shared communication, Fromm asked patients to reveal their dreams. He believed that dreams, as well as fairy tales and myths, are expressed in symbolic language—the only universal language humans have devel- oped (Fromm, 1951). Because dreams have meaning beyond the individual dreamer, Fromm would ask for the patient’s associations to the dream material. Not all dream symbols, however, are universal; some are accidental and depend on the dreamer’s

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mood before going to sleep; others are regional or national and depend on climate, geography, and dialect. Many symbols have several meanings because of the variety of experiences that are connected with them. For example, fire may symbolize warmth and home to some people but death and destruction to others. Similarly, the sun may represent a threat to desert people, but growth and life to people in cold cli- mates.

Fromm (1963) believed that therapists should not try to be too scientific in un- derstanding a patient. Only with the attitude of relatedness can another person be truly understood. The therapist should not view the patient as an illness or a thing but as a person with the same human needs that all people possess.

Fromm’s Methods of Investigation Fromm gathered data on human personality from many sources, including psy- chotherapy, cultural anthropology, and psychohistory. In this section, we look briefly at his anthropological study of life in a Mexican village and his psychobiographical analysis of Adolf Hitler.

Social Character in a Mexican Village Beginning in the late 1950s and extending into the mid-1960s, Fromm and a group of psychologists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists, physicians, and statisticians stud- ied social character in Chiconcuac, a Mexican village about 50 miles south of Mex- ico City. The team interviewed every adult and half the children in this isolated farm- ing village of 162 households and about 800 inhabitants. The people of the village

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FIGURE 7.1 Three pathological orientations—necrophilia, narcissism, and incestuous symbiosis—converge to form the syndrome of decay, whereas three healthy orientations—biophilia, love of others, and positive freedom—converge in the syndrome of growth. Most people have average development and are motivated by neither the syndrome of decay nor the syndrome of growth.

Nec rop

hili a Biophilia

Incestuous symbiosis P os

itiv e f

ree dom

Syndrome of


Syndrome of


Average development

Average development

Love of othersNarcissism

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were mostly farmers, earning a living from small plots of fertile land. As Fromm and Michael Maccoby (1970) described them:

They are selfish, suspicious of each others’ motives, pessimistic about the future, and fatalistic. Many appear submissive and self-deprecatory, although they have the potential for rebelliousness and revolution. They feel inferior to city people, more stupid, and less cultured. There is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness to influence either nature or the industrial machine that bears down on them. (p. 37)

Could one expect to find Fromm’s character orientations in such a society? After living among the villagers and gaining their acceptance, the research team em- ployed an assortment of techniques designed to answer this and other questions. In- cluded among the research tools were extensive interviews, dream reports, detailed questionnaires, and two projective techniques—the Rorschach inkblot test and the Thematic Apperception Test.

Fromm believed that the marketing character was a product of modern com- merce and that it is most likely to exist in societies where trade is no longer personal and where people regard themselves as commodities. Not surprisingly, the research team found that the marketing orientation did not exist among these peasant villagers.

However, the researchers did find evidence for several other character types, the most common of which was the nonproductive-receptive type. People of this orienta- tion tended to look up to others and devoted much energy in trying to please those whom they regarded as superiors. On paydays, working men who belonged to this type would accept their pay in servile fashion, as if somehow they had not earned it.

The second most frequently found personality type was the productive- hoarding character. People of this type were hardworking, productive, and inde- pendent. They usually farmed their own plot of land and relied on saving part of each crop for seed and for food in the event of a future crop failure. Hoarding, rather than consuming, was essential to their lives.

The nonproductive-exploitative personality was identified as a third character orientation. Men of this type were most likely to get into knife or pistol fights, whereas the women tended to be malicious gossipmongers (Fromm & Maccoby, 1970). Only about 10% of the population was predominantly exploitative, a sur- prisingly small percentage considering the extreme poverty of the village.

An even smaller number of inhabitants were described as productive- exploitative—no more than 15 individuals in the whole village. Among them were the richest and most powerful men in the village—men who had accumulated capi- tal by taking advantage of new agricultural technology as well as a recent increase in tourism. They had also taken advantage of the nonproductive-receptive villagers by keeping them economically dependent.

In general, Fromm and Maccoby (1970) reported a remarkable similarity be- tween character orientations in this Mexican village and the theoretical orienta- tions Fromm had suggested some years earlier. This anthropological study, of course, cannot be considered a confirmation of Fromm’s theory. As one of the study’s principal investigators, Fromm may simply have found what he had ex- pected to find.

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A Psychohistorical Study of Hitler Following Freud (see Chapter 2), Fromm examined historical documents in order to sketch a psychological portrait of a prominent person, a technique called psychohis- tory or psychobiography. The subject of Fromm’s most complete psychobiographical study was Freud (Fromm, 1959), but Fromm (1941, 1973, 1986) also wrote at length on the life of Adolf Hitler.

Fromm regarded Hitler as the world’s most conspicuous example of a person with the syndrome of decay, possessing a combination of necrophilia, malignant nar- cissism, and incestuous symbiosis. Hitler displayed all three pathological disorders. He was attracted to death and destruction; narrowly focused on self-interests; and driven by an incestuous devotion to the Germanic “race,” being fanatically dedicated to preventing its blood from being polluted by Jews and other “non-Aryans.”

Unlike some psychoanalysts who look only to early childhood for clues to adult personality, Fromm believed that each stage of development is important and that nothing in Hitler’s early life bent him inevitably toward the syndrome of decay.

As a child, Hitler was somewhat spoiled by his mother, but her indulgence did not cause his later pathology. It did, however, foster narcissistic feelings of self- importance. “Hitler’s mother never became to him a person to whom he was lovingly or tenderly attached. She was a symbol of the protecting and admiring goddesses, but also of the goddess of death and chaos” (Fromm, 1973, p. 378).

Hitler was an above-average student in elementary school, but a failure in high school. During adolescence, he experienced some conflict with his father, who wanted him to be more responsible and to take a reliable civil service job. Hitler, on the other hand, somewhat unrealistically desired to be an artist. Also during this time, he began increasingly to lose himself in fantasy. His narcissism ignited a burning passion for greatness as an artist or architect, but reality brought him failure after

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Adolf Hitler personified for Fromm the syndrome of decay.

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failure in this area. “Each failure caused a graver wound to his narcissism and a deeper humiliation than the previous one” (Fromm, 1973, p. 395). As his failures grew in number, he became more involved in his fantasy world, more resentful of others, more motivated for revenge, and more necrophilic.

Hitler’s terrible realization of his failure as an artist was blunted by the out- break of World War I. His fierce ambition could now be channeled into being a great war hero fighting for his homeland. Although he was no great hero, he was a re- sponsible, disciplined, and dutiful soldier. After the war, however, he experienced more failure. Not only had his beloved nation lost, but revolutionaries within Ger- many had “attacked everything that was sacred to Hitler’s reactionary nationalism, and they won. . . . The victory of the revolutionaries gave Hitler’s destructiveness its final and ineradicable form” (Fromm, 1973, p. 394).

Necrophilia does not simply refer to behavior; it pervades a person’s entire character. And so it was with Hitler. After he came to power, he demanded that his enemies not merely surrender, but that they be annihilated as well. His necrophilia was expressed in his mania for destroying buildings and cities, his orders to kill “de- fective” people, his boredom, and his slaughter of millions of Jews.

Another trait Hitler manifested was malignant narcissism. He was interested only in himself, his plans, and his ideology. His conviction that he could build a “Thousand-Year Reich” shows an inflated sense of self-importance. He had no in- terest in anyone unless that person was of service to him. His relations to women lacked love and tenderness; he seemed to have used them solely for perverted per- sonal pleasure, especially for voyeuristic satisfaction.

According to Fromm’s analysis, Hitler also possessed an incestuous symbiosis, manifested by his passionate devotion not to his real mother but to the Germanic “race.” Consistent with this trait, he also was sadomasochistic, withdrawn, and lack- ing in feelings of genuine love or compassion. All these characteristics, Fromm con- tended, did not make Hitler psychotic. They did, however, make him a sick and dan- gerous man.

Insisting that people not see Hitler as inhuman, Fromm (1973) concluded his psychohistory with these words: “Any analysis that would distort Hitler’s picture by depriving him of his humanity would only intensify the tendency to be blind to the potential Hitlers unless they wear horns” (p. 433).

Related Research Although Erich Fromm’s writings are stimulating and insightful, his ideas have pro- duced very little empirical research in the field of personality psychology. One rea- son for this may be due to the broad approach Fromm takes. In many ways his ideas are more sociological than psychological in that his theory deals with alienation from culture and nature in general, two topics that are more typically covered in a sociology class than a psychology class. This does not mean, however, that such broad topics are not important to personality psychology. Quite the contrary, because though broad and sociological, estrangement from one’s culture is a topic that can be studied at the individual level in psychological studies and can have implications for well-being.

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Estrangement From Culture and Well-Being Recall that the central theme to Erich Fromm’s theory of personality involves estrange- ment and alienation: Humans have become removed from the natural environment they were designed to inhabit and distanced from one another. Furthermore, according to Fromm, the material wealth created by capitalism has created so much freedom that quite frankly we do not know what to do with ourselves. Anxiety and isolation, ironi- cally, result from too much freedom. Mark Bernard and colleagues (2006) sought to test these central components of Fromm’s theory through the use of self-report measures in a sample of undergraduate students in Great Britain. Specifically, the researchers wanted to test whether or not discrepancies between a person’s own beliefs and the way the person perceived the beliefs of his or her society led to feelings of estrangement.

Seventy-two participants completed a questionnaire consisting of several values that had been identified by previous research as being present in many different cul- tures (such as the importance of freedom, wealth, spirituality, etc.). First, participants rated each value for how much it was a guiding principle in their lives, and then they rated the same values on how much each was a guiding principle for their society. Ad- ministering the questionnaire in this manner allowed the researchers to compute the extent to which each participant held values that were different from their society in general. Second, estrangement was assessed by having participants complete a ques- tionnaire with items that asked them how much they felt different from their society and the extent to which they felt they were not “normal” in their culture.

The findings of the study were as predicted. The more a person reported that his or her values were discrepant from society in general, the more likely he or she was to have a strong feeling of estrangement (Bernard, Gebauer, & Maio, 2006). This is not surprising. Basically, if your values are different from those of your so- ciety or culture, you feel as though you are different and not normal. This is also pre- cisely what Fromm’s theory predicts. The more distant people feel from those around them in their community, the more people are likely to feel isolated.

To further test Fromm’s ideas, Bernard and colleagues (2006) next examined whether having a feeling of estrangement from one’s culture was related to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. The same participants who completed the self- report measures of values discrepancies and estrangement also completed a measure of anxiety and depression. Just as the researchers predicted, and as Fromm’s theory contends, the more estranged from society people felt in general, the more anxious and depressed they were. Although estrangement from society in general was detri- mental to well-being, there was a specific type of estrangement that was bad for peo- ple. Those who felt a sense of estrangement from their friends reported increased feelings of anxiety and depression. This finding suggests that feeling estranged from society in general may make people more susceptible to feelings of depression, but these feelings can be lessened if a person can find a group of people who share their beliefs, even if those are not the beliefs of the society in general. It is particularly harmful, however, if people feel estranged not only from society in general, but also from those closest to them.

Taken together, these findings clearly support the ideas of Erich Fromm. The modern society in which we live provides us with innumerable conveniences and benefits. But those conveniences do come at a cost. Personal freedom and a sense of

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individuality are important, but when those forces lead people to be estranged from their community, it can be harmful to their well-being.

The Burden of Freedom and Political Persuasions One area of research where Fromm’s ideas also continue to be influential is in the development of political beliefs (de Zavala & Van Bergh, 2007; Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003; Oesterreich, 2005). Fromm’s mechanisms of escape as a response to the burden of freedom are implicated in political beliefs, particularly in authoritarianism and conformity. Authoritarianism, for example, involves ac- quiring strength by uniting with a person or a belief system that is more powerful than the individual seeking strength (Fromm, 1941). Being devoutly loyal to one political party is a way to unite with a system more powerful than the individual. Similarly, conformity involves giving up one’s individuality and becoming whatever other people desire one to be. Conformity often involves giving up independent thought by going along with the beliefs and stance of one particular political party.

For personality psychologists, one interesting aspect of political beliefs is to examine how people develop the political persuasions they do and whether person- ality can predict which type of political party any given individual will be drawn to. Fromm (1941) articulated how people might be drawn to strongly endorse one po- litical party over another, but his theory does not clearly articulate which party an in- dividual will be drawn to. In the United States, there are two big political parties: the Republicans (conservative) and the Democrats (liberal). Yet, what kind of person is more likely to become a Republican or a Democrat?

Jack and Jeanne Block (2006) conducted a longitudinal study in which they as- sessed the personality of a group of preschoolers. Almost 20 years later, they fol- lowed up with these participants (many of whom were now in or had recently grad- uated from college) and asked about their political beliefs. When the participants were in preschool, they were evaluated on a variety of personality dimensions by their preschool teachers who had been trained in personality assessment.

Twenty years after preschool, the researchers asked these now young adults to complete some self-report questionnaires assessing political beliefs. Children who were described by their teachers 20 years previously as being easily offended, inde- cisive, fearful, and rigid were more likely to be politically conservative in their twen- ties. Children who had been described as being self-reliant, energetic, somewhat dominating, and relatively undercontrolled in preschool grew up to be more lib- eral. This research shows not only how people grow up to deal with their “burden of freedom” differently, to use Fromm’s words, but it also shows the remarkably powerful predictive ability of personality, even when personality is measured at a very young age.

Critique of Fromm Erich Fromm was perhaps the most brilliant essayist of all personality theorists. He wrote beautiful essays on international politics (Fromm, 1961); on the relevance of biblical prophets for people today (Fromm, 1986); on the psychological problems of

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the aging (Fromm, 1981); on Marx, Hitler, Freud, and Christ; and on myriad other topics. Regardless of the topic, at the core of all Fromm’s writings can be found an unfolding of the essence of human nature.

Like other psychodynamic theorists, Fromm tended to take a global approach to theory construction, erecting a grand, highly abstract model that was more philo- sophical than scientific. His insights into human nature strike a responsive chord, as evidenced by the popularity of his books. Unfortunately, his essays and arguments are not as popularly known today as they were 50 years ago. Paul Roazen (1996) stated that, during the mid-1950s, a person could not be considered educated with- out having read Fromm’s eloquently written Escape from Freedom. Today, however, Fromm’s books are seldom required reading on college campuses.

Eloquence, of course, does not equal science. From a scientific perspective, we must ask how Fromm’s ideas rate on the six criteria of a useful theory. First, Fromm’s imprecise and vague terms have rendered his ideas nearly sterile as a generator of empirical research. Indeed, our search of the last 45 years of psychology literature yielded fewer than a dozen empirical studies that directly tested Fromm’s theoretical assumptions. This paucity of scientific investigations places him among the least empirically validated of all the theorists covered in this book.

Second, Fromm’s theory is too philosophical to be either falsifiable or verifi- able. Nearly any empirical findings generated by Fromm’s theory (if they existed) could be explained by alternative theories.

Third, the breadth of Fromm’s theory enables it to organize and explain much of what is known about human personality. Fromm’s social, political, and historical perspective provides both breadth and depth for understanding the human condition; but his theory’s lack of precision makes prediction difficult and falsification impos- sible.

Fourth, as a guide to action, the chief value of Fromm’s writings is to stimu- late readers to think productively. Unfortunately, however, neither the researcher nor the therapist receives much practical information from Fromm’s essays.

Fifth, Fromm’s views are internally consistent in the sense that a single theme runs throughout his writings. However, the theory lacks a structured taxonomy, a set of operationally defined terms, and a clear limitation of scope. Therefore, it rates low on internal consistency.

Finally, because Fromm was reluctant to abandon earlier concepts or to relate them precisely to his later ideas, his theory lacks simplicity and unity. For these rea- sons, we rate Fromm’s theory low on the criterion of parsimony.

Concept of Humanity More than any other personality theorist, Erich Fromm emphasized the differences between humans and the other animals. The essential nature of humans rests on their unique experience of “being in nature and subject to all its laws, and simul- taneously transcending nature” (Fromm, 1992, p. 24). He believed that only humans are aware of themselves and their existence.

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More specifically, Fromm’s view of humanity is summed up in his definition of the species: “The human species can be defined as the primate who emerged at that point of evolution where instinctive determinism had reached a minimum and the de- velopment of the brain a maximum” (Fromm, 1976, p. 137). Human beings, then, are the freaks of nature, the only species ever to have evolved this combination of minimal instinctive powers and maximal brain development. “Lacking the capacity to act by the command of instincts while possessing the capacity for self- awareness, reason, and imagination . . . the human species needed a frame of ori- entation and an object of devotion in order to survive” (p. 137).

Human survival, however, has been paid for by the price of basic anxiety, loneliness, and powerlessness. In every age and culture, people have been faced with the same fundamental problem: how to escape from feelings of isolation and find unity with nature and with other people.

In general, Fromm was both pessimistic and optimistic. On one hand, he be- lieved that most people do not accomplish a reunion with nature or other people and that few people achieve positive freedom. He also had a rather negative atti- tude toward modern capitalism, which he insisted was responsible for most people’s feeling isolated and alone while clinging desperately to the illusion of indepen- dence and freedom. On the other hand, Fromm was hopeful enough to believe that some people will achieve reunion and will therefore realize their human potential. He also believed that humans can achieve a sense of identity, positive freedom, and growing individuality within the confines of a capitalistic society. In Man for Him- self (1947), he wrote: “I have become increasingly impressed by . . . the strength of the strivings for happiness and health, which are part of the natural equipment of [people]” (p. x).

On the dimension of free choice versus determinism, Fromm took a middle position, insisting that this issue cannot be applied to the entire species. Instead, he believed that individuals have degrees of inclinations toward freely chosen ac- tion, even though they are seldom aware of all the possible alternatives. Never- theless, their ability to reason enables people to take an active part in their own fate.

On the dimension of causality versus teleology, Fromm tended to slightly favor teleology. He believed that people constantly strive for a frame of orientation, a road map, by which to plan their lives into the future.

Fromm took a middle stance regarding conscious versus unconscious motiva- tion, placing slightly more emphasis on conscious motivation and contending that one of the uniquely human traits is self-awareness. Humans are the only animal that can reason, visualize the future, and consciously strive toward self-erected goals. Fromm insisted, however, that self-awareness is a mixed blessing and that many people repress their basic character to avoid mounting anxiety.

On the issue of social influences versus biological ones, Fromm placed some- what more importance on the impact of history, culture, and society than on biol- ogy. Although he insisted that human personalities are historically and culturally determined, he did not overlook biological factors, defining humans as the freaks of the universe.

Finally, whereas Fromm placed moderate emphasis on similarities among peo- ple, he also allowed room for some individuality. He believed that although history

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and culture impinge heavily on personality, people can retain some degree of uniqueness. Humans are one species sharing many of the same human needs, but interpersonal experiences throughout people’s lives give them some measure of uniqueness.

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Key Terms and Concepts

• People have been torn away from their prehistoric union with nature and also with one another, yet they have the power of reasoning, foresight, and imagination.

• Self-awareness contributes to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and homelessness.

• To escape these feelings, people strive to become united with others and with nature.

• Only the uniquely human needs of relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, sense of identity, and a frame of orientation can move people toward a reunion with the natural world.

• A sense of relatedness drives people to unite with another person through submission, power, or love.

• Transcendence is the need for people to rise above their passive existence and create or destroy life.

