Summary: NeoFreudian Theories

As we have seen, many theorists who emphasized different factors in their theories followed Freud. Jung put a special emphasis on unconscious processes. He was fascinated with dreams, myths, fantasies, and even the journals of medieval alchemists, because of the symbols they contained. To Jung, these represented deep patterns in the human psyche, built up over our species history. Jung's theory of archetypes and his concept of a collective unconscious reflected these interests.

Adler was interested in social influences on personality. Adler put special emphasis on feelings of inferiority and how an individual responded to them. He pointed out that individuals often compensate for the things that make them feel bad in childhood by developing other talents or by working hard to overcome their difficulties.

Karen Horney put a special emphasis on warm and nurturant relations between caregivers and young children. Positive relations foster basic confidence, she said, and negative ones create basic anxiety. Either of these could persist into adulthood and affect the individual's ability to cope effectively with life.

Adler and Horney were both ego psychologists because they believed the executive process in personality (the conscious self or ego) had the power to transform itself and energize self-change. Adler referred to the creative self, while Horney advocated self-analysis. Erik Erikson was another personality theorist who is categorized as an ego psychologist. He and his wife, a lifelong collaborator, depicted personality development as a series of challenges or crises throughout life. Each crisis, if resolved properly, contributed a virtue or strength to personality.

Modern psychologists tend to avoid the word ego, with its Freudian connotations, but they discuss an active, executive process using labels like self-concept. The self-concept is often seen as a multi-dimensional thing, in modern writing. A person can mentally occupy a variety of positions or carry on a dialog between different parts of the self.


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