in the struggle to keep the inner peace, to cope with and balance the dictates of the superego with the demands of the id, the ego may resort to one of a variety of defense mechanisms. Amongst these are denial, repression, sublimation, intellectualization, compensation, and reaction formation. They vary in detail, but each is employed to reduce the conscious emotional tension that would otherwise be experienced by the ego.
The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is best known for his tendency to trace nearly all psychological problems back to sexual issues. Although only parts of his theory of psychosexual development are still accepted by mainstream psychologists, Freud's theory of the Oedipal Complex has become a cultural icon nevertheless. Other now-famous Freudian innovations include the therapy couch, the use of talk therapy to resolve psychological problems, and his theories about the unconscious -- including the role of repression, denial, sublimation, and projection.
When he published his theories he shocked the world by claiming that even infants had a sex drive and that (as in the Oedipal Complex) little boys become emotionally and sexually fixated on their own mothers -- while viewing their fathers as hated sexual rivals to be defeated or killed off.
Freud was the firstborn in a Viennese family of three boys and five girls. He was born in Freiberg, a rural town near Ostrau in northwestern Moravia. Even though Freud's family had limited finances and were forced to live in a crowded apartment, his parents made every effort to foster his obvious intellectual capacities.
In 1923 Freud described his constructs of the id, ego and the superego. The id is the most primitive part of our personality. It operates according to the pleasure principle and it simply seeks immediate gratification. Freud believed that every human had a life and death instinct. The life instinct is called eros while the death instinct is called thanatos. Both are integral parts of the id. And the energy for this mechanism is libido, a flowing, dynamic force.
The ego is different from the id as it is extremely objective. It operates according to the "reality principle" and deals with the demands of the environment. It regulates the flow of libido and keeps the id in check, thus acting as a "control center" of the personality.
It is the superego which represents the values and standards of an individual's personality. It acts as an internal judge, it punishes the ego with feelings of guilt or it rewards, which lead to feelings of pride and heightened self esteem. The superego is a characteristic of the personality which strives for perfection.
Studies on Hysteria -- First edition
This joint publication of Freud's and Breuer's lays out their theory of hysteria, describing how the hysteric experiences the illness and sometimes overcomes it by gaining insight into how it came about.
Freud used the concepts of "transference" and "counter-transference" to refer to the strong emotions projected by the patient onto the doctor and the doctor onto the patient. A transference -- such as treating an analyst like one's father -- might promote therapeutic work, but Freud was also aware that this could distort a patient's (and an analyst's) perspective.
One of Freud's "Papers on Technique," this 1914 essay describes how making the repetition of childhood patterns visible in the transference can lead a person to self- awareness through recollection. It is by "working through" repetition, not just condemning it, that analysis aims to make the past something one can live with rather than something one is imprisoned in.