Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

View sample psychodynamic models of personality research paper. Browse research paper examples for more inspiration. If you need a psychology research paper written according to all the academic standards, you can always turn to our experienced writers for help. This is how your paper can get an A! Feel free to contact our writing service for professional assistance. We offer high-quality assignments for reasonable rates.

Freud’s psychoanalysis is like Picasso’s cubism. Controversial from the outset, Picasso’s work enchanted some and alienated others, but every twentieth-century painter has responded to it in some way. So it is with Freud’s psychoanalytic theory: Some psychologists love it, others hate it, but almost every psychologist has reacted to it—deliberately or inadvertently, consciously or unconsciously—in his or her own work.

Psychoanalysis and cubism are alike in at least one other respectaswell.Bothparadigmschangedinfundamentalways our view of the world by pointing out limitations in our habitual manner of thinking and perceiving. Cubism compelled us to view a given object or situation from multiple perspectives simultaneously—no single viewpoint can capture the complexity of the scene. Psychoanalysis taught us much the same thing, but instead of looking outward toward the external world, psychoanalysis turned our attention inward. In the process, it altered forever the way we see ourselves.

Evaluatingthevalidityandutilityofatheoryofpersonality is never easy, but it is particularly challenging for a theory as complex and far-reaching as psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic theory touches upon virtually every aspect of human mental life, from motivation and emotion to memory and information processing. Embedded within this larger model is a theory of personality, but it is not always obvious where the personality portion of psychoanalysis begins and other aspects of the model leave off. Because of this, one cannot assess the psychoanalytic theory of personality without examining psychoanalytic theory in toto, with all its complexity, intricacy, and controversy.

This research paper reviews psychodynamic models of personality and their place in contemporary psychology. The paper begins with a brief discussion of the core assumptions of psychoanalytic theory, followed by an overview of the evolution of the theory from Freud’s classical model to today’s integrative psychodynamic frameworks. I then discuss the common elements in different psychodynamic models and the ways that these models have grappled with key questions regarding personality development and dynamics. Finally, I discuss the place of psychoanalysis within contemporary psychology and the relationship of psychoanalytic theory to other areas of the discipline.

The Core Assumptions of Psychoanalysis

Given the complexity of psychoanalytic theory and the myriad incarnations that the model has assumed over the years, the core assumptions of the psychodynamic framework are surprisingly simple. Moreover, the three core assumptions of psychoanalysis are unique to the psychodynamic framework: No other theories of personality accept these three premises in their purest form.

Primacy of the Unconscious

Psychodynamic theorists contend that the majority of psychological processes take place outside conscious awareness. In psychoanalytic terms, the activities of the mind (or psyche) are presumed to be largely unconscious, and unconscious processes are thought to be particularly revealing of personality dynamics (Brenner, 1973; Fancher, 1973). Although aspects of the primacy of the unconscious assumption remain controversial (see Kihlstrom, 1987; McAdams, 1997), research on implicit learning, memory, motivation, and cognition has converged to confirm this basic premise of psychoanalysis (albeit in a slightly modified form). Many mental activities are only imperfectly accessible to conscious awareness—including those associated with emotional responding, as well as more mundane, affectively neutral activities such as the processing of linguistic material (see Bornstein & Pittman, 1992; Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; Schacter, 1987; Stadler & Frensch, 1998). Whether unconscious processes are uniquely revealing of personality dynamics is a different matter entirely, and psychologists remain divided on this issue.

It is ironic that the existence of mental processing outside awareness—so controversial for so long—has become a cornerstone of contemporary experimental psychology. In fact, in summarizing the results of cognitive and social research on automaticity, Bargh and Chartrand (1999) recently concluded that evidence for mental processing outside of awareness is so pervasive and compelling that the burden of proof has actually reversed: Rather than demonstrate unconscious influences, researchers must now go to considerable lengths to demonstrate that a given psychological process is at least in part under conscious control. This conclusion represents a rather striking (and counterintuitive) reversal of prevailing attitudes regarding the conscious-unconscious relationship throughout much of the twentieth century.

Psychic Causality

The second core assumption of psychodynamic theory is that nothing in mental life happens by chance—that there is no such thing as a random thought, feeling, motive, or behavior (Brenner, 1973). This has come to be known as the principle of psychic causality, and it too has become less controversial over the years. Although few psychologists accept the principle of psychic causality precisely as psychoanalysts conceive it, most theorists and researchers agree that cognitions, motives, emotional responses, and expressed behaviors do not arise randomly, but always stem from some combination of identifiable biological and/or, psychological processes (Rychlak, 1988).

Although few psychologists would argue for the existence of random psychological events, researchers do disagree regarding the underlying processes that account for such events, and it is here that the psychodynamic view diverges from those of other perspectives. Whereas psychoanalysts contend that unconscious motives and affective states are key determinants of ostensibly random psychological events, psychologists with other theoretical orientations attribute such events to latent learning, cognitive bias, motivational conflict, chemical imbalances, or variations in neural activity (e.g., see Buss, 1991; Danzinger, 1997). The notion that a seemingly randomevent(e.g.,aslipofthetongue)revealssomethingimportant about an individual’s personality is in its purest form unique to psychoanalysis.

Critical Importance of Early Experiences

Psychoanalytic theory is not alone in positing that early developmental experiences play a role in shaping personality, but the theory is unique in the degree to which it emphasizes childhood experiences as determinants of personality development and dynamics. In its strongest form, psychoanalytic theory hypothesizes that early experiences—even those occurring during the first weeks or months of life—set in motion personality processes that are to a great extent immutable (see Emde, 1983, 1992). In other words, the events of early childhood are thought to create a trajectory that almost invariably culminates in a predictable set of adult character traits (Eagle, 1984; Stern, 1985). This is especially of events that are outside the normal range of experience (i.e., very positive or very negative).

The psychodynamic hypothesis that the first weeks or months of life represent a critical period in personality development contrasts with those of alternative theories (e.g., cognitive), which contend that key events in personality development occur somewhat later, after the child has acquired a broad repertoire of verbal and locomotive skills. Freud’s notion of a critical early period in personality development—coupled with his corollary hypothesis that many of the most important early experiences involve sexual frustration or gratification—was (and is) highly controversial. It helped create a decades-long divergence of psychoanalysis from mainstream developmental psychology, which has only recently begun to narrow (Emde, 1992).

The Evolution of Psychoanalysis: Gazing Across Three Centuries

Many psychodynamic ideas—including the core assumptions just discussed—predated Freud’s work and were anticipated by eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophers (Ellenberger, 1970; Hilgard, 1987). Nonetheless, psychoanalytic theory as an independent school of thought was conceived just over 100 years ago, with the publication of Breuer and Freud’s (1895/1955) Studies on Hysteria. Since that time, the history of psychoanalysis can be divided into four overlapping phases: classical psychoanalytic theory, neo-analytic models, object relations theory and self psychology, and contemporary integrative models. Each phase introduced a novel approach to human development and personality.

Classical Psychoanalytic Theory

Given Freud’s background in neurology, it is not surprising that the first incarnation of psychoanalytic theory was avowedly biological. In his early writings, Freud (1895/1966, 1900/1958a) set out to explain psychological phenomena in terms that could be linked to extant models of neural functioning (an ironic goal to say the least, given that psychoanalysis developed in part to explain “neurological” symptoms that had no identifiable neurological basis, such as hysterical blindness and hysterical paralysis).

Because the core principles of classical psychoanalytic theory developed over more than 40 years, there were numerous revisions along the way. Thus, it is most accurate to think of classical psychoanalytic theory as a set of interrelated models, which were often (but not always) consistent with and supportive of each other: the drive model, the topographic model, the psychosexual stage model, and the structural model.

The Drive Model

One consequence of Freud’s determination to frame his theory in quasi-biological terms is that the earliest version of psychoanalytic drive theory was for all intents and purposes a theory of energy transformation and tension reduction (Breuer & Freud, 1895; Freud, 1896/1955c). Inborn (presumably inherited) instincts were central to the drive model, and most prominent among these was the sex drive, or libido. Freud’s interest in (some might say obsession with) sexual impulses as key determinants of personality development and dynamics was controversial during his lifetime, and remains so today (e.g., see Torrey, 1992). At any rate, during the earliest phase of psychoanalytic theory, personality was seen as a by-product of the particular way in which sexual impulses were expressed in an individual.

