Chapter 6 The Neo-Freudian Theories: Relevant Research Anxiety
Chapter 6 The Neo-Freudian Theories: Relevant Research Anxiety and Coping Strategies The age of anxiety (Twenge, 2000) We live in an age of anxiety. The average anxiety scores in our society have increased steadily from the 1950s through the 1990s. The average American child today reports more anxiety than child psychiatric patients did in the 1950s. It is more important than ever to identify effective ways to cope with and reduce anxiety.
Freuds view of anxiety According to Freud (and to Erikson), our ego has to deal with at least three kinds of anxiety: Reality anxiety occurs in response to perceived threats in the outside world (having to give a talk in public, being arrested for speeding, falling off a tall ladder, bouncing a large check, etc.). Neurotic anxiety is experienced when unacceptable id impulses are dangerously close to breaking into consciousness. Moral anxiety occurs when the superego seeks to censor or suppress id impulses that violate the superegos strict moral code (i.e., guilt). The ego (that is, the self) is assumed to act as an arbiter or
mediator in all of these cases. Sometimes we use Freudian defense mechanisms to copy with reality anxiety In a study by Koriat, Melkman, Averill, and Lazarus (1972), participants viewed a film depicting industrial accidents involving mutilations and, in one case, death. When asked to report how they reduced the anxiety they experienced while viewing the film, some participants reported using coping strategies that increased their involvement with the film. However, other participants reported using distancing coping strategies that had the essential features of Freudian denial and intellectualization.
Coping styles: sensitization and repression Coping styles: the personality dimension of repression- sensitization (Byrne, 1964) Repressors act as if they want to avoid confronting, or even acknowledging, the stressful event, and they try to tune it out as much as possible. Sensitizers act as if they are obsessed with the stressful event, and compelled to know everything about it. Repressors tend to hide their feelings of anxiety and deny having themeven to themselves. Sensitizers display their feelings of anxiety, both verbally and nonverbally, sometimes even catastrophizing them. Adlers, Ericksons, and Horneys view of anxiety
According to Adler, Erickson, and Horney: We experience anxiety early in life as soon as we become self-aware enough to realize that, as an infant, we are weak, helpless, and dependent on others for our survival. Much of the anxiety we experience in life takes the form of reality anxiety. In order to deal with this type of anxiety, we must develop coping strategies. The number of coping strategies people use is almost endless, soto simplify thingsthey are grouped into types. Coping strategies: active versus avoidant coping Active coping strategies Active-cognitive strategies Considered several alternatives for handling the problem
Drew on past experience Active-behavioral strategies Made a plan of action and followed it Tried harder to make things work Avoidance coping strategies Avoided being with people in general Refused to believe that it happened Tried to reduce tension by drinking more Coping strategies: problem-focused versus emotion-focused coping Problem-focused coping strategies: try to solve, or at least ameliorate, the problem
Identify the source(s) of the problem Develop a plan for dealing with the problem Carry out the different steps or stages of the plan Emotion-focused coping strategies: try to bring ones emotions under control Take several deep breaths and calm oneself Take time away from the problem Reflect and meditate Pray
How effective are coping strategies? Smokers who used at least one coping strategy were four times more likely to quit smoking than those who used none (Shiffman, 1985). A similar result was found in a study of depressed couples who were experiencing stress in their marriages (Mitchell et al., 1983). The results of a survey study revealed that the more people relied on effective coping strategies, the happier and more satisfied with their lives they were (McCrae & Costa, 1986). Not all coping strategies are equally effective In almost all cases, active strategies are more effective than
avoidance strategies in helping people cope with stressors. This effect has been found in: People coping with a loved ones illness People recovering from a physical assault Women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer Women who failed to conceive after in vitro fertilization In general, then, you should find an active way of coping with your problems, rather than finding ways to avoid confronting them with the hope that they will go away.
