Studying Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory

Jordan Puckett

Professor Lucas

English 131.01

May 4, 2016


Studying Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory




Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory has been used over the years to explain violent and repressed emotions within our unconscious, but have been repeatedly pushed to the side as well. In recent years, his Psychodynamic Theory has become more prominent in studies pertaining to the unconscious and emotional disorders caused by repression of thoughts and feelings. Freud’s theory encompasses the overall development of a person’s unconscious forces and drives. That each personality is “shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times during childhood development” (McLeod). Certain points of Freud’s theory relate to the drive of anger and instincts that come with violent tendencies and how these drives can cause projection of fear, such as a young boy being afraid of loving his mother due to his father (Freud 1). Drive being what pushes you to violence due to environmental and mental stressors, and instincts being a “…set of inborn patterns of behavior…in response to a given stimulus” (Psychodynamic). He also focuses on how we have a way to release this sort of pent up aggression and repressed thoughts by means of projection and also through our dreams (Freud 2). Therefore, I have included articles contain a substantial amount of background, tertiary, and secondary sources of Freud’s theory and how our unconscious is used so that I could have a deeper understanding of his Psychodynamic Theory. Also, I have two primary sources from Freud himself discussing cases and the unconscious.

I was interested in conducting research on Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory because I am almost certain that I will be declaring a major in Psychology. I am fascinated with Freud’s theories concerning the unconscious, especially his Psychodynamic Theory that examines repressed violent thoughts and emotions. Case studies such as Little Hans and his insanely driven fear of his father from his unconscious mind are extremely fascinating (Freud 1). The study of both the unconscious and conscious parts of the mind astounds me. The fact that the “unconscious mind is in constant conflict with the conscious part of the mind” is entirely too interesting to ignore (Psychodynamic). Throughout our lives we are conditioned to have certain reactions to things. This conditioning of both the unconscious, behind-the-scenes thoughts, and conscious, upfront and spoken thoughts, are done throughout your life. This is substantial in relation to what drives us to pursue and act in certain ways such as violent outbursts and aggressive behavior. We see this in the case study of Little Hans because he has been conditioned so much to be fearful of his father, that he has projected his unconscious thoughts and feelings onto horses that seem to be as frightening as his father. (Freud 1). I have always been interested in repressed thoughts and why we do the things we do, and sometimes have very dark thoughts, therefore I decided to research and study them carefully.

To Freud, violence is a primary drive, based on “Thanatos, an anti-death wish,” and also a “Eros, sexual energy discharge” to relieve certain stressors (Shaver). There are also two types of aggression resulting from the primary drives mentioned; reactive and explosive (Psychodynamic). Reactive aggression is a quick release that gets rid of tension; for example, snapping back rudely to someone you think is being rude to you. While this prevents repression, it causes actual situations to flare up. Explosive aggression and rage is unprovoked usually and is triggered by repression and can be very difficult to stop; usually this comes up from a buildup of anger (Psychodynamic). Defensive aggression comes from being provoked over and over again until the individual feels like they have to be aggressive as to not be bothered. All of these aggressive traits are compiled of those that are formed over a long, unfixed or unmonitored time of stress and manipulation (McLeod). Therefore, channeled aggression can be seen in both instances due to repression and pent up aggression toward certain outliers. Freud’s studies show that all repressed thoughts, both violence and sexual drive, will emerge at some point. Another way your body gets rid of any sort of repressed thought it by “wish-fulfillment” (Freud 2). Wish-fulfillment is exactly what you think it is; fulfilling what you desire within your unconscious through your dreams (Freud 2). Also, a “Freudian Slip” whereas you say something you would have never said had your conscious filter been on (McLeod). Also, this slip is shown when placed in situations that can bring about violence. For instance, you may snap at your friend, or hit your significant other due to immense buildup of unconscious anger (Psychodynamic). This is clearly explained with both the Electra and Oedipus Complexes as we see a pent up sexual desire for either the male of female parent, and a desire to kill the one that you want (Freud 1). All around Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory brings many questions to the table. Why do we do the things we do, and what would happen if we did or said what was repressed within our unconscious mind? My answer, and partly Freud’s, chaos.


Annotated Bibliography


Freud, Sigmund. Analysis of a Phobia of a Five Year Old Boy. Volume 8 (1909): 169-306. Web.