Freud never fully renounced the drive concept, even after he shifted the emphasis of psychoanalytic theory from inborn instincts to dynamic mental structures with no obvious biological basis (Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983). The concept of cathexis—investment of libidinal (or psychic) energy in an objectoract—remainedcentraltopsychoanalytictheoryeven as the drive model waned in influence.As his career drew to a close during the 1930s, Freud (1933/1964a, 1940/1964b) continued to use the concept of cathexis to account for a wide range of psychological processes, from infant-caregiver bonding and infantile sexuality to group behavior and parapraxes (i.e., “Freudian slips”).

As the concept of cathexis became reified in classical psychoanalytic theory, so did the companion concepts of fixation (i.e., lingering investment of psychic energy in objects and activities from an earlier developmental period), and regression (i.e., reinvestment of psychic energy in an earlier stage of development, usually under stress).As should become apparent, the concept of cathexis gradually faded from view, but the concepts of fixation and regression continue to be widely discussed and used to explain a wide range of issues related to personality development and dynamics.

The Topographic Model

At the same time as Freud was refining the drive theory, he was elaborating his now-famous topographic model of the mind, which contended that the mind could usefully be divided into three regions: the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious (Freud, 1900/1958a, 1911/1958b). Whereas the conscious part of the mind was thought to hold only information that demanded attention and action at the moment, the preconscious contained material that was capable of becoming conscious but was not because attention (in the form of psychic energy) was not invested in it at that time. The unconscious contained anxiety-producing material (e.g., sexual impulses, aggressive wishes) that were deliberately repressed (i.e., held outside of awareness as a form of self-protection). Because of the affect-laden nature of unconscious material, the unconscious was (and is) thought to play a more central role in personality than are the other two elements of Freud’s topographic model. In fact, numerous theories of personality ascribe to the notion that emotion-laden material outside of awareness plays a role in determining an individual’s personality traits and coping style (see Hogan, Johnson, & Briggs, 1997; Loevinger, 1987).

The terms conscious, preconscious, and unconscious continue to be used today in mainstream psychology, and research has provided a surprising degree of support for this tripartite approach in the areas of memory and information processing (Bucci, 1997; Stein, 1997; Westen, 1998). Consciousness is indeed linked with attentional capacity, and studies show that a great deal of mental processing (including perceptual processing) occurs preconsciously (Bornstein, 1999b; Erdelyi, 1985). As noted earlier, the existence of a dynamic unconscious remains controversial, with some researchers arguing that evidence favoring this construct is compelling (Westen, 1998), and others contending that “unconscious” processing can be accounted for without positing the existence of a Freudian repository of repressed wishes and troubling urges and impulses (Kihlstrom, 1987, 1999).

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the topographic model—for Freud and for contemporary experimentalists as well—concerns the dynamics of information flow (i.e., the mechanisms through which information passes among different parts of the mind). Freud (1900/1958a, 1915/1957, 1933/1964a) used a variety of analogies to describe information movement among the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious, the most well-known of these being his gatekeeper (who helped prevent unconscious information from reaching conscious awareness), and anteroom (where preconscious information was held temporarily before being stored in the unconscious). Contemporary researchers (e.g., Baddeley, 1990) have coined terms more scientific than those Freud used (e.g., central executive, visuospatial scratch pad), but in fact they have not been much more successful than Freud was at specifying the psychological and neurological mechanisms that mediate intrapsychic information flow.

The Psychosexual Stage Model

Freud clung to the drive model (and its associated topographic framework) for several decades, in part because of his neurological background, but also because the drive model helped him bridge the gap between biological instincts and his hypothesized stages of development. By 1905, Freud had outlined the key elements of his psychosexual stage model, which argued that early in life humans progress through an invariant sequence of developmental stages, each with its own unique challenge and its own mode of drive (i.e., sexual) gratification (Freud, 1905/1953, 1918/1955a). Freud’s psychosexual stages—oral, anal, Oedipal, latency, and genital— are well known even to nonpsychoanalytic psychologists. So are the oral, anal, and Oedipal (or phallic) character types associated with fixation at these stages (Fisher & Greenberg, 1996). From a personality perspective, the psychosexual stage model marks a turning point in the history of psychoanalysis because it was only with the articulation of this model that personality moved from the periphery to the center of psychoanalytic theory.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

Table 5.1 illustrates the basic organization of Freud’s (1905/1953) psychosexual stage model. Frustration or overgratification during the infantile, oral stage was hypothesized to result in oral fixation, and an inability to resolve the developmental issues that characterize this period (e.g., conflicts regarding dependency and autonomy). The psychosexual stage model further postulated that the orally fixated (or oral dependent) person would (a) remain dependent on others for nurturance, protection, and support; and (b) continue to exhibit behaviors in adulthood that reflect the oral stage (i.e., preoccupation with activities of the mouth, reliance on food and eating as a means of coping with anxiety). Research supports the former hypothesis, but has generally failed to confirm the latter (Bornstein, 1996).

A parallel set of dynamics (i.e., frustration or overgratification during toilet training) were assumed to produce anal fixation and the development of an anal character type. Because toilet training was viewed by Freud as a struggle for control over one’s body and impulses, the anally fixated individual was thought to be preoccupied with issues of control, and his or her behavior would thus be characterized by a constellation of three traits, sometimes termed the anal triad: obstinacy, orderliness, and parsimony (Masling & Schwartz, 1979). Fixation during the Oedipal stage was presumed to result in a personality style marked by aggressiveness, competitiveness, and a concern with status and influence (Fisher & Greenberg, 1996; Juni, 1992).

Empirical studies have yielded mixed results with respect to the anal and Oedipal stages. Studies support the existence of an anal triad, but they do not support the critical role of toilet training in the ontogenesis of these traits (Kline, 1981). Similarly, research offers only mixed support for the concept ofanOedipalpersonalitytypeandofferslittleevidenceforthe Oedipal dynamic as Freud conceived it (Fisher & Greenberg, 1996; Masling & Schwartz, 1979).

The Structural Model

Ultimately, Freud recognized certain explanatory limitations in the topographic model (e.g., the model’s inability to account for certain forms of psychopathology), and as a result he developed an alternative, complementary framework to explain normal and abnormal personality development. Although the structural model evolved over a number of years, the theoretical shift from topography to structure is most clearly demarcated by Freud’s (1923/1961) publication of The Ego and the Id, wherein he described in detail the central hypothesis underlying the structural model: the notion that intrapsychic dynamics could be understood with reference to three interacting mental structures called the id, ego, and superego. The id was defined as the seat of drives and instincts (a throwback to the original drive model), whereas the ego represented the logical, reality-oriented part of the mind, and the superego was akin to a conscience, or set of moral guidelines and prohibitions (Brenner, 1973). Figure 5.1 illustrates the sequence of development of the id, ego, and superego in Freud’s structural model.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

According to the structural model, personality is derived from the interplay of these three psychic structures, which differ in terms of power and influence (Freud, 1933/1964a, 1940/1964b). When the id predominates, an impulsive, stimulation-seeking personality style results. When the superego is strongest, moral prohibitions inhibit impulses, and a restrained, overcontrolled personality ensues. When the ego (which serves in part to mediate id impulses and superego prohibitions) is dominant, a more balanced set of personality traits develop. Table 5.2 summarizes the psychodynamic conceptualization of personality in Freud’s structural model, as well as within the drive, topographic, and psychosexual stage models.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

From 1923 until his death in 1939, Freud spent much of his time elaborating the key principles and corollaries of the structural model, and he extended the model to various areas of individual and social life (e.g., humor, mental errors, cultural dynamics, religious belief). He also made numerous efforts to link the structural model to his earlier work in order to form a more cohesive psychodynamic framework. For example, Freud (and other psychoanalysts) hypothesized that oral fixation was characterized in part by a prominent, powerful id, whereas Oedipal fixation was characterized by strong investment in superego activities. At the time of his death, Freud was actively revising aspects of the structural model (Fancher, 1973; Gay, 1988), and it is impossible to know how the model would have developed had Freud continued his work. This much is certain, however: During the decades wherein Freud explicated details of the structural model of the mind, he altered it in myriad ways, and in doing so he laid the foundation for several concepts that—many years later—became key elements of modern psychoanalytic theory.

Neo-Analytic Models

Following Freud’s 1909 Clark University lectures, psychoanalysis attracted large numbers of adherents from within the medical and lay communities. At first, these adherents followed Freud’s ideas with little questioning and minimal resistance. By the early 1920s, however, competing schools of psychoanalytic thought were beginning to emerge both in Europe and in America. At first, the growth of these alternative psychodynamic frameworks was inhibited by Freud’s strong personality and by the immense international popularity of psychoanalytic theory (Hilgard, 1987; Torrey, 1992). It was only upon Freud’s death in 1939 that competing psychoanalytic perspectives blossomed into full-fledged theories in their own right.

