Neo Freudian Research

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					 The Psychology of the Person
Chapter 6 Neo-Freudian Research

       Naomi Wagner, Ph.D
          Lecture Outlines
     Based on Burger, 8th edition
      Role of Anxiety In Human Life

   The role of anxiety: Freud has highlighted
    the role of anxiety in the origin of
    psychological disorders.
   Psychoanalytic theories emphasize the
    unconscious sources of anxiety and defense
   However, the neo-Freudians focused on
    conscious efforts people make to reduce or
    eliminate anxiety.
               Role of Anxiety
   The current study of anxiety also incorporates
    the concept of stress: indeed, often the terms
    ―stress‖ and ―anxiety‖ are used interchangeably,
    referring to the unpleasant state of arousal that
    we experience in various life situations, when we
    are over-loaded by competing pressures or
    demands on our time, or when we have
    interpersonal conflicts, financial concerns, etc
      Anxiety as a fundamental human
    As such, as part of ―human nature‖, anxiety is
    seen as having evolved through the process of
    natural selection.
    Those members of our species in prehistory,
    who had become readily anxious when
    perceiving danger or threat were moved to take
    action, and thus had a higher likelihood to live
    longer, have children, and transmit to their
    children the anxious tendency.
The Evolutionary Perspective of Anxiety

    The evolutionary perspective views anxiety as
    caused by fear of social exclusion. All humans
    have a strong need to groups and to be in
    relationships, and consequently when we
    experience exclusion (real or imagined) or
    rejection from social groups we suffer great
    distress. According to this point of view, any
    information that suggests that we might be
    excluded or that we are no longer attractive to
    others is threatening our need to belong
    The Adaptive Function of Anxiety

   Today, psychologists regard ―reasonable
    doses‖ of anxiety as safeguards to keep us
    from ignoring danger.
    A moderate level of anxiety might be a factor
    mobilizing our resources to perform better, to
    complete assignments on time, etc, whereas
    high levels of anxiety are unpleasant and
    interfere with functioning.
                The Age of Anxiety
   As we are surrounded today by ads and commercials for all
    types of anti-anxiety ―products‖ – from meditation, massage,
    anti-anxiety drugs, to get-away dream vacations, one might ask
    whether levels of stress and anxiety today have risen, as
    compared to decades ago.
   Were the good old days better? Were people happier? Though
    life has become better for most people through the advances
    of modern technology, it seems that, on the other hand, stress
    levels have gone up.
    A recent investigation cited in your textbook found that
    anxiety scores have risen in the last 50 years, and that the
    average American child had reported higher levels of anxiety,
    as compared to children seen in psychiatric settings in the
      Three Types of Anxiety (Freud)

   Freud identified three types of anxiety:
   Neurotic anxiety—when unacceptable id impulses are
    dangerously close to breaking into consciousness;
    Moral anxiety that is brought about by the superego,
    when the superego’s moral code is violated as a result
    of the person’s behavior
   Reality anxiety—or objective anxiety, which is a
    response to a real threat.
   Neo –Freudians expanded anxiety-coping,
    conscious strategies for Reality Anxiety
Coping Strategies: Active vs. Avoidance

   Current emphasis on coping strategies:
    People do not passively accept their
    discomfort when faced with an anxiety-
    provoking situation.
    Instead, each of us has learned to take steps to
    reduce that anxiety.
   Researchers have divided these coping
    strategies into active and avoidant

   Absence of anxiety is related to pathology:
    People who lack the capacity to experience
    anxiety, labeled by Lykken as ―fearlessness‖ are
    usually found among those diagnosed as
    sociopaths or psychopaths- antisocial
    personality disorder, who commit the most
    terrible acts against others without any sense
    of remorse or fear of punishment--- they very
    successfully pass the lie-detector test- because
    they do not experience any anxiety.
Problem-Focused vs. Emotion-Focused
   Problem-s focused: When there is something
    that can be done
   Emotion-focused: When there problem is not
    under our control
   In such cases, we can re-define the problem, or
    find the ―silver lining‖ around the cloud
    Which of these strategies will be more
    effective in reducing anxiety depends on the
    availability of means to solve the problem.
        How effective are the strategies?
   In most cases, active strategies were found to be
    more effective than avoidance
    On occasion, avoidance strategies are helpful in the
    short run. The advantage is limited to stressors that
    are relatively mild and at least partially under the
    person’s control. Extensive use of avoidance
    strategies can create additional problems, such as
    drinking or drugs. Note issues in treating
    posttraumatic stress disorder—controversy whether
    to ―cover‖ (avoid), or ―uncover‖ (re-live the trauma).
      The Frustration-Aggression hypothesis
   The neo-Freudians have re-introduced an original
    Freudian Idea (later was abandoned by Freud)
   The idea ―Aggression is always the result of
   Other Freudian concepts in this hypothesis: Catharsis
    (you act aggressively so you ―clean‖ yourself and are
    less likely to act aggressively later, said Freud- not true)
   Displacement: When you cannot express
    aggressiveness toward the original target, you displace it
    onto an easier target, that is why we sometimes do not
    see aggression following a frustrating episode.
    Current Status of the Frustration-Aggression
   Studies find that frustration is a source of aggression,
    but not all frustrating events lead to aggression.
    Recent models suggest that frustration causes
    aggression because it is unpleasant.
    Other studies find that frustration-induced aggression
    can be displaced onto innocent targets.
    Additionally, the widely held belief that aggression
    leads to catharsis and less aggression has not been
    supported in empirical investigations. Allowing people
    to act out their aggressive impulses appears to increase,
    not decrease, the likelihood of further aggression.
    Catharsis: The Original Freudian Idea

   Freud originally suggested that acting
    aggressively has a cathartic impact on the
    person—it cleanses the soul, so to speak, from
    negative emotions, therefore the person who
    acts aggressively is less likely to continue to act
    so—the likelihood of further acting aggressively
    is reduced. Acting aggressively has been seen as
    leading to tension-reduction catharsis.
    Current Status of the Catharsis Hypothesis

   Studies have found that though the opportunity
    to act aggressively indeed may provide a
    cathartic release of tension, it also produces an
    increase rather than the predicted decrease in
    Several reasons have been suggested, including
    disinhibition, reward (the tension relief) and the
    presence of aggressive cues in the form of one’s
    aggressive behavior.