• Rootedness is the need for a consistent structure in people’s lives. • A sense of identity gives a person a feeling of “I” or “me.” • A frame of orientation is a consistent way of looking at the world. • Basic anxiety is a sense of being alone in the world. • To relieve basic anxiety, people use various mechanisms of escape,

especially authoritarianism, destructiveness, and conformity. • Psychologically healthy people acquire the syndrome of growth, which

includes (1) positive freedom, or the spontaneous activity of a whole, integrated personality; (2) biophilia, or a passionate love of life; and (3) love for fellow humans.

• Other people, however, live nonproductively and acquire things through passively receiving things, exploiting others, hoarding things, and marketing or exchanging things, including themselves.

• Some extremely sick people are motivated by the syndrome of decay, which includes (1) necrophilia, or the love of death; (2) malignant narcissism, or infatuation with self; and (3) incestuous symbiosis, or the tendency to remain bound to a mothering person or her equivalents.

• The goal of Fromm’s psychotherapy is to establish a union with patients so that they can become reunited with the world.

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Sullivan: Interpersonal Theory

B Overview of Interpersonal Theory B Biography of Harry Stack Sullivan B Tensions



Energy Transformations

B Dynamisms Malevolence




B Personifications Bad-Mother, Good-Mother

Me Personifications

Eidetic Personifications

B Levels of Cognition Prototaxic Level

Parataxic Level

Syntaxic Level

B Stages of Development Infancy


Juvenile Era


Early Adolescence

Late Adolescence



B Psychological Disorders B Psychotherapy B Related Research

The Pros and Cons of “Chums” for Girls and Boys

Imaginary Friends

B Critique of Sullivan B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


C H A P T E R 8

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The young boy had no friends his age but did have several imaginary playmates.At school, his Irish brogue and quick mind made him unpopular among school- mates. Then, at age 81/2, the boy experienced an intimate relationship with a 13-year-old boy that transformed his life. The two boys remained unpopular with other children, but they developed close bonds with each other. Most scholars (Alexander, 1990, 1995; Chapman, 1976; Havens, 1987) believe that the relationship between these boys—Harry Stack Sullivan and Clarence Bellinger—was at least in some ways homosexual, but others (Perry, 1982) believed that the two boys were never sexually intimate.

Why is it important to know about Sullivan’s sexual orientation? This knowl- edge is important for at least two reasons. First, a personality theorist’s early life his- tory, including gender, birth order, religious beliefs, ethnic background, schooling, as well as sexual orientation, all relate to that person’s adult beliefs, conception of humanity, and the type of personality theory that that person will develop.

Second, in Sullivan’s case, his sexual orientation may have prevented him from gaining the acceptance and recognition he might have had if others had not suspected that he was homosexual. A. H. Chapman (1976) has argued that Sullivan’s influence is pervasive yet unrecognized largely because many psychologists and psychiatrists of his day had difficulty accepting the theoretical concepts and therapeutic practices of someone they suspected of being homosexual. Chapman contended that Sullivan’s contemporaries might have easily accepted a homosexual artist, musician, or writer, but, when it came to a psychiatrist, they were still guided by the concept “Physician heal thyself.” This phrase was so ingrained in American society during Sullivan’s time that mental health workers found it very difficult to “admit their indebtedness to a psychiatrist whose homosexuality was commonly known” (Chapman, 1976, p. 12). Thus, Sullivan, who otherwise might have achieved greater fame, was shackled by sexual prejudices that kept him from being regarded as American’s foremost psy- chiatrist of the first half of the 20th century.

Overview of Interpersonal Theory Harry Stack Sullivan, the first American to construct a comprehensive personality theory, believed that people develop their personality within a social context. With- out other people, Sullivan contended, humans would have no personality. “A per- sonality can never be isolated from the complex of interpersonal relations in which the person lives and has his being” (Sullivan, 1953a, p. 10). Sullivan insisted that knowledge of human personality can be gained only through the scientific study of interpersonal relations. His interpersonal theory emphasizes the importance of var- ious developmental stages—infancy, childhood, the juvenile era, preadolescence, early adolescence, late adolescence, and adulthood. Healthy human development rests on a person’s ability to establish intimacy with another person, but unfortu- nately, anxiety can interfere with satisfying interpersonal relations at any age. Per- haps the most crucial stage of development is preadolescence—a period when chil- dren first possess the capacity for intimacy but have not yet reached an age at which their intimate relationships are complicated by lustful interests. Sullivan believed that people achieve healthy development when they are able to experience both inti- macy and lust toward the same other person.

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Ironically, Sullivan’s own relationships with other people were seldom satisfy- ing. As a child, he was lonely and physically isolated; as an adolescent, he suffered at least one schizophrenic episode; and as an adult, he experienced only superficial and ambivalent interpersonal relationships. Despite, or perhaps because of, these in- terpersonal difficulties, Sullivan contributed much to an understanding of human personality. In Leston Havens’s (1987) language, “He made his contributions walk- ing on one leg . . . he never gained the spontaneity, receptiveness, and capacity for intimacy his own interpersonal school worked to achieve for others” (p. 184).

Biography of Harry Stack Sullivan Harry Stack Sullivan was born in the small farming town of Norwich, New York, on February 21, 1892, the sole surviving child of poor Irish Catholic parents. His mother, Ella Stack Sullivan, was 32 when she married Timothy Sullivan and 39 when Harry was born. She had given birth to two other sons, neither of whom lived past the first year. As a consequence, she pampered and protected her only child, whose survival she knew was her last chance for motherhood. Harry’s father, Timothy Sul- livan, was a shy, withdrawn, and taciturn man who never developed a close relation- ship with his son until after his wife had died and Sullivan had become a prominent physician. Timothy Sullivan had been a farm laborer and a factory worker who moved to his wife’s family farm outside the village of Smyrna, some 10 miles from Norwich, before Harry’s third birthday. At about this same time, Ella Stack Sullivan was mysteriously absent from the home, and Sullivan was cared for by his maternal grandmother, whose Gaelic accent was not easily understood by the young boy. After more than a year’s separation, Harry’s mother—who likely had been in a mental hos- pital—returned home. In effect, Sullivan then had two women to mother him. Even after his grandmother died, he continued to have two mothers because a maiden aunt then came to share in the child-rearing duties.

Although both parents were of poor Irish Catholic descent, his mother re- garded the Stack family as socially superior to the Sullivans. Sullivan accepted the social supremacy of the Stacks over the Sullivans until he was a prominent psychia- trist developing an interpersonal theory that emphasized similarities among people rather than differences. He then realized the folly of his mother’s claims.

As a preschool child, Sullivan had neither friends nor acquaintances of his age. After beginning school he still felt like an outsider, being an Irish Catholic boy in a Protestant community. His Irish accent and quick mind made him unpopular with his classmates throughout his years of schooling in Smyrna.

When Sullivan was 81/2 years old, he formed a close friendship with a 13-year- old boy from a neighboring farm. This chum was Clarence Bellinger, who lived a mile beyond Harry in another school district, but who was now beginning high school in Smyrna. Although the two boys were not peers chronologically, they had much in common socially and intellectually. Both were retarded socially but ad- vanced intellectually; both later became psychiatrists and neither ever married. The relationship between Harry and Clarence had a transforming effect on Sullivan’s life. It awakened in him the power of intimacy, that is, the ability to love another who was more or less like himself. In Sullivan’s mature theory of personality, he placed heavy emphasis on the therapeutic, almost magical power of an intimate relationship dur-

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ing the preadolescent years. This belief, along with many other Sullivanian hypothe- ses, seems to have grown out of his own childhood experiences.

Sullivan was interested in books and science, not in farming. Although he was an only child growing up on a farm that required much hard work, Harry was able to escape many of the chores by absentmindedly “forgetting” to do them. This ruse was successful because his indulgent mother completed them for him and allowed Sullivan to receive credit.

A bright student, Sullivan graduated from high school as valedictorian at age 16. He then entered Cornell University intending to become a physicist, although he also had an interest in psychiatry. His academic performance at Cornell was a disas- ter, however, and he was suspended after 1 year. The suspension may not have been solely for academic deficiencies. He got into trouble with the law at Cornell, possi- bly for mail fraud. He was probably a dupe of older, more mature students who used him to pick up some chemicals illegally ordered through the mail. In any event, for the next 2 years Sullivan mysteriously disappeared from the scene. Perry (1982) re- ported he may have suffered a schizophrenic breakdown at this time and was con- fined to a mental hospital. Alexander (1990), however, surmised that Sullivan spent this time under the guidance of an older male model who helped him overcome his sexual panic and who intensified his interest in psychiatry. Whatever the answer to Sullivan’s mysterious disappearance from 1909 to 1911, his experiences seemed to have matured him academically and possibly sexually.

In 1911, with only one very unsuccessful year of undergraduate work, Sulli- van enrolled in the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery, where his grades, though only mediocre, were a great improvement over those he earned at Cornell. He finished his medical studies in 1915 but did not receive his degree until 1917. Sulli- van claimed that the delay was because he had not yet paid his tuition in full, but Perry (1982) found evidence that he had not completed all his academic require- ments by 1915 and needed, among other requirements, an internship. How was Sul- livan able to obtain a medical degree if he lacked all the requirements? None of Sul- livan’s biographers has a satisfactory answer to this question. Alexander (1990) hypothesized that Sullivan, who had accumulated nearly a year of medically related employment, used his considerable persuasive abilities to convince authorities at Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery to accept that experience in lieu of an in- ternship. Any other deficiency may have been waived if Sullivan agreed to enlist in the military. (The United States had recently entered World War I and was in need of medical officers.)

After the war Sullivan continued to serve as a military officer, first for the Fed- eral Board for Vocational Education and then for the Public Health Service. How- ever, this period in his life was still confusing and unstable, and he showed little promise of the brilliant career that lay just ahead (Perry, 1982).

In 1921, with no formal training in psychiatry, he went to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington, DC, where he became closely acquainted with William Alanson White, one of America’s best-known neuropsychiatrists. At St. Elizabeth, Sullivan had his first opportunity to work with large numbers of schizophrenic pa- tients. While in Washington, he began an association with the Medical School of the University of Maryland and with the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland. During this Baltimore period of his life, he conducted intensive studies of

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schizophrenia, which led to his first hunches about the importance of interpersonal relationships. In trying to make sense out of the speech of schizophrenic patients, Sullivan concluded that their illness was a means of coping with the anxiety gener- ated from social and interpersonal environments. His experiences as a practicing cli- nician gradually transformed themselves into the beginnings of an interpersonal the- ory of psychiatry.

Sullivan spent much of his time and energy at Sheppard selecting and training hospital attendants. Although he did little therapy himself, he developed a system in which nonprofessional but sympathetic male attendants treated schizophrenic pa- tients with human respect and care. This innovative program gained him a reputation as a clinical wizard. However, he became disenchanted with the political climate at Sheppard when he was passed over for a position as head of the new reception cen- ter that he had advocated. In March of 1930, he resigned from Sheppard.

Later that year, he moved to New York City and opened a private practice, hop- ing to enlarge his understanding of interpersonal relations by investigating non- schizophrenic disorders, especially those of an obsessive nature (Perry, 1982). Times were hard, however, and his expected wealthy clientele did not come in the numbers he needed to maintain his expenses.

On a more positive note, his residence in New York brought him into contact with several psychiatrists and social scientists with a European background. Among these were Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann who, along with Sullivan, Clara Thompson, and others, formed the Zodiac group, an informal organization that met regularly over drinks to discuss old and new ideas in psychia- try and the related social sciences. Sullivan, who had met Thompson earlier, per- suaded her to travel to Europe to take a training analysis under Sandor Ferenczi, a disciple of Freud. Sullivan learned from all members of the Zodiac group, and through Thompson, and Ferenczi, his therapeutic technique was indirectly influenced by Freud. Sullivan also credited two other outstanding practitioners, Adolf Meyer and William Alanson White, as having had an impact on his practice of therapy. De- spite some Freudian influence on his therapeutic technique, Sullivan’s theory of in- terpersonal psychiatry is neither psychoanalytic nor neo-Freudian.

During his residence in New York, Sullivan also came under the influence of several noted social scientists from the University of Chicago, which was the center of American sociological study during the 1920s and 1930s. Included among them were social psychologist George Herbert Mead, sociologists Robert Ezra Park and W. I. Thomas, anthropologist Edward Sapir, and political scientist Harold Lasswell. Sullivan, Sapir, and Lasswell were primarily responsible for establishing the William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation in Washington, DC, for the purpose of join- ing psychiatry to the other social sciences. Sullivan served as the first president of the foundation and also as editor of the foundation’s journal, Psychiatry. Under Sul- livan’s guidance, the foundation began a training institution known as the Washing- ton School of Psychiatry. Because of these activities, Sullivan gave up his New York practice, which was not very lucrative anyway, and moved back to Washington, DC, where he remained closely associated with the school and the journal.

In January 1949, Sullivan attended a meeting of the World Federation for Men- tal Health in Amsterdam. While on his way home, January 14, 1949, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage in a Paris hotel room, a few weeks short of his 57th birthday. Not uncharacteristically, he was alone at the time.

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On the personal side, Sullivan was not comfortable with his sexuality and had ambivalent feelings toward marriage (Perry, 1982). As an adult, he brought into his home a 15-year-old boy who was probably a former patient (Alexander, 1990). This young man—James Inscoe—remained with Sullivan for 22 years, looking after his financial affairs, typing manuscripts, and generally running the household. Although Sullivan never officially adopted Jimmie, he regarded him as a son and even had his legal name changed to James I. Sullivan.

Beyond Biography Was Sullivan a homosexual? For information on Sullivan’s sexual orientation, see our website at

Sullivan also had ambivalent attitudes toward his religion. Born to Catholic parents who attended church only irregularly, he abandoned Catholicism early on. In later life, his friends and acquaintances regarded him as nonreligious or even anti- Catholic, but to their surprise, Sullivan had written into his will a request to receive a Catholic burial. Incidentally, this request was granted despite the fact that Sulli- van’s body had been cremated in Paris. His ashes were returned to the United States, where they were placed inside a coffin and received a full Catholic burial, complete with a requiem mass.

Sullivan’s chief contribution to personality theory is his conception of devel- opmental stages. Before turning to Sullivan’s ideas on the stages of development, we will explain some of his unique terminology.

Tensions Like Freud and Jung, Sullivan (1953b) saw personality as an energy system. Energy can exist either as tension (potentiality for action) or as actions themselves (energy transformations). Energy transformations transform tensions into either covert or overt behaviors and are aimed at satisfying needs and reducing anxiety. Tension is a potentiality for action that may or may not be experienced in awareness. Thus, not all tensions are consciously felt. Many tensions, such as anxiety, premonitions, drowsiness, hunger, and sexual excitement, are felt but not always on a conscious level. In fact, probably all felt tensions are at least partial distortions of reality. Sullivan recognized two types of tensions: needs and anxiety. Needs usually re- sult in productive actions, whereas anxiety leads to nonproductive or disintegrative behaviors.

Needs Needs are tensions brought on by biological imbalance between a person and the physiochemical environment, both inside and outside the organism. Needs are episodic—once they are satisfied, they temporarily lose their power, but after a time, they are likely to recur. Although needs originally have a biological component, many of them stem from the interpersonal situation. The most basic interpersonal need is tenderness. An infant develops a need to receive tenderness from its primary caretaker (called by Sullivan “the mothering one”). Unlike some needs, tenderness requires actions from at least two people. For example, an infant’s need to receive


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tenderness may be expressed as a cry, smile, or coo, whereas the mother’s need to give tenderness may be transformed into touching, fondling, or holding. In this ex- ample, the need for tenderness is satisfied through the use of the infant’s mouth and the mother’s hands.

Tenderness is a general need because it is concerned with the overall well- being of a person. General needs, which also include oxygen, food, and water, are opposed to zonal needs, which arise from a particular area of the body. Several areas of the body are instrumental in satisfying both general and zonal needs. For exam- ple, the mouth satisfies general needs by taking in food and oxygen, but it also sat- isfies the zonal need for oral activity. Also, the hands may be used to help satisfy the general need of tenderness, but they can likewise be used to satisfy the zonal need for manual activity. Similarly, other body zones, such as the anus and the genitals, can be used to satisfy both kinds of needs.

Very early in life, the various zones of the body begin to play a significant and lasting role in interpersonal relations. While satisfying general needs for food, water, and so forth, an infant expends more energy than necessary, and the excess energy is transformed into consistent characteristic modes of behavior, which Sullivan called dynamisms.

Anxiety A second type of tension, anxiety, differs from tensions of needs in that it is dis- junctive, is more diffuse and vague, and calls forth no consistent actions for its re- lief. If infants lack food (a need), their course of action is clear; but if they are anx- ious, they can do little to escape from that anxiety.

How does anxiety originate? Sullivan (1953b) postulated that it is transferred from the parent to the infant through the process of empathy. Anxiety in the moth- ering one inevitably induces anxiety in the infant. Because all mothers have some amount of anxiety while caring for their babies, all infants will become anxious to some degree.

Just as the infant does not have the capacity to reduce anxiety, the parent has no effective means of dealing with the baby’s anxiety. Any signs of anxiety or inse- curity by the infant are likely to lead to attempts by the parent to satisfy the infant’s needs. For example, a mother may feed her anxious, crying baby because she mis- takes anxiety for hunger. If the baby hesitates in accepting the milk, the mother may become more anxious herself, which generates additional anxiety within the infant. Finally, the baby’s anxiety reaches a level at which it interferes with sucking and swallowing. Anxiety, then, operates in opposition to tensions of needs and prevents them from being satisfied.

Anxiety has a deleterious effect on adults too. It is the chief disruptive force blocking the development of healthy interpersonal relations. Sullivan (1953b) likened severe anxiety to a blow on the head. It makes people incapable of learning, impairs memory, narrows perception, and may result in complete amnesia. It is unique among the tensions in that it maintains the status quo even to people’s over- all detriment. Whereas other tensions result in actions directed specifically toward their relief, anxiety produces behaviors that (1) prevent people from learning from their mistakes, (2) keep people pursuing a childish wish for security, and (3) gener- ally ensure that people will not learn from their experiences.

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Sullivan insisted that anxiety and loneliness are unique among all experiences in that they are totally unwanted and undesirable. Because anxiety is painful, people have a natural tendency to avoid it, inherently preferring the state of euphoria, or complete lack of tension. Sullivan (1954) summarized this concept by stating simply that “the presence of anxiety is much worse than its absence” (p. 100).

Sullivan distinguished anxiety from fear in several important ways. First, anx- iety usually stems from complex interpersonal situations and is only vaguely repre- sented in awareness; fear is more clearly discerned and its origins more easily pin- pointed. Second, anxiety has no positive value. Only when transformed into another tension (anger or fear, for example) can it lead to profitable actions. Third, anxiety blocks the satisfaction of needs, whereas fear sometimes helps people satisfy certain needs. This opposition to the satisfaction of needs is expressed in words that can be considered Sullivan’s definition of anxiety: “Anxiety is a tension in opposition to the tensions of needs and to action appropriate to their relief ” (Sullivan, 1953b, p. 44).

Energy Transformations Tensions that are transformed into actions, either overt or covert, are called energy transformations. This somewhat awkward term simply refers to our behaviors that are aimed at satisfying needs and reducing anxiety—the two great tensions. Not all energy transformations are obvious, overt actions; many take the form of emotions, thoughts, or covert behaviors that can be hidden from other people.

