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Pyschology

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With Freud, we need to set aside all the elaborate concepts of psychoanalysis (e.g. oedipal complex, penis envy) and really start with the basics. What is Freud saying about the way we experience the world? To start with we can identify three propositions. They are: 1. infantile dependency 2. repression 3. transference Freud recognized the significance of the fact that humans, contra other mammals, spend the first few years (and likely more) of their lives dependent on their caregivers for survival. Dependency is a mixed bag. Q1: Give an example of the last time you were in a situation where you felt dependent on another. On one hand, dependency can be wonderful. The beauty of infancy is that there are moments when we experience our needs a being completely met, perhaps the closest thing to paradise that we ever experience (maybe this is where the Old Testament got the idea?) However, there are other moments when our needs go unmet and there is nothing we can do about it. In these moments, we are in hell, tortured, miserable. In infancy we vacillate between these two experiences of dependency. In fact, according to Freud, the pain of infancy is so overwhelming we have to forget it. Freud has a special term to describe this kind of forgetting. He calls it repression. We make those experiences unconscious (not subconscious-Freud didn’t like that word nor did he like the buried metaphor it implied). Over his life, Freud developed two distinct theories of repression, which equated to two distinct theories of mind and treatment. The first is the topographical theory. Here the mind is divided into three parts. The first is the unconscious. It is the most developmentally primitive. It operates along what Freud calls primary processes, which means it doesn’t follow reason or logic and it highly flexible at using various objects/actions to obtain satisfaction. The unconscious is made up of wishes that originate in infancy. These wishes tend to involve sexual (or more broadly loving) and aggressive impulses. These impulses which are innate, according to Freud, build up and create tension. This makes us uncomfortable so we discharge them by either acting on them if we can or imagining we are acting on them (fantasy) if we can’t. The infant, therefore, is constantly seeking to gratify these impulses (the pleasure principle) regardless of reality. Gradually, we begin to develop awareness or consciousness. Finally, as we begin to encounter reality we realize these wishes can present a danger (this creates anxiety). We also realize that to get them met requires engaging reality. Thus we develop a preconscious. The preconscious acts as a censor that keeps certain wishes from awareness—this is repression. The preconscious is also a storehouse for every memory, thought or feeling we ever experienced. Sometimes unconscious impulses can be discharged by linking up with a more tolerable wish or idea stored in the preconscious. So for example, an unconscious wish to murder one of my students can become linked to the wish to fail a student that is doing poorly “for their own good.” Q2: Give an example of the way in which aggressive impulses might become acceptable to consciousness in the classroom. When repression is successful we never even know it took place. Sometime, though, the wish is so powerful it cannot be completely repressed. It spills into consciousness (which in the topographic theory is a very limited sense organ) in the form of a compromise. This is the cause of the symptom. In other words, think about a symptom like anxiety. In certain contexts, I become very anxious without quite knowing why. For Freud, this symptom is a cover for a (failed) repressed wish or impulse. I cannot contain it yet I cannot allow into consciousness. This is the case for typical neurotic symptoms like conversion, obsession, compulsion, phobias, paranoia, even to an extent depression. Let’s take the example of obsession (something we teachers tend to be good at). Suppose you get a call about a new experimental school that is opening up. You are scheduled to interview with the principal. You are very excited. The interview goes very well. At the end the principal says we really like you, we will let you know our decision within 48 hours. You are thrilled. 48 hours goes by and you hear nothing. Four days go by and nothing. You call but he won’t take your calls. Chances are that you are now obsessing about what happened (going over the interview again and again in your mind). Why are you doing this? The obsession is a compromise between the wish to be loved and taken care of by the principal (what we want from all our bosses/parents) and the anger that comes from him ignoring your needs. We can’t get angry just yet as we still want the job and we fear our anger might cause us to lose it so we convert the anger into obsession. The anger is the fuel for the obsession. We will return to this theory of symptom formation next week. Q3: Give an example of the last time you obsessed about something? Can you identify an aggressive impulse behind this symptom?
Q4: Is obsession part of being a teacher? Is this a safe way for us to discharge our aggressive impulses? Back to the topographical theory. Pathology is a result of a powerful wish failing to be completely repressed. Therapy, then, involves making that wish conscious. This is the purpose of therapy in this model of mind and repression. The structural theory which comes later replaces conscious, unconscious and preconscious with, respectively, ego, id and superego. The source of this shift came from some things that Freud began to recognize, that (a) repression was often unconscious and only one of several defense mechanisms, (b) that these rules by which the censor determines what can and cannot enter consciousness are themselves unconscious and often irrational (c) that the resolution of mental conflict required more than simply making unconscious wishes conscious. In addition to awareness, ego is also responsible for defense mechanisms and reality testing (the ability to distinguish between our inner and out worlds, what makes us non-psychotic or neurotic). Also, the superego can contain rules that are completely irrational and often become the source of our unhappiness via guilt. In the structural theory, the goal of therapy is to better integrate the superego and ego as well as find appropriate ways to express id impulses (which again mostly revolve around sex and aggression). Q5: Can you think of certain superego rules (what is wrong and right/what makes you feel guilty) related to being a teacher that you have that might be irrational? So while we repress the experiences of infancy we also transfer them into our adult life and act them out again and again. Let’s try an example. Q6: Give an example where someone in a classroom situation made you really angry. What did you think caused the anger? What did you do about it? Anger often involves transference. There are usually only two reasons why others make us angry—actually no one can make us angry only trigger anger we already possess, our language distorts this and hold others responsible for our feelings. 