After the big three (Freud, Adler & Jung), psychoanalysis was popularized and changed by a group of new thinkers. They were followers of Freud, initially, but modified his approach quite dramatically. Here are some of the prominent neo-Freudians.
Anna Freud (1895-1982)
Anna Freud was the youngest of Sigmund’s six children, and the only one to show an interest in his work. She began reading his books when she was 15 but didn’t decide to become an analyst until later. In her early twenties, Anna wanted to be analyzed but who could you go to when there’s no one better than your Dad? So, when she was 23, Sigmund (then in his early sixties) psychoanalyzed Anna.
After Sigmund’s death, Anna was the defender of the faith. She continued to promote his ideas but tended to emphasize ego more than her father had. Anna believed that repression was the main defense mechanism because acting on impulse can hurt you. But more than defending and modifying her father’s work, Anna Freud extended psychoanalytic ideas to children. She maintained that play time was normal, and showed children’s ability to adapt to reality. Children aren’t simply bundled of unconscious conflicts. They are adaptive and creative beings.
In a study she coauthored with Dorothy Burlingham, Anna showed that children look to their parents for cues on how to reaction to situations. During WWII bombing raids, British families were observed in air raid shelters. The children didn’t have instinctive reactions but looked to their mothers to see how she was reacting.
Anna Freud created a classification system to organize evaluations of children’s symptoms. Development was seen as a series of id-ego interactions, where children gain increased control of themselves. Her “diagnostic profile” was a formal assessment procedure that tracked developmental progress on six dimensions of change:
1. dependency to emotional self-reliance
2. sucking to rational eating
3. wetting and soiling to bladder and bowel control
4. irresponsibility to responsibility
5. play to work
6. egocentricity to companionship
Erik Erikson (1902-1994)
Although born in Frankfurt, Germany, Erikson’s parents were Danish. His father was Protestant and his mother Jewish. When Erik was in his 30s, he moved to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1936.
Erikson emphasized the impact of society on the ego, the continuity of the present and the past, and the importance of personal identity (an inner sense of uniqueness) and identity confusion. Erikson saw ego as a creative problem solver. The ego helps organize one’s personality, and synthesizes the conscious and unconscious experiences. It works toward effective performance, as well as avoiding anxiety.
The ego also develops strengths at each stage of development. According to Erikson, there are eight stages in all. The first 5 stages are comparable to Freud’s, including infancy (oral), muscular (anal), locomotor (genital), latency, and adolescence. In Erikson’s sixth stage, the young adult struggles with intimacy and the development of love. As an adult, the seventh stage which extends from the mid-twenties to age 65, people focus on caring for their children and being productive in their careers. Maturity, the eighth stage, included the development of wisdom and a struggle to turn the fear of death into integrated self.
These stages show how children try to understand and relate to the world. According to Erikson, development stages are epigenetic (upon emergence), sequential (occur only in one order) and hierarchical (personality becomes more complex). The behaviors from one stage don’t disappear when the next one starts but each stage has its own characteristic crisis and virtue. A crisis is a battle between opposites (trust vs. distrust). A virtue is what you acquire when you have mastered that stage (hope).
Here are the crises and virtues for Erikson’s stages:
1. Trust vs distrust: Hope
2. Autonomy vs shame-doubt: Will
3. Initiative vs guilt: Purpose
4. Industry vs inferiority: Competence
5. Ego identity vs role confusion: Fidelity
6. Intimacy vs isolation: Love
7. Generativity vs stagnation: Care
8. Ego integrity vs despair: Wisdom
In his later years, Erikson studied the Sioux Indians (S Dakota) and the Yurok salmon fishermen of northern California. He found the Sioux to be trusting and generous, while the Yurok were miserly and suspicious. According to Erikson, the difference in behavior was the result of their cultures.
Karen Horney (1885-1952)
Born in Hamburg, Germany on September 18, 1885, Horney did not study directly with Freud but was greatly influenced by his work. She received her MD from the University of Berlin in 1913, and moved to the US in 1932.
Horney’s writings do not form a systematic theory of psychology but show how Freud’s concepts were manipulated and expanded by his followers. Horney’s concept of basic anxiety embraces Freudian thought but extends its interpretive usefulness. For Horney, basic anxiety is feeling helpless and is a product of culturalization. Basic anxiety produces a drive for safety (security).
Horney emphasized needs, including the need for affection, approval, power, ambition and perfection. She divided these needs into 3 types of personality: toward people, against people, and away from people.
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
Fromm’s loosely constructed theory of personality emphasized social influences and trends. Born in Frankfurt, Germany on March 23, 1900, Fromm received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1922.
Fromm maintained that people are lonely, and seeking social contact. Basically a social animal, the greater independence one achieves, the greater loneliness is experienced. To counteract loneliness, people use myths, religions, and totalitarianism to bind themselves to each other. For Fromm, there are only two solutions to the problem: join with others in a spirit of love, or conform to society.
Fromm proposed five basic needs: relatedness (creating relationships), transcendence, rootedness (putting down roots), identity (uniqueness), and orientation (a consistent frame of reference).
According to Fromm, personality is composed of temperament (inherited. unchangeable characteristics) and character (which is learned). Individual character is developed within one’s environment and social character is a result of reaction to society.
Melatne Klein (1892-1960)
Klein was one of the founders of object relations theory. Although she believed aggression is an important and common force in children, Klein modified Freud’s drive theory. She maintained that drives are psychological forces (not biological) that seek people as their objects. That is, we are driven to interact with people, and to use those interactions to fulfill our needs.
According to this view, children construct an internal representation of people. These representations are rough estimates of reality. A young child doesn’t have to capacity to understand complex relationships, so they create simple images of the people in their world. Then, they apply these rules to real people (she’s like Mom; he’s like Uncle Fred).
This approach works well when you’re young but these early stereotypes make it hard to relate to people as they actually are. Because of these images, children are slow development realistic relationships with the world. They find it difficult to give up their unconscious fantasies; they prefer the fantasy that Mom is all good and Dad is a superhero. The truth is more difficult to accept. It’s harder to understand that Mom is good and sometimes mean, or that Dad can be dependable and strong yet not able to jump over tall buildings in a single bound.
Klein also believed that the superego developed before the Oedipal complex. Consequently, even young children can experience guilt, shame and complex emotions. To avoid the anxiety over mixed feelings (or aggressive impulses), children learn to separate their emotions from the target person (object). Objects tend to be good and feelings bad. This disconnect causes problems in later life.
In addition to traditional techniques (free association, analysis of defenses, etc.), she introduced innovative therapeutic interventions that are now considered standard practices. For example, Klein was the first to use play therapy. She had children play with toys, and used those sessions to get a better understanding of their drives and emotions.