Dynamisms Energy transformations become organized as typical behavior patterns that charac- terize a person throughout a lifetime. Sullivan (1953b) called these behavior patterns dynamisms, a term that means about the same as traits or habit patterns. Dynamisms are of two major classes: first, those related to specific zones of the body, including the mouth, anus, and genitals; and second, those related to tensions. This second class is composed of three categories—the disjunctive, the isolating, and the con- junctive. Disjunctive dynamisms include those destructive patterns of behavior that are related to the concept of malevolence; isolating dynamisms include those be- havior patterns (such as lust) that are unrelated to interpersonal relations; and con- junctive dynamisms include beneficial behavior patterns, such as intimacy and the self-system.

Malevolence Malevolence is the disjunctive dynamism of evil and hatred, characterized by the feeling of living among one’s enemies (Sullivan, 1953b). It originates around age 2 or 3 years when children’s actions that earlier had brought about maternal ten- derness are rebuffed, ignored, or met with anxiety and pain. When parents attempt to control their children’s behavior by physical pain or reproving remarks, some chil- dren will learn to withhold any expression of the need for tenderness and to protect themselves by adopting the malevolent attitude. Parents and peers then find it more and more difficult to react with tenderness, which in turn solidifies the child’s nega- tive attitude toward the world. Malevolent actions often take the form of timidity,

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mischievousness, cruelty, or other kinds of asocial or antisocial behavior. Sullivan expressed the malevolent attitude with this colorful statement: “Once upon a time everything was lovely, but that was before I had to deal with people” (p. 216).

Intimacy Intimacy grows out of the earlier need for tenderness but is more specific and in- volves a close interpersonal relationship between two people who are more or less of equal status. Intimacy must not be confused with sexual interest. In fact, it devel- ops prior to puberty, ideally during preadolescence when it usually exists between two children, each of whom sees the other as a person of equal value. Because inti- macy is a dynamism that requires an equal partnership, it does not usually exist in parent-child relationships unless both are adults and see one another as equals.

Intimacy is an integrating dynamism that tends to draw out loving reactions from the other person, thereby decreasing anxiety and loneliness, two extremely painful experiences. Because intimacy helps us avoid anxiety and loneliness, it is a rewarding experience that most healthy people desire (Sullivan, 1953b).

Lust On the other hand, lust is an isolating tendency, requiring no other person for its sat- isfaction. It manifests itself as autoerotic behavior even when another person is the object of one’s lust. Lust is an especially powerful dynamism during adolescence, at

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Significant intimate relationships prior to puberty are usually boy-boy or girl-girl friendships, according to Sullivan.

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which time it often leads to a reduction of self-esteem. Attempts at lustful activity are often rebuffed by others, which increases anxiety and decreases feelings of self- worth. In addition, lust often hinders an intimate relationship, especially during early adolescence when it is easily confused with sexual attraction.

Self-System The most complex and inclusive of all the dynamisms is the self-system, a consis- tent pattern of behaviors that maintains people’s interpersonal security by protecting them from anxiety. Like intimacy, the self-system is a conjunctive dynamism that arises out of the interpersonal situation. However, it develops earlier than intimacy, at about age 12 to 18 months. As children develop intelligence and foresight, they become able to learn which behaviors are related to an increase or decrease in anxi- ety. This ability to detect slight increases or decreases in anxiety provides the self- system with a built-in warning device.

The warning, however, is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it serves as a signal, alerting people to increasing anxiety and giving them an opportunity to protect themselves. On the other, this desire for protection against anxiety makes the self- system resistant to change and prevents people from profiting from anxiety-filled ex- periences. Because the primary task of the self-system is to protect people against anxiety, it is “the principal stumbling block to favorable changes in personality” (Sullivan, 1953b, p. 169). Sullivan (1964), however, believed that personality is not static and is especially open to change at the beginning of the various stages of de- velopment.

As the self-system develops, people begin to form a consistent image of them- selves. Thereafter, any interpersonal experiences that they perceive as contrary to their self-regard threatens their security. As a consequence, people attempt to defend themselves against interpersonal tensions by means of security operations, the pur- pose of which is to reduce feelings of insecurity or anxiety that result from endan- gered self-esteem. People tend to deny or distort interpersonal experiences that con- flict with their self-regard. For example, when people who think highly of themselves are called incompetent, they may choose to believe that the name-caller is stupid or, perhaps, merely joking. Sullivan (1953b) called security operations “a powerful brake on personal and human progress” (p. 374).

Two important security operations are dissociation and selective inattention. Dissociation includes those impulses, desires, and needs that a person refuses to allow into awareness. Some infantile experiences become dissociated when a baby’s behavior is neither rewarded nor punished, so those experiences simply do not be- come part of the self-system. Adult experiences that are too foreign to one’s stan- dards of conduct can also become dissociated. These experiences do not cease to exist but continue to influence personality on an unconscious level. Dissociated im- ages manifest themselves in dreams, daydreams, and other unintentional activities outside of awareness and are directed toward maintaining interpersonal security (Sullivan, 1953b).

The control of focal awareness, called selective inattention, is a refusal to see those things that we do not wish to see. It differs from dissociation in both degree and origin. Selectively inattended experiences are more accessible to awareness and

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more limited in scope. They originate after we establish a self-system and are trig- gered by our attempts to block out experiences that are not consistent with our ex- isting self-system. For example, people who regard themselves as scrupulously law- abiding drivers may “forget” about the many occasions when they exceeded the speed limit or the times when they failed to stop completely at a stop sign. Like dis- sociated experiences, selectively inattended perceptions remain active even though they are not fully conscious. They are crucial in determining which elements of an experience will be attended and which will be ignored or denied (Sullivan, 1953b).

Personifications Beginning in infancy and continuing throughout the various developmental stages, people acquire certain images of themselves and others. These images, called per- sonifications, may be relatively accurate, or because they are colored by people’s needs and anxieties, they may be grossly distorted. Sullivan (1953b) described three basic personifications that develop during infancy—the bad-mother, the good- mother, and the me. In addition, some children acquire an eidetic personification (imaginary playmate) during childhood.

Bad-Mother, Good-Mother Sullivan’s notion of the bad-mother and good-mother is similar to Klein’s concept of the bad breast and good breast. The bad-mother personification, in fact, grows out of the infant’s experiences with the bad-nipple: that is, the nipple that does not sat- isfy hunger needs. Whether the nipple belongs to the mother or to a bottle held by the mother, the father, a nurse, or anyone else is not important. The bad-mother per- sonification is almost completely undifferentiated, inasmuch as it includes everyone involved in the nursing situation. It is not an accurate image of the “real” mother but merely the infant’s vague representation of not being properly fed.

After the bad-mother personification is formed, an infant will acquire a good- mother personification based on the tender and cooperative behaviors of the moth- ering one. These two personifications, one based on the infant’s perception of an anx- ious, malevolent mother and the other based on a calm, tender mother, combine to form a complex personification composed of contrasting qualities projected onto the same person. Until the infant develops language, however, these two opposing im- ages of mother can easily coexist (Sullivan, 1953b).

Me Personifications During midinfancy a child acquires three me personifications (bad-me, good-me, and not-me) that form the building blocks of the self personification. Each is related to the evolving conception of me or my body. The bad-me personification is fash- ioned from experiences of punishment and disapproval that infants receive from their mothering one. The resulting anxiety is strong enough to teach infants that they are bad, but it is not so severe as to cause the experience to be dissociated or selectively inattended. Like all personifications, the bad-me is shaped out of the interpersonal

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situation; that is, infants can learn that they are bad only from someone else, ordi- narily the bad-mother.

The good-me personification results from infants’ experiences with reward and approval. Infants feel good about themselves when they perceive their mother’s ex- pressions of tenderness. Such experiences diminish anxiety and foster the good-me personification. Sudden severe anxiety, however, may cause an infant to form the not-me personification and to either dissociate or selectively inattend experiences re- lated to that anxiety. An infant denies these experiences to the me image so that they become part of the not-me personification. These shadowy not-me personifications are also encountered by adults and are expressed in dreams, schizophrenic episodes, and other dissociated reactions. Sullivan believed that these nightmarish experiences are always preceded by a warning. When adults are struck by sudden severe anxiety, they are overcome by uncanny emotion. Although this experience incapacitates peo- ple in their interpersonal relationships, it serves as a valuable signal for approaching schizophrenic reactions. Uncanny emotion may be experienced in dreams or may take the form of awe, horror, loathing, or a “chilly crawling” sensation (Sullivan, 1953b).

Eidetic Personifications Not all interpersonal relations are with real people; some are eidetic personifica- tions: that is, unrealistic traits or imaginary friends that many children invent in order to protect their self-esteem. Sullivan (1964) believed that these imaginary friends may be as significant to a child’s development as real playmates.

Eidetic personifications, however, are not limited to children; most adults see fictitious traits in other people. Eidetic personifications can create conflict in inter- personal relations when people project onto others imaginary traits that are remnants from previous relationships. They also hinder communication and prevent people from functioning on the same level of cognition.

Levels of Cognition Sullivan divided cognition into three levels or modes of experience: prototaxic, parataxic, and syntaxic. Levels of cognition refer to ways of perceiving, imagining, and conceiving. Experiences on the prototaxic level are impossible to communicate; parataxic experiences are personal, prelogical, and communicated only in distorted form; and syntaxic cognition is meaningful interpersonal communication.

Prototaxic Level The earliest and most primitive experiences of an infant take place on a prototaxic level. Because these experiences cannot be communicated to others, they are diffi- cult to describe or define. One way to understand the term is to imagine the earliest subjective experiences of a newborn baby. These experiences must, in some way, re- late to different zones of the body. A neonate feels hunger and pain, and these pro- totaxic experiences result in observable action, for example, sucking or crying. The infant does not know the reason for the actions and sees no relationship between

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these actions and being fed. As undifferentiated experiences, prototaxic events are beyond conscious recall.

In adults, prototaxic experiences take the form of momentary sensations, im- ages, feelings, moods, and impressions. These primitive images of dream and wak- ing life are dimly perceived or completely unconscious. Although people are inca- pable of communicating these images to others, they can sometimes tell another person that they have just had a strange sensation, one that they cannot put into words.

Parataxic Level Parataxic experiences are prelogical and usually result when a person assumes a cause-and-effect relationship between two events that occur coincidentally. Parataxic cognitions are more clearly differentiated than prototaxic experiences, but their meaning remains private. Therefore, they can be communicated to others only in a distorted fashion.

An example of parataxic thinking takes place when a child is conditioned to say “please” in order to receive candy. If “candy and “please” occur together a num- ber of times, the child may eventually reach the illogical conclusion that her suppli- cations caused the candy’s appearance. This conclusion is a parataxic distortion, or an illogical belief that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between two events in close temporal proximity. However, uttering the word “please” does not, by itself, cause the candy to appear. A dispensing person must be present who hears the word and is able and willing to honor the request. When no such person is present, a child may ask God or imaginary people to grant favors. A good bit of adult behavior comes from similar parataxic thinking.

Syntaxic Level Experiences that are consensually validated and that can be symbolically communi- cated take place on a syntaxic level. Consensually validated experiences are those on whose meaning two or more persons agree. Words, for example, are consensually validated because different people more or less agree on their meaning. The most common symbols used by one person to communicate with another are those of lan- guage, including words and gestures.

Sullivan hypothesized that the first instance of syntaxic cognition appears whenever a sound or gesture begins to have the same meaning for parents as it does for a child. The syntaxic level of cognition becomes more prevalent as the child be- gins to develop formal language, but it never completely supplants prototaxic and parataxic cognition. Adult experience takes place on all three levels.

In summary, Sullivan identified two kinds of experience—tensions and energy transformations. Tensions, or potentiality for action, include needs and anxiety. Whereas needs are helpful or conjunctive when satisfied, anxiety is always disjunc- tive, interfering with the satisfaction of needs and disrupting interpersonal relations. Energy transformations literally involve the transformation of potential energy into actual energy (behavior) for the purpose of satisfying needs or reducing anxiety. Some of these behaviors form consistent patterns of behavior called dynamisms. Sul- livan also recognized three levels of cognition—prototaxic, parataxic, and syntaxic. Table 8.1 summarizes Sullivan’s concept of personality.

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Stages of Development Sullivan (1953b) postulated seven epochs or stages of development, each crucial to the formation of human personality. The thread of interpersonal relations runs throughout the stages; other people are indispensable to a person’s development from infancy to mature adulthood.

Personality change can take place at any time, but it is most likely to occur dur- ing the transition from one stage to the next. In fact, these threshold periods are more crucial than the stages themselves. Experiences previously dissociated or selectively inattended may enter into the self-system during one of the transitional periods. Sullivan hypothesized that, “as one passes over one of these more-or-less deter- minable thresholds of a developmental era, everything that has gone before becomes

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T A B L E 8 . 1

Summary of Sullivan’s Theory of Personality

I. Tensions (potential for action) A. Needs (conjunctive; they help integrate personality)

1. General needs (facilitate the overall well-being of a person) a. Interpersonal (tenderness, intimacy, and love) b. Physiological (food, oxygen, water, and so forth)

2. Zonal needs (may also satisfy general needs) a. Oral b. Genital c. Manual

B. Anxiety (disjunctive; it interferes with the satisfaction of needs)

II. Energy Transformations (overt or covert actions designed to satisfy needs or to reduce anxiety. Some energy transformations become relatively consistent patterns of behavior called dynamisms)

III. Dynamisms (traits or behavioral patterns)

A. Malevolence (a feeling of living in enemy country)

B. Intimacy (an integrating experience marked by a close personal relationship with another person who is more or less of equal status)

C. Lust (an isolating dynamism characterized by an impersonal sexual interest in another person)

IV. Levels of Cognitions (ways of perceiving, imagining, and conceiving)

A. Prototaxic (undifferentiated experiences that are completely personal)

B. Parataxic (prelogical experiences that are communicated to others only in a distorted fashion)

C. Syntaxic (consensually validated experiences that can be accurately communicated to others)

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reasonably open to influence” (p. 227). His seven stages are infancy, childhood, the juvenile era, preadolescence, early adolescence, late adolescence, and adulthood.

Infancy Infancy begins at birth and continues until a child develops articulate or syntaxic speech, usually at about age 18 to 24 months. Sullivan believed that an infant be- comes human through tenderness received from the mothering one. The satisfaction of nearly every human need demands the cooperation of another person. Infants can- not survive without a mothering one to provide food, shelter, moderate temperature, physical contact, and the cleansing of waste materials.

The emphatic linkage between mother and infant leads inexorably to the de- velopment of anxiety for the baby. Being human, the mother enters the relationship with some degree of previously learned anxiety. Her anxiety may spring from any one of a variety of experiences, but the infant’s first anxiety is always associated with the nursing situation and the oral zone. Unlike that of the mother, the infant’s reper- toire of behaviors is not adequate to handle anxiety. So, whenever infants feel anx- ious (a condition originally transmitted to it by the mother), they try whatever means available to reduce anxiety. These attempts typically include rejecting the nipple, but this neither reduces anxiety nor satisfies the need for food. An infant’s rejection of the nipple, of course, is not responsible for the mother’s original anxiety but now adds to it. Eventually the infant discriminates between the good-nipple and the bad- nipple: the former being associated with relative euphoria in the feeding process; the latter, with enduring anxiety (Sullivan, 1953b).

An infant expresses both anxiety and hunger through crying. The mothering one may mistake anxiety for hunger and force the nipple onto an anxious (but not hungry) infant. The opposite situation may also take place when a mother, for what- ever reason, fails to satisfy the baby’s needs. The baby then will experience rage, which increases the mother’s anxiety and interferes with her ability to cooperate with her baby. With mounting tension, the infant loses the capacity to receive satisfaction, but the need for food, of course, continues to increase. Finally, as tension approaches terror, the infant experiences difficulty with breathing. The baby may even stop breathing and turn a bluish color, but the built-in protections of apathy and somno- lent detachment keep the infant from death. Apathy and somnolent detachment allow the infant to fall asleep despite the hunger (Sullivan, 1953b).

During the feeding process, the infant not only receives food but also satisfies some tenderness needs. The tenderness received by the infant at this time demands the cooperation of the mothering one and introduces the infant to the various strate- gies required by the interpersonal situation. The mother-infant relationship, however, is like a two-sided coin. The infant develops a dual personification of mother, seeing her as both good and bad; the mother is good when she satisfies the baby’s needs and bad when she stimulates anxiety.

Around midinfancy, infants begin to learn how to communicate through lan- guage. In the beginning, their language is not consensually validated but takes place on an individualized or parataxic level. This period of infancy is characterized by autistic language, that is, private language that makes little or no sense to other peo- ple. Early communication takes place in the form of facial expressions and the

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sounding of various phonemes. Both are learned through imitation, and eventually gestures and speech sounds have the same meaning for the infant as they do for other people. This communication marks the beginning of syntaxic language and the end of infancy.

Childhood The era of childhood begins with the advent of syntaxic language and continues until the appearance of the need for playmates of an equal status. The age of childhood varies from culture to culture and from individual to individual, but in Western society it covers the period from about age 18 to 24 months until about age 5 or 6 years.

During this stage, the mother remains the most significant other person, but her role is different from what it was in infancy. The dual personifications of mother are now fused into one, and the child’s perception of the mother is more congruent with the “real” mother. Nevertheless, the good-mother and bad-mother personifica- tions are usually retained on a parataxic level. In addition to combining the mother personifications, the child differentiates the various persons who previously formed the concept of the mothering one, separating mother and father and seeing each as having a distinct role.

At about the same time, children are fusing the me-personifications into a sin- gle self-dynamism. Once they establish syntaxic language, they can no longer con- sciously deal with the bad-me and good-me at the same time; now they label behav- iors as good or bad in imitation of their parents. However, these labels differ from the old personifications of infancy because they are symbolized on a syntaxic level and originate from children’s behavior rather than from decreases or increases in their anxiety. Also, good and bad now imply social or moral value and no longer refer to the absence or presence of that painful tension called anxiety.

During childhood, emotions become reciprocal; a child is able to give tender- ness as well as receive it. The relationship between mother and child becomes more personal and less one-sided. Rather than seeing the mother as good or bad based on how she satisfied hunger needs, the child evaluates the mother syntaxically accord- ing to whether she shows reciprocal tender feelings, develops a relationship based on the mutual satisfaction of needs, or exhibits a rejecting attitude.

Besides their parents, preschool-aged children often have one other significant relationship—an imaginary playmate. This eidetic friend enables children to have a safe, secure relationship that produces little anxiety. Parents sometimes observe their preschool-aged children talking to an imaginary friend, calling the friend by name, and possibly even insisting that an extra place be set at the table or space be made available in the car or the bed for this playmate. Also, many adults can recall their own childhood experiences with imaginary playmates. Sullivan insisted that having an imaginary playmate is not a sign of instability or pathology but a positive event that helps children become ready for intimacy with real friends during the preado- lescence stage. These playmates offer children an opportunity to interact with an- other “person” who is safe and who will not increase their level of anxiety. This com- fortable, nonthreatening relationship with an imaginary playmate permits children to be more independent of parents and to make friends in later years.

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Sullivan (1953b) referred to childhood as a period of rapid acculturation. Be- sides acquiring language, children learn cultural patterns of cleanliness, toilet train- ing, eating habits, and sex-role expectancies. They also learn two other important processes: dramatizations and preoccupations. Dramatizations are attempts to act like or sound like significant authority figures, especially mother and father. Preoc- cupations are strategies for avoiding anxiety and fear-provoking situations by re- maining occupied with an activity that has earlier proved useful or rewarding.

The malevolent attitude reaches a peak during the preschool years, giving some children an intense feeling of living in a hostile or enemy country. At the same time, children learn that society has placed certain restraints on their freedom. From these restrictions and from experiences with approval and disapprobation, children evolve their self-dynamism, which helps them handle anxiety and stabilize their per- sonality. In fact, the self-system introduces so much stability that it makes future changes exceedingly difficult.