1. Somebody takes care of their own needs at our expense 2. Somebody delivers a narcissistic injury, telling us we are not as important as we thought we were Both of these naturally originate in the experiences of dependency in childhood (where they happen over and over again) and trigger our anger as adults. Without these we would respond to situations with less emotional intensity and often more rationally. Q7: Can you see either of these as explaining your anger/reaction in Q6? In fact, according to Freud, much of our emotional life in the present is a transference of the past. Why do we do this? According to Freud, it is partly the attempt to fix the past in the present. This time it will be different. This time I will get my needs met. The problem is we are often drawn to people who will respond in exactly the way we need them to so we can rationalize the feelings we want to have. In fact, we often unconsciously manipulate situations to rationalize certain feelings (e.g. pick people that are angry to get involved with, have unrealistic expectations, etc.) Q8/Q9: How did you contribute to the dynamic in Q6? What aspects of reality did you “repress” so things could play out the way they did and you can have the feelings you needed to have?
Q10: Are their situations in your life where you notice a lot of transference reactions? In the end, what Freud is saying is that transference is a result of a refusal to grow up. As long as we hold onto getting our infantile needs met, we will forever be living the experiences of infancy as adults. Discussion: How do transference reactions play out into the classroom? What student behaviors trigger transference responses on the part of teachers? What teacher behaviors trigger transference reactions among students? How might all this relate to dependency? How can we make sure when we emotionally engage our students we are dealing with the students themselves and not a projection of our own past? Freud Part2 We will now take a few moments to explore some key psychoanalytic concepts. First some background. Freud was a practicing neurologist in late 19th century Vienna specializing in hysteria. Q1: What is hysteria? Where does the term come from (hint: the Greeks)? Freud’s hysterical patients typically exhibited bizarre physiological symptoms that had no physiological explanation. Patients would lose the ability to use one of their arms or see out of an eye. Dora, Freud’s most famous case, had a hysterical cough and hysterical fainting spells. Freud experimented with various techniques including hypnosis and free association. When his patients free associated they would, according to Freud, invariably reveal a childhood sexual experience, what we would today describe as sexual abuse (later he decided these were only fantasies). When they did, the symptoms would begin to dissipate. Freud developed the following theory. The abuse was so traumatic for the patient they repressed the experience and converted the feelings into the symptom. Thus symptoms were a form of transference. Once the feelings came to the surface, the symptoms disappeared. Take the case of Dora. Dora’s father brought her to Freud because of various hysterical symptoms. Freud had her free associate as to what was going on when the symptoms first appeared. She remembered taking a family trip with her parents and another couple, Herr and Frau K. She remembered taking a nature walk with Herr K and he made a pass at her. She was so upset she slapped him and the symptoms began shortly thereafter. Freud’s sensed a conflict. On one hand she was surely disgusted by the pass. On the other, there was a part of her that was excited by it. However, she did not think this was a proper feeling for a young girl so she repressed the excitement and converted it into the symptoms. At base, all symptoms involve a conflict of this kind. Freud tended to believe that repressed sexual feelings always lay at the heart of all symptoms but as we saw last week with obsession, often the repressed feelings are aggressive ones. In fact, Dora herself had good reason to be angry. Her father was having an affair with Frau K and Dora’s father brought her on these trips to distract Herr K. Doras’s illness was the ultimate revenge. Now her father had no time for Frau K as he was busy taking Dora to doctors. Freud understood that with symptoms we need to think about secondary gain, what does the symptom accomplish for the patient? In fact, if we know people who are hysterical or hypochondriacs we can see how much repressed aggression (in the form of controlling others) is often involved. Q2: Do you think Freud was right to be so focused on sex. Was this the major repressed issue in late 19th century Europe or was Freud just a horny old man? Other ways we can act out unconscious conflict according to Freud include slips of the tongue, dreams (where the underlying or latent content hides a repressed wish), jokes and everyday forgettings. Q3: Think about something or someone you regularly “forget” Can you find a hidden “secondary gain” behind this forgetting (think about how often your students forget as well)? In terms of development, Freud believed that we are born with a sexual drive or instinct he called libido which develops of the course of childhood. This drive wherein the erotic component can be expressed (as in romantic love) or repressed (as in friendship) orients us outward, to connect with objects in the world. There is also a competing drive, which Freud later called the death drive, which orients us to break those connections. Thus all love is infused with aggression (as all those who have been in long term relationship know). In our early life, the drive is invested in our own body and passes thru several stages. If we don't get our needs met during this time, we can become fixated here and our neurotic conflicts are often organized around these themes.