By the mid-1940s, the discipline had splintered into an array of divergent theoretical perspectives. This splintering process, which has continued (albeit in a somewhat abated form) to the present day, is summarized graphically in Figure 5.2. As Figure 5.2 shows, each post-Freudian psychodynamic model was rooted in classical psychoanalytic theory, but each drew upon ideas and findings from other areas of psychology as well.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

Several neo-analytic theories became particularly influential in the decades following Freud’s death. Among the most important of these were Jung’s (1933, 1961) analytical psychology, Erikson’s (1963, 1968) psychosocial theory, Sullivan’s (1947, 1953) interpersonal theory, and the quasidynamic models of Adler (1921, 1923), Fromm (1941, 1947), and Horney (1937, 1945). These theories shared a Freudian emphasis on intrapsychic dynamics, childhood experiences, and unconscious processes as determinants of personality and psychopathology. However, each neo-analytic theorist rejected the classical psychoanalytic emphasis on sexuality as a key component of personality, and each theory sought to supplant sexuality with its own unique elements. Key features of the most prominent neo-analytic models are summarized in Table 5.3.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

Each neo-analytic model in Table 5.3 attained a loyal following during its heyday, but for the most part these neoanalytic models are no longer influential in mainstream psychology. To be sure, aspects of these neo-analytic theories continue to be discussed (and on occasion isomorphically rediscovered by other personality theorists). However, with the exceptions of Erikson and Sullivan, the neo-analytic theories summarized in Table 5.3 have comparatively few adherents today, and they do not receive much attention within the clinical and research communities.

Erikson’s (1963, 1968) psychosocial approach continues to have a strong impact on personality and developmental research (Franz & White, 1985). Sullivan’s (1953, 1956) interpersonal theory not only helped lay the groundwork for object relations theory and self psychology (described later in this research paper), but continues to influence developmental research on adolescence (Galatzer-Levy & Cohler, 1993), as well as psychodynamic writing on treatment of severe pathology (Kernberg, 1984; Millon, 1996).

Object Relations Theory and Self Psychology

Although the influence of most neo-analytic models has waned, two other psychodynamic frameworks that evolved out of Freud’s work—object relations theory and self psychology—remain very much a part of mainstream psychoanalytic theory and practice. Both frameworks developed out of early work in ego psychology, an offshoot of the classical model; this model updated Freud’s thinking on the role of the ego in personality development. Where Freud had conceptualized the ego primarily in terms of its reality-testing and defensive functions, ego psychologists posited that the ego plays another equally important role in intrapsychic life—setting goals, seeking challenges, striving for mastery, and actualizing potential (Hartmann, 1964). Within this line of thinking, the ego was seen as an autonomous, conflict-free structure, rather than an entity that simply responded to the demands of id, superego, and the external world. Ego psychologists’ reconceptualization of the ego set the stage for object relations theory and self psychology.

Object Relations Theory

Although there are several distinct variants of object relations theory (see Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983), they share a core belief that personality can be analyzed most usefully by examining mental representations of significant figures (especially the parents) that are formed early in life in response to interactions taking place within the family (Gill, 1995; Winnicott, 1971). These mental representations (sometimes called introjects) are hypothesized to serve as templates for later interpersonal relationships, allowing the individual to anticipate the responses of other people and draw reasonably accurate inferences regarding others’thoughts, feelings, goals, and motivations (Sandler & Rosenblatt, 1962). Mental representations of the parents—parental introjects—also allow the individual to carry on an inner dialogue with absent figures. This inner dialogue helps modulate anxiety and enables the person to make decisions consistent with values and beliefs acquired early in life (Fairbairn, 1952; Jacobson, 1964).

One of the most prominent object relations models of personality today is Blatt’s (1974, 1991) anaclitic-introjective framework. Blending psychoanalytic theory with research in cognitive development, Blatt postulated that the structure of an individual’s parental introjects play a key role in personality development and dynamics. When introjects are weak (or even absent), an anaclitic personality configuration results, characterized by dependency, insecurity, and feelings of helplessness and emptiness. When introjects are harsh and demanding, an introjective personality configuration is produced, characterized by feelings of guilt, failure, worthlessness, and self-loathing. A plethora of studies have shown that Blatt’s anaclitic-introjective distinction helps predict risk for psychopathology and physical illness, the form that psychopathology and illness will take, the kinds of stressful events that are likely to be most upsetting to the individual, and the types of interventions that will effect therapeutic change most readily (Blatt & Homann, 1992; Blatt & Zuroff, 1992).

Self Psychology

Self psychologists share object relations theorists’ emphasis on mental representations as the building blocks of personality. However, self psychologists contend that the key introjects are those associated with the self, including selfobjects (i.e., representations of self and others that are to varying degrees merged, undifferentiated, and imperfectly articulated). Self psychology developed in part in response to analysts’interest in treating severe personality disorders and other treatmentresistant forms of psychopathology (Goldberg, 1980; Kohut, 1971). The development of self psychology was also aided by a recognition that the knowledge base of analytic theory and practice could be enriched if greater attention were paid to the ontogenesis of the self in the context of early child-caregiver relationships (see Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 1975).

The most widely known self psychology framework was first described by Kohut (1971, 1977). Kohut postulated that empathic and supportive early interactions resulted in the construction of a secure, cohesive autonomous self, with sufficient resources to deal with the stresses and challenges of intimacy. In contrast, disturbances in infant-caregiver interactions were hypothesized to result in damage to the self along with impairments in evocative constancy (i.e., the ability to generate stable mental images of self and absent others) and an inability to tolerate true intimacy with others. A variety of narcissistic disorders result from damage to the self—and although these narcissistic disorders range in severity from moderate to severe, all reflect the individual’s inability to maintain a cohesive sense of self, except when recapitulating specific (often destructive) interaction patterns. Empirical data testing Kohut’s model are less plentiful than those assessing various object relations frameworks, but studies offer indirect support for Kohut’s contention that early difficulties within the infant-caregiver unit result in subsequent character pathology and may predict the form that character pathology will take (Galatzer-Levy & Cohler, 1993; Masling & Bornstein, 1993).

Contemporary Integrative Models

Object relations theory and self psychology have revived academic psychologists’ interest in psychodynamic ideas during the past several decades, in part because they represent natural bridges between psychoanalytic theory and research in other areas of psychology (e.g., cognitive, social, developmental; see Barron, Eagle, & Wolitzky, 1992; Masling & Bornstein, 1994; Shapiro & Emde, 1995). While object relations theory and self psychology continue to flourish, a parallel stream of theoretical work has developed that focuses on integrating psychodynamic models of personality with ideas and findings from competing clinical frameworks.

As Figure 5.1 shows, contemporary integrative psychodynamic models draw from both object relations theory and self psychology (and to some extent, from classical psychoanalytic theory as well). Unlike most earlier psychodynamic theories, however, these integrative frameworks utilize concepts and findings from other schools of clinical practice (e.g., cognitive, behavioral, humanistic) to refine and expand their ideas. Some integrative models have gone a step further, drawing upon ideas from neuropsychology and psychopharmacology in addition to other, more traditional areas.

There are almost as many integrative psychodynamic models as there are alternative schools of psychotherapeutic thought. Among the most influential models are those that link psychodynamic thinking with concepts from cognitive therapy (Horowitz, 1988; Luborsky & Crits-Christoph, 1990), behavioral therapy (Wachtel, 1977), and humanistic-existential psychology (Schneider & May, 1995). Other integrative models combine aspects of psychoanalysis with strategies and principles from family and marital therapy (Slipp, 1984). Needless to say, not all analytically oriented psychologists agree that these integrative efforts are productive or desirable. Moreover, the question of whether these integrative frameworks are truly psychoanalytic or have incorporated so many nonanalytic principles as to be something else entirely is a matter of considerable debate within the psychoanalytic community.

Psychoanalytic Personality Theories: Bringing Order to Chaos

Given the burgeoning array of disparate theoretical perspectives, a key challenge confronting psychodynamic theorists involves finding common ground among contrasting viewpoints. Although there are dozens of psychodynamically oriented models of personality in existence today, all these models have had to grapple with similar theoretical and conceptual problems. In the following sections, I discuss how contemporary psychodynamic models have dealt with three key questions common to all personality theories.