Juvenile Era The juvenile era begins with the appearance of the need for peers or playmates of equal status and ends when one finds a single chum to satisfy the need for intimacy. In the United States, the juvenile stage is roughly parallel to the first 3 years of school, beginning around age 5 or 6 and ending at about age 81/2. (It is interesting that Sullivan was so specific with the age at which this period ends and the preado- lescent stage begins. Remember that Sullivan was 81/2 when he began an intimate re- lationship with a 13-year-old boy from a nearby farm.)

During the juvenile stage, Sullivan believed, a child should learn to compete, compromise, and cooperate. The degree of competition found among children of this

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During the juvenile stage, children need to learn competition, cooperation, and compromise.

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age varies with the culture, but Sullivan believed that people in the United States have generally overemphasized competition. Many children believe that they must be competitive to be successful. Compromise, too, can be overdone. A 7-year-old child who learns to continually give in to others is handicapped in the socialization process, and this yielding trait may continue to characterize the person in later life. Cooperation includes all those processes necessary to get along with others. The juvenile-age child must learn to cooperate with others in the real world of interper- sonal relationships. Cooperation is a critical step in becoming socialized and is the most important task confronting children during this stage of development.

During the juvenile era, children associate with other children who are of equal standing. One-to-one relationships are rare, but if they exist, they are more likely to be based on convenience than on genuine intimacy. Boys and girls play with one an- other with little regard for the gender of the other person. Although permanent dyadic (two-person) relationships are still in the future, children of this age are be- ginning to make discriminations among themselves and to distinguish among adults. They see one teacher as kinder than another, one parent as more indulgent. The real world is coming more into focus, allowing them to operate increasingly on the syn- taxic level.

By the end of the juvenile stage, a child should have developed an orientation toward living that makes it easier to consistently handle anxiety, satisfy zonal and tenderness needs, and set goals based on memory and foresight. This orientation to- ward living readies a person for the deeper interpersonal relationships to follow (Sul- livan, 1953b).

Preadolescence Preadolescence, which begins at age 81/2 and ends with adolescence, is a time for in- timacy with one particular person, usually a person of the same gender. All preced- ing stages have been egocentric, with friendships being formed on the basis of self- interest. A preadolescent, for the first time, takes a genuine interest in the other person. Sullivan (1953a) called this process of becoming a social being the “quiet miracle of preadolescence” (p. 41), a likely reference to the personality transforma- tion he experienced during his own preadolescence.

The outstanding characteristic of preadolescence is the genesis of the capacity to love. Previously, all interpersonal relationships were based on personal need sat- isfaction, but during preadolescence, intimacy and love become the essence of friendships. Intimacy involves a relationship in which the two partners consensually validate one another’s personal worth. Love exists “when the satisfaction or the se- curity of another person becomes as significant to one as is one’s own satisfaction or security” (Sullivan, 1953a, pp. 42–43).

A preadolescent’s intimate relationship ordinarily involves another person of the same gender and of approximately the same age or social status. Infatuations with teachers or movie stars are not intimate relationships because they are not con- sensually validated. The significant relationships of this age are typically boy-boy or girl-girl chumships. To be liked by one’s peers is more important to the preadoles- cent than to be liked by teachers or parents. Chums are able to freely express opin- ions and emotions to one another without fear of humiliation or embarrassment. This

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free exchange of personal thoughts and feelings initiates the preadolescent into the world of intimacy. Each chum becomes more fully human, acquires an expanded personality, and develops a wider interest in the humanity of all people.

Sullivan believed that preadolescence is the most untroubled and carefree time of life. Parents are still significant, even though they have been reappraised in a more realistic light. Preadolescents can experience unselfish love that has not yet been complicated by lust. The cooperation they acquired during the juvenile era evolves into collaboration or the capacity to work with another, not for self-prestige, but for the well-being of that other.

Experiences during preadolescence are critical for the future development of personality. If children do not learn intimacy at this time, they are likely to be seri- ously stunted in later personality growth. However, earlier negative influences can be extenuated by the positive effects of an intimate relationship. Even the malevolent attitude can be reversed, and many other juvenile problems, such as loneliness and self-centeredness, are diminished by the achievement of intimacy. In other words, mistakes made during earlier stages of development can be overcome during pread- olescence, but mistakes made during preadolescence are difficult to surmount dur- ing later stages. The relatively brief and uncomplicated period of preadolescence is shattered by the onset of puberty.

Early Adolescence Early adolescence begins with puberty and ends with the need for sexual love with one person. It is marked by the eruption of genital interest and the advent of lustful relationships. In the United States, early adolescence is generally parallel with the middle-school years. As with most other stages, however, Sullivan placed no great emphasis on chronological age.

The need for intimacy achieved during the preceding stage continues during early adolescence, but is now accompanied by a parallel but separate need—lust. In addition, security, or the need to be free from anxiety, remains active during early adolescence. Thus, intimacy, lust, and security often collide with one another, bring- ing stress and conflict to the young adolescent in at least three ways. First, lust in- terferes with security operations because genital activity in American culture is fre- quently ingrained with anxiety, guilt, and embarrassment. Second, intimacy also can threaten security, as when young adolescents seek intimate friendships with other- gender adolescents. These attempts are fraught with self-doubt, uncertainty, and ridicule from others, which may lead to loss of self-esteem and an increase in anxi- ety. Third, intimacy and lust are frequently in conflict during early adolescence. Al- though intimate friendships with peers of equal status are still important, powerful genital tensions seek outlet without regard for the intimacy need. Therefore, young adolescents may retain their intimate friendships from preadolescence while feeling lust for people they neither like nor even know.

Because the lust dynamism is biological, it bursts forth at puberty regardless of the individual’s interpersonal readiness for it. A boy with no previous experience with intimacy may see girls as sex objects, while having no real interest in them. An early adolescent girl may sexually tease boys but lack the ability to relate to them on an intimate level.

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Sullivan (1953b) believed that early adolescence is a turning point in person- ality development. The person either emerges from this stage in command of the in- timacy and lust dynamisms or faces serious interpersonal difficulties during future stages. Although sexual adjustment is important to personality development, Sulli- van felt that the real issue lies in getting along with other people.

Late Adolescence Late adolescence begins when young people are able to feel both lust and intimacy toward the same person, and it ends in adulthood when they establish a lasting love relationship. Late adolescence embraces that period of self-discovery when adoles- cents are determining their preferences in genital behavior, usually during secondary school years, or about ages 15 to 17 or 18.

The outstanding feature of late adolescence is the fusion of intimacy and lust. The troubled attempts at self-exploration of early adolescence evolve into a stable pattern of sexual activity in which the loved one is also the object of lustful interest. People of the other gender are no longer desired solely as sex objects but as people who are capable of being loved nonselfishly. Unlike the previous stage that was ush- ered in by biological changes, late adolescence is completely determined by inter- personal relations.

Successful late adolescence includes a growing syntaxic mode. At college or in the workplace, late adolescents begin exchanging ideas with others and having their opinions and beliefs either validated or repudiated. They learn from others how to live in the adult world, but a successful journey through the earlier stages facili- tates this adjustment. If previous developmental epochs were unsuccessful, young

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The early adolescent’s search for intimacy can increase anxiety and threaten security.

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people come to late ado- lescence with no intimate interpersonal relations, inconsistent patterns of sexual activity, and a great need to maintain se- curity operations. They rely heavily on the parataxic mode to avoid anxiety and strive to pre- serve self-esteem through selective inattention, dis- sociation, and neurotic symptoms. They face seri- ous problems in bridging the gulf between society’s expectations and their own inability to form intimate relations with persons of the other gender. Believ- ing that love is a universal condition of young peo- ple, they are often pres- sured into “falling in love.” However, only the mature person has the capacity to love; others merely go

through the motions of being “in love” in order to maintain security (Sullivan, 1953b).

Adulthood The successful completion of late adolescence culminates in adulthood, a period when people can establish a love relationship with at least one significant other per- son. Writing of this love relationship, Sullivan (1953b) stated that “this really highly developed intimacy with another is not the principal business of life, but is, perhaps, the principal source of satisfaction in life” (p. 34).

Sullivan had little to say about this final stage because he believed that mature adulthood was beyond the scope of interpersonal psychiatry; people who have achieved the capacity to love are not in need of psychiatric counsel. His sketch of the mature person, therefore, was not founded on clinical experience but was an extrap- olation from the preceding stages.

Mature adults are perceptive of other people’s anxiety, needs, and security. They operate predominantly on the syntaxic level, and find life interesting and ex- citing (Sullivan, 1953b).

Table 8.2 summarizes the first six Sullivanian stages of development and shows the importance of interpersonal relationships at each stage.

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During late adolescence, young people feel both lust and intimacy toward one other person.

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Psychological Disorders Sullivan believed that all psychological disorders have an interpersonal origin and can be understood only with reference to the patient’s social environment. He also held that the deficiencies found in psychiatric patients are found in every person, but to a lesser degree. There is nothing unique about psychological difficulties; they are derived from the same kind of interpersonal troubles faced by all people. Sullivan (1953a) insisted that “everyone is much more simply human than unique, and that no matter what ails the patient, he is mostly a person like the psychiatrist” (p. 96).

Most of Sullivan’s early therapeutic work was with schizophrenic patients, and many of his subsequent lectures and writings dealt with schizophrenia. Sullivan (1962) distinguished two broad classes of schizophrenia. The first included all those symptoms that originate from organic causes and are therefore beyond the study of interpersonal psychiatry. The second class included all schizophrenic disorders

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T A B L E 8 . 2

Summary of Sullivan’s Stages of Development



Juvenile era


Early adolescence

Late adolescence

0 to 2

2 to 6

6 to 81/2

81/2 to 13

13 to 15

15 —

Mothering one


Playmates of equal status

Single chum

Several chums



Protect security through imaginary playmates

Orientation toward living in the world of peers


Intimacy and lust toward different persons

Fusion of intimacy and lust

Good mother/ bad mother; good me/bad me

Syntaxic language

Competition, compromise, cooperation

Affection and respect from peers

Balance of lust, intimacy and security operations

Discovery of self and the world outside of self

Significant Interpersonal Important Stage Age Others Process Learnings

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grounded in situational factors. These disorders were the only ones of concern to Sullivan because they are the only ones amenable to change through interpersonal psychiatry.

Dissociated reactions, which often precede schizophrenia, are characterized by loneliness, low self-esteem, the uncanny emotion, unsatisfactory relations with oth- ers, and ever-increasing anxiety (Sullivan, 1953b). People with a dissociated per- sonality, in common with all people, attempt to minimize anxiety by building an elaborate self-system that blocks out those experiences that threaten their security. Whereas normal individuals feel relatively secure in their interpersonal relations and do not need to constantly rely on dissociation as a means of protecting self-esteem, mentally disordered individuals dissociate many of their experiences from their self- system. If this strategy becomes persistent, these people will begin to increasingly operate in their own private worlds, with increasing parataxic distortions and de- creasing consensually validated experiences (Sullivan, 1956).

Psychotherapy Because he believed that psychic disorders grow out of interpersonal difficulties, Sullivan based his therapeutic procedures on an effort to improve a patient’s rela- tionship with others. To facilitate this process, the therapist serves as a participant observer, becoming part of an interpersonal, face-to-face relationship with the pa- tient and providing the patient an opportunity to establish syntaxic communication with another human being.

While at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Sullivan devised a then radical means of treat- ing seriously disturbed patients. His supervisors agreed to grant him a ward for his own patients and to allow him to select and train paraprofessional workers who could treat the patients as fellow human beings. At that time, most schizophrenic and other psychotic patients were warehoused and regarded as subhuman. But Sullivan’s ex- periment worked. A high rate of his patients got better. Erich Fromm (1994) re- garded Sullivan’s near miraculous results as evidence that a psychosis is not merely a physical disorder and that the personal relationship of one human being to another is the essence of psychological growth.

In general terms, Sullivanian therapy is aimed at uncovering patients’ difficul- ties in relating to others. To accomplish this goal, the therapist helps patients to give up some security in dealing with other people and to realize that they can achieve mental health only through consensually validated personal relations. The therapeu- tic ingredient in this process is the face-to-face relationship between therapist and patients, which permits patients to reduce anxiety and to communicate with others on the syntaxic level.

Although they are participants in the interview, Sullivanian therapists avoid getting personally involved. They do not place themselves on the same level with the patient; on the contrary, they try to convince the patient of their expert abilities. In other words, friendship is not a condition of psychotherapy—therapists must be trained as experts in the difficult business of making discerning observations of the patient’s interpersonal relations (Sullivan, 1954).

Sullivan was primarily concerned with understanding patients and helping them improve foresight, discover difficulties in interpersonal relations, and restore

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their ability to participate in consensually validated experiences. To accomplish these goals, he concentrated his efforts on answering three continuing questions: Precisely what is the patient saying to me? How can I best put into words what I wish to say to the patient? What is the general pattern of communication between us?

Related Research Sullivan’s interpersonal theory of personality rests on the assumption that unhealthy personality development results from interpersonal conflicts and difficulties. Begin- ning around the age of 6, and especially by the age of 9, children’s relationships with peers their own age become increasingly important for personality development. Sullivan particularly emphasized the importance of same-sex friends and used the term “chums” to describe this specific category of peers. In this section we review some recent research on the dynamics of same-sex friendships in childhood and how they can be simultaneously helpful and harmful for healthy development depending on certain factors.

The Pros and Cons of “Chums” for Girls and Boys Harry Stack Sullivan, like countless other psychologists, considered friends during childhood and adolescence to be crucial to developing into a healthy adult. Friends are a source of social support, and it is comforting to lean on them when times are tough or when you’re having a bad day. Friends may be particularly important dur- ing childhood because children do not have the same advanced coping mechanisms that adults have and sometimes struggle to deal with issues like being rejected by a peer. In situations like these it is important to have a friend, or a “chum” to use Sul- livan’s language, to talk to. But recently, psychologists have begun investigating the potentially harmful aspects of social support in childhood. It may seem counterintu- itive to suggest that having friends can be a bad thing, but sometimes the dynamics of a particular friendship can actually be damaging.

Rumination is one such dynamic that can have a negative impact on children’s well-being. Ruminating is the act of dwelling on a negative event or negative aspects of an otherwise neutral or even positive event and is generally considered to be harmful as it is associated with an increase in depression. When rumination occurs in the context of a friendship, it is called co-rumination, which is defined as exces- sively discussing personal problems within a relationship (Rose, Carlson, & Waller, 2007). While generally speaking, Sullivan had it right when he emphasized the im- portance of childhood friendships in his interpersonal theory of personality, one of the most important attributes of science is to question previously held assumptions.

And this is exactly what Amanda Rose and her colleagues have begun doing in their research on how, in some cases, friendships can be damaging. Specifically, Rose and colleagues are interested in the negative impact of co-rumination in child- hood friendships (Rose, 2002; Rose et al., 2007).

To investigate the existence of co-rumination in childhood relationships and the impact of co-rumination on children’s well-being, Amanda Rose and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in elementary and middle school. The re- searchers went into local schools and recruited almost 1,000 children in third, fifth,

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seventh, and ninth grades to participate in the study. Toward the beginning of the school year, all participants completed self-report measures of depression and anxi- ety and also rated their friendships on overall quality and co-rumination. The items for co-rumination within friendships consisted of statements like “When we talk about a problem that one of us has, we usually talk about that problem every day even if nothing new has happened” and “When we talk about a problem that one of us has, we try to figure out everything about the problem, even if there are parts that we may never understand” (Rose et al., 2007, p. 1022). As these sample items demonstrate, co-rumination is not a constructive process by which a child works through a problem with a friend. Rather, co-rumination involves dwelling on the neg- ative even when there is no solution to be found and no good that can come of it.

The researchers returned to the schools toward the end of the school year and once again had participants complete measures of depression, anxiety, and friend- ship quality. Nearly all of the children reported that their closest friends were same- sex (or “chums” as Sullivan would call them), so the researchers focused on these friendships. Overall, co-rumination in same-sex friendships was related to increased feelings of depression and anxiety but was also related to greater friendship quality (Rose et al., 2007). In other words, although co-rumination did increase negative feelings, it was not all negative because it was also a sign of a good friendship. This makes sense because constantly dwelling on negative events will understandably lead one to feel more depressed, but disclosing your feelings to friends can make you feel closer to that person and generally improve the relationship.

The researchers were also interested in whether co-rumination functions dif- ferently in boys and girls. Are girls more likely to engage in co-rumination than boys? Is co-rumination better for girls than boys or vice versa? Before her study on co-rumination, Rose and a colleague conducted a review of research on the friend- ships of boys and girls (Rose & Rudolph, 2006). What they found was that boys and girls engage in very different activities within their friendships on a daily basis. For example, girls spend more time talking, and particularly engaging in self-disclosure, whereas boys are more likely to engage in rough-and-tumble play together. Girls also report placing a greater importance on their friendships than do boys. These findings indicate that there are different dynamics within same-sex friendships for girls and boys.

Returning to the longitudinal study of children and their same-sex friends, Rose and colleagues looked for sex differences in the effects of co-rumination on de- pression, anxiety, and overall friendship quality. What they found was quite interest- ing because co-rumination was particularly bad for girls but not so bad for boys. For girls, the overall effects previously described held up: Co-rumination was associated with increased depression and anxiety but also with better friendships. For boys, however, co-rumination was associated with better friendships but was not related to increased depression or anxiety. These findings make clear that there are very dif- ferent dynamics functioning in the same-sex friendships of boys and girls and that the implications can be profound.

Many times when a parent, therapist, or school counselor evaluates whether or not a child is at risk for depression or other psychological issues, they check to make sure the child has a supportive friend group or “chums.” Amanda Rose’s research shows that for boys, having a supportive friend may well be sufficient to ward off

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depression and anxiety. For girls, however, the research paints a different picture: If girls are engaging in co-rumination with their friends, then no matter how supportive those friends are and no matter how good the friendship is, girls are at increased risk for developing depression.

Imaginary Friends More than any other personality theorist, Sullivan recognized the importance of hav- ing an imaginary friend, especially during the childhood stage. He believed that these friendships can facilitate independence from parents and help children build real re- lationships. In support of Sullivan’s notion, research has found that children do tend to view imaginary friends as a source of nurturance (Gleason, 2002; Gleason & Hohmann, 2006). Moreover, evidence supports Sullivan’s theory that children who develop imaginary friends—in contrast to those who do not—are more creative, imaginary, intelligent, friendly, and sociable (Fern, 1991; Gleason, 2002). Of course it’s hard to get by on imaginary friends alone, but there is some evidence that sug- gests imaginary friends are just as important as real friends, at least in the eyes of children (Gleason & Hohmann, 2006).

To explore how children view imaginary friends in relation to their real friends, Tracy Gleason and Lisa Hohmann (2006) conducted a study of preschool- age children. The researchers had 84 children enrolled in preschool complete an ac- tivity in which they listed who their friends were at preschool, described their imag- inary friend if they had one, and rated each friend (including the imaginary ones) on several dimensions. Specifically, the children rated how much they liked playing with each friend, whether they told secrets to one another, how much they liked each friend in general, and how good each friend made them feel about their own abili- ties. Of course, because the participants in this study were young children, they could not respond to a standard self-report measure. Instead, the questions were read aloud to each child, and the questions were carefully worded to use language that preschoolers could easily understand. Additionally, because children can get con- fused easily, their responses had to be corroborated by their parents and preschool teachers.

