Pavlov's Couch

A Psychology Student's Mental Experience

Archive for the tag “developmental psychology”

Freud pt.1

Its interesting that despite my long interest in psychotherapy I have never read or studied Freud. To be honest I have always been put off by the overemphasis of sexual and aggressive drives, and now I’ve read more about Freud’s theories I still feel the same about it. However I do now appreciate more just how much he is to be thanked for; I can see how many other schools of psychoanalysis have drawn from and adapted his ideas. So I will attempt to summarise Freud’s theories very briefly here.

Freudian psychoanalysis is built around three models: The topographic, the structural, and the developmental.

The first model splits the mind into the Conscious, the Pre-conscious, and the Unconscious. The Conscious contains those things that you are aware of and attend to (pay attention to). The Pre-conscious contains those things that you could be aware of, if you attended to them (a physical example would be someone standing on the edge of your vision). Finally Freud’s major and vital contribution: the Unconscious. Here lie things that you are not aware of, and cannot become aware of simply by attending to them. Freud believed that everything in our Unconscious has an innate force pushing it towards consciousness, but anything that could be threatening or objectionable to our conscious selves (such as certain sexual fantasies) is pushed back into our unconscious through a process called repression. However if this objectionable material is mutated and disguised, perhaps as a joke, a dream, or a slip of the tongue (often called a Freudian slip) it may be let through into our consciousness.
This conflict between consciousness and unconsciousness forms, Freud believed, our personalities, behaviours, and mental disorders.

Some time after the above theory, which is the only of Freud’s theories to stand up to empirical testing, Freud proposed the structural model. Here he proposed three collections of thought types (they were never meant to be taken as individual entities or personalities the way they have often been mis-interpreted today): the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego.

The Id houses all our desires and fantasies, which Freud believed all came from sexual or aggressive drives. It is concerned primarily with immediate gratification and avoiding a state of unpleasure.

The Super Ego contains all the commands and rules of society. It is the aspect of our minds that deals with deciding what is appropriate in different contexts, and tries to control the chaotic Id.

The Ego mediates between these two, helping us balance desires against societal restrictions, resolving the conflict.

The final model Freud proposed is the developmental model, however I will save that for my next post 😉

Book Review: A Man Without Words by Susan Schaller

A Man Without WordsA Man Without Words by Susan Schaller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Man Without Words. A man without language. Not just the lack of language, but the lack of a concept of language. No common means of communication, no idea that everything around us in the world, and a whole invisible world of non-tangibles (emotions, actions, tenses) has been given a name. Think for a moment what that would be like, to reach adulthood and be in an incomprehensible and lonely world. A world governed by seemingly arbitrary rules.

While working as a sign language translator Susan Schaller encountered such a man: Idefonso. A Man Without Words is the story of how she worked with him and taught him his first language. This personal account is a pleasure to read and through the course of the book you will find yourself deeply moved by the lonliness of Indefonso’s world and the sheer tenacity and intelligence of this man who simply would not rest until he had learned how to communicate.

Aside from the story of Susan and Ildefonso, there is also a wider impact in terms of the Deaf culture. Throughout the book Susan Schaller shows a real understanding and respect for Deaf culture which most hearing persons lack, even those who do speak sign language of some sort. Reading this book has given me a better understanding of Deaf culture, and the fierce pride that exists there.

This book is also interesting from a developmental psychology point of view. Although it lacks the detail of a full psychological case study, there are insights here that shine new light on the language vs thought debate and the revelation that languageless individuals are not nearly as rare as many professionals seem to think.

All in all a great book that tells a fascinating and moving story. Definately one I am proud to have on my shelf!

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