This case study most commonly known as “Little Hans,” gives us an insight into the minds of those that have created a phobia within their unconscious mind. Freud studied the five year old boy Hans through correspondence with his concerned father. (pg 168) His fathered relayed to Freud that his son was terrified of horses, and that for some reason this was caused by fear of his “widdler” or penis as we call it. (pg 172) He goes on to explain how the boy thought the horses symbolized his father, and their desire to harm him came from him possibly wanting his mother. This, known as the Oedipus Complex, comes from the unconscious mind and is a prime example on how our unconscious mind can make a large impact on how we see our own day to day lives. His fear of his father and the want of child-like love for his mother, gave him and actual fear of multiple things within his surroundings. This projection of repressed feelings or fears is what directly comes from the unconscious. It is a way to release unconscious barriers, as strange as the projection of fears may seem. (Within my introduction this will be known as: Freud 1).


Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Volumes 4 & 5 (1900): 1-627. Web.


In this specific text, Freud expounds on his understanding of how specifically dreams are interpreted and how the unconscious and subconscious drive most of our dreams. He focuses on wanting and wishing in dreams, and how that comes from certain drives we have within the unconscious mind. He also mentions the Electra and Oedipus complexes and how the sexual and aggressive drives behind those wants for your father and mother are displayed in dreams (pg 67). Your unconscious thoughts may provoke dreams such as wanting or desiring someone you don’t normally want within the bounds of your conscious mind. These dreams even take an effect on the daily thoughts and actions certain individuals have. This brings up the idea of déjà vu, and the idea that you are more likely to be driven by something that has been in your dreams, and the fact that you will most likely do something similar to that. Also, Freud focuses on how your unconscious can also come forward through your dreams as “wish-fulfillment” (pg 44). Within this idea, he brings up an emerging idea on how your drives within your unconscious are satisfied within your dreams. With this idea, some of the repression that works within your thoughts and unconscious mind, gets a small amount of release. Therefore, dreams are a way to unknowingly channel pent up aggression or sexual desires and limit the possibility of any sort of outburst from the unconscious mind. (Within my introduction this will be known as: Freud 2).


McLeod, S. A. “Psychodynamic Approach.” Simply Psychology. (2007.) Web. 9 Apr. 2016.


“Psychodynamic Approach,” gathers various explanations and theories behind Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory. The Psychodynamic Theory focuses on getting “inside the head of individuals in order to make sense of their relationships, experiences, and how they see the world.” He focuses on the unconscious and how the drives and forces within the unconscious push us to make certain decisions and do certain things. All of his theories derived from clinical studies in which he questioned the drives and forces behind his clients’ actions. He suggests that our behaviors and feelings as adults are deeply rooted within our childhood experiences. The “Freudian Slip” is one of these Psychodynamic theories suggesting that you say something that you want to say in your unconscious but would never actually say coming from your conscious mind. This slip of the tongue brings forward the thoughts, usually negative, that are stored within your unconscious. Behavior is usually driven by Eros, the sex drive, and Thatanos, the death and violence drive. He also explains how the “unconscious mind is in constant conflict with the conscious part of the mind.” Whereas to say, the thoughts that you repress are constantly fighting to get out into the conscious part of your mind, but the conscious filter keeps an individual from speaking unconscious thoughts. Lastly, he discusses how personality is shaped by experiences and different conflicts, thereby creating our drive of violence and aggression that are triggered by certain conversation for situations, often followed by defense mechanisms.


“Psychodynamic Theory.” Psychodynamic Theory. University Of Washington, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.


The University of Washington’s take on Sigmund Freud’s “Psychodynamic Theory,” shows multiple theories of repressed anger and violent tendencies within our own human attributes. The University of Washington covers the main aspects of Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory such as the unconscious violent tendencies we hold, repressed violence, and anger forced from hostility. In Freud’s theory, he comments on how we each have unconscious feelings of anger; those that are held in the depth of our mind that are not brought to the surface unless severely angered. That “Violence is the exertion of physical force to injure or destroy[…]Always accompanied by emotion of anger or hostility which may of may not be consciously perceived.” Anger and violence is in each of our unconscious emotions and thoughts, but must reach a certain point before we go overboard. Also, each individual has their own breaking point based on biological composure, as were as environmental and social stressors. Therefore, those in more stressful situations such as poverty or those within a tough workforce will be more likely to snap and bring out the unconscious tendencies forward to a conscious violent state.


Shaver, Phillip R., and Mario Mikulincer. “Attachment Theory and Research: Resurrection of the Psychodynamic Approach to Personality.” Journal of Research In Personality 39.1        (2005): 22-45. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.


