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Theories of the Ego

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Theories of the Ego The Unconscious, Ego Psychology & coping with crises SSS 571 SSS 571: Susanne Bennett, Ph.D. 10/05/2009 Psychodynamic Theory * Anna Freudian Ego ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theories of the Ego


1
Theories of the Ego
The Unconscious, Ego Psychology coping with
crises SSS 571
2
Psychodynamic theory
  • Freud's biopsychosocial approach
  • Two Freudian models of the mind
  • Ego Psychology and autonomous ego functions
  • Coping and Adaptation
  • Change Concepts

3
Psychodynamic Theory is NOT just one theory
  • It is a set of theories
  • Drive or structural theory
  • Ego Psychology
  • Object Relations Theory
  • Self Psychology
  • Relational Theory
  • Our focus today
  • Classical theory (drive theory ego psychology)
  • Focus of advanced psychodynamic theory (SSS 723)
  • Contemporary theories (object relations, self
    psychology, relational theory)

4
What is psychodynamic theory?
  • It is a set of theories that describe...
  • the changing inner energies that motivate,
    dominate, control peoples behavior
  • It provides a framework that examines...
  • past experiences present reality, as well as
    the internal external forces that impact
    emotional development
  • It looks from the inside out the outside in

5
Freud's Path
  • How did a medically trained neurologist come to
    describe this particular theory of the mind?
  • Charcot the state of art of psychological care
    in the 19th century
  • Freudian problems in Victorian context

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The Couch
12
Psychodynamic Commonalities
  • Personal history (particularly early childhood
    experiences) influence development.
  • The psyche is formed at the intersection of
    internal and external forces.
  • A dynamic unconscious (UCS) influences thoughts,
    feelings and behaviors.
  • The Talking cure is influenced by transference.

13
Basic Premises of all Psychodynamic Theories
  • Internal external forcesboth conscious
    unconscious, based on past experience present
    realityinteract to motivate, dominate, control
    human behavior, personality development, social
    functioning
  • The internal mind affects how we relate to the
    external environment the external environment
    affects the internal mind in a dynamic
    interaction throughout the life span

14
Assumptions about human behavior
  • All biological, psychological, social factors
    interact in a complex way to impact development
    adaptation throughout life
  • Humans learn to adapt to the external environment
    through relationships shaped by in-born genetic
    capacities , culture, socio-historical context
  • Early childhood experiences relationships shape
    personality development interact with present
    reality to shape adaptation in current life

15
Two Freudian Schemata
  • The importance of theories of the mind-a
    framework in which to understand presenting
    problems.
  • Topographic theory
  • Structural theory
  • Freud's theory developed and changed, but built
    on what had come before

16
Topographic Model
  • Conscious (cs)?-the part of the mind that
    interacts with the external world, and which can
    reflect on itself.
  • Pre-conscious (pcs)-the part of the mind in which
    thoughts, feelings and ideas are being prepared
    for outward expression. Can be brought to
    attention.?
  • --------------------------------------------------
    -------------
  • Unconscious (ucs)-governed by the pleasure
    principle. The cauldron of wishes, desires and
    fears that make up the bulk of our mind.

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  • These wishes of our Unconscious, ever stirring,
    never dyingimmortal, one might sayremind us of
    the legendary Titans whose shoulders from time
    immemorial bore the great mountain-masses laden
    upon them by the victorious gods, which even now
    still quake from time to time from the
    convulsions of their limbs (Int. of Dreams,
    363, J. Crick, trans.)?

19
Aspects of a Freudian Theory of the Mind
  • The unconscious
  • Disavowed wishes and dreams
  • Controlled chaos and a mechanism of control
  • Persistent (but moderately mutable) mental
    representations
  • A personal history

20
Freudian Psychosexual Stages
  • Oral stage (First year of life)?
  • Focus on primary gratification through oral means
  • Anal stage (2-3 yrs)?
  • Focus on primary gratification through holding on
    letting go, corresponds with toilet training
  • Phallic (Oedipal) stage (3-5 yrs)?
  • Focus on primary gratification through genitals
    awareness of erotic feelings for parents
    emergence of triangular relationships
  • Latency stage (5 or 6 through puberty)?
  • Focus on repression of erotic feelings
  • Genital stage (puberty through adulthood)?
  • Focus on primary gratification though meeting
    adult sexual needs

21
The move to Structural Theory
  • Guilt, anxiety self-loathing
  • Drive theory's mechanism of change
  • Observation informs theory

22
Structural Theory
  • Id
  • Superego
  • Ego
  • (Where did the ucs go?)?
  • (A note on translation.)?

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The It (Id)?
  • The home of our sexual and aggressive urges.
  • Fully unconscious, although the unconscious is
    not fully id.
  • the dark inaccessible part of our
    personality...We approach the id with analogies
    we call it chaos, a cauldron full of seething
    excitation.

