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THE SCIENCE OF LIFE-SPAN DEVELOPMENT THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORIES Psychoanalytic theories describe development as primarily unconscious (beyond awareness) and heavily colored by emotion. Psychoanalytic theorist emphasize that behavior is merely a surface characteristic and that a true understanding of development requires analyzing the symbolic meanings of behavior and the deep inner workings of the mind. They also stress that early experiences with parents extensively shape development, such that like Freud. Freud’s Theory Freud (1856-1939) was a medical doctor who specialized in neurology. He developed his psychoanalytic theory from work with his patients After spending most of his years in Vienna, he moved to London near the end of his career to flee Nazi anti-Semitism. He proposed that personality has three structures: id (totally unconscious; has no contact with reality or morality), ego (deals with demands of reality and is called the “executive branch” of personality because it uses reasoning to make decisions; it has no morality), and superego (the Freudian structure of personality that is moral branch of personality which is the part that considers the right from wrong; AKA: “conscience”). The go must resolve the conflicts between the demands of reality, the wishes of the id, and the constraints of the superego. These conflicts cause anxiety, which alerts the ego to resolve the conflict by means of defense mechanisms , which are the ego’s protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality. Repression is the most powerful and pervasive defense mechanism because it pushes unacceptable id impulses (sex and aggressive desires) beneath awareness and back into the unconscious mind. Freud viewed that early childhood often brought sexually laden experiences that are too threatening and stressful to cope consciously. As children grow up, he believed, their focus of pleasure and sexual impulses shifts from the moth to the anus and eventually to the genitals. We thusly go through five stages of psychosexual development: 1. Oral : infant’s pleasure centers on the mouth (birth to 1 ½ years) 2. Anal : child’s pleasure focuses on the anus (1 ½ to 3 years) 3. Phallic : child’s pleasure focuses on the genitals (3 to 6 years) 4. Latency : child represses sexual interest & develops social and intellectual skills (6 years to puberty) 5. Genital : time of sexual reawakening; source of sexual pleasure becomes someone outside family (puberty onward) Unconscious thought remain a central theme, but most contemporaries hold that conscious thought plays a greater role than Freud envisioned. Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory
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This note was uploaded on 04/30/2008 for the course PSY 235 taught by Professor Pak during the Spring '08 term at Rhode Island.

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