According to Freud, defense mechanisms are largely unconscious and they work to reduce anxiety by distorting the perceptions of reality. They allow the ego (cognitive processes) to deal with the feelings that anxiety produces (unresolved unconscious conflicts). Some of the important defense mechanisms are:
Repression - It is a way of keeping thoughts that cause anxiety and discomfort out of the conscious recall by actively pushing them into the unconscious.
Projection - It helps us see our own unacceptable behaviors in other people
Denial - It helps us in refusing to accept reality and the true source of their anxiety.
Reaction Formation - It helps us defend against anxiety by adopting behaviors opposite to their true feelings.
Sublimation - Socially unacceptable impulses are redirected into acceptable ones.
Rationalization - It helps people to reinterpret undesirable feelings or behavior to make them appear acceptable.
Isolation: involves stripping the emotion from a difficult memory or threatening impulse
Displacement: the redirection of an impulse onto a substitute target
Piaget refers to schemas as the building blocks of development. In general schemas could be referred to as the mental frameworks that work as a guide to our thinking. Next comes the processes that underline all cognitive growth. In Piaget's theory, assimilation is the mental process that adds new information into preexisting schemas. Whereas with accommodation, we create new schemas. Accommodation is the process of modifying schemas to accommodate the new information. According to Piaget, each child will go through four stages: first, the sensorimotor (infancy); second, the preoperational stage (early childhood) ; third, the concrete operational stage (middle Childhood), and lastly the formal operational stage.
Comparison of Freud, Erikson and Piaget
Freud created a sense of super ego where you internalize the parental standards, ideas, and prohibitions. Since Erikson had no parents, to identify with, his sense of standards were nonexistent. He had a feeling of inferiority related to his childhood and adolescence. Freud and Piaget were influenced by Darwin's evolutionary biological perspective that dominated late nineteenth and early twentieth century theorizing. Both believed that the organism is engaged in struggle in its environment, and conflict is a major element in life.
Even though conflict and struggle are not as central for Piaget as for Freud, his theory does posit roles for external challenges from an other person and for internal struggles as the child sorts out conflicting beliefs and explanations. Developmental movement forward is most possible at times of decentration and dis-equilibrium as the organism seeks to right an imbalance (i.e., seek equilibrium once again).
A number of changes occur in one’s life from infancy to adolescence to adulthood. These changes, known as stages of development, caught the attention of theorists Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson. They both formed very important theories as to the thought development throughout one's lifespan. Although, their theories were similar in a way, they were very much different. Piaget was primarily interested in how things were processed by individuals and concluded that development occurs in distinct, measurable, and observable stages and had nothing to do with experience, except one’s own characteristics.
Piaget’s theory of stages are Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. Piaget valued advanced ways of thinking and evaluating complexities. Erik Erikson, on the other hand, theorized a series of eight stages that he believed individuals go through to reach their full development. They are trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame and doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation and ego integrity vs. despair.
Freud’s theory tries to explain the determination of the complex relationship within the body and mind that helps explain the unconscious and roles of emotions that need to be understood. Erik Erikson, on the other hand, was famous for his theory of psychosocial development and to learn about the identity crisis back in that time.
Freud believed personality was crystallised in childhood by proposing a series of developmental stages progressing from birth to puberty. As with other stage theories Freud’s psychosexual stages of development occur in a predetermined sequence which may overlap with each stage identifying a particular notable behaviour. The various stages are: the oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latency stage, and the genital stage. Freud believed that personality develops through a series of childhood stages during which the pleasure-seeking energies of the id become focused on certain erogenous areas. This psychosexual energy, or libido, was described as the driving force behind behavior.
Much like Sigmund Freud, Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages. Unlike Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social experience across one's whole lifespan. One of the main elements of Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory is the develoment of ego identity. Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we develop through social interaction.
Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson had two different yet slightly similar beliefs as to how a person develops from birth to adulthood. Erikson believes that there are 8 stages of psychosocial development and Piaget believes there are 4 stages of cognitive development. Erikson’s studies revolve around the development of a child’s social ability to interact with others while Piaget’s studies revolve around a child’s physical and mental development.