What Gleason and Hohmann (2006) found was generally supportive of Sullivan’s notion that imaginary friends are important and help to model how real friendships should work. Twenty-six percent of the preschoolers sampled reported having an imaginary friend and that their imaginary friend was a source of real sup- port and one of their highest rated sources of enjoyment (Gleason & Hohmann, 2006). The researchers were also able to compare children’s ratings of imaginary friends with those of their real friends and found that imaginary friends very closely modeled the enjoyment derived from reciprocal friendships but not that derived from friendships that were essentially one-way. That is, relationships with imaginary friends were enjoyable at about the same level as those friendships in which both children described each other as friends (a reciprocal friendship), but not in which one child says the other is a friend but the other one does not reciprocate (one-way friendships).

In summary, research tends to support Sullivan’s assumptions that having an imaginary playmate is a normal, healthy experience It is neither a sign of pathology

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nor a result of feelings of loneliness and alienation from other children. Indeed, imaginary friends not only may serve as a source of enjoyment but also may have the more important purpose of modeling for children what a truly good, mutually enjoy- able friendship should be so that they can avoid bad relationships as they grow and mature into healthy adults.

Critique of Sullivan Although Sullivan’s theory of personality is quite comprehensive, it is not as popular among academic psychologists as the theories of Freud, Adler, Jung, or Erik Erikson (see Chapter 9). However, the ultimate value of any theory does not rest on its pop- ularity but on the six criteria enumerated in Chapter 1.

The first criterion of a useful theory is its ability to generate research. Cur- rently, few researchers are actively investigating hypotheses specifically drawn from Sullivan’s theory. One possible explanation for this deficiency is Sullivan’s lack of popularity among researchers most apt to conduct research—the academicians. This lack of popularity might be accounted for by Sullivan’s close association with psy- chiatry, his isolation from any university setting, and the relative lack of organization in his writings and speeches.

Second, a useful theory must be falsifiable; that is, it must be specific enough to suggest research that may either support or fail to support its major assumptions. On this criterion, Sullivan’s theory, like those of Freud, Jung, and Fromm, must re- ceive a very low mark. Sullivan’s notion of the importance of interpersonal relations for psychological health has received a moderate amount of indirect support. How- ever, alternative explanations are possible for most of these findings.

Third, how well does Sullivanian theory provide an organization for all that is known about human personality? Despite its many elaborate postulates, the theory can receive only a moderate rating on its ability to organize knowledge. Moreover, the the- ory’s extreme emphasis on interpersonal relations subtracts from its ability to organize knowledge, because much of what is presently known about human behavior has a bi- ological basis and does not easily fit into a theory restricted to interpersonal relations.

The relative lack of testing of Sullivan’s theory diminishes its usefulness as a practical guide for parents, teachers, psychotherapists, and others concerned with the care of children and adolescents. However, if one accepts the theory without sup- porting evidence, then many practical problems can be managed by resorting to Sul- livanian theory. As a guide to action, then, the theory receives a fair to moderate rating.

Is the theory internally consistent? Sullivan’s ideas suffer from his inability to write well, but the theory itself is logically conceptualized and holds together as a unified entity. Although Sullivan used some unusual terms, he did so in a consistent fashion throughout his writings and speeches. Overall, his theory is consistent, but it lacks the organization he might have achieved if he had committed more of his ideas to the printed page.

Finally, is the theory parsimonious, or simple? Here Sullivan must receive a low rating. His penchant for creating his own terms and the awkwardness of his writ- ing add needless bulk to a theory that, if streamlined, would be far more useful.

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Concept of Humanity Sullivan’s basic conception of humanity is summed up in his one-genus hypothesis, which states that “everyone is much more simply human than otherwise” (1953b, p. 32). This hypothesis was his way of saying that similarities among people are much more important than differences. People are more like people than anything else.

In other words, the differences between any two instances of human personality— from the lowest-grade imbecile to the highest-grade genius—are much less striking than the difference between the least-gifted human being and a member of the nearest other biological genus. (p. 33)

Sullivan’s ability to successfully treat schizophrenic patients undoubtedly was greatly enhanced by his deeply held belief that they shared a common humanity with the therapist. Having experienced at least one schizophrenic episode himself, Sullivan was able to form an empathic bond with these patients through his role as a participant observer.

The one influence separating humans from all other creatures is interpersonal relations. People are born biological organisms—animals with no human qualities except the potential for participation in interpersonal relations. Soon after birth, they begin to realize their potential when interpersonal experiences transform them into human beings. Sullivan believed that the mind contains nothing except what was put there through interpersonal experiences. People are not motivated by in- stincts but by those environmental influences that come through interpersonal re- lationships.

Children begin life with a somewhat one-sided relationship with a mothering one who both cares for their needs and increases their anxiety. Later, they become able to reciprocate feelings for the mothering one, and this relationship between child and parent serves as a foundation on which subsequent interpersonal rela- tions are built. At about the time children enter the first grade at school, they are exposed to competition, cooperation, and compromise with other children. If they handle these tasks successfully, they obtain the tools necessary for intimacy and love that come later. Through their intimate and love relationships, they become healthy personalities. However, an absence of healthy interpersonal relationships leads to stunted psychological growth.

Personal individuality is an illusion; people exist only in relation to other people and have as many personalities as they have interpersonal relations. Thus, the concepts of uniqueness and individuality are of little concern to Sullivan’s in- terpersonal theory.

Anxiety and interpersonal relations are tied together in a cyclic manner, which makes significant personality changes difficult. Anxiety interferes with in- terpersonal relations, and unsatisfactory interpersonal relations lead to the use of rigid behaviors that may temporarily buffer anxiety. But because these inflexible be- haviors do not solve the basic problem, they eventually lead to higher levels of anx- iety, which lead to further deterioration in interpersonal relations. The increasing

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anxiety must then be held in check by an ever-rigid self-system. For this rea- son, we rate Sullivan’s theory as neither optimistic nor pessimistic concerning the potential for growth and change. Interpersonal relations can transform a person into either a healthy personality or one marked by anxiety and a rigid self- structure.

Because Sullivan believed that personality is built solely on interpersonal re- lations, we rate his theory very high on social influence. Interpersonal relations are responsible for both positive and negative characteristics in people. Infants who have their needs satisfied by the mothering one will not be greatly disturbed by their mother’s anxiety, will receive genuine feelings of tenderness, can avoid being a malevolent personality, and have the ability to develop tender feelings toward others. However, unsatisfactory interpersonal relations may trigger malevolence and leave some children with the feeling that people cannot be trusted and that they are essentially alone among their enemies.

Key Terms and Concepts

• People develop their personality through interpersonal relationships. • Experience takes place on three levels—prototaxic (primitive,

presymbolic), parataxic (not accurately communicated to others), and syntaxic (accurate communication).

• Two aspects of experience are tensions (potential for action) and energy transformations (actions or behaviors).

• Tensions are of two kinds—needs and anxiety. • Needs are conjunctive in that they facilitate interpersonal development. • Anxiety is disjunctive in that it interferes with the satisfaction of needs and

is the primary obstacle to establishing healthy interpersonal relationships. • Energy transformations become organized into consistent traits or behavior

patterns called dynamisms. • Typical dynamisms include malevolence (a feeling of living in enemy

country), intimacy (a close interpersonal relationship with a peer of equal status, and lust (impersonal sexual desires).

• Sullivan’s chief contribution to personality was his concept of various developmental stages.

• The first developmental stage is infancy (from birth to the development of syntaxic language), a time when an infant’s primary interpersonal relationship is with the mothering one.

• During childhood (from syntaxic language to the need for playmates of equal status), the mother continues as the most important interpersonal relationship, although children of this age often have an imaginary playmate.

• The third stage is the juvenile era (from the need for playmates of equal status to the development of intimacy), a time when children should learn

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competition, compromise, and cooperation—skills that will enable them to move successfully through later stages of development.

• The most crucial stage of development is preadolescence (from intimacy with a best friend to the beginning of puberty). Mistakes made during this phase are difficult to overcome later.

• During early adolescence young people are motivated by both intimacy (usually for someone of the same gender) and lust (ordinarily for a person of the opposite gender).

• People reach late adolescence when they are able to direct their intimacy and lust toward one other person.

• The successful completion of late adolescence culminates in adulthood, a stage marked by a stable love relationship.

• With Sullivan’s psychotherapy, the therapist serves as a participant observer and attempts to improve patients’ interpersonal relations.

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Erikson: Post-Freudian Theory

B Overview of Post-Freudian Theory B Biography of Erik Erikson B The Ego in Post-Freudian Theory

Society’s Influence

Epigenetic Principle

B Stages of Psychosocial Development Infancy

Early Childhood

Play Age

School Age


Young Adulthood


Old Age

Summary of the Life Cycle

B Erikson’s Methods of Investigation Anthropological Studies



B Related Research Generativity and Parenting

Generativity Versus Stagnation

B Critique of Erikson B Concept of Humanity B Key Terms and Concepts


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As a child, Erik Salomonsen had many questions but few answers about his bio-logical father. He knew who his mother was—a beautiful Jewish Dane whose family tried hard to appear Danish rather than Jewish. But who was his father?

Born into a single-parent family, the young boy held three separate beliefs re- garding his origins. At first, he believed that his mother’s husband, a physician named Theodor Homburger, was his biological father. However, as Erik matured, he began to realize that this was incorrect because his blond hair and blue eyes did not match the dark features of either parent. He pressed his mother for an explanation, but she lied to him and said that a man named Valdemar Salomonsen—her first husband— was his biological father and that he abandoned her after she became pregnant with Erik. However, Erik didn’t quite believe this second story either because he learned that Salomonsen had left his mother 4 years before Erik was born. Finally, Erik chose to believe that he was the outcome of a sexual liaison between his mother and an ar- tistically gifted aristocratic Dane. For nearly the remainder of his life, Erik believed this third story. Nevertheless, he continued to search for his own identity while seek- ing the name of his biological father.

During his school days, Erik’s Scandinavian features contributed to his iden- tity confusion. When he attended temple, his blue eyes and blond hair made him ap- pear to be an outsider. At public school, his Aryan classmates referred to him as a Jew, so Erik felt out of place in both arenas. Throughout his life, he had difficulty ac- cepting himself as either a Jew or a Gentile.

When his mother died, Erik, then 58 years old, feared he would never know the identity of his biological father. But he persevered in his search. Finally, more than 30 years later and as his mind and body began to deteriorate, Erik lost interest in learning his father’s name. However, he continued to show some identity confusion. For example, he spoke mostly in German—the language of his youth—and rarely spoke in English, his primary language for more than 60 years. In addition, he re- tained a long-held affinity for Denmark and the Danish people and took perverted pride in displaying the flag of Denmark, a country in which he never lived.

Overview of Post-Freudian Theory The person we introduced in the opening vignette, of course, was Erik Erikson, the person who coined the term identity crisis. Erikson had no college degree of any kind, but this lack of formal training did not prevent him from gaining world fame in an impressive variety of fields including psychoanalysis, anthropology, psy- chohistory, and education.

Unlike earlier psychodynamic theorists who severed nearly all ties to Freudian psychoanalysis, Erikson intended his theory of personality to extend rather than re- pudiate Freud’s assumptions and to offer a new “way of looking at things” (Erikson, 1963, p. 403). His post-Freudian theory extended Freud’s infantile developmental stages into adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Erikson suggested that at each stage a specific psychosocial struggle contributes to the formation of personality. From adolescence on, that struggle takes the form of an identity crisis—a turning point in one’s life that may either strengthen or weaken personality.

Erikson regarded his post-Freudian theory as an extension of psychoanalysis, something Freud might have done in time. Although he used Freudian theory as the

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foundation for his life-cycle approach to personality, Erikson differed from Freud in several respects. In addition to elaborating on psychosexual stages beyond child- hood, Erikson placed more emphasis on both social and historical influences.

Erikson’s post-Freudian theory, like those of other personality theorists, is a re- flection of his background, a background that included art, extensive travels, experi- ences with a variety of cultures, and a lifelong search for his own identity, which we mentioned briefly in our opening story.

Biography of Erik Erikson Who was Erik Erikson? Was he a Dane, a German, or an American? Jew or Gentile? Artist or psychoanalyst? Erikson himself had difficulty answering these questions, and he spent nearly a lifetime trying to determine who he was.

Born June 15, 1902, in southern Germany, Erikson was brought up by his mother and stepfather, but he remained uncertain of the true identity of his biologi- cal father. To discover his niche in life, Erikson ventured away from home during late adolescence, adopting the life of a wandering artist and poet. After nearly 7 years of drifting and searching, he returned home confused, exhausted, depressed, and unable to sketch or paint. At this time, a fortuitous event changed his life: He received a let- ter from his friend Peter Blos inviting him to teach children in a new school in Vi- enna. One of the founders of the school was Anna Freud, who became not only Erik- son’s employer, but his psychoanalyst as well.

While undergoing analytic treatment, he stressed to Anna Freud that his most difficult problem was searching for the identity of his biological father. However, Ms. Freud was less than empathic and told Erikson that he should stop fantasizing about his absent father. Although Erikson usually obeyed his psychoanalyst, he could not take Freud’s advice to stop trying to learn his father’s name.

While in Vienna, Erikson met and, with Anna Freud’s permission, married Joan Serson, a Canadian-born dancer, artist, and teacher who had also undergone psychoanalysis. With her psychoanalytic background and her facility with the En- glish language, she became a valuable editor and occasional coauthor of Erikson’s books.

The Eriksons had four children: sons Kai, Jon, and Neil, and daughter Sue. Kai and Sue pursued important professional careers, but Jon, who shared his father’s ex- perience as a wandering artist, worked as a laborer and never felt emotionally close to his parents.

Erikson’s search for identity took him through some difficult experiences dur- ing his adult developmental stage (Friedman, 1999). According to Erikson, this stage requires a person to take care of children, products, and ideas that he or she has gen- erated. On this issue, Erikson was deficient in meeting his own standards. He failed to take good care of his son Neil, who was born with Down syndrome. At the hos- pital while Joan was still under sedation, Erik agreed to place Neil in an institution. Then he went home and told his three older children that their brother had died at birth. He lied to them much as his mother had lied to him about the identity of his biological father. Later, he told his oldest son, Kai, the truth, but he continued to de- ceive the two younger children, Jon and Sue. Although his mother’s lie had distressed

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him greatly, he failed to understand that his lie about Neil might later distress his other children. In deceiving his children the way he did, Erikson violated two of his own principles: “Don’t lie to people you should care for,” and “Don’t pit one family member against another.” To compound the situation, when Neil died at about age 20, the Eriksons, who were in Europe at the time, called Sue and Jon and instructed them to handle all the funeral arrangements for a brother they had never met and who they only recently knew existed (Friedman, 1999).

Erikson also sought his identity through the myriad changes of jobs and places of residence. Lacking any academic credentials, he had no specific professional identity and was variously known as an artist, a psychologist, a psychoanalyst, a cli- nician, a professor, a cultural anthropologist, an existentialist, a psychobiographer, and a public intellectual.

In 1933, with fascism on the rise in Europe, Erikson and his family left Vienna for Denmark, hoping to gain Danish citizenship. When Danish officials refused his request, he left Copenhagen and immigrated to the United States.

In America, he changed his name from Homburger to Erikson. This change was a crucial turning point in his life because it represented a retreat from his earlier Jewish identification. Originally, Erikson resented any implication that he was aban- doning his Jewish identity by changing his name. He countered these charges by pointing out that he used his full name—Erik Homburger Erikson—in his books and essays. However, as time passed, he dropped his middle name and replaced it with the initial H. Thus, this person who at the end of life was known as Erik H. Erikson had previously been called Erik Salomonsen, Erik Homburger, and Erik Homburger Erikson.

In America, Erikson continued his pattern of moving from place to place. He first settled in the Boston area where he set up a modified psychoanalytic practice. With neither medical credentials nor any kind of college degree, he accepted re- search positions at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard Psychological Clinic.

Wanting to write but needing more time than his busy schedule in Boston and Cambridge allowed, Erikson took a position at Yale in 1936, but after 21/2 years, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley, but not before living among and studying people of the Sioux nation on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. He later lived with people of the Yurok nation in northern California, and these ex- periences in cultural anthropology added to the richness and completeness of his concept of humanity.

During his California period, Erikson gradually evolved a theory of personal- ity, separate from but not incompatible with Freud’s. In 1950, Erikson published Childhood and Society, a book that at first glance appears to be a hodgepodge of un- related chapters. Erikson himself originally had some difficulty finding a common theme underlying such topics as childhood in two Native American tribes, the growth of the ego, the eight stages of human development, and Hitler’s childhood. Eventually, however, he recognized that the influence of psychological, cultural, and historical factors on identity was the underlying element that held the various chap- ters together. Childhood and Society, which became a classic and gave Erikson an in- ternational reputation as an imaginative thinker, remains the finest introduction to his post-Freudian personality theory.

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In 1949, the University of California officials demanded that faculty members sign an oath pledging loyalty to the United States. Such a demand was not uncom- mon during those days when Senator Joseph McCarthy convinced many Americans that Communists and Communist sympathizers were poised to overthrow the U.S. government. Erikson was not a Communist, but as a matter of principle he refused to sign the oath. Although the Committee on Privilege and Tenure recommended that he retain his position, Erikson left California and returned to Massachusetts, where he worked as a therapist at Austen Riggs, a treatment center for psychoanalytic train- ing and research located in Stockbridge. In 1960, he returned to Harvard and, for the next 10 years, held the position of professor of human development. After retire- ment, Erikson continued an active career—writing, lecturing, and seeing a few pa- tients. During the early years of his retirement, he lived in Marin County, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Cape Cod. Through all these changes, Erikson con- tinued to seek his father’s name. He died May 12, 1994, at the age of 91.

Who was Erik Erikson? Although he himself may not have been able to answer this question, other people can learn about the person known as Erik Erikson through his brilliantly constructed books, lectures, and essays.

Erikson’s best-known works include Childhood and Society (1950, 1963, 1985); Young Man Luther (1958); Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968); Gandhi’s Truth (1969), a book that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Di- mensions of a New Identity (1974); Life History and the Historical Moment (1975); Identity and the Life Cycle (1980); and The Life Cycle Completed (1982). Stephen Schlein compiled many of his papers in A Way of Looking at Things (Erikson, 1987).

The Ego in Post-Freudian Theory In Chapter 2, we pointed out that Freud used the analogy of a rider on horseback to describe the relationship between the ego and the id. The rider (ego) is ultimately at the mercy of the stronger horse (id). The ego has no strength of its own but must bor- row its energy from the id. Moreover, the ego is constantly attempting to balance blind demands of the superego against the relentless forces of the id and the realis- tic opportunities of the external world. Freud believed that, for psychologically healthy people, the ego is sufficiently developed to rein in the id, even though its con- trol is still tenuous and id impulses might erupt and overwhelm the ego at any time.

In contrast, Erikson held that our ego is a positive force that creates a self- identity, a sense of “I.” As the center of our personality, our ego helps us adapt to the various conflicts and crises of life and keeps us from losing our individuality to the leveling forces of society. During childhood, the ego is weak, pliable, and fragile; but by adolescence it should begin to take form and gain strength. Throughout our life, it unifies personality and guards against indivisibility. Erikson saw the ego as a par- tially unconscious organizing agency that synthesizes our present experiences with past self-identities and also with anticipated images of self. He defined the ego as a person’s ability to unify experiences and actions in an adaptive manner (Erikson, 1963).