Personality Processes and Dynamics

Three fertile areas of common ground among psychodynamic models of personality involve motivation, mental structure and process, and personality stability and change.


With the possible exception of the radical behavioral approach, every personality theory has addressed in detail the nature of human motivation—that set of unseen internal forces that impel the organism to action (see Emmons, 1997; Loevinger, 1987; McAdams, 1997). Although classical psychoanalytic theory initially conceptualized motivation in purely biological terms, the history of psychoanalysis has been characterized by an increasing emphasis on psychological motives that are only loosely based in identifiable physiological needs (Dollard & Miller, 1950; Eagle, 1984).

During the 1940s and 1950s, evidence from laboratory studies of contact-deprived monkeys (Harlow & Harlow, 1962) and observational studies of orphaned infants from World War II (Spitz, 1945, 1946) converged to confirm that human and infrahumans alike have a fundamental need for contact comfort and sustained closeness with a consistent caregiver. Around this time, developmental researchers were independently formulating theories of infant-caregiver attachment that posited a separate need to relate to the primary caregiver of infancy and specified the adverse consequences of disrupted early attachment relationships (Ainsworth, 1969, 1989; Bowlby, 1969, 1973).

Object relations theorists and self psychologists integrated these developmental concepts and empirical findings into their emerging theoretical models, so that by the late 1960s most psychodynamic psychologists assumed the existence of one or more psychological drives related to contact comfort (e.g., Kernberg, 1975; Kohut, 1971; Winnicott, 1971). Theorists emphasized the critical importance of interactions that take place within the early infant-caregiver relationship, not only because these interactions determined the quality of contact comfort available to the infant, but also because positive interactions with a nurturing caregiver were necessary for the construction of a cohesive sense of self (Kohut, 1971; Mahler et al., 1975); stable, benevolent introjects (Blatt, 1974, 1991); and useful mental models of self-other interactions (Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985).

Mental Structure and Process

Along with psychoanalysts’ recognition that mental images of self and others were key building blocks of personality came a change in the way the structures and processes of personality were conceptualized. Terms like introject, schema, and object representation gradually took their place alongside those of Freud’s structural model as cornerstones of psychoanalytic theory and therapy (Bornstein, 1996; Greenberg & Mitchell, 1983). Analysts recognized that in addition to mental images of self and others, a key derivative of early relationships was the formation of internal working models of self-other interactions (sometimes identified as scripts). This alternative conceptualization of the nature of mental structure not only enabled psychodynamic theorists to derive new treatment approaches (especially for working with character-disordered patients), but also helped connect psychodynamic models with research in attachment theory and social cognition (Galatzer-Levy & Cohler, 1993; Masling & Bornstein, 1994).

This language shift not only was due to theoretical changes, but also reflected a need to develop a psychoanalytic terminology that was less abstract and closer to the day-to-day experience of psychoanalytic patients. In fact, close analysis of psychoanalytic discourse during the early days of object relations theory indicated that this terminological evolution was already underway, regardless of the fact that some newfound language was only gradually becoming formalized within the extant psychoanalytic literature.

In this context, Mayman (1976) noted that at any given time, a psychoanalytic theorist or practitioner may use several different levels of discourse to communicate theoretical concepts. At the top of this framework is psychoanalytic metapsychology—the complex network of theoretical concepts and propositions that form the infrastructure of psychoanalysis. Metapsychological terms are often abstract, rarely operationalizable, and typically used in dialogue with other theorists and practitioners. The concepts of libido and selfobject are examples of language most closely associated with psychoanalytic metapsychology.

The middle-level language of psychoanalysis incorporates the constructs used by theorists and practitioners in their own day-to-day work. It is the language in which psychoanalysts conceptualize problems and communicate informally—the kind of language likely to turn up in the heart of a case study or in a set of clinical notes. The terms oral dependent and sublimation are examples of the middle-level language of psychoanalysis.

The bottom level of psychoanalytic language centers on the experience-near discourse that characterizes therapistpatient exchanges within an analytic session. Less formal than Mayman’s (1976) middle-level language, this experiencenear discourse is intended to frame psychoanalytic concepts in a way that resonates with a patient’s personal experience without requiring that he or she have any understanding of psychoanalytic metapsychology. When an analyst discusses a patient’s “aggressive impulses” or “sibling rivalry,” that analyst has translated an abstract concept into experience-near terms.

Thus, like most personality theorists, psychoanalysts today conceptualize mental structures and processes on several levels simultaneously. Unfortunately, it has taken psychoanalytic psychologists a long time to develop an experience-near language for day-to-day work—longer perhaps than it has taken psychologists in other areas. On the positive side, however, in recent years psychoanalytic theorists have addressed this issue more openly and systematically than have theorists from other theoretical backgrounds (e.g., see Horowitz, 1991; Kahn & Rachman, 2000).

Personality Stability and Change

The parallel conceptualization of psychoanalytic concepts in relational terms introduced a fundamentally new paradigm for thinking about continuity and change in personality development and dynamics. In addition to being understood in terms of a dynamic balance among id, ego, and superego, stability in personality was now seen as stemming from continuity in the core features of key object representations (including the self-representation; see Blatt, 1991; Bornstein, 1996). In this context, personality change was presumed to occur in part because internalized representations of self and other people changed as a result of ongoing inter- and intrapersonal experiences (Schafer, 1999).

This alternative framework influenced psychoanalytic theories of normal personality development and led to a plethora of studies examining the intrapsychic processes involved in therapeutic resistance, transference, and cure (Blatt & Ford, 1994; Luborsky & Crits-Christoph, 1990). It also called theorists’attention to the critical importance of present-day experiences in moderating long-term psychodynamic processes. One important consequence of newfound concepts of personality stability and change was a continuing shift from past to present in the study of psychodynamics (Spence, 1982).

Insight, Awareness, and Coping

As noted earlier, a key tenet of all psychodynamic models is that unconscious processes are primary determinants of thought,emotion,motivation,andbehavior.Tothedegreethat people have only limited introspective access to these underlying causes, they have only limited control over these processes as well. In part as a consequence of their emphasis on unconscious processes, psychodynamic theorists are unanimous in positing that a certain degree of self-deception is characteristic of both normal and abnormal functioning: Not knowing why we are driven to behave in a certain way, but needing to explain our behavior to ourselves, we generate explanations that may or may not have anything to do with the real causes of behavior (e.g., see Bornstein, 1999b). Moreover, when feelings, thoughts, and motivations produce anxiety (including guilt), we invoke coping strategies called ego defenses to minimize these negative reactions and to hide them from ourselves (Cramer, 2000).

The once-radical notion of defensive self-deception is now widely accepted among psychoanalytic and nonpsychoanalytic psychologists alike. Research in social cognition (attribution theory in particular) confirms that systematic, predictable distortions in our perceptions of self and others are a normal part of everyday life (Kihlstrom, 1987; Robins & John, 1997). Although the language of attribution theory differs substantially from that of psychoanalysis, scrutiny reveals a remarkable degree of convergence between these two frameworks. Moreover, researchers have begun to bridge the gap between these ostensibly divergent theoretical perspectives, uncovering a surprising degree of overlap in the process.

One area in which psychodynamic models of defensive self-deception diverge from social psychological models of this phenomenon is in the explanations of why these distortions occur. Although both models agree that these distortions stem largely (but not entirely) from self-protective processes, only psychoanalytic theories explicitly link these distortions to an identifiable set of unconsciously determined strategies termed ego defenses. Social cognitive researchers have tended to favor explanatory models that emphasize limitations in the human information-processing apparatus and mental shortcuts that arise from the need to process multiple sources of information simultaneously as key factors in our cognitive biases and distortions of self and others (Robins & John, 1997). Recent work in terror management theory represents a potential bridge between psychodynamic and social-cognitive work in this area, insofar as the terror management theory model specifies how distortions in inter- and intrapersonal perception simultaneously reflect defensive processes and information-processing limitations (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999).

Ironically, the concept of the ego defense—now central to psychodynamic models of personality—did not receive much attention during the theory’s formative years. In fact, Janet paid greater attention to the defense concept than Freud did (Perry & Laurence, 1984), and in certain respects Janet’s position regarding this issue has turned out to be more accurate than Freud’s has (see Bowers & Meichenbaum, 1984). Evidence suggests that a conceptualization of defensive activity as narrowing of consciousness may be more valid and heuristic than is the classic psychoanalytic conceptualization of defense in terms of exclusion (or barring) of material from consciousness (Cramer, 2000; cf. Erdelyi, 1985).