When, if ever, are avoidance strategies or emotion-focused strategies effective? Avoidance strategies can help you feel better in the short term, but are almost never effective in the long run, and can even make things worse. Emotion-focused strategies are effective when there is nothing you can do to solve the problem. In cases like this, a focus on controlling your own emotions may be your best, and even only, option (Strentz &
Aurbach, 1988). Psychoanalytic Concepts and Aggression Eight different forms of human aggression Active Direct Physical Verbal Passive Indirect Direct
Indirect Hitting (kicking, biting, etc.) the victim Setting a trap, pitfall, or rigging a harmful device with the intent to hurt the victim Obstructing the victims passage with the intent to punish or inflict
harm Refusing to take an action that is necessary to keep the victim from being harmed Insulting, taunting (verbally abusing) the victim Slandering and spreading malicious gossip about the victim
with the intent to hurt the victim Refusing to speak; giving the victim the silent treatment to cause discomfort and distress Refusing to speak or write on the victims behalf when it would keep the victim from being harmed
Freuds theory of aggression According to Freud, aggression is the result of the frustrated libido that occurs whenever our pleasure-seeking impulse is blocked. Our primordial reaction in such cases is to feel rage at whoever or whatever has blocked our attempt to obtained the desired goal, and to retaliate through aggression. Following the expression of aggression toward this person or object, we are assumed to experience an emotional catharsis, which we find rewarding. An important question is whether this catharsis makes future aggression more or less likely to occur. The frustration-aggression hypothesis
(Dollard et al., 1939) According to this hypothesis, aggression is always a consequence of frustration and frustration always leads to aggression. In other words, the hypothesis proposes that there is only one cause of aggression (frustration) and one response to frustration (aggression). To explain when aggression will cease, Dollard and his colleagues also adopted Freuds concept of catharsis, predicting that the aggressive act should end when catharsis has taken place. To explain why we dont spend all our time acting out lifes
frustrations in the form of aggression, Dollard and his colleagues proposed that frustration can sometimes lead to indirect aggression. Indirect aggression can take three different forms: displaced aggression, attack in an indirect manner, and sublimation. Evidence consistent with the hypothesis: the link between frustration and aggression Guerra et al. (1995) found that the most aggressive children tended to be those who experienced the highest levels of stress and frustration in their lives. Catalano et al. (1993) found that people who had lost their jobs were six times more likely to have engaged in an act of violence than those who were still employed. Landau (1988) and Landau and Raveh (1987) found that as the level of unemployment increased in Israel, there was often a
corresponding increase in violent crimes like homocide. Harris (1974) found that more aggression was evoked when a person cut in line near the front of the line rather than further back. Verbal and nonverbal aggression as a function of place in line (Harris, 1974) 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 Verbal 0.4 Nonverbal
0.3 0.2 0.1 0 Back of line Front of line Practical implication: Dont frustrate the bad guys when they ask for your wallet. Just give them your wallet. The revised hypothesis: aversive, unpleasant stimuli can evoke aggression (Berkowitz, 1989) According to the revised hypothesis, it is the unpleasantness that
we respond to when frustrating circumstances trigger aggression. This means that aggression can also be triggered by aversive but non-frustrating events such as high temperatures, irritating noise, physical pain, and environmental stressors. Unique predictions of the revised hypothesis: Frustration facilitates aggression only to the degree that it is perceived as unpleasant (attractive member of the opposite sex cutting in line). If the frustrating event can be interpreted in a way that reduces the unpleasant feelings that accompany it, aggression becomes less likely. Displaced aggression Dozens of studies have found that we sometimes displace
the aggression from a person who has provoked us to someone who has not. For example, in one study some participants were frustrated by an experimental confederate while they tried to solve anagram problems. The frustrated participants not only aggressed toward the confederate on a subsequent task, but also displaced aggression onto another participant who had not frustrated them (Konecni & Doob, 1977). Number of shocks given to the target person (Konecni & Doob, 1977) 18 16 14 Frustrator
12 Stranger 10 8 6 Frustrated Nonfrustrated Subjects' level of frustration Catharsis and aggression Freuds theory predicted that catharsis would reduce the
need to aggress. But does it? In a study by Bushman (2002), participants whose essays had been harshly evaluated by another person were actually more, rather than less, angry at the other person after they had been given the opportunity to hit a punching bag, either while thinking of the other person or just for exercise. Average rating of anger following cathartic activity (Bushman, 2002) 31 30 29 28 27 26
25 24 Control Exercise Thinking of other Why does the catharsis that results from acting aggressively often increase subsequent aggression? Contrary to Freuds prediction, the catharsis that results from acting aggressively often increases, rather than decreases, subsequent aggression. Why does this unexpected effect occur? Three processes
may be involved. Disinhibition The presence of aggressive cues Reinforcement Attachment Styles and Adult Relationships Object Relations Theory Its adherents included Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Margaret Mahler, and Heinz Kohut. The theory views the childs earliest relationships as crucial to the childs social development. The theory assumes that the child develops unconscious representations of the parents to relate to in the parents physical absence.