Erikson (1968) identified three interrelated aspects of ego: the body ego, the ego ideal, and ego identity. The body ego refers to experiences with our body; a way of seeing our physical self as different for other people. We may be satisfied or dis- satisfied with the way our body looks and functions, but we recognize that it is the

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only body we will ever have. The ego ideal represents the image we have of ourselves in comparison with an established ideal; it is responsible for our being satisfied or dissatisfied not only with our physical self but with our entire personal identity. Ego identity is the image we have of ourselves in the variety of social roles we play. Al- though adolescence is ordinarily the time when these three components are chang- ing most rapidly, alterations in body ego, ego ideal, and ego identity can and do take place at any stage of life.

Society’s Influence Although inborn capacities are important in personality development, the ego emerges from and is largely shaped by society. Erikson’s emphasis on social and his- torical factors was in contrast with Freud’s mostly biological viewpoint. To Erikson, the ego exists as potential at birth, but it must emerge from within a cultural envi- ronment. Different societies, with their variations in child-rearing practices, tend to shape personalities that fit the needs and values of their culture. For example, Erik- son (1963) found that prolonged and permissive nursing of infants of the Sioux na- tion (sometimes for as long as 4 or 5 years) resulted in what Freud would call “oral” personalities: that is, people who gain great pleasure through functions of the mouth. The Sioux place great value on generosity, and Erikson believed that the reassurance resulting from unlimited breast-feeding lays the foundation for the virtue of gen- erosity. However, Sioux parents quickly suppress biting, a practice that may con- tribute to the child’s fortitude and ferocity. On the other hand, people of the Yurok nation set strict regulations concerning elimination of urine and feces, practices that tend to develop “anality,” or compulsive neatness, stubbornness, and miserliness. In European American societies, orality and anality are often considered undesirable traits or neurotic symptoms. Erikson (1963), however, argued that orality among the Sioux hunters and anality among the Yurok fishermen are adaptive characteristics that help both the individual and the culture. The fact that European American cul- ture views orality and anality as deviant traits merely displays its own ethnocentric view of other societies. Erikson (1968, 1974) argued that historically all tribes or na- tions, including the United States, have developed what he called a pseudospecies: that is, an illusion perpetrated and perpetuated by a particular society that it is some- how chosen to be the human species. In past centuries, this belief has aided the sur- vival of the tribe, but with modern means of world annihilation, such a prejudiced perception (as demonstrated by Nazi Germany) threatens the survival of every nation.

One of Erikson’s principal contributions to personality theory was his exten- sion of the Freudian early stages of development to include school age, youth, adult- hood, and old age. Before looking more closely at Erikson’s theory of ego develop- ment, we discuss his view of how personality develops from one stage to the next.

Epigenetic Principle Erikson believed that the ego develops throughout the various stages of life accord- ing to an epigenetic principle, a term borrowed from embryology. Epigenetic de- velopment implies a step-by-step growth of fetal organs. The embryo does not begin as a completely formed little person, waiting to merely expand its structure and

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form. Rather, it develops, or should develop, according to a predetermined rate and in a fixed sequence. If the eyes, liver, or other organs do not develop during that crit- ical period for their development, then they will never attain proper maturity.

In similar fashion, the ego follows the path of epigenetic development, with each stage developing at its proper time. One stage emerges from and is built upon a previous stage, but it does not replace that earlier stage. This epigenetic develop- ment is analogous to the physical development of children, who crawl before they walk, walk before they run, and run before they jump. When children are still crawl- ing, they are developing the potential to walk, run, and jump; and after they are ma- ture enough to jump, they still retain their ability to run, walk, and crawl. Erikson (1968) described the epigenetic principle by saying that “anything that grows has a ground plan, and that out of this ground plan the parts arise, each part having its time of special ascendancy, until all parts have arisen to form a functioning whole” (p. 92). More succinctly, “Epigenesis means that one characteristic develops on top of another in space and time” (Evans, 1967, pp. 21–22).

The epigenetic principle is illustrated in Figure 9.1, which depicts the first three Eriksonian stages. The sequence of stages (1, 2, 3) and the development of their component parts (A, B, C) are shown in the heavily lined boxes along the diagonal. Figure 9.1 shows that each part exists before its critical time (at least as biological potential), emerges at its proper time, and finally, continues to develop during sub- sequent stages. For example, component part B of Stage 2 (early childhood) exists during Stage 1 (infancy) as shown in Box 1B. Part B reaches its full ascendance dur- ing Stage 2 (Box 2B), but continues into Stage 3 (Box 3B). Similarly, all components

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Children crawl before they walk, walk before they run, and run before they jump.

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of Stage 3 exist during Stages 1 and 2, reach full development during Stage 3, and continue throughout all later stages (Erikson, 1982).

Stages of Psychosocial Development Comprehension of Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development requires an understanding of several basic points. First, growth takes place according to the epi- genetic principle. That is, one component part arises out of another and has its own time of ascendancy, but it does not entirely replace earlier components.

Second, in every stage of life there is an interaction of opposites—that is, a con- flict between a syntonic (harmonious) element and a dystonic (disruptive) element. For example, during infancy basic trust (a syntonic tendency) is opposed to basic mistrust (a dystonic tendency). Both trust and mistrust, however, are necessary for proper adaptation. An infant who learns only to trust becomes gullible and is ill pre- pared for the realities encountered in later development, whereas an infant who learns only to mistrust becomes overly suspicious and cynical. Similarly, during each of the other seven stages, people must have both harmonious (syntonic) and disrup- tive (dystonic) experiences.

Third, at each stage, the conflict between the dystonic and syntonic elements produces an ego quality or ego strength, which Erikson referred to as a basic strength. For instance, from the antithesis between trust and mistrust emerges hope, an ego quality that allows an infant to move into the next stage. Likewise, each of the other stages is marked by a basic ego strength that emerges from the clash be- tween the harmonious and the disruptive elements of that stage.

Fourth, too little basic strength at any one stage results in a core pathology for that stage. For example, a child who does not acquire sufficient hope during infancy

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FIGURE 9.1 Three Eriksonian Stages, Depicting the Epigenetic Principle. Reprinted from The Life Cycle Completed: A Review by Erik H. Erikson, by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1982 by Rikan Enterprises, Ltd.

1 Infancy


3 Play age

2 Early childhood


3A 3B 3C

2A 2B 2C

1A 1B 1C


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will develop the antithesis or opposite of hope, namely, withdrawal. Again, each stage has a potential core pathology.

Fifth, although Erikson referred to his eight stages as psychosocial stages, he never lost sight of the biological aspect of human development.

Sixth, events in earlier stages do not cause later personality development. Ego identity is shaped by a multiplicity of conflicts and events—past, present, and antic- ipated.

Seventh, during each stage, but especially from adolescence forward, person- ality development is characterized by an identity crisis, which Erikson (1968) called “a turning point, a crucial period of increased vulnerability and heightened poten- tial” (p. 96). Thus, during each crisis, a person is especially susceptible to major modifications in identity, either positive or negative. Contrary to popular usage, an identity crisis is not a catastrophic event but rather an opportunity for either adaptive or maladaptive adjustment.

Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development are shown in Figure 9.2. The boldfaced capitalized words are the ego qualities or basic strengths that emerge from the conflicts or psychosocial crises that typify each period. The “vs.” separat- ing syntonic and dystonic elements signifies not only an antithetical relationship but also a complementary one. Only the boxes along the diagonal are filled in; that is, Figure 9.2 highlights only the basic strengths and psychosocial crises that are most characteristic of each stage of development. However, the epigenetic principle sug- gests that all the other boxes would be filled (as in Figure 9.1), though with other items less characteristic of their stage of psychosocial development. Each item in the ensemble is vital to personality development, and each is related to all the others.

Infancy The first psychosocial stage is infancy, a period encompassing approximately the first year of life and paralleling Freud’s oral phase of development. However, Erik- son’s model adopts a broader focus than Freud’s oral stage, which was concerned al- most exclusively with the mouth. To Erikson (1963, 1989), infancy is a time of in- corporation, with infants “taking in” not only through their mouth but through their various sense organs as well. Through their eyes, for example, infants take in visual stimuli. As they take in food and sensory information, infants learn to either trust or mistrust the outside world, a situation that gives them realistic hope. Infancy, then, is marked by the oral-sensory psychosexual mode, the psychosocial crisis of basic trust versus basic mistrust, and the basic strength of hope.

Oral-Sensory Mode Erikson’s expanded view of infancy is expressed in the term oral-sensory, a phrase that includes infants’ principal psychosexual mode of adapting. The oral-sensory stage is characterized by two modes of incorporation—receiving and accepting what is given. Infants can receive even in the absence of other people; that is, they can take in air through the lungs and can receive sensory data without having to manipulate others. The second mode of incorporation, however, implies a social context. Infants not only must get, but they also must get someone else to give. This early training in interpersonal relations helps them learn to eventually become givers. In getting other

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people to give, they learn to trust or mistrust other people, thus setting up the basic psychosocial crisis of infancy, namely, basic trust versus basic mistrust.

Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust Infants’ most significant interpersonal relations are with their primary caregiver, or- dinarily their mother. If they realize that their mother will provide food regularly, then they begin to learn basic trust; if they consistently hear the pleasant, rhythmic voice of their mother, then they develop more basic trust; if they can rely on an ex- citing visual environment, then they solidify basic trust even more. In other words, if their pattern of accepting things corresponds with culture’s way of giving things, then infants learn basic trust. In contrast, they learn basic mistrust if they find no cor- respondence between their oral-sensory needs and their environment.

Basic trust is ordinarily syntonic, and basic mistrust, dystonic. Nevertheless, infants must develop both attitudes. Too much trust makes them gullible and

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FIGURE 9.2 Erikson’s Eight Stages of Development with Their Appropriate Basic Strengths and Psychosocial Crises. Reprinted from The Life Cycle Completed: A Review by Erik H. Erikson, by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1982 by Rikan Enterprises, Ltd.




Old age 8

Adulthood 7

Young adulthood


Adolescence 5

School age 4

Play age 3

Early childhood


Infancy 1

B C D E F GStage

HOPE Basic trust vs. basic mistrust

WISDOM Integrity vs.

despair, disgust

CARE Generativity

vs. stagnation

LOVE Intimacy vs.


FIDELITY Identity vs.

identity confusion

COMPETENCE Industry vs. inferiority



vs. guilt

WILL Autonomy vs. shame, doubt

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vulnerable to the vagaries of the world, whereas too little trust leads to frustration, anger, hostility, cynicism, or depression.

Both trust and mistrust are inevitable experiences of infants. All babies who have survived have been fed and otherwise cared for and therefore have some reason to trust. In addition, all have been frustrated by pain, hunger, or discomfort, and thus have a reason to mistrust. Erikson believed that some ratio of trust and mistrust is critical to people’s ability to adapt. He told Richard Evans (1967) that “when we enter a situation, we must be able to differentiate how much we can trust and how much we must mistrust, and I use mistrust in the sense of a readiness for danger and an anticipation of discomfort” (p. 15).

The inevitable clash between basic trust and basic mistrust results in people’s first psychosocial crisis. If people successfully solve this crisis, they acquire their first basic strength—hope.

Hope: The Basic Strength of Infancy Hope emerges from the conflict between basic trust and basic mistrust. Without the antithetical relationship between trust and mistrust, people cannot develop hope. In- fants must experience hunger, pain, and discomfort as well as the alleviation of these unpleasant conditions. By having both painful and pleasurable experiences, infants learn to expect that future distresses will meet with satisfactory outcomes.

If infants do not develop sufficient hope during infancy, they will demonstrate the antithesis or the opposite of hope—withdrawal, the core pathology of infancy. With little to hope for, they will retreat from the outside world and begin the journey toward serious psychological disturbance.

Early Childhood The second psychosocial stage is early childhood, a period paralleling Freud’s anal stage and encompassing approximately the 2nd and 3rd years of life. Again, some differences exist between the views of Freud and Erikson. In Chapter 2, we explained that Freud regarded the anus as the primary erogenous zone during this period and that during the early sadistic-anal phase, children receive pleasure in destroying or losing objects, while later they take satisfaction in defecating.

Once again, Erikson took a broader view. To him, young children receive pleasure not only from mastering the sphincter muscle but also from mastering other body functions such as urinating, walking, throwing, holding, and so on. In addition, children develop a sense of control over their interpersonal environment, as well as a measure of self-control. However, early childhood is also a time of experiencing doubt and shame as children learn that many of their attempts at autonomy are un- successful.

Anal-Urethral-Muscular Mode During the 2nd year of life, children’s primary psychosexual adjustment is the anal- urethral-muscular mode. At this time, children learn to control their body, espe- cially in relation to cleanliness and mobility. Early childhood is more than a time of toilet training; it is also a time of learning to walk, run, hug parents, and hold on to toys and other objects. With each of these activities, young children are likely to display

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some stubborn tendencies. They may retain their feces or eliminate them at will, snuggle up to their mother or suddenly push her away, delight in hoarding objects or ruthlessly discard them.

Early childhood is a time of contradiction, a time of stubborn rebellion and meek compliance, a time of impulsive self-expression and compulsive deviance, a time of loving cooperation and hateful resistance. This obstinate insistence on con- flicting impulses triggers the major psychosocial crisis of childhood—autonomy versus shame and doubt (Erikson, 1968).

Autonomy Versus Shame and Doubt If early childhood is a time for self-expression and autonomy, then it is also a time for shame and doubt. As children stubbornly express their anal-urethral-muscular mode, they are likely to find a culture that attempts to inhibit some of their self- expression. Parents may shame their children for soiling their pants or for making a mess with their food. They may also instill doubt by questioning their children’s abil- ity to meet their standards. The conflict between autonomy and shame and doubt be- comes the major psychosocial crisis of early childhood.

Ideally, children should develop a proper ratio between autonomy and shame and doubt, and the ratio should be in favor of autonomy, the syntonic quality of early childhood. Children who develop too little autonomy will have difficulties in subse- quent stages, lacking the basic strengths of later stages.

According to Erikson’s epigenetic diagrams (see Figures 9.1 and 9.2), auton- omy grows out of basic trust; and if basic trust has been established in infancy, then children learn to have faith in themselves, and their world remains intact while they experience a mild psychosocial crisis. Conversely, if children do not develop basic trust during infancy, then their attempts to gain control of their anal, urethral, and muscular organs during early childhood will be met with a strong sense of shame and doubt, setting up a serious psychosocial crisis. Shame is a feeling of self- consciousness, of being looked at and exposed. Doubt, on the other hand, is the feel- ing of not being certain, the feeling that something remains hidden and cannot be seen. Both shame and doubt are dystonic qualities, and both grow out of the basic mistrust that was established in infancy.

Will: The Basic Strength of Early Childhood The basic strength of will or willfulness evolves from the resolution of the crisis of autonomy versus shame and doubt. This step is the beginning of free will and willpower—but only a beginning. Mature willpower and a significant measure of free will are reserved for later stages of development, but they originate in the rudi- mentary will that emerges during early childhood. Anyone who has spent much time around 2-year-olds knows how willful they can be. Toilet training often epitomizes the conflict of wills between adult and child, but willful expression is not limited to this area. The basic conflict during early childhood is between the child’s striving for autonomy and the parent’s attempts to control the child through the use of shame and doubt.

Children develop will only when their environment allows them some self- expression in their control of sphincters and other muscles. When their experiences result in too much shame and doubt, children do not adequately develop this second

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important basic strength. Inadequate will is expressed as compulsion, the core pathology of early childhood. Too little will and too much compulsivity carry for- ward into the play age as lack of purpose and into the school age as lack of confi- dence.

Play Age Erikson’s third stage of development is the play age, a period covering the same time as Freud’s phallic phase—roughly ages 3 to 5 years. Again, differences emerge be- tween the views of Freud and Erikson. Whereas Freud placed the Oedipus complex at the core of the phallic stage, Erikson believed that the Oedipus complex is but one of several important developments during the play age. Erikson (1968) contended that, in addition to identifying with their parents, preschool-age children are devel- oping locomotion, language skills, curiosity, imagination, and the ability to set goals.

Genital-Locomotor Mode The primary psychosexual mode during the play age is genital-locomotor. Erikson (1982) saw the Oedipal situation as a prototype “of the lifelong power of human playfulness” (p. 77). In other words, the Oedipus complex is a drama played out in the child’s imagination and includes the budding understanding of such basic con- cepts as reproduction, growth, future, and death. The Oedipus and castration com- plexes, therefore, are not always to be taken literally. A child may play at being a mother, a father, a wife, or a husband; but such play is an expression not only of the genital mode but also of the child’s rapidly developing locomotor abilities. A little girl may envy boys, not because boys possess a penis, but rather because society grants more prerogatives to children with a penis. A little boy may have anxiety about losing something, but this anxiety refers not only to the penis but also to other body parts. The Oedipus complex, then, is both more than and less than what Freud believed, and infantile sexuality is “a mere promise of things to come” (Erikson, 1963, p. 86). Unless sexual interest is provoked by cultural sex play or by adult sex- ual abuse, the Oedipus complex produces no harmful effects on later personality de- velopment.

The interest that play-age children have in genital activity is accompanied by their increasing facility at locomotion. They can now move with ease, running, jump- ing, and climbing with no conscious effort; and their play shows both initiative and imagination. Their rudimentary will, developed during the preceding stage, is now evolving into activity with a purpose. Children’s cognitive abilities enable them to manufacture elaborate fantasies that include Oedipal fantasies but also include imag- ining what it is like to be grown up, to be omnipotent, or to be a ferocious animal. These fantasies, however, also produce guilt and thus contribute to the psychosocial crisis of the play age, namely, initiative versus guilt.

Initiative Versus Guilt As children begin to move around more easily and vigorously and as their genital in- terest awakens, they adopt an intrusive head-on mode of approaching the world. Al- though they begin to adopt initiative in their selection and pursuit of goals, many

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goals, such as marrying their mother or father or leaving home, must be either re- pressed or delayed. The consequence of these taboo and inhibited goals is guilt. The conflict between initiative and guilt becomes the dominant psychosocial crisis of the play age.

Again, the ratio between these two should favor the syntonic quality—initia- tive. Unbridled initiative, however, may lead to chaos and a lack of moral principles. On the other hand, if guilt is the dominant element, children may become compul- sively moralistic or overly inhibited. Inhibition, which is the antipathy of purpose, constitutes the core pathology of the play age.

Purpose: The Basic Strength of the Play Age The conflict of initiative versus guilt produces the basic strength of purpose. Chil- dren now play with a purpose, competing at games in order to win or to be on top. Their genital interests have a direction, with mother or father being the object of their sexual desires. They set goals and pursue them with purpose. Play age is also the stage in which children are developing a conscience and beginning to attach la- bels such as right and wrong to their behavior. This youthful conscience becomes the “cornerstone of morality” (Erikson, 1968, p. 119).

School Age Erikson’s concept of school age covers development from about age 6 to approxi- mately age 12 or 13 and matches the latency years of Freud’s theory. At this age, the social world of children is expanding beyond family to include peers, teachers, and other adult models. For school-age children, their wish to know becomes strong and is tied to their basic striving for competence. In normal development, children strive industriously to read and write, to hunt and fish, or to learn the skills required by their culture. School age does not necessarily mean formalized schools. In contem- porary literate cultures, schools and professional teachers play a major part in chil- dren’s education, whereas in preliterate societies, adults use less formalized but equally effective methods to instruct children in the ways of society.

Latency Erikson agreed with Freud that school age is a period of psychosexual latency. Sex- ual latency is important because it allows children to divert their energies to learn- ing the technology of their culture and the strategies of their social interactions. As children work and play to acquire these essentials, they begin to form a picture of themselves as competent or incompetent. These self images are the origin of ego identity—that feeling of “I” or “me-ness” that evolves more fully during adoles- cence.

