1. The importance of the unconscious mind and motivation
All behaviour can be explained in terms of manifestations of repressed sexual and aggressive urges, instincts and desires, which are surfacing in a disguised form from the unconscious.
The ego employs a series of strategies which allow the conflict between id, ego and superego to be expressed and resolved and to allow anxiety-provoking desires to be expressed in a socially acceptable way which does not reveal the true nature of the issues, e.g.
- wishes concealed in dream symbols
- ego defence mechanisms
- neurotic symptoms (e.g. phobias)
Freud generalised his views and stated that if abnormal behaviours were guided by the unconscious then all behaviour is guided by the unconscious.
He only way that the contents of the unconscious can become conscious (thus resolving problems permanently) is through psychoanalysis, whereby clients are able to access repressed ideas and conflicts through techniques such as free association and dream analysis
2. The importance of early experiences
Freud assumed that the parts of personality (id, ego and superego which make up tripartite model) develop through a series of psycho-sexual stages and that
- over-indulgence or under indulgence of a child’s needs
- or a specific unresolved conflict (such as Oedipus/Electra conflict)
at any one of the stages (oral, anal, phallic or latency) could lead to fixation in that stage and the development of certain personality traits, behavioural outcomes and potential mental health problems later in life.
Practice Questions and Model Answers
Comparing Explanations of Gender
1. Explain what is meant by displacement with reference to one example. 
2. Explain what is meant by denial with reference to one example. 
3. Explain what is meant by repression with reference to one example. 
4. Rani is angry because she drove all the way to work before realising she had left some important paperwork at home. As she left her work place to drive home to collect them she slammed the office door and glared at her secretary as she left.
Using one defence mechanism, explain why Rani behaved in this way.