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A Primer of Freudian Psychology

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Calvin Hall’s book A Primer of Freudian Psychology relates Freud‘s theories that can be used in modern therapy.  The author’s brief and simplistic summary brings understanding of Freudian psychology to the general reader. Hall introduces Freud’s qualifications and expounds upon his personality theories.

Personality is Defined by Freud

A Primer of Freudian Psychology

Total personality is defined by Freud as having three major parts; the id, the ego, and the superego.  These systems are meant to work together to create mental health. Mental illness exists when the three fail to properly interact, causing malfunction within the person’s personality.  The id is referred to as the “pleasure principle” and functions to reduce stress and tension. The ego or “reality principle” executes the action that is needed to maintain proper mental health, while the superego forgoes reality and strives for the ideal. As all three overlap and work together, one’s personality is dynamically developed and maintained.

Because humans are complicated beings, many aspects interact to develop man’s personality as he relates to the physical world around him.  Freud uses the term psychic energy in reference to the dynamic that thinks and perceives.  Instinct is the condition that exists within each person at birth that functions outside of human control.  Hall relates Freud’s understanding of the conscious and unconscious, which are common factors in psychological therapy.

Mental and Personality Disorders

Anxiety Disorder, a frequently treated mental ailment, makes up an important part of one’s functioning personality.  Freud differentiated between three different types of anxiety:

  1. Reality Anxiety
  2. Neurotic Anxiety
  3. Moral Anxiety 

All three forms differ only by their source and all three can be equal in severity.  Reality anxiety exists externally, from the physical world.  Neurotic anxiety develops out of fear of something out of one’s control (fear of the id), while moral anxiety occurs when doing or thinking something that conflicts with one’s standards (the fear of superego).  Freud makes the point that the source of anxiety from any of the types is often not known by the sufferer.

Hall states that personality continues to change and develop throughout one’s life. As one becomes more knowledgeable, he begins to develop better coping skills that Freud summed up in five categories; natural maturation, painful external experiences, painful internal conflicts, and past anxiety.  Frustration from any or  all of these often forces one to make personal changes. Consistent with today’s therapy, Freud believed that a healthy mentality centered around a stabilized personality.  This state is achieved by resolved conflicts within the mind.

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