The article, “Attachment Theory And Research: Resurrection Of The Psychodynamic Approach To Personality” published in the Journal of Research in Personality, Contemplates the misuse of Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory over the years. It goes on talking about how social-behaviorists approach to psychology with cognitive concepts following that of Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory have “taken a beating.” In recent years, those who follow a more “mainstream” personality-social psychology method are pushing Freud’s theory aside. At the same time, upcoming psychologists who study developmental psychology are beginning to look back a Freud for his Attachment Theory and how this relates to the personal psyche. As a subunit of the Psychodynamic Theory, the Attachment Theory studies how the attachment to your mother or father figure can cause unconscious desire of the opposite sex. There is the Oedipus Complex stating that a male will want a female partner similar to his mother, and that deep down inside, he secretly wants his mother. Also, the Oedipus Complex states that he secretly wants to kill his father and take his place within the family unit. This is similar to the Electra Complex, wherein a daughter secretly wants to be with her father, or later in life, find someone who closely relates to her father. All of which are kept in the unconscious, raging with sexual wants and supposedly needs that Freud explains in his Psychodynamic Theory.



The Real Meaning Behind Muldoon’s Hedgehog

In Paul Muldoon’s Hedgehoghe seemingly writes about the simple meanderings of your everyday hedgehog. Within the poem, he mentions a snail and a hedgehog. He describes the snail as something moving quickly, sharing it’s secrets wherever it travels. That is is “…held up of a rubber cushion of itself,” not being supported by anyone or anything. Reading into this, we can see a sort of satanic figure played into the snail. The snail “…moves like a hovercraft,” or in other words slithers to and fro. The snail also tells its secrets to everyone, and tries to get them to do the same so that they will let the snail into to their minds. The hedgehog on the other hand is tuff and unchanging. “The hedgehog shares its secret with no one…” in order to keep itself from harm and so that others don’t know how to bother it. Muldoon then mentions that the hedgehog is distant and distrusting, hiding itself from the world. Looking at this, we can see a more Godlike character, that is disappointed in the world and how the world goes about sharing their secrets every chance they have. The symbolism used by Muldoon also directly relates to a Christ figure when he mentions the hedgehog being “…under this crown of thorns.” Almost to say that the weight of everyone and their sharing of secrets has damaged the world and his emotional state so far that he feels as if he is wearing a crown of thorns upon his head. Almost to say that he, being forgotten and left unbothered is what the weight of the crown has done to him, and that because of that, he will no longer trust in the world. Not knowing Muldoon’s stylistic background, I could not exactly say that religion is a huge influence in all of his works, but there is certainly a distinct influence if we read far enough into this work alone. 

Shitty First Drafts

In the chapter titled “Shitty First Drafts” in Anne Lamott’s book Bird By Bird, Lamott explains her hatred of the dreaded first draft. She begins talking about how most people, if not everyone, writes shitty first drafts. That each person doesn’t “type a few stiff warm-up sentences and then find themselves bounding along like huskies across the snow.” That anyone from avid writers to beginning writers make many drafts in order to finally be satisfied. That instead of being a bad thing, it’s a common process. Everyone has bad first drafts, and usually second drafts too. It’s how writers get words down on paper and then begin to expand on or even completely change the words that they have already written. She also writes how she begins writing without “reigning herself in.” She explains how getting the first draft, as terrible as it may be, is an excellent process to find what you are really trying to write about. Therefore, each writer has their own style of writing, but all of them include very shitty first drafts.


Works Cited
“Getting Started: Writing the First Drafts.” Writing and Speaking in the Technology Professions A Practical Guide (2015): 1-2. Web.

“The Great White Snapping Turtle”

In Garrison Keillor’s Washington Post column, Garrison Keillor: Think moving abroad will save you from Trump? Think again, Keillor writes in a satirical form about the unrealistic qualms of many U.S. citizens. He targets a specific idea of the general public; the idea of fleeing to another country due to the possible instillation of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Keillor discusses the multiple issues with leaving the country for all of those new country, new start hopefuls. He brings up the various deterrents of starting a clean slate in these countries, such as a looming American symbol around your neck. He addresses that even if you do try and escape from the foolishness and bigotry of Donald Trump, you will most likely fail due to the relation of you and your American familiarity.

Keillor uses his satire to predict the outcome of any American that has the gumption to pack their bags if Trump wins the presidential candidacy. He mentions that it would be like “…you’re wearing a big red A around your neck,” as if you can’t escape from the message that comes with being an American, especially if you flee during the catastrophe of Trump as President. He jokes that those who want to leave should actually stay because really, you’ll be in more of threat in the country you flee in than the country you are fleeing from. He mentions the old “favored destination” of Canada due to the compatibility of both of our societies, but he mentions that each American citizen would stick out like a sore thumb, that we can’t hide who we are of where we are from. Keillor also talks about how there is a huge difference between us and our forefathers who moved countries due to actual problem such as basically being “servants to…their rulers.” We only have the problem of a possible issue of Trump, and our country seems to be going up in flames over it. I mean, would you expect any less of a nation that once took everything with a grain of salt that now takes everything like a punch to the gut?