While Erikson’s and Piaget’s theories differ as far as ages at which certain stages occur, there are also many similarities. They both agree that children at a certain age are in a fully self consumed, basically, a child cannot see the past itself in the area of needs/wants. They both seem to agree that children develop their minds in basically the same age patterns and in the same ways but they don not seem to agree with the pace that it happens. Piaget seems to throw all of the developments into large chunks of time frames while Erikson paces through the development in small time frames.
Erikson seems to place mentalities on certain age groups when it is possible (in today’s society) for younger age groups to do the same thing. One example of this is his Generativity vs. Stagnation, he sets this at stage: Middle adulthood. It is all too possible for young adults to become focused on family and responsibilities rather than waiting until middle adulthood to achieve this stage. Unfortunately, this is the age of ‘babies having babies’ as more and more young people are forcing themselves to grow up too quickly. I think Piaget’s stages are more suited to today’s children since his theories are more set to basic development and Erikson’s are more mental and possibly outdated.
Humanistic personality theorists are more interested in people's conceptions of themselves and their goals. They stress the individuals capacity for personal growth, freedom to choose one's own destiny, and positive qualities. This approach views people as motivated by internal forces to achieve personal goals. This is sometimes referred to as a phenomenological approach because of the focus on each person's unique experience with and ways of interpreting their world.
Abraham Maslow while studying motivation, described a basic hierarchy of needs that lays the foundation for Rogers' person-centered therapy. Carl Rogers developed his theory from his experiences with individuals as seen in a counseling center. As a result of these experiences he concluded that behavior is goal-directed and worthwhile. People are innately good and tend to choose adaptive, enhancing, self-actualizing behaviors. His view is that, how people see the world determines how they will behave. This redeeming train in humans make this study more interesting and relevant. However, in order to understand human complexities we need to understand psychodynamic theories which are least interesting but are relevant. Freud's interpretation of dreams though controversial is yet relevant because we often use the words "ego" to describe some people and also to explain some of our activities which are referred to our unconscious states.
What is unique about Freud's interpretation is the way he related it to his broader theory of mental processes and behavior. He used the concept of a dream censor which hides the true meaning of the dream from the person's conscious mind. Thus, Freud saw dreams with a symbolic meaning that could only be fully understood in the context of the individual's overall behavior. This view is still controversial, with some physiological researchers arguing that dreams are simply an artifact of brain activity during sleep, with no true significance.
Freud's psychoanalytic view of human nature is rather pessimistic. Driven by primitive urges, humans are little more than controlled savages seeking to satisfy sexual and aggressive pleasures. The internal conflicts between id, ego, and superego only serve to exacerbate the turmoil at the root of personality. This dark view is in sharp contrast to Rogers' humanism, which starts from the perspective that humans are basically good and continually striving to be even better. Motivations for growth, creativity, and fulfillment pepper Rogers' optimistic stance on human nature.
Freud's psychosexual stages and their associated milestones and conflicts were key to his overall view of human nature. Personality, like most human qualities, developed slowly over time. Rogers agreed with this general notion of personality as changing and unfolding, but stressed the positive aspects of growth fueled by unconditional positive regard. From Freud's perspective, conflicts among unconscious desires and the strain of internal tensions produce maladjustment. The goal of therapy was to uncover the hidden roots of current problems.
Freud based his views on qualitative, subjective judgments of individuals, and he drew his inspiration as much from literature, art, and society as he did the clinic. Rogers perhaps held the most balanced view. Although he endorsed objective, quantitative studies of behavior, he also advocated the use of subjective knowledge and phenomenological knowledge. Civilization and Its Discontents summarizes Freud's view of society. Primitive sexual and aggressive instincts are not likely to find free expression in most civilizations, although society can reduce this conflict by providing avenues for sublimating these desires. A balance of expression and sublimation within an evolving society would complement Freud's view of human nature.