Industry Versus Inferiority Although school age is a period of little sexual development, it is a time of tremen- dous social growth. The psychosocial crisis of this stage is industry versus inferior- ity. Industry, a syntonic quality, means industriousness, a willingness to remain busy

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with something and to finish a job. School-age children learn to work and play at ac- tivities directed toward acquiring job skills and toward learning the rules of cooper- ation.

As children learn to do things well, they develop a sense of industry, but if their work is insufficient to accomplish their goals, they acquire a sense of inferiority—the dystonic quality of the school age. Earlier inadequacies can also contribute to children’s feelings of inferiority. For example, if children acquire too much guilt and too little purpose during the play age, they will likely feel inferior and incompetent during the school age. However, failure is not inevitable. Erikson was optimistic in suggesting that people can successfully handle the crisis of any given stage even though they were not completely successful in previous stages.

The ratio between industry and inferiority should, of course, favor industry; but inferiority, like the other dystonic qualities, should not be avoided. As Alfred Adler (Chapter 3) pointed out, inferiority can serve as an impetus to do one’s best. Conversely, an oversupply of inferiority can block productive activity and stunt one’s feelings of competence.

Competence: The Basic Strength of the School Age From the conflict of industry versus inferiority, school-age children develop the basic strength of competence: that is, the confidence to use one’s physical and cog- nitive abilities to solve the problems that accompany school age. Competence lays the foundation for “co-operative participation in productive adult life” (Erikson, 1968, p. 126).

If the struggle between industry and inferiority favors either inferiority or an overabundance of industry, children are likely to give up and regress to an earlier stage of development. They may become preoccupied with infantile genital and Oedipal fantasies and spend most of their time in nonproductive play. This regres- sion is called inertia, the antithesis of competence and the core pathology of the school age.

Adolescence Adolescence, the period from puberty to young adulthood, is one of the most cru- cial developmental stages because, by the end of this period, a person must gain a firm sense of ego identity. Although ego identity neither begins nor ends during ado- lescence, the crisis between identity and identity confusion reaches its ascendance during this stage. From this crisis of identity versus identity confusion emerges fidelity, the basic strength of adolescence.

Erikson (1982) saw adolescence as a period of social latency, just as he saw school age as a time of sexual latency. Although adolescents are developing sexually and cognitively, in most Western societies they are allowed to postpone lasting com- mitment to an occupation, a sex partner, or an adaptive philosophy of life. They are permitted to experiment in a variety of ways and to try out new roles and beliefs while seeking to establish a sense of ego identity. Adolescence, then, is an adaptive phase of personality development, a period of trial and error.

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Puberty Puberty, defined as genital maturation, plays a relatively minor role in Erikson’s con- cept of adolescence. For most young people, genital maturation presents no major sexual crisis. Nevertheless, puberty is important psychologically because it triggers expectations of adult roles yet ahead—roles that are essentially social and can be filled only through a struggle to attain ego identity.

Identity Versus Identity Confusion The search for ego identity reaches a climax during adolescence as young people strive to find out who they are and who they are not. With the advent of puberty, ado- lescents look for new roles to help them discover their sexual, ideological, and oc- cupational identities. In this search, young people draw from a variety of earlier self- images that have been accepted or rejected. Thus, the seeds of identity begin to sprout during infancy and continue to grow through childhood, the play age, and the school age. Then during adolescence, identity strengthens into a crisis as young peo- ple learn to cope with the psychosocial conflict of identity versus identity confusion.

A crisis should not suggest a threat or catastrophe but rather “a turning point, a crucial period of increased vulnerability and heightened potential” (Erikson, 1968, p. 96). An identity crisis may last for many years and can result in either greater or lesser ego strength.

According to Erikson (1982), identity emerges from two sources: (1) adoles- cents’ affirmation or repudiation of childhood identifications, and (2) their historical and social contexts, which encourage conformity to certain standards. Young people frequently reject the standards of their elders, preferring instead the values of a peer

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The late adolescent’s search for identity includes a discovery of sexual identity.

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group or gang. In any event, the society in which they live plays a substantial role in shaping their identity.

Identity is defined both positively and negatively, as adolescents are deciding what they want to become and what they believe while also discovering what they do not wish to be and what they do not believe. Often they must either repudiate the val- ues of parents or reject those of the peer group, a dilemma that may intensify their identity confusion.

Identity confusion is a syndrome of problems that includes a divided self- image, an inability to establish intimacy, a sense of time urgency, a lack of concen- tration on required tasks, and a rejection of family or community standards. As with the other dystonic tendencies, some amount of identity confusion is both normal and necessary. Young people must experience some doubt and confusion about who they are before they can evolve a stable identity. They may leave home (as Erikson did) to wander alone in search of self; experiment with drugs and sex; identify with a street gang; join a religious order; or rail against the existing society, with no alter- native answers. Or they may simply and quietly consider where they fit into the world and what values they hold dear.

Once again, Erikson’s theory is consistent with his own life. At age 18 and feeling alienated from the standards of his bourgeois family, Erikson set about searching for a different style of life. Gifted at sketching and with more identity con- fusion than identity, he spent the next 7 years wandering through southern Europe in search of an identity as an artist. Erikson (1975) referred to this stage of his life as a time of discontent, rebellion, and identity confusion.

Although identity confusion is a necessary part of our search for identity, too much confusion can lead to pathological adjustment in the form of regression to ear- lier stages of development. We may postpone the responsibilities of adulthood and drift aimlessly from one job to another, from one sex partner to another, or from one ideology to another. Conversely, if we develop the proper ratio of identity to identity confusion, we will have (1) faith in some sort of ideological principle, (2) the abil- ity to freely decide how we should behave, (3) trust in our peers and adults who give us advice regarding goals and aspirations, and (4) confidence in our choice of an eventual occupation.

Fidelity: The Basic Strength of Adolescence The basic strength emerging from adolescent identity crises is fidelity, or faith in one’s ideology. After establishing their internal standards of conduct, adolescents are no longer in need of parental guidance but have confidence in their own religious, political, and social ideologies.

The trust learned in infancy is basic for fidelity in adolescence. Young people must learn to trust others before they can have faith in their own view of the future. They must have developed hope during infancy, and they must follow hope with the other basic strengths—will, purpose, and competence. Each is a prerequisite for fi- delity, just as fidelity is essential for acquiring subsequent ego strengths.

The pathological counterpart of fidelity is role repudiation, the core pathol- ogy of adolescence that blocks one’s ability to synthesize various self-images and values into a workable identity. Role repudiation can take the form of either diffi-

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dence or defiance (Erikson, 1982). Diffidence is an extreme lack of self-trust or self- confidence and is expressed as shyness or hesitancy to express oneself. In contrast, defiance is the act of rebelling against authority. Defiant adolescents stubbornly hold to socially unacceptable beliefs and practices simply because these beliefs and prac- tices are unacceptable. Some amount of role repudiation, Erikson believed, is neces- sary, not only because it allows adolescents to evolve their personal identity, but also because it injects some new ideas and new vitality into the social structure.

Young Adulthood After achieving a sense of identity during adolescence, people must acquire the abil- ity to fuse that identity with the identity of another person while maintaining their sense of individuality. Young adulthood—a time from about age 19 to 30—is cir- cumscribed not so much by time as by the acquisition of intimacy at the beginning of the stage and the development of generativity at the end. For some people, this stage is a relatively short time, lasting perhaps only a few years. For others, young adulthood may continue for several decades. Young adults should develop mature genitality, experience the conflict between intimacy and isolation, and acquire the basic strength of love.

Genitality Much of the sexual activity during adolescence is an expression of one’s search for identity and is basically self-serving. True genitality can develop only during young adulthood when it is distinguished by mutual trust and a stable sharing of sexual sat- isfactions with a loved person. It is the chief psychosexual accomplishment of young adulthood and exists only in an intimate relationship (Erikson, 1963).

Intimacy Versus Isolation Young adulthood is marked by the psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation. Intimacy is the ability to fuse one’s identity with that of another person without fear of losing it. Because intimacy can be achieved only after people have formed a sta- ble ego, the infatuations often found in young adolescents are not true intimacy. Peo- ple who are unsure of their identity may either shy away from psychosocial intimacy or desperately seek intimacy through meaningless sexual encounters.

In contrast, mature intimacy means an ability and willingness to share a mu- tual trust. It involves sacrifice, compromise, and commitment within a relationship of two equals. It should be a requirement for marriage, but many marriages lack in- timacy because some young people marry as part of their search for the identity that they failed to establish during adolescence.

The psychosocial counterpart to intimacy is isolation, defined as “the inca- pacity to take chances with one’s identity by sharing true intimacy” (Erikson, 1968, p. 137). Some people become financially or socially successful, yet retain a sense of isolation because they are unable to accept the adult responsibilities of productive work, procreation, and mature love.

Again, some degree of isolation is essential before one can acquire mature love. Too much togetherness can diminish a person’s sense of ego identity, which

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leads that person to a psychosocial regression and an inability to face the next de- velopmental stage. The greater danger, of course, is too much isolation, too little in- timacy, and a deficiency in the basic strength of love.

Love: The Basic Strength of Young Adulthood Love, the basic strength of young adulthood, emerges from the crisis of intimacy ver- sus isolation. Erikson (1968, 1982) defined love as mature devotion that overcomes basic differences between men and women. Although love includes intimacy, it also contains some degree of isolation, because each partner is permitted to retain a sep- arate identity. Mature love means commitment, sexual passion, cooperation, compe- tition, and friendship. It is the basic strength of young adulthood, enabling a person to cope productively with the final two stages of development.

The antipathy of love is exclusivity, the core pathology of young adulthood. Some exclusivity, however, is necessary for intimacy; that is, a person must be able to exclude certain people, activities, and ideas in order to develop a strong sense of identity. Exclusivity becomes pathological when it blocks one’s ability to cooperate, compete, or compromise—all prerequisite ingredients for intimacy and love.

Adulthood The seventh stage of development is adulthood, that time when people begin to take their place in society and assume responsibility for whatever society produces. For most people, this is the longest stage of development, spanning the years from about age 31 to 60. Adulthood is characterized by the psychosexual mode of procreativity, the psychosocial crisis of generativity versus stagnation, and the basic strength of care.

Procreativity Erikson’s psychosexual theory assumes an instinctual drive to perpetuate the species. This drive is the counterpart of an adult animal’s instinct toward procreation and is an extension of the genitality that marks young adulthood (Erikson, 1982). However, procreativity refers to more than genital contact with an intimate partner. It includes assuming responsibility for the care of offspring that result from that sexual contact. Ideally, procreation should follow from the mature intimacy and love established during the preceding stage. Obviously, people are physically capable of produc- ing offspring before they are psychologically ready to care for the welfare of these children.

Mature adulthood demands more than procreating offspring; it includes caring for one’s children as well as other people’s children. In addition, it encompasses working productively to transmit culture from one generation to the next.

Generativity Versus Stagnation The syntonic quality of adulthood is generativity, defined as “the generation of new beings as well as new products and new ideas” (Erikson, 1982, p. 67). Generativity, which is concerned with establishing and guiding the next generation, includes the

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procreation of children, the production of work, and the creation of new things and ideas that contribute to the building of a better world.

People have a need not only to learn but also to instruct. This need extends be- yond one’s own children to an altruistic concern for other young people. Generativ- ity grows out of earlier syntonic qualities such as intimacy and identity. As noted ear- lier, intimacy calls for the ability to fuse one’s ego to that of another person without fear of losing it. This unity of ego identities leads to a gradual expansion of interests. During adulthood, one-to-one intimacy is no longer enough. Other people, especially children, become part of one’s concern. Instructing others in the ways of culture is a practice found in all societies. For the mature adult, this motivation is not merely an obligation or a selfish need but an evolutionary drive to make a contribution to suc- ceeding generations and to ensure the continuity of human society as well.

The antithesis of generativity is self-absorption and stagnation. The genera- tional cycle of productivity and creativity is crippled when people become too ab- sorbed in themselves, too self-indulgent. Such an attitude fosters a pervading sense of stagnation. Some elements of stagnation and self-absorption, however, are neces- sary. Creative people must, at times, remain in a dormant stage and be absorbed with themselves in order to eventually generate new growth. The interaction of genera- tivity and stagnation produces care, the basic strength of adulthood.

Care: The Basic Strength of Adulthood Erikson (1982) defined care as “a widening commitment to take care of the persons, the products, and the ideas one has learned to care for” (p. 67). As the basic strength of adulthood, care arises from each earlier basic ego strength. One must have hope, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, and love in order to take care of that which one cares for. Care is not a duty or obligation but a natural desire emerging from the con- flict between generativity and stagnation or self-absorption.

The antipathy of care is rejectivity, the core pathology of adulthood. Rejectiv- ity is the unwillingness to take care of certain persons or groups (Erikson, 1982). Re- jectivity is manifested as self-centeredness, provincialism, or pseudospeciation: that is, the belief that other groups of people are inferior to one’s own. It is responsible for much of human hatred, destruction, atrocities, and wars. As Erikson said, rejec- tivity “has far-reaching implications for the survival of the species as well as for every individual’s psychosocial development” (p. 70).

Old Age The eighth and final stage of development is old age. Erikson was in his early 40s when he first conceptualized this stage and arbitrarily defined it as the period from about age 60 to the end of life. Old age need not mean that people are no longer gen- erative. Procreation, in the narrow sense of producing children, may be absent, yet old people can remain productive and creative in other ways. They can be caring grandparents to their own grandchildren as well as to other younger members of so- ciety. Old age can be a time of joy, playfulness, and wonder; but it is also a time of senility, depression, and despair. The psychosexual mode of old age is generalized sensuality; the psychosocial crisis is integrity versus despair, and the basic strength is wisdom.

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Generalized Sensuality The final psychosexual stage is generalized sen- suality. Erikson had little to say about this mode of psychosexual life, but one may infer that it means to take pleasure in a variety of different phys- ical sensations—sights, sounds, tastes, odors, em- braces, and perhaps geni- tal stimulation. General- ized sensuality may also include a greater apprecia- tion for the traditional lifestyle of the opposite sex. Men become more nurturant and more accep- tant of the pleasures of

nonsexual relationships, including those with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Women become more interested and involved in politics, finance, and world affairs (Erikson, Erikson, & Kivnick, 1986). A generalized sensual attitude, however, is de- pendent on one’s ability to hold things together, that is, to maintain integrity in the face of despair.

Integrity Versus Despair A person’s final identity crisis is integrity versus despair. At the end of life, the dys- tonic quality of despair may prevail, but for people with a strong ego identity who have learned intimacy and who have taken care of both people and things, the syn- tonic quality of integrity will predominate. Integrity means a feeling of wholeness and coherence, an ability to hold together one’s sense of “I-ness” despite diminish- ing physical and intellectual powers.

Beyond Biography Who was Erik Erikson? For information on Erikson’s lifelong search for his own identity, please go to our website at

Ego integrity is sometimes difficult to maintain when people see that they are losing familiar aspects of their existence: for example, spouse, friends, physical health, body strength, mental alertness, independence, and social usefulness. Under such pressure, people often feel a pervading sense of despair, which they may ex- press as disgust, depression, contempt for others, or any other attitude that reveals a nonacceptance of the finite boundaries of life.

Despair literally means to be without hope. A reexamination of Figure 9.2 re- veals that despair, the last dystonic quality of the life cycle, is in the opposite corner


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Erikson’s stages of development extend into old age.

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from hope, a person’s first basic strength. From infancy to old age, hope can exist. Once hope is lost, despair follows and life ceases to have meaning.

Wisdom: The Basic Strength of Old Age Some amount of despair is natural and necessary for psychological maturity. The in- evitable struggle between integrity and despair produces wisdom, the basic strength of old age. Erikson (1982) defined wisdom as “informed and detached concern with life itself in the face of death itself ” (p. 61). People with detached concern do not lack concern; rather, they exhibit an active but dispassionate interest. With mature wisdom, they maintain their integrity in spite of declining physical and mental abil- ities. Wisdom draws from and contributes to the traditional knowledge passed from generation to generation. In old age, people are concerned with ultimate issues, in- cluding nonexistence (Erikson, Erikson, & Kivnick, 1986).

The antithesis of wisdom and the core pathology of old age is disdain, which Erikson (1982, p. 61) defined as “a reaction to feeling (and seeing others) in an in- creasing state of being finished, confused, helpless.” Disdain is a continuation of re- jectivity, the core pathology of adulthood.

As Erikson himself aged, he became less optimistic about old age, and he and his wife began to describe a ninth stage—a period of very old age when physical and mental infirmities rob people of their generative abilities and reduce them to waiting for death. Joan, especially, was interested in this ninth stage as she watched her hus- band’s health rapidly deteriorate during the last few years of his life. Unfortunately, Joan herself died before she could complete this ninth stage.

Summary of the Life Cycle Erikson’s cycle of life is summarized in Table 9.1. Each of the eight stages is char- acterized by a psychosexual mode as well as a psychosocial crisis. The psychosocial crisis is stimulated by a conflict between the predominating syntonic element and its antithetical dystonic element. From this conflict emerges a basic strength, or ego quality. Each basic strength has an underlying antipathy that becomes the core pathology of that stage. Humans have an ever-increasing radius of significant rela- tions, beginning with the maternal person in infancy and ending with an identifica- tion with all humanity during old age.

Personality always develops during a particular historical period and within a given society. Nevertheless, Erikson believed that the eight developmental stages transcend chronology and geography and are appropriate to nearly all cultures, past and present.

Erikson’s Methods of Investigation Erikson insisted that personality is a product of history, culture, and biology; and his diverse methods of investigation reflect this belief. He employed anthropological, historical, sociological, and clinical methods to learn about children, adolescents, mature adults, and elderly people. He studied middle-class Americans, European children, people of the Sioux and Yurok nations of North America, and even sailors

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on a submarine. He wrote biographical portraits of Adolf Hitler, Maxim Gorky, Mar- tin Luther, and Mohandas K. Gandhi, among others. In this section, we present two approaches Erikson used to explain and describe human personality—anthropologi- cal studies and psychohistory.

Anthropological Studies In 1937, Erikson made a field trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to investigate the causes of apathy among Sioux children. Erikson (1963) re- ported on early Sioux training in terms of his newly evolving theories of psychosex- ual and psychosocial development. He found that apathy was an expression of an ex- treme dependency the Sioux had developed as a result of their reliance on various federal government programs. At one time, they had been courageous buffalo hunters, but by 1937, the Sioux had lost their group identity as hunters and were try- ing halfheartedly to scrape out a living as farmers. Child-rearing practices, which in the past had trained young boys to be hunters and young girls to be helpers and moth- ers of future hunters, were no longer appropriate for an agrarian society. As a con-

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T A B L E 9 . 1

Summary of Erikson’s Eight Stages of the Life Cycle

Psychosexual Psychosocial Basic Core Significant Stage Mode Crisis Strength Pathology Relations

8 Old age

7 Adulthood

6 Young adulthood 5 Adolescence

4 School age 3 Play age

2 Early childhood 1 Infancy

Generalization of sensual modes





Infantile genital- locomotor

Anal-urethral- muscular

Oral-respiratory: sensory- kinesthetic

Integrity vs. despair

Generativity vs. stagnation

Intimacy vs. isolation

Identity vs. identity confusion

Industry vs. inferiority

Initiative vs. guilt

Autonomy vs. shame, doubt

Basic trust vs. basic mistrust












Role repudiation





All humanity

Divided labor and shared household

Sexual partners, friends

Peer groups

Neighborhood, school



The mothering one

From The Life Cycle Completed: A Review by Erik H. Erikson, Copyright © 1982 by Rikan Enterprises, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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sequence, the Sioux children of 1937 had great difficulty achieving a sense of ego identity, especially after they reached adolescence.