1. Orality: For the infant, pleasure revolves around the mouth. In emotional terms, objects are there for our own gratification. This can be material gratification (we use people) or narcissistic gratification (we date an attractive person because we feel attractive around them; we only feel like a successful teacher if our students do well). Whenever we depend on an external object to navigate internal states this is orality.

Q4: Can you think of oral issues that play out in the classroom?

2. Anality revolves around control. The paradigmatic moment occurs during toilet training when mommy tells us I want you to go here--in this hole in the floor and we say, maybe we will and maybe we won't (this is why young children often struggle with constipation, they are not willing to give it up!) Thus anality is about power and control. Also its about disgust (as mother tells us not to touch or look at or smell you know what cause it is disgusting, even though it came from inside us--that is confusing so we distance ourselves from it via disgust). Also, Mommy says to us: good boys and girls clean up afterwards so when we grow up we obsess about keeping everything need and organized (or we rebel and do the opposite and keep everything a mess, equally "anal").

Q5: How do anal issues play out in the classroom?

3. Finally, the phallic stage which is the setting for the Oedipal Complex. We all know the story--boy wants mommy all to himself and imagines he will take daddy's play, daddy doesn't like this and threatens boy with castration if he doesn't back off. Boy is so filled with castration anxiety he gives up his claim on mommy, becomes a man like daddy, internalizing daddy's superego with the hope that one day he will have a women like mommy all to himself. He gives up the ultimate pleasure and accepts substitute gratification. Setting aside the literal story lets look at the emotional dynamics involved cause there are two central ones which are at the heart of what it means to be a neurotic (which is likely all of us)

A. Growing Up: If I take daddy's place, that is, grow up, I will be punished. You see this all the time in schools as students who genuinely want to do well sabotage themselves over and over again ("forget" assignments; wait till last minute to study and on and on). Schools generate a conflict for most. On one hand we all want to do well. On the other we don't want to do too well cause that would mean growing up and giving up the hope that someone will take care of us. So we study, but we do it at the last minute so we don't do too well. We get a job (so we can tell everyone how much we want to be successful) yet select one that is a "dead end" so there is no chance of promotion. We find a romantic partner, but select someone that is emotionally unavailable. This is what it means to be a neurotic. The neurotic is trapped between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we really want things to change. On the other hand we work really really hard to make sure things never change.

Q6: How do your students sabotage their success in your classrooms?
Q7: How do you sabotage yourself in your own education/teaching?
Q8: Is there something about the very nature of schools that might inflame this conflict (hint: think dependency)?

B: Pleasure: If I take what I really want, that is mommy, I will be punished for it. The neurotic will not allow themselves to have what they really want. The agency for making this happen is the superego using its premier weapon--guilt. Most guilt is not conscious. What happens is we allow ourselves to have what we want but we ruin the experience (e.g. we play hooky from work but spend the whole time worrying we will get caught, we find a partner we are really interested in but spend the whole relationship fighting)

Q9: How does guilt operate in the life of a teacher (hint: ALOT)

For Freud the only solution to all this is analysis, as in analysis we can act out these conflicts with our therapist thus making them explicit. But ultimately therapy is about growing up--it is about renouncing the pleasures of infancy (that someone will take care of us) and accepting the moderated pleasure of adulthood (that we can take care of ourselves).

Q10: Do schools encourage students to take responsibility in this way?

Discussion: In many cases, our struggles with our students revolve around Oedipal issues. We are frustrated when they undermine their own success (and take it personally) and we often undermine our own success. How do these Oedipal issues play out in schools? Does the very structure of schooling inflame them? What can be done about this (besides sending all teachers and students to therapy)?

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...Foundations of Psychology Foundations of Psychology Psychology is an advanced study of human behavior, involving the mind and science. The ultimate goal is to understand humanity; however, many proposals have been rejected while some agreed upon. Psychology has not been an easy subject to understand fully or comprehend. Debates started when psychology established a subject different than biology or philosophy. The debate was to properly explain human behavior and the human mind. Many theories began to emerge, while others questioned the reliability and sources of the theorist. Many schools of thought have been created to teach and establish an understanding of the concepts involved (Psychology, 2003). Major Schools of Thought in Psychology Structuralism is the first school of thought created that is the most general. The concept is to break down the mental processes into the most basic concepts. Next functionalism was created from the concept of structuralism; it was formed to create a reaction to structuralism. Behaviorism was the next concept created in the 1950s. Behaviorism was based upon the environment and how the external environment has power over internal sources. Behaviorism is also constructed of observable behavior, the theories involved included classical conditioning and operant condition. Sigmund Freud founded psychoanalysis, which is the psychodynamic theory that addresses the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed......

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