26
The Over-me (Superego)?
  • Both conscience and punisher.
  • The seat of moral expectations and regulation of
    self-esteem associated with meeting those
    expectations.
  • Identification moral development

27
The I
  • Conscious and unconscious
  • has an integrative function provides
    psychological cohesion
  • mediates between the Id and the Superego
  • The (non-unitary) Executive.

28
Post-Freudian Ego Psychology
  • Anna Freud elaborated the mechanisms that the ego
    uses to maintain homeostatis, and mediate the
    impingements from inside (the id, the ucs ego,
    the superego) and outside (unacceptable reality).
  • Heinz Hartmann developed a theory of the
    mechanisms of the ego that are independent of
    psychodynamics, and inherent in the mental
    structure from birth.

29
How does the ego develop?
  • Ego development occurs as result of
  • meeting basic needs
  • identification with others
  • learning
  • mastery of developmental tasks
  • effective problem-solving
  • successful coping
  • The ego develops capacities to function in the
    world, known as ego functions
  • Enable people to function in coherent, organized
    manner

30
Hartmann's ego functions
  • Some ego functions are inborn hereditary
    function autonomously, i.e., conflict-free
  • At birth, we are preadapted to an average
    expectable environment
  • Some functions (perception, memory, intelligence,
    thought processes, motor activity, reality
    testing) are separate from the drives

31
Bellack's list of ego functions
  • Reality testing
  • Judgment
  • Sense of reality of the world the self
  • Modulating controlling drives, affects,
    impulses
  • Object or interpersonal relations
  • Thought processes
  • Adaptive regression in the service of the ego
  • Defensive functioning
  • Stimulus barrier
  • Autonomous functioning
  • Mastery-competence
  • Synthetic-integrative function

32
Ego Defenses
  • The defensive methods so far discovered by
    analysis all serve a single purposethat of
    assisting the ego in its struggle with its
    instinctual life. They are motivated by the
    three principle types of anxiety to which the ego
    is exposedinstinctual anxiety, objective anxiety
    and anxiety of conscience. In addition, the mere
    struggle of conflicting impulses suffices to set
    the defence-mechanisms in motion.--Anna Freud,
    The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence

33
How defenses operate
  • Defense mechanisms operate out of conscious
    awareness, while coping mechanisms are conscious
  • Defenses protect individuals from intolerable or
    unacceptable impulses
  • Effective defenses enable optimal functioning
    without undue anxiety, while maladaptive defenses
    distort reality impair overall ego functioning

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Anna Freudian Ego Defenses
  • Repression
  • Reaction formation
  • Projection
  • Isolation
  • Undoing
  • Regression
  • Introjection (internalization)?
  • Turning against the self
  • Reversal
  • Sublimation
  • Displacement

36
Other Defenses
  • Denial
  • Intellectualization
  • Humor
  • Splitting
  • Altruism
  • Asceticism
  • Dissociation

37
Eriksonian Ego Psychology
  • The work of Erikson not only grew out of a
    critique of Freud's psychsexual stages, it also
    integrated observations from post-Freudian ego
    psychology.

38
Ericksons Eight Stages of Man
Epigenetic Stages
Ages
Virtues
  • Basic trust vs. mistrust (0-18
    mo)
  • Autonomy vs. shame doubt (18-3 yr)
  • Initiative vs. guilty
    (3-6 yr)
  • Industry vs. inferiority (6-11
    yr)
  • Identity vs. confusion (11-18
    yr)
  • Intimacy vs. isolation (young
    adulthood)
  • Generativity vs. stagnation (middle
    adulthood)
  • Integrity vs. despair (old
    age)
  • Hope
  • Will
  • Sense of purpose
  • Competence
  • Personal identity
  • Love
  • Care
  • Wisdom

39
What is a crisis?
  • An upset in psychological equilibrium triggered
    by
  • outside harm or threat from the environment
  • internal developmental or biological changes
  • interpersonal challenges, conflicts, or losses
  • Symptoms may include anxiety, guilt, shame,
    sadness, envy, disgust, fear
  • Traumatic stressactual or threatened severe
    injury or death of oneself or significant others

40
Diathesis/stress model of mental illness
  • Diathesisa predisposition to develop disease
    or morbid condition
  • Diathesis/stress modelan interaction of life
    experiences with biological variables (genetics,
    neurochemistry, neuroanatomy)
  • Each person has a unique vulnerability to stress

41
Coping and Adaptation
  • Our efforts to manage stress meet new
    challenges
  • Biological coping (demands on nervous hormonal
    systems)?
  • fight-or-flight
  • tend-and-befriend
  • Psychological coping
  • Defense mechanisms (internal, unconscious
    traits)?
  • Coping styles or capacities (fluid states,
    changeable)?
  • Problem-focusedchange environment
  • Emotion-focusedchange internal self

42
Individual's ability to cope with stress is
influenced by
  • Capacity to adapt restore equilibrium
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Current environmental supports resources
  • social supportsresources that provide
    material, emotional, instrumental support
  • personal supports perhaps salientaffirm
    identity, compensate for deficits