Although Freud discussed certain ego defenses (e.g., repression, projection, sublimation) in his theoretical and clinical writings, it was not until Anna Freud’s (1936) publication of The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense that any effort was made to create a systematic, comprehensive listing of these defensive strategies. Most of the ego defenses discussed byA. Freud continue to be discussed today, although some have fallen out of favor, and new ones have been added as empirical research on defenses began to appear followingA. Freud’s (1936) seminal work.

In the decades following A. Freud’s (1936) publication, several alternative methods for conceptualizing ego defenses were offered. The most influential of these are summarized in Table 5.4. As Table 5.4 shows, differences among the individual defense, defense style, and defense cluster models have less to do with the way that specific defensive processes are conceptualized and more to do with how these processes are organized and relate to one another. Each approach to conceptualizing and organizing ego defenses has its own associated measurement strategy (technique), its own research base, and its own adherents within the discipline.

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

The combined influences of unconscious processes and ego defenses raise the unavoidable question of whether within the  psychodynamic framework humans are seen as inherently irrational creatures. Like most questions in psychoanalysis, this one has more than one answer. On the one hand, humans are indeed irrational—driven by forces they do not understand, their thoughts and feelings are distorted in ways they cannot control. On the other hand, humans are as rational as can be expected given the constraints of their information-processing skills, their need to cope with and manage anxiety, and the adaptations necessary to survive in an unpredictable, threatening world. Within the psychodynamic framework, all humans are irrational, but most are irrational in a rational way.

Normal and Pathological Functioning

As any psychologist knows, all humans may be irrational, but some are more irrational than others. Like most personality theorists, psychoanalysts see psychopathology as reflected in a greater-than-expected degree of self-destructive, self-defeating (i.e., irrational) behavior (Millon, 1996). In most psychodynamic frameworks, psychopathology is also linked with increased self-deception, decreased insight into the underlying causes of one’s behavior, and concomitant limitations in one’s ability to modify dysfunctional interaction patterns and alter self-defeating responses (Eagle, 1984).

Psychodynamic models conceptualize psychopathology in terms of three general processes: (a) low ego strength, (b) maladaptive ego defenses, and (c) dysfunctional introjects. Low ego strength contributes to psychopathology because the ego cannot execute reality testing functions adequately; intraand interpersonal distortions increase. Maladaptive defenses prevent the individual from managing stress and anxiety adequately leading to higher levels of self-deception, increased perceptual bias, and decreased insight. Dysfunctional introjects (including a distorted or deficient self-representation) similarly lead to inaccurate perceptions of self and others, but they also foster dysfunctional interaction patterns and propagate problematic interpersonal relationships.

A key premise of the psychoanalytic model of psychopathology is that psychological disorders can be divided into three broad levels of severity (Kernberg, 1970, 1975). The classic conceptualization of this three-level framework invokes the well-known terms neurosis, character disorder, and psychosis. In most instances, neuroses are comparatively mild disorders which affect only a few areas of functioning (e.g., phobias). Character disorders are more pervasive, longstanding disorders associated with problematic social relationships, distorted self-perception, and difficulties with impulse control (e.g., borderline personality disorder). Psychoses are characterized by severely impaired reality testing and low levels of functioning in many areas of life (e.g., schizophrenia).

Although this tripartite model is both theoretically heuristic and clinically useful, it is important not to overgeneralize regarding differences among different levels of functioning. There are great variations in both severity and chronicity within a given level (e.g., certain neuroses may be more debilitating than an ostensibly more severe personality disorder). In addition, there is substantial comorbidity—both within and between levels—so that a disordered individual is likely to show multiple forms of psychopathology (Bornstein, 1998; Costello, 1995).

Psychodynamic Models of Personality Research Paper

As Table 5.5 shows, all three dimensions of intrapsychic dysfunction—low ego strength, maladaptive defenses, and dysfunctional introjects—can be mapped onto the tripartite psychopathology model. In this respect, the model represents an integrative framework that links different psychodynamic processes and connects the psychoanalytic model with contemporary diagnostic research. Although the term neurosis is rarely used today in mainstream psychopathology research, perusal of contemporary diagnostic frameworks (including the DSM-IV; APA, 1994) confirms that the tripartite model has had a profound influence on the way practitioners conceptualize and organize psychological disorders (see also Masling & Bornstein, 1994, and Millon, 1996, for discussions of this issue).

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Psychology: Retrospect and Prospect

Psychodynamic models of personality occupy a unique place in contemporary psychology. On the one hand, they continue to be roundly criticized—perceived by those within and outside the discipline as untested and untestable and denigrated by skeptics as a quasi-phrenological pseudoscience that has hindered the progress of both scientific and clinical psychology. On the other hand, Freud’s theory continues to fascinate many, occupying a central place in undergraduate and graduate psychology texts and influencing in myriad ways our understanding of ourselves and our culture. In these final sections, I discuss the place of psychoanalysis in contemporary psychology and speculate about its future.

Testing Psychoanalytic Theories

Within the psychoanalytic community, few issues are as controversial as the nature of evidence in psychoanalysis (see Grunbaum, 1984, for a detailed discussion of this issue). Because psychoanalysis focuses on the in-depth understanding of individuals, many of the theory’s adherents argue that research aimed at confirming general principles of human functioning is of little value (e.g., see Gedo, 1999). Others maintain that without a strong nomothetic research base, psychodynamic theory can never be refined and updated based on our evolving understanding of brain, mind, and behavior (Bornstein, 2001).

The controversy regarding the nature of psychoanalytic evidence dates almost to the inception of the theory itself. Although Freud started his career as a researcher, his attitude toward traditional scientific methods became increasingly dismissive as time went on (Fisher & Greenberg, 1996; Masling & Schwartz, 1979). By the 1920s, psychoanalytic theory had become quite distant from its roots in the natural sciences. With this distancing came an increasing discomfort with traditional nomothetic research methods and a shift toward idiographic data, which most theorists and practitioners saw as being ideally suited to both testing and refining psychoanalytic hypotheses via close analysis of clinical material.

Psychoanalytic theories of personality continue to be strongly influenced by data obtained in the treatment setting. The case reports of psychoanalytic practitioners are still used to formulate general principles of psychopathology, after which these case-derived general principles are reapplied to new cases.Although for many years psychoanalytic psychologists accepted the heuristic value of case studies with little outward resistance, this situation is changing, and contemporary theorists and researchers have begun to question the nearexclusive emphasis on case material in psychoanalytic theorybuilding (Bornstein, 2001; Bornstein & Masling, 1998).

Although psychodynamic theorists have tended to place the greatest value on material derived from the psychoanalytic treatment session, other forms of idiographic evidence (e.g., anthropological findings, literary records) have also been used to assess psychoanalytic ideas. Needless to say, psychodynamic theorists’ devotion to idiographic methods has led to widespread criticism from within and outside psychology. Proponents of the nomothetic approach maintain that idiographic data—especially those obtained behind closed doors—are neither objective nor replicable, and provide little compelling evidence for the validity of psychoanalytic concepts or the efficacy of psychoanalytic treatment (Crews, 1998; Macmillan, 1996).

The Researcher-Practitioner Split

A noteworthy difference between psychoanalysis and other models of personality becomes apparent when one contrasts the theoretical orientations of practitioners with those of academics. Although there are few practicing psychoanalysts outside large metropolitan centers, a sizable minority of clinical psychologists acknowledge the impact of psychodynamic principles on their day-to-day clinical work (Norcross, Karg, & Prochaska, 1997). In contrast, few personality researchers are openly psychodynamic despite the fact that many concepts in contemporary nonanalytic models of personality are rooted to varying degrees in psychodynamic ideas (Bornstein, 2001).

This researcher-practitioner divide is in part political. During the 1960s and 1970s, behavioral, cognitive, and humanistic personality theorists deliberately distanced themselves from psychoanalytic theory. For behaviorists, this distancing was a product of their core assumptions and beliefs, which clearly conflict with those of psychoanalysis. For cognitivists and humanists, however, the split with psychoanalysis was aimed at enhancing the status of their theories. During this era, it was important for these burgeoning models to distinguish themselves from long-standing psychoanalytic principles in order to assert the uniqueness of their perspectives. Even when parallel concepts arose in these models, theorists emphasized the differences from psychoanalysis rather than focusing on their commonality.

