Freud's psychodynamic explanation of aggression (Defence mechanisms …
Freud's psychodynamic explanation of aggression
Model of the mind
The small amount of mental activity we know about.
Things we could be aware of if we wanted or tried.
Things we are unaware of and cannot become aware of.
Defends unconscious mind against displeasure by using defence mechanisms
Works on reality principle
Pressures ego to control the id in line with moral principles
Punishes bad behaviour with feelings of guilt
Unacceptable sexual desires
Primitive (in your genes), biological part of the mind
Operates on pleasure principle
Baby is born as 'id'
A natural instinct called 'Thanatos' drives us towards self-destruction, and it creates pressure that we can't control, making us do something aggressive. We use defence mechanisms to protect ourselves which directs the aggression outwardly.
- An unconscious mechanism from the ego that keeps disturbing thoughts from becoming conscious.
e.g Oedipus complex
- Blocks external events from awareness. A person refuses to experience a situation that is too much for them.
e.g Smokers refuse to admit that smoking is bad for them
- Attributing unacceptable thoughts and feelings onto someone else.
e.g Hating someone but your superego tells you it's unacceptable, so you start believing they hate you.
- Satisfying an impulse with a substitute object.
e.g Someone frustrated by their boss may go home and do something bad.
- A movement back in psychological time when one is under stress.
e.g A child might suck their thumb or wet the bed again when in hospital.
- Satisfying an impulse with a substitute object in a socially acceptable way.
e.g Putting emotions into something constructive like sport
Eros and Thanatos
Behaviour is motivated by the desire to feel pleasure and is organised by these two drives.
Freud conceptualised these drives as being powered by internal psychic energy known as libido, and they draw their energy from the id.
This was his explanation of aggression, that we have an unconscious drive that causes aggressive behaviour, caused by an internal force.
Found physiological evidence catharsis (aggression reduction)
Behaving in an aggressive way reduced tension in the individual as measured by physiological measures
Verona and Sullivan (2008)
Lab experiment to see if acting in an aggressive way (pressing a shock button) would lead to reduction of aggression (heart rate) compared to a control situation where someone responded in a non-aggressive way (pressing non-shock button)
See if reduction in aggression predicted aggression later
Ppt's who reacted aggressively to frustration (pressing shock button) had reduced heart rate = supporting cathartic aggressive behaviour
Anderson and Dill (2000)
Playing violent video games increased level of aggression, particularly women
Researchers believed it made them think in an aggressive way and that long-term use could result in permanent aggressive thought patterns
Childhood experiences are important
Psychoanalytic understanding of the roots of violence and how people connect with each other is critical in understanding violent behaviour and making a solution
Freud said humans are instinctually aggressive and seek egoistic self-satisfaction
Catharsis in reducing aggression
- a psychodynamic principle that is simply an emotional release
The theory suggests that getting out someone's aggression and anger should reduce aggressive feelings
Aggressive/sexual urges are relieved by "releasing" aggressive or sexual energy, usually through action or fantasy
Feelings build up and create pressure if not vented, but releasing emotions decreases pressure in the person so they are less aggressive
Research on catharsis doesn't back up the theory
Venting aggression appears to not reduce future aggression, it could make the person angrier
Despite opposing evidence, people believe aggression reduces frustration and future aggression