Keillor, Garrison. “Garrison Keillor: Think Moving Abroad Will save You from Trump? Think Again.”Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.

Unit 1

Jordan Puckett

Jane Lucas

English 131.01

Feb. 23, 2016

In the New York Times blog post, “College Education Should Include Rooming With A Stranger,” Anna Altman writes about the impact a roommate can have on the college experience. It’s gleans over the vague idea of a total college experience, such as the parties, harder classes, and more importantly, being independent. Strangely enough, this “total independence,” is actually shared independence, with a roommate. It talks over the balance and experience you gain for having a roommate, that each of us should have a roommate to get the full experience, and that if we did not receive one, we were missing out on a key part of our college career. Without a roommate, we were only getting half of the experience for classes, and not any for our personal growth.

Reading this article, it brings my attention to my own personal experience and how that has so far effected me as a person. At first, my roommate seemed absolutely perfect. We met online and began talking about coming here to Lenoir Rhyne, and almost immediately decided that we would be roommates. Therefore, we broke one of the rules of the article; that roommates should be random. Instead, we asked each other if we would want to be roommates, and then we requested each other on the housing form. Now when we got to school, everything was great. She was exactly who I thought she was, at least for a few days. Then, she changed. It was almost like I had picked the person that I hated the most to be my roommate. The rooming situation ended up to be quite horrid and caused me to endure a lot of personal stress and anxiety. So therefore, I wrote out a very strong worded, yet eloquent email to the director of housing. I couldn’t live there anymore; I just couldn’t do it. I needed something new, something much better.

After maneuvering through the multiple steps of the change of housing form, I have a different roommate, that is my best friend. We had actually also talked to each other in a group chat over summer, but neither of us thought that we would be friends. She actually came with me to the meeting with the director of housing and we were assigned a new room that day; her roommate also moving out cleared up a spot for me very quickly. This made for a much more positive change that led to all over better college experience. So this brings me back to the video, is a random roommate, or at least someone you didn’t think you would room with, a better idea? Is it better that we go blindly into it, instead of having misconceptions about the person we chose? If you would have asked me this at the beginning of the year I would have told you that that was an unnecessary process of college, but now, I would beg you to get a random roommate. To not know, or think you know, who you’re rooming with.

In the words of Altman, “Moving students around within dorms can be a headache, but there’s even more at stake: the risk that students will be so unhappy that they might transfer out of the college before sophomore year.” (Altman) Is actually very similar to what I felt going through this. I was extremely unhappy and was looking for moving to another room and possibly another college. This rings true for more than just my experience. As the article says, more seem to be happy with a random roommate than they do with someone they’ve known all of their life. It’s just how the college experience goes. The fact of the matter is, if you’re rooming with someone you know, or someone you think you might have a lot in common with, you’re really just limiting yourself. You are pushing out any opportunity to grow as a person and learn how to be an independent student. Instead, you’re taking the easy way out and finding someone you can cope with. That you can borderline get along with, and this is not what college is meant for. College is meant for personal growth, not staying in a static, non moving safe bubble.

Again looking at Altman’s piece, it becomes more clear that the necessity of getting a random roommate is in fact crucial to the college experience. That it isn’t the classes and parities that make you who you are in college, it’s who you’re around. And, if you are limiting yourself in that aspect, who’s to say you grew to your full potential? How do you know if you are everything you could be? You never gave that random person you were meant to be with and learn from a chance. Instead you locked down someone who you thought was a lot like you. This safety may have shortened your overall experience, and therefore, shorting your overall full potential.

Works Cited:

Altman, Anna. “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger.” OpTalk A   College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger Comments. New York Times, 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.




Snow Day, Earth’s Silencer

Billy Collins captures the eerie silence behind a snowfall by giving us a first person view in the midst of his “Snow Day.” He represents the snow as a silent freedom, as if the silence freed those who were usually in schools or certain businesses. A calm that also brought about a certain revolution from the adult standpoint and rivalries of the youth. He tediously lists school closings and sees the joy of children in their rebellion in their short freedom from their hiding places where the are held to “letter and draw.” (32) Then following that, he mentions that “three girls are plotting.”(43) He is intrigued by this, and in the midst of the calm, he turns his attention to their chatter and forgets the silence and bore surrounding the snow day.

“Clap your hands,” Collins writes as if symbolizing conformity within the community. (30) I draw this out from the text due to his listing of school closings followed by a uniform clapping of hands; symbolizing that with each snow day, most if not all children rejoice in their day off. As if snow days are almost a conspiracy to keep children happy during the depression season, also known as winter. To give them a break from their everyday monotonous tasks and to fulfill one day of pure joy and fun. That after the ceremonious clapping of hands, the children will be free to play; even if only for a day.