The situation has changed somewhat in recent years: Now that the cognitive and humanistic perspectives are well-established, there has been a slow and subtle reconciliation with Freudian ideas. In the case of humanistic psychology, there has even some explicit acknowledgment of the discipline’s Freudian roots. Even contemporary trait approaches—which have historically been strongly bound to the biological and psychometric traditions—have begun to integrate psychodynamic principles into their models and methods (e.g., see Pincus & Wilson, 2001).

Freud’s Cognitive Revolution

The theory that upended mainstream neuroscience a century ago has had a significant impact on cognitive psychology within the past two decades. Although the synergistic interchange between these two fields dates back at least to the 1960s, the impact of Freud’s cognitive revolution only became widely accepted with the publication of Erdelyi’s (1985) landmark analysis of the interface between cognitive psychology and psychoanalysis. Erdelyi’s work demonstrated that many psychoanalytic concepts dovetailed well with prevailing models of perception, memory, and information processing, and set the stage for an increasingly productive interchange between psychodynamic researchers and cognitive psychologists (e.g., see Bucci, 1997; Horowitz, 1988; Stein, 1997).

The language of the topographic model—conscious, unconscious, and preconscious—continues to be used to a surprising degree, even by researchers unaffiliated with (and often unsympathetic to) Freudian ideas. Moreover, recent research in perception without awareness, implicit learning, and implicit memory draws heavily from psychodynamic concepts (Bornstein & Masling, 1998; Bornstein & Pittman, 1992). Despite psychoanalysts’ long-standing resistance to nomothetic research methods, psychoanalytic principles have undeniably been affected by laboratory research in these other related areas.

Although it was largely unacknowledged at the time, the integration of psychoanalysis and cognitive psychology was central to the development of object relations theory and resulted in substantive reconceptualization of such traditional psychoanalytic concepts as transference, repression, and screen (or false) memories (Bornstein, 1993; Bowers, 1984; Eagle, 2000; Epstein, 1998). As cognitive psychology continues to integrate findings from research on attitudes and emotion (resulting in the study of hot, or affect-laden cognitions), the psychodynamics of perception, memory, and information processing are increasingly apparent.

A likely consequence of this ongoing integration will be the absorption of at least some psychodynamic principles into models of problem solving, concept formation, and heuristic use. Studies confirm that systematic distortions and biases in these mental processes are due in part to constraints within the human information-processing system (Gilovich, 1991), but this does not preclude the possibility that motivational factors (including unconscious motives and their associated implicit memories) may also influence psychological processes that were once considered largely independent of personality and psychopathology factors (McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989).

Developmental Issues

A second domain of contemporary psychology that has been strongly influenced by psychodynamic models is the study of human development. There is a natural affiliation between developmental psychology and the psychodynamic emphasis on stages of growth, familial influences, and the formation of internal mental structures that structure and guide behavior (Eagle, 1996; Emde, 1992; Stern, 1985). Theorists in both areas have built upon and deepened this natural affiliation.

In contrast to cognitive psychology, the exchange between psychoanalysis and developmental psychology has been openly acknowledged from the outset (see Ainsworth, 1969, 1989). Moreover, the psychoanalysis–developmentalpsychology interface is synergistic: Just as models of child and adolescent development have been affected by psychodynamic concepts, psychoanalytic models of personality formation and intrapsychic dynamics have been affected by developmental research on attachment, emotions, and cognitive development (Emde, 1992). At this point in the history of psychology, the proportion of developmental psychologists receptive to psychoanalytic ideas is probably higher than that found in any other subdiscipline of psychology (with the possible exception of clinical psychology).

Ironically, although Freud denied the existence of personality development postadolescence, there has been a surprising amount of empirical research on the psychodynamics of aging. Beginning with Goldfarb’s (1963) work, theoreticians and researchers have explored myriad aspects of the psychodynamics of late-life development (e.g., see Ainsworth, 1989; Galatzer-Levy & Cohler, 1993). With the advent of more sophisticated multistore models of memory, the links between psychodynamic processes and injury- and illnessbased dementia have also been delineated.

Psychoanalytic Health Psychology

Over the years, psychoanalysis has had an ambivalent relationship with health psychology (Duberstein & Masling, 2000). In part, this situation reflects Freud’s own ambivalence regarding the mind-body relationship. After all, the great insight that led Freud to develop his topographic and structural models of the mind—in many ways, the raison d’être of psychoanalysis itself—was the idea that many physical symptoms are the product of psychological conflicts rather than of organic disease processes (Bowers & Meichenbaum, 1984; Erdelyi, 1985). Freud’s early interest in conversion disorders and hysteria set the stage for a psychoanalytic psychology that emphasized mental—not physical—explanations for changes in health and illness states.

Beginning in the 1920s, however, Deutsch (1922, 1924) and others argued that underlying psychodynamic processes could have direct effects on the body’s organ systems.The notion that unconscious dynamics could influence bodily functioning directly was extended and elaborated by Alexander (1950, 1954), who developed a detailed theoretical framework linking specific psychodynamic processes with predictable physiological sequelae and illness states. When Sifneos (1972) articulated his empirically grounded, psychoanalytically informed model of alexithymia (i.e., an inability to verbalize emotions), the stage was set for the development of a truly psychoanalytic health psychology. The key hypotheses of Sifneos’s approach—that unverbalized emotions can have myriad destructive effects on the body’s organ systems— helped lay the groundwork for several ongoing health psychology research programs that are to varying degrees rooted in psychodynamic concepts. Research on health and hardiness (Kobasa, 1979), stress and coping (Pennebaker & O’Heeron, 1984), emotional disclosure and recovery from illness (Spiegel, Bloom, Kraemer, & Gottheil, 1989), and the “Type C” (cancer-prone) personality (Temoshok, 1987) are all based in part in psychodynamic models of health and illness.

The Opportunities and Challenges of Neuroscience

Some of the first contemporary efforts to integrate psychoanalytic principles with findings from neuroscience involved sleep and dreams (Hobson, 1988; Winson, 1985). Although the language of Freudian dream theory is far removed from that of most neuropsychological models, work in this area has revealed a number of heretofore unrecognized convergences between the psychodynamics and neurology of dreaming. In fact, contemporary integrative models of dream formation now incorporate principles from both domains, setting the stage for extension of this integrative effort to other aspects of mental life.

Neuroimaging techniques such as the computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, the positron-emission tomography (PET) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have begun to play a leading role in this ongoing psychoanalysisneuroscience integration. Just as neuroimaging techniques have allowed memory researchers to uncover the neural underpinnings of previously unseen encoding and retrieval processes, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have enabled dream researchers to record on-line visual representations of cortical activity associated with different sleep stages and experiences.

Two psychodynamically relevant issues now being studied via fMRI (functional MRI) and other neuroimaging techniques are unconscious processes (e.g., implicit perception and learning) and psychological defenses (Schiff, 1999; Walla, Endl, Lindinger, & Lang, 1999). In general, evidence suggests that implicit processes are centered in mid- and hindbrain regions to a greater degree than are explicit processes—a finding that dovetails with Freud’s own hypotheses as well as with recent evolutionary interpretations of psychodynamic principles (Slavin & Kriegman, 1992). Neuroimaging studies of defensive mental operations are still in their infancy, but preliminary findings suggests that the process of biasing and distorting previously-encoded information involves predictable patterns of cortical (and possibly subcortical) activation.

Conclusion: The Psychology of Psychodynamics and the Psychodynamics of Psychology

Despite their limitations, psychodynamic models of personality have survived for more than a century, reinventing themselves periodically in response to new empirical findings, theoretical shifts in other areas of psychology, and changing social and economic forces. Stereotypes notwithstanding, psychodynamic models have evolved considerably during the twentieth century and will continue to evolve during the first decades of the twenty-first century as well.

For better or worse, psychoanalytic theory may be the closest thing to an overarching field theory in all of psychology. It deals with a broad range of issues—normal and pathological functioning, motivation and emotion, childhood and adulthood, individual and culture—and although certain features of the model have not held up well to empirical testing, the model does have tremendous heuristic value and great potential for integrating ideas and findings in disparate areas of social and neurological science.

More than a century ago, Freud (1895b) speculated that scientists would be resistant to psychoanalytic ideas because of the uncomfortable implications of these ideas for their own functioning. Whether or not he was correct in this regard, it is true that psychodynamic models of personality provide a useful framework for examining ourselves and our beliefs. Clinical psychologists have long used psychoanalytic principles to evaluate and refine their psychotherapeutic efforts. Scientists have not been as open to this sort of self-scrutiny. There is, however, a burgeoning literature on the biases and hidden motivations of the scientist (Bornstein, 1999a; Mahoney, 1985), and psychodynamic models of personality may well prove to contribute a great deal to this literature.