Two years later, Erikson made a similar field trip to northern California to study people of the Yurok nation, who lived mostly on salmon fishing. Although the Sioux and Yurok had vastly divergent cultures, each tribe had a tradition of training its youth in the virtues of its society. Yurok people were trained to catch fish, and therefore they possessed no strong national feeling and had little taste for war. Ob- taining and retaining provisions and possessions were highly valued among people of the Yurok nation. Erikson (1963) was able to show that early childhood training was consistent with this strong cultural value and that history and society helped shape personality.

Psychohistory The discipline called psychohistory is a controversial field that combines psycho- analytic concepts with historical methods. Freud (1910/1957) originated psychohis- tory with an investigation of Leonardo da Vinci and later collaborated with Ameri- can ambassador William Bullitt to write a book-length psychological study of American president Woodrow Wilson (Freud & Bullitt, 1967). Although Erikson (1975) deplored this latter work, he took up the methods of psychohistory and re- fined them, especially in his study of Martin Luther (Erikson, 1958, 1975) and Ma- hatma Gandhi (Erikson, 1969, 1975). Both Luther and Gandhi had an important im- pact on history because each was an exceptional person with the right personal conflict living during a historical period that needed to resolve collectively what could not be resolved individually (E. Hall, 1983).

Erikson (1974) defined psychohistory as “the study of individual and collec- tive life with the combined methods of psychoanalysis and history” (p. 13). He used psychohistory to demonstrate his fundamental beliefs that each person is a product of his or her historical time and that those historical times are influenced by excep- tional leaders experiencing a personal identity conflict.

As an author of psychohistory, Erikson believed that he should be emotionally involved in his subject. For example, he developed a strong emotional attachment to Gandhi, which he attributed to his own lifelong search for the father he had never seen (Erikson, 1975). In Gandhi’s Truth, Erikson (1969) revealed strong positive feelings for Gandhi as he attempted to answer the question of how healthy individu- als such as Gandhi work through conflict and crisis when other people are debilitated by lesser strife. In searching for an answer, Erikson examined Gandhi’s entire life cycle but concentrated on one particular crisis, which climaxed when a middle-aged Gandhi first used self-imposed fasting as a political weapon.

As a child, Gandhi was close to his mother but experienced conflict with his father. Rather than viewing this situation as an Oedipal conflict, Erikson saw it as Gandhi’s opportunity to work out conflict with authority figures—an opportunity Gandhi was to have many times during his life.

Gandhi was born October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India. As a young man, he studied law in London and was inconspicuous in manner and appearance. Then, dressed like a proper British subject, he returned to India to practice law. After 2 years of unsuccessful practice, he went to South Africa, which, like India, was a

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British colony. He in- tended to remain for a year, but his first serious identity crisis kept him there for more than 20 years.

A week after a judge excluded him from a courtroom, Gandhi was thrown off a train when he refused to give up his seat to a “white” man. These two experiences with racial prejudice changed Gandhi’s life. By the time he resolved this identity crisis, his ap- pearance had changed dramatically. No longer attired in silk hat and black coat, he dressed in the cotton loincloth and shawl that were to be- come familiar to millions of people throughout the

world. During those years in South Africa, he evolved the technique of passive re- sistance known as Satyagraha and used it to solve his conflicts with authorities. Satyagraha is a Sanskirt term meaning a tenacious, stubborn method of gathering the truth.

After returning to India, Gandhi experienced another identity crisis when, in 1918, at age 49, he became the central figure in a workers’ strike against the mill owners at Ahmedabad. Erikson referred to the events surrounding the strike as “The Event” and devoted the core of Gandhi’s Truth to this crisis. Although this strike was only a minor event in the history of India and received only scant attention in Gandhi’s autobiography, Erikson (1969) saw it as having a great impact on Gandhi’s identity as a practitioner of militant nonviolence.

The mill workers had pledged to strike if their demands for a 35% pay increase were not met. But the owners, who had agreed among themselves to offer no more than a 20% increase, locked out the workers and tried to break their solidarity by of- fering the 20% increase to those who would come back to work. Gandhi, the work- ers’ spokesperson, agonized over this impasse. Then, somewhat impetuously, he pledged to eat no more food until the workers’ demands were met. This, the first of his 17 “fasts to the death,” was not undertaken as a threat to the mill owners but to demonstrate to the workers that a pledge must be kept. In fact, Gandhi feared that the mill owners might surrender out of sympathy for him rather than from recogni- tion of the workers’ desperate plight. Indeed, on the third day, the workers and own- ers reached a compromise that allowed both to save face—the workers would work

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one day for a 35% increase, one day for a 20% increase, and then for whatever amount an arbitrator decided. The next day Gandhi ended his hunger strike, but his passive resistance had helped shape his identity and had given him a new tool for peaceful political and social change.

Unlike neurotic individuals whose identity crises result in core pathologies, Gandhi had developed strength from this and other crises. Erikson (1969) described the difference between conflicts in great people, such as Gandhi, and psychologically disturbed people: “This, then, is the difference between a case history and a life- history: patients, great or small, are increasingly debilitated by their inner conflicts, but in historical actuality inner conflict only adds an indispensable momentum to all superhuman effort” (p. 363).

Related Research One of Erikson’s major contributions was to extend personality development into adulthood. By expanding Freud’s notion of development all the way into old age, Erikson challenged the idea that psychological development stops with childhood. Erikson’s most influential legacy has been his theory of development and, in partic- ular, the stages from adolescence into old age. He was one of the first theorists to emphasize the critical period of adolescence and the conflicts revolving around one’s search for an identity. Adolescents and young adults often ask: Who am I? Where am I going? And what do I want to do with the rest of my life? How they answer these questions plays an important role in what kinds of relationships they develop, who they marry, and what career paths they follow.

In contrast to most other psychodynamic theorists, Erikson stimulated quite a bit of empirical research, much of it on adolescence, young adulthood, and adult- hood. Here we discuss recent research on development in middle adulthood, specif- ically the stage of generativity.

Generativity and Parenting Erikson (1982) defined generativity as “the generation of new beings as well as prod- ucts and new ideas” (p. 67). Generativity is typically expressed not only in bringing up children and fostering growth in young people but also in teaching, mentoring, cre- ating, and storytelling activities that bring new knowledge into existence and pass on old knowledge to the next generation. Dan McAdams and his colleagues (McAdams, 1999; McAdams & de St. Aubin, 1992; Bauer & McAdams, 2004b) have been major figures in research on generativity and have developed the Loyola Generativity Scale (LGS) to measure it. The LGS includes items such as “I have important skills that I try to teach others” and “I do not volunteer to work for a charity.” The scale measures several aspects of generativity, including concern for the next generation; creating and maintaining objects and things; and person narration: that is, the subjective story or theme that an adult creates about providing for the next generation.

Using the LGS scale, researchers have investigated the impact of parental gen- erativity on the development of children. Theoretically, parents who have a high sense of generativity should put a great deal of effort and care into raising children

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and therefore produce offspring who are well-adjusted and happy. Bill Peterson tested this idea in a study of college students and their parents (Peterson, 2006). Peterson predicted that the children of generative parents would not only be happier but also possess a high level of future time perspective, which is a technical way to say the children of generative parents will look toward the future more and do so with an optimistic view of things to come. To test these predictions, parents completed the LGS and students completed a measure of well-being that included items about general happiness, sense of freedom, and confidence in one’s self. Students also com- pleted a measure of future time perspective whereby they rated how much they typi- cally think about the next day, next month, the next year, and 10 years from now.

The results were supportive of the general notion that having a sense of generativ- ity is important to effective parenting. The children of highly generative parents had more confidence in themselves, had a stronger sense of freedom, and were just generally hap- pier with life. Additionally, the children of highly generative parents had a stronger fu- ture time orientation meaning they spent time thinking about their future and, based on the overall well-being measure, felt pretty good about it. When these findings are considered within Erikson’s framework, they make perfect sense. The opposite of gen- erativity is self-absorption and stagnation. If parents are overly self-absorbed and self-indulgent, then they are spending less time being concerned about the well-being of their children. Conversely, if parents are highly generative, then they are concerned about the development of their children and will do everything within their power to provide a stimulating and supportive environment in which children will thrive.

Generativity Versus Stagnation Like all stages, adulthood consists of two interacting conflicts, generativity and stag- nation. Erikson generally considered stagnation and generativity to be opposite ends of the same continuum. In other words, a person who is high on generativity tends to be low on stagnation and vice versa. But recently, researchers have begun to ques- tion how opposing these two aspects of adult development really are and have ex- plored stagnation and generativity as somewhat independent constructs (Van Hiel, Mervielde, & De Fruyt, 2006). One reason for this switch from Erikson’s model is that it might be possible for people to be both generative and stagnant. Such a sit- uation could happen if a person really wants to be generative and understands the importance of being generative but, for whatever reason, cannot overcome his or her own self-involvement. He or she may realize that generativity is the next stage in development but just cannot get there.

One way to determine the independence of these two constructs is to measure both separately and then measure several outcomes. If they are opposite levels of the same continuum, then when generativity positively predicts an outcome such as mental health, stagnation should negatively predict mental health. But if they do not always match, then the two constructs might be separate concepts. Because stagna- tion had never been measured separate from generativity before, the researchers had to create a measure from scratch. Based on the description of stagnation provided by other scholars (e.g., Bradley & Marcia, 1998), Van Hiel and colleagues (2006) cre- ated a self-report measure consisting of items such as “I often keep a distance between

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myself and my children” and “It is hard to say what my goals are.” To measure gen- erativity, the researchers used the LGS previously described and used in most research on generativity. To see how these two constructs match up to important outcomes, the researchers selected a broad measure of mental health that included the assess- ment of symptoms related to various personality disorders such as the inability to regulate emotions and intimacy issues.

The results of this study supported the new proposition that stagnation and generativity should be considered independently. For example, stagnation and gen- erativity did not predict mental health outcomes in the same way. Those who were high on stagnation tended to be less able to regulate their emotions; yet, at the same time, generativity was not related to emotion regulation. If only generativity had been measured (and not stagnation separately), then these researchers would not have uncovered the important finding that stagnation is related to problems in emo- tional regulation. The researchers also found that there are individuals who are high on both generativity and stagnation and that such a personality profile is not healthy in terms of mental and emotional well-being. Compared to people who are high on generativity but low on stagnation, people who are high on both dimensions are less able to regulate their emotions and experience more intimacy difficulties. Both of these qualities are considered to be components of a maladaptive personality.

Conceptually, this research does not differ a great deal from Erikson’s model (stagnation and generativity are still included). It does show, however, that for the practical purposes of research and in order to understand personality in adulthood more fully, stagnation and generativity can and sometimes do operate separately and independently in adult development.

Critique of Erikson Erikson built his theory largely on ethical principles and not necessarily on scientific data. He came to psychology from art and acknowledged that he saw the world more through the eyes of an artist than through those of a scientist. He once wrote that he had nothing to offer except “a way of looking at things” (Erikson, 1963, p. 403). His books are admittedly subjective and personal, which undoubtedly adds to their ap- peal. Nevertheless, Erikson’s theory must be judged by the standards of science, not ethics or art.

The first criterion of a useful theory is its ability to generate research, and by this standard, we rate Erikson’s theory somewhat higher than average. For example, the topic of ego identity alone has generated several hundred studies, and other as- pects of Erikson’s developmental stages, such as intimacy versus isolation (Gold & Rogers, 1995) and generativity (Arnett, 2000; Pratt, Norris, Arnold, & Filyer, 1999), as well as the entire life cycle (Whitbourne, Zuschlag, Elliot, & Waterman, 1992), have stimulated active empirical investigations.

Despite this active research, we rate Erikson’s theory only average on the cri- terion of falsifiability. Many findings from this body of research can be explained by theories other than Erikson’s developmental stages theory.

In its ability to organize knowledge, Erikson’s theory is limited mostly to de- velopmental stages. It does not adequately address such issues as personal traits or

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Concept of Humanity In contrast to Freud, who believed that anatomy was destiny, Erikson suggested that other factors might be responsible for differences between women and men. Citing some of his own research, Erikson (1977) suggested that, although girls and boys have different methods of play, these differences are at least partly a result of different socialization practices. Does this conclusion mean that Erikson agreed with Freud that anatomy is destiny? Erikson’s answer was yes, anatomy is destiny, but he quickly qualified that dictum to read: “Anatomy, history, and personality are our combined destiny” (Erikson, 1968, p. 285). In other words, anatomy alone does not determine destiny, but it combines with past events, including social and var- ious personality dimensions such as temperament and intelligence, to determine who a person will become.

motivation, a limitation that subtracts from the theory’s ability to shed meaning on much of what is currently known about human personality. The eight stages of de- velopment remain an eloquent statement of what the life cycle should be, and re- search findings in these areas usually can be fit into an Eriksonian framework. How- ever, the theory lacks sufficient scope to be rated high on this criterion.

As a guide to action, Erikson’s theory provides many general guidelines, but offers little specific advice. Compared to other theories discussed in this book, it ranks near the top in suggesting approaches to dealing with middle-aged and older adults. Erikson’s views on aging have been helpful to people in the field of gerontology, and his ideas on ego identity are nearly always cited in adolescent psychology textbooks. In addition, his concepts of intimacy versus isolation and generativity versus stagnation have much to offer to marriage counselors and others concerned with intimate relationships among young adults.

We rate Erikson’s theory high on internal consistency, mostly because the terms used to label the different psychosocial crises, basic strengths, and core pathologies are very carefully chosen. English was not Erikson’s first language, and his extensive use of a dictionary while writing increased the precision of his termi- nology. Yet concepts like hope, will, purpose, love, care, and so on are not opera- tionally defined. They have little scientific usefulness, although they rank high in both literary and emotional value. On the other hand, Erikson’s epigenetic principle and the eloquence of his description of the eight stages of development mark his the- ory with conspicuous internal consistency.

On the criterion of simplicity, or parsimony, we give the theory a moderate rat- ing. The precision of its terms is a strength, but the descriptions of psychosexual stages and psychosocial crises, especially in the later stages, are not always clearly differentiated. In addition, Erikson used different terms and even different concepts to fill out the 64 boxes that are mostly vacant in Figure 9.2. Such inconsistency sub- tracts from the theory’s simplicity.

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How does Erikson’s theory conceptualize humanity in terms of the six dimen- sions we introduced in Chapter 1? First, is the life cycle determined by external forces or do people have some choice in molding their personalities and shaping their lives? Erikson was not as deterministic as Freud, but neither did he believe strongly in free choice. His position was somewhere in the middle. Although per- sonality is molded in part by culture and history, people retain some limited con- trol over their destiny. People can search for their own identities and are not com- pletely constrained by culture and history. Individuals, in fact, can change history and alter their environment. The two subjects of Erikson’s most extensive psy- chohistories, Martin Luther and Mahatma Gandhi, each had a profound effect on world history and on his own immediate surroundings. Similarly, each of us has the power to determine his or her own life cycles, even though our global impact may be on a lesser scale.

On the dimension of pessimism versus optimism, Erikson tended to be some- what optimistic. Even though core pathologies may predominate early stages of de- velopment, humans are not inevitably doomed to continue a pathological existence in later stages. Although weaknesses in early life make it more difficult to acquire basic strengths later on, people remain capable of changing at any stage of life. Each psychosocial conflict consists of a syntonic and a dystonic quality. Each cri- sis can be resolved in favor of the syntonic, or harmonious element, regardless of past resolutions.

Erikson did not specifically address the issue of causality versus teleology, but his view of humanity suggests that people are influenced more by biological and so- cial forces than by their view of the future. People are a product of a particular his- torical moment and a specific social setting. Although we can set goals and actively strive to achieve these goals, we cannot completely escape the powerful causal forces of anatomy, history, and culture. For this reason, we rate Erikson high on causality.

On the fourth dimension, conscious versus unconscious determinants, Erikson’s position is mixed. Prior to adolescence, personality is largely shaped by uncon- scious motivation. Psychosexual and psychosocial conflicts during the first four de- velopmental stages occur before children have firmly established their identity. We seldom are clearly aware of these crises and the ways in which they mold our per- sonalities. From adolescence forward, however, people ordinarily are aware of their actions and most of the reasons underlying those actions.

Erikson’s theory, of course, is more social than biological, although it does not overlook anatomy and other physiological factors in personality development. Each psychosexual mode has a clear biological component. However, as people ad- vance through the eight stages, social influences become increasingly more power- ful. Also, the radius of social relations expands from the single maternal person to a global identification with all humanity.

The sixth dimension for a concept of humanity is uniqueness versus similari- ties. Erikson tended to place more emphasis on individual differences than on uni- versal characteristics. Although people in different cultures advance through the eight developmental stages in the same order, myriad differences are found in the pace of that journey. Each person resolves psychosocial crises in a unique manner, and each uses the basic strengths in a way that is peculiarly theirs.

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Key Terms and Concepts

• Erikson’s stages of development rest on an epigenetic principle, meaning that each component proceeds in a step-by-step fashion with later growth building on earlier development.

• During every stage, people experience an interaction of opposing syntonic and dystonic attitudes, which leads to a conflict, or psychosocial crisis.

• Resolution of this crisis produces a basic strength and enables a person to move to the next stage.

• Biological components lay a ground plan for each individual, but a multiplicity of historical and cultural events also shapes ego identity.

• Each basic strength has an underlying antipathy that becomes the core pathology of that stage.

• The first stage of development is infancy, characterized by the oral-sensory mode, the psychosocial crisis of basic trust versus mistrust, the basic strength of hope, and the core pathology of withdrawal.

• During early childhood, children experience the anal, urethral, and muscular psychosexual mode; the psychosocial conflict of autonomy versus shame and doubt; the basic strength of will; and the core pathology of compulsion.

• During the play age, children experience genital-locomotor psychosexual development and undergo a psychosocial crisis of initiative versus guilt, with either the basic strength of purpose or the core pathology of inhibition.

• School-age children are in a period of sexual latency but face the psychosocial crisis of industry versus inferiority, which produces either the basic strength of competence or the core pathology of inertia.

• Adolescence, or puberty, is a crucial stage because a person’s sense of identity should emerge from this period. However, identity confusion may dominate the psychosocial crisis, thereby postponing identity. Fidelity is the basic strength of adolescence; role repudiation is its core pathology.

• Young adulthood, the time from about age 18 to 30, is characterized by the psychosexual mode of genitality, the psychosocial crisis of intimacy versus isolation, the basic strength of love, and the core pathology of exclusivity.

• Adulthood is a time when people experience the psychosexual mode of procreativity, the psychosocial crisis of generativity versus stagnation, the basic strength of care, and the core pathology of rejectivity.

• Old age is marked by the psychosexual mode of generalized sensuality, the crisis of integrity versus despair, and the basic strength of wisdom or the core pathology of disdain.

• Erikson used psychohistory (a combination of psychoanalysis and history) to study the identity crises of Martin Luther, Mahatma Gandhi, and others.

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  • II. Psychodynamic Theories
    • Introduction
    • 2. Freud: Psychoanalysis
    • 3. Adler: Individual Psychology
    • 4. Jung: Analytical Psychology
    • 5. Klein: Object Relations Theory
    • 6. Horney: Psychoanalytic Social Theory
    • 7. Fromm: Humanistic Psychoanalysis
    • 8. Sullivan: Interpersonal Theory
    • 9. Erikson: Post-Freudian Theory
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • chapter 6