It postulates that the nature of these unconscious representations influence the childs way of relating to new people who come along, even into adulthood. Attachment Theory Attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby and refined by Mary Ainsworth. As in Object Relations Theory, unconscious working models based on these earliest relationships are assumed to influence
the kind of attachments developed in subsequent relationships. The focus of the theory is the quality of the emotional attachment between the infant and its caretaker, usually the mother. Ainsworth and her colleagues tested the theory by creating separation and reunion situations, and observing the results Through this research, they identified secure relationships, anxious-ambivalent relationships, and avoidant relationships. Interpersonal styles of children with different attachment histories Insecure Secure Anxious/Ambivalent
Avoidant Toddler Is easily soothed upon reunion with mother; seeks proximity to her Upon reunion, mixes proximity seeking with resistance (cries, hits) Tends to ignore or pull away from mother upon reunion
3 year old Greater persistence, peer competence, and ego strength; more affective sharing with peers Less peer competence and ego strength; more passive resistance to exploring the environment Less peer competence and ego strength; less freedom in exploring environment
6 year old Accepting, tolerant of others imperfections; initiates positive interactions More ambivalence upon reunion with parents; may mix anger and snubs with exaggerated dependency Defensive, dismissing of attachment; upon reunion, maintains distance from parents
Adult attachment styles: Hazan and Shavers (1987) love quiz descriptions I find it relatively easy to get close to others and am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I dont often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me. I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others; I find it difficult to trust them completely; difficult to allow myself to depend on them. I am nervous when anyone gets too close; and often, lover partners want me to be more intimate than I feel comfortable being. I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry that my partner doesnt really love me or wont want to stay with me. I want to merge completely with another person, and this desire sometimes scares people away.
Adult attachment styles (Hazan & Shaver, 1987) Secure adults (56%) Avoidant adults (25%) Anxious-ambivalent adults (19%) Secure adults are more likely than insecure adults to report positive relationships with parents and a warm and trusting family environment. Avoidant adults are more likely to describe their parents marriage as unhappy. Anxious-ambivalent adults are more likely to report that their relationships with family members are distant and distrustful.
Four attachment types (Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) Fear of abandonment (Anxiety) Low High Low Fear of closeness (Avoidance ) High
Secure Avoidant/ Dismissing Anxious/Ambivalent Preoccupied Disoriented/Fearful Percentages of people in the four adult attachment types Attachment styles and romantic relationships Adults with a secure attachment style tend to be more satisfied with their
romantic relationship than adults with an insecure attachment style. Adults whose partner has a secure attachment style also report greater satisfaction than adults whose partner has an insecure attachment style. Not surprisingly, people who have a secure attachment style are more likely to marry partners who also have a secure attachment style, at rates greatly exceeding chance. Compared with people who have a secure attachment style, those with an avoidant attachment style are less likely to get married in the first place, more likely to get divorced if they do marry, and much less likely to re-marry. Marriage rates as a function of attachment style 100 Percentage married
90 80 Secure 70 Avoidant 60 50 40 age 27 age 43 age 52
Attachment styles and romantic relationships In one study, 43% of college students with an avoidant attachment style reported that they had never been in love. People with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style fall in love often but worry about being abandoned and about whether they can trust their partners. Adult attachment style differences have also been observed in separation and reunion behavior (Fraley & Shaver, 1998; Simpson, Rhodes, & Nelligan, 1992). Finally, there is evidence that attachment styles can be changed. Having a secure, trusting relationship with a caring and committed partner can help turn an insecure person into a more secure one (30% of young women in one study changed their attachment style classification over a 2-year time span).
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