  1. Adler, A. (1921). Understanding human nature. New York: Fawcett.
  2. Adler, A. (1923). The practice and theory of individual psychology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  3. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1969). Object relations, dependency, and attachment: A theoretical review of the infant-mother relationship. Child Development, 40, 969–1025.
  4. Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 44, 709–716.
  5. Alexander, F. (1950). Psychosomatic medicine. New York: W. W. Norton.
  6. Alexander, F. (1954). The scope of psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books.
  7. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  8. Baddeley, A. (1990). Human memory: Theory and practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  9. Bargh, J. A., & Chartrand, T. L. (1999). The unbearable automaticity of being. American Psychologist, 54, 462–479.
  10. Barron, J. W., Eagle, M. N., & Wolitzky, D. L. (Eds.). (1992). Interface of psychoanalysis and psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  11. Blatt, S. J. (1974). Levels of object representation in anaclitic and introjective depression. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 29, 107–157.
  12. Blatt, S. J. (1991). A cognitive morphology of psychopathology. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179, 449–458.
  13. Blatt, S. J., & Ford, R. Q. (1994). Therapeutic change. New York: Plenum Press.
  14. Blatt, S. J., & Homann, E. (1992). Parent-child interaction in the etiology of dependent and self-critical depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 47–91.
  15. Blatt, S. J., & Zuroff, D. C. (1992). Interpersonal relatedness and self-definition: Two prototypes for depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 527–562.
  16. Bornstein, R. F. (1993). Implicit perception, implicit memory, and the recovery of unconscious material in psychotherapy. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 181, 337–344.
  17. Bornstein, R. F. (1996). Beyond orality: Toward an object relations/interactionist reconceptualization of the etiology and dynamics of dependency. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 13, 177–203.
  18. Bornstein, R. F. (1998). Reconceptualizing personality disorder diagnosis in the DSM-V: The discriminant validity challenge. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5, 333–343.
  19. Bornstein, R. F. (1999a). Objectivity and subjectivity in psychological science: Embracing and transcending psychology’s positivist tradition. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 20, 1–16.
  20. Bornstein, R. F. (1999b). Source amnesia, misattribution, and the power of unconscious perceptions and memories. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 16, 155–178.
  21. Bornstein, R. F. (2001). The impending death of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 18, 3–20.
  22. Bornstein, R. F., & Masling, J. M. (Eds.). (1998). Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  23. Bornstein, R. F., & Pittman, T. S. (Eds.). (1992). Perception without awareness: Cognitive, clinical, and social perspectives. New York: Guilford Press.
  24. Bowers, K. S. (1984). On being unconsciously informed and influenced. In K. S. Bowers & D. Meichenbaum (Eds.), The unconscious reconsidered (pp. 227–272). New York: Wiley.
  25. Bowers, K. S., & Meichenbaum, D. (1984). The unconscious reconsidered. New York: Basic Books.
  26. Bowlby, J. (1969). New York: Basic Books.
  27. Bowlby, J. (1973). Separation: Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books.
  28. Brenner, C. (1973). An elementary textbook of psychoanalysis. New York: Anchor Books.
  29. Breuer, J., & Freud, S. (1955). Studies on hysteria. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 2, pp. 1–305). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1893)
  30. Bucci, W. (1997). Psychoanalysis and cognitive science: A multiple code theory. New York: Guilford Press.
  31. Buss, D. M. (1991). Evolutionary personality psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 42, 459–491.
  32. Costello, C. G. (1995). Personality characteristics of the personality disordered. New York: Wiley.
  33. Cramer, (2000). Defense mechanisms in psychology today: Further processes for adaptation. American Psychologist, 55, 637–646.
  34. Crews, F. C. (Ed.). (1998). Unathorized Freud: Doubters confront a legend. New York: Viking Press.
  35. Danzinger, K. (1997). Naming the mind. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
  36. Deutsch, F. (1922). Psychoanlayse und Organkrankheiten. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 8, 290–306.
  37. Deutsch, F. (1924). Zur Bildung des Konversions Symptoms. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10, 380–392.
  38. Dollard, J., & Miller, N. E. (1950). Personality and psychotherapy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  39. Duberstein, P. R., & Masling, J. M. (Eds.). (2000). Psychodynamic perspectives on sickness and health. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  40. Eagle, M. N. (1984). Recent developments in psychoanalysis. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  41. Eagle, M. N. (1996). Attachment research and psychoanalytic theory. In J. M. Masling & R. F. Bornstein (Eds.), Psychoanalytic perspectives on developmental psychology (pp. 105–149). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  42. Eagle, M. N. (2000). A critical evaluation of current conceptions of transference and countertransference. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 17, 24–37.
  43. Ellenberger, H. (1970). The discovery of the unconscious. New York: Basic Books.
  44. Emde, R. N. (1983). The prerepresentational self and its affective core. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 38, 165–192.
  45. Emde, R. N. (1992). Individual meaning and increasing complexity: Contributions of Sigmund Freud and Rene Spitz to developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28, 347–359.
  46. Emmons,R.A.(1997).Motivesandgoals.InR.Hogan,J.Johnson,& S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality psychology (pp. 486– 512). San Diego, CA:Academic Press.
  47. Epstein, S. (1998). Cognitive-experiential self theory: A dualprocess personality theory with implications for diagnosis and psychotherapy. In R. F. Bornstein & J. M. Masling (Eds.), Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious (pp. 99– 140). Washington, DC:American PsychologicalAssociation.
  48. Erdelyi, M. H. (1985). Psychoanalysis: Freud’s cognitive psychology. New York: W. H. Freeman.
  49. Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and society. New York: W. W. Norton.
  50. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.
  51. Fairbairn, W. R. D. (1952). An object relations theory of the personality. New York: Basic Books.
  52. Fancher, R. E. (1973). Psychoanalytic psychology: The development of Freud’s thought. New York: W. W. Norton.
  53. Fisher, S., & Greenberg, R. P. (1996). Freud scientifically reappraised. New York: Wiley.
  54. Franz, C. E., & White, K. M. (1985). Individuation and attachment in personality development: Extending Erikson’s model. Journal of Personality, 53, 224–256.
  55. Freud, A. (1936). The ego and the mechanisms of defense. New York: International Universities Press.
  56. Freud, S. (1953). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 7, pp. 125– 245). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1905)
  57. Freud, S. (1955a). From the history of an infantile neurosis. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 17, pp. 3– 122). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1918)
  58. Freud, S. (1955b). A reply to criticisms of my paper on anxiety neurosis. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the completepsychologicalworksofSigmundFreud(Vol.3,pp. 119– 139). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1895)
  59. Freud, S. (1955c). Further remarks on the neuro-psychoses of defense. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the completepsychologicalworksofSigmundFreud(Vol.3,pp.159– 185). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1896)
  60. Freud, S. (1957). Instincts and their vicissistudes. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 14, pp. 117–140). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1915)
  61. Freud,S.(1958a).Theinterpretationofdreams.InJ.Strachey(Ed.& Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vols. 4 & 5). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1900)
  62. Freud, S. (1958b). Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 12, pp. 218–226). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1911)
  63. Freud, S. (1961). The ego and the id. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19, pp. 1–66). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1923)
  64. Freud, S. (1964a). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 22, pp. 1–182). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1933)
  65. Freud, S. (1964b). An outline of psycho-analysis. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 23, pp. 139–207). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1940)
  66. Freud, S. (1966). Project for a scientific psychology. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 1, pp. 283–387). London: Hogarth. (Original work published 1895)
  67. Fromm, E. (1941). Escape from freedom. New York: Avon.
  68. E. (1947). Man for himself. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  69. Galatzer-Levy, R. M., & Cohler, B. J. (1993). The essential other: A developmental psychology of the self. New York: Basic Books. Gay, P. (1988). Freud: A life for our time. New York: W. W. Norton.
  70. Gedo, P. M. (1999). Single case studies in psychotherapy research. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 16, 274–280.
  71. Gill, M. (1995). Classical and relational psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12, 89–107.
  72. Gilovich, T. (1991). How we know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reasoning in everyday life. New York: Free Press.
  73. Goldberg, A. (Ed.). (1980). Advances in self psychology. New York: International Universities Press.
  74. Goldfarb, A. (1963). Psychodynamics and the three-generation family. In E. Shanas & G. Streib (Eds.), Social structure and the family (pp. 10–45). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  75. Greenberg, J. R., & Mitchell, S. J. (1983). Object relations in psychoanalytic theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  76. Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition. Psychological Review, 102, 4–27.
  77. Grunbaum, A. (1984). The foundations of psychoanalysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  78. Harlow, H. F., & Harlow, M. K. (1962). Social deprivation in monkeys. Scientific American, 207, 136–146.
  79. Hartmann, H. (1964). Essays on ego psychology. New York: International Universities Press.
  80. Hilgard, E. (1987). Psychology in America: An historical survey. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  81. Hobson, J. A. (1988). The dreaming brain. New York: Basic Books.
  82. Hogan, R., Johnson, J., & Briggs, S. (Eds.) (1997). Handbook of personality psychology. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  83. Horney, K. (1937). The neurotic personality of our time. New York: W. W. Norton.
  84. Horney, K. (1945). Our inner conflicts. New York: W. W. Norton.
  85. Horowitz, M. J. (Ed.). (1988). Psychodynamics and cognition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  86. Horowitz, M. J. (Ed.). (1991). Person schemas and maladaptive interpersonal patterns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  87. Ihilevich, D., & Gleser, G. C. (1986). Defense mechanisms. Owosso, MI: DMI Associates.
  88. Ihilevich, D., & Gleser, G. C. (1991). Defenses in psychotherapy. Owosso, MI: DMI Associates.
  89. Jacobson, E. (1964). The self and object world. New York: International Universities Press.
  90. Jung, C. G. (1933). Modern man in search of a soul. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  91. Jung, C. G. (1961). The collected works of Carl Jung. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  92. Juni, S. (1992). The role of the object in drive cathexis and psychosexual development. Journal of Psychology, 126, 429–442.
  93. Kahn, E., & Rachman, A. W. (2000). Carl Rogers and Heinz Kohut: A historical perspective. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 17, 294–312.
  94. Kernberg, O. (1970). Object relations theory and clinical psychoanalysis. New York: Jason Aronson.
  95. Kernberg, O. (1975). Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism. New York: Jason Aronson.
  96. Kernberg, O. (1984). Severe personality disorders. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  97. Kihlstrom, J. F. (1987). The cognitive unconscious. Science, 237, 1445–1452.
  98. Kihlstrom, J. F. (1999). A tumbling ground for whimsies? Contemporary Psychology, 44, 376–378.
  99. Kline, P. (1981). Fact and fantasy in Freudian theory. London: Methuen.
  100. Kobasa, S. C. (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health: An inquiry into hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1–11.
  101. Kohut, H. (1971). The analysis of the self. New York: International Universities Press.
  102. Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of the self. New York: International Universities Press.
  103. Loevinger, J. (1987). Paradigms of personality. New York: W. H. Freeman.
  104. Luborsky, L., & Crits-Christoph, P. (1990). Understanding transference: The core conflictual relationship theme method. New York: Basic Books.
  105. Macmillan, M. B. (1996). Freud evaluated: The completed arc. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  106. Mahler, M. S., Pine, F., & Bergman, A. (1975). The psychological birth of the human infant. New York: Basic Books.
  107. Mahoney, M. J. (1985). Open exchange and the epistemic process. American Psychologist, 40, 29–39.
  108. Main, M., Kaplan, M., & Cassidy, J. (1985). Security in infancy, childhood, and adulthood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50, 66–104.
  109. Masling, J. M., & Bornstein, R. F. (Eds.). (1993). Psychoanalytic perspectives on psychopathology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  110. Masling, J. M., & Bornstein, R. F. (Eds.). (1994). Empirical perspectives on object relations theory. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  111. Masling, J. M., & Schwartz, M. A. (1979). A critique of research in psychoanalytic theory. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 100, 257–307.
  112. Mayman, M. (1976). Psychoanalytic theory in retrospect and prospect. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 40, 199–210.
  113. McAdams, D. P. (1997). A conceptual history of personality psychology. In R. Hogan, J. Johnson, & S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality psychology (pp. 3–40). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  114. McClelland, D. C., Koestner, R., & Weinberger, J. (1989). How to self-attributed and implicit motives differ? Psychological Review, 96, 690–702.
  115. Millon, T. (1996). Disorders of personality: DSM-IV and beyond. New York: Wiley.
  116. Norcross, J. C., Karg, R. S., & Prochaska, J. O. (1997). Clinical psychologists in the 1990s. The Clinical Psychologist, 50, 4–9.
  117. Pennebaker, J. W., & O’Heeron, R. C. (1984). Confiding in others and illness rate among spouses of suicide and accidental death victims. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 473–476.
  118. Perry, C., & Laurence, J. (1984). Mental processing outside of awareness: The contributions of Freud and Janet. In K. S. Bowers & D. Meichenbaum (Eds.), The unconscious reconsidered (pp. 9–48). New York: Wiley.
  119. Pincus, A. L., & Wilson, K. R. (2001). Interpersonal variability in dependent personality. Journal of Personality, 69, 223–251.
  120. Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., & Solomon, S. (1999). A dualprocess model of defense against conscious and unconscious death-related thoughts. Psychological Review, 106, 835–845.
  121. Robins, R. W., & John, O. P. (1997). The quest for self-insight: Theory and research on accuracy and bias in self-perception. In R. Hogan, J. Johnson, & S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality psychology (pp. 649–679). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  122. Rychlak, J. E. (1988). The psychology of rigorous humanism. New York: New York University Press.
  123. Sandler, J., & Rosenblatt, B. (1962). The concept of the representational world. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 17, 128–145.
  124. Schacter, D. L. (1987). Implicit memory: History and current status. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 13, 501–518.
  125. Schafer, R. (1999). Recentering psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 16, 339–354.
  126. Schiff, N. D. (1999). Neurobiology, suffering, and unconscious brain states. Journal of Pain Management, 17, 303–304.
  127. Schneider, K. J., & May, R. (1995). The psychology of existence. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  128. Shapiro, T., & Emde, R. N. (Eds.). (1995). Research in psychoanalysis: Process, development, outcome. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.
  129. Sifneos, P. (1972). Short-term psychotherapy and emotional crisis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  130. Slavin, M. O., & Kriegman, D. (Eds.). (1992). The adaptive design of the human psyche: Psychoanalysis, evolutionary theory, and the therapeutic process. New York: Guilford Press.
  131. Slipp, S. (1984). Object relations: A dynamic bridge between individual and family treatment. New York: Jason Aronson.
  132. Spence, D. P. (1982). Narrative truth and historical truth: Meaning and interpretation in psychoanalysis. New York: W. W. Norton.
  133. Spiegel, D., Bloom, J. R., Kraemer, H. C., & Gottheil, E. (1989). Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer. The Lancet, 114, 888–891.
  134. Spitz, R. A. (1945). Hospitalism. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1, 53–74.
  135. Spitz, R. A. (1946). Hospitalism: A follow-up report on investigation described in Volume 1, 1945. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2, 113–117.
  136. Stadler, M. A., & Frensch, P. A. (Eds.). (1998). Handbook of implicit learning. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
  137. Stein, D. J. (Ed.). (1997). Cognitive science and the unconscious. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
  138. Stern, D. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant. New York: Basic Books.
  139. Sullivan, H. S. (1947). Conceptions of modern psychiatry. New York: W. W. Norton.
  140. Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: W. W. Norton.
  141. Sullivan, H. S. (1956). Clinical studies in psychiatry. New York: W. W. Norton.
  142. Temoshok, L. (1987). Personality, coping style, emotion, and cancer: Toward an integrative model. Cancer Surveys, 6, 545–567.
  143. Torrey, E. F. (1992). Freudian fraud: The malignant effect of Freud’s theory on American thought and culture. New York: HarperCollins.
  144. Vaillant, G. E. (Ed.) (1986). Empirical studies of ego mechanisms of defense. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
  145. Wachtel, P. (1977). Psychoanalysis and behavior therapy. New York: Basic Books.
  146. Walla, P., Emdl, W., Lindinger, G., & Lang, W. (1999). Implicit memory within a word recognition task: An event-related potential study in human subjects. Neuroscience Letters, 16, 129–132.
  147. Westen, D. (1998). Unconscious thought, feeling, and motivation: The end of a century-long debate. In R. F. Bornstein & J. M. Masling (Eds.), Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious (pp. 1–43). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  148. Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Playing and reality. Middlesex, UK: Penguin.
  149. Winson, J. (1985). Brain and psyche: The biology of the unconscious. New York: Doubleday.
Biological Bases of Personality Research Paper
Psychological Behaviorism Theory of Personality Research Paper