43
Core Change Concepts
ACCORDING TO CLASSICAL THEORY EGO PSYCHOLOGY
44
Psychopathology, according to classical theory
  • Unresolved conflicts of the mind between id,
    ego, superego or between ego external
    environment
  • May cause fixation at developmental stages
  • May cause weak ego functioning , leading to
    difficulties with adaptation
  • May cause inadequate defensive functioning
    leading to symptoms
  • Symptoms of unresolved conflict (e.g., anxiety,
    depression, compulsions, or sociopathy) are
  • Efforts to overcome or work through conflicts
  • Efforts to compensate for conflicts

45
Transferencea key to all dynamic treatments
  • Transference defined as
  • The feelings wishes from past experiences
  • placed onto another in the present
  • The central component of the talking cure
  • A means for viewing clients unresolved conflicts
  • by the interaction with the clinician
  • Countertransference defined as
  • The clinicians feelings about the client in
    treatment
  • Through understanding transference, clients may
    develop insight self-understanding, leading to
    change

46
Treatment based on ego psychology
EGO-MODIFYING TREATMENT
EGO-SUPPORTIVE TREATMENT
Focus past present conscious, unconscious,
preconscious Nature of change insight conflict
resolution Curative process make unconscious
conscious through interpretation Use of
relationship use understand positive
negative transference
Focus current behavior, conscious
thoughts/feelings limit past focus Nature of
change ego mastery, increased understanding,
better person-in-environment fit Curative
process strengthen ego, shore up defenses,
promote adaptation Use of relationship real
relationship, positive transference, corrective
relationship
47
Interventions treatment populations
EGO-MODIFYING TREATMENT
EGO-SUPPORTIVE TREATMENT
  • Types of interventions
  • Nondirective, reflective, interpretive free
    association work with environment not
    emphasized but may be used usually long-term tx.
  • Appropriate clients
  • Persons with good ego strengths, but maladaptive
    functioning
  • Types of interventions
  • Direction, support, education, structure, some
    reflection environmental modification provision
    mobilization of resources short- or long-term
    tx.
  • Appropriate clients
  • Persons encountering crises, life transitions,
    extreme stress with low tolerance impulse
    control

48
a knowledge of psychodynamic forces can
illuminate what is going on in any human
interaction or communication, no matter how
brief it is. --Berzoff, J., Flanagan, L.,
Hertz, P. (Eds.). (2008). Inside out and outside
in (2nd ed.). NY Jason Aaronson, p. 2.
48
49
Ego Psychologys use in social work practice
SOCIAL WORK THEORISTS EGO PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
50
Social Works long history with ego psychology
  • Ego psychology was very influential in early
    social work
  • Mary Richmond (1867-1928), wrote Social Diagnosis
    (1917)
  • Backlash emerged in 1960-1970s due to civil
    rights movements, war on poverty
  • Founding of Clinical Social Work Journal (1972)
    Federation of Societies for Clinical Social Work
    (1971) re-emphasized social works psychodynamic
    roots

51
Well-known MSW psychodynamic scholars
  • Howard Parad, wrote Crisis Intervention,
    Ego-oriented Casework
  • Eda Goldstein, wrote Ego Psychology Social Work
    Practice, Short-term Treatment in Social Work An
    Integrative Perspective, Self-Psychology and
    Object Relations Theory in Social Work Practice
  • Jerald Brandell, wrote Psychodynamic Social Work
  • Joan Berzoff, wrote Inside Out and Outside In
    Psychodynamic Clinical theory and Psychopathology
    in Contemporary Multicultural Contexts

52
Psychodynamic theory in current SW practice
  • Ego psychology is used as underpinning for
    supportive treatment
  • Ego-supportive treatment takes a
    strengths-based approach
  • Focuses on adaptation, restoring equilibrium,
    building social supports
  • Especially useful in work with clients who are
    severely mentally ill, homeless, in crisis,
    recently traumatized, in nursing homes
  • Contemporary psychodynamic practice is embraced
    by current practitioners in brief long term
    treatment
  • Especially in work with individual clients with
    personality disorders or complex trauma or in
    working with couples

53
Freudian Controversies
  • Universality
  • Oedipus conflict, penis envy, and the politics of
    gender
  • Homosexuality
  • Fantasy and reality

54
Critiques of Freud
  • Biology and mental illness.
  • The problem of repression.
  • Too many sexual urges, not enough positive
    influences.
  • Freud Einstein...human nature and hope.

55
Critiques of Ego Psychology
  • Freudian theory foregrounds the importance of the
    unconscious, while post-Freudian ego psychology
    tends to give primacy to the (more or less
    conscious) ego.
  • When mastery and proper ego functioning are the
    focus of treatment, the therapist may become the
    model of normalcy.
  • Cultural factors often ignored.

56
Evaluating Freudian Theory
  • Evidence
  • Application
  • Usefulness
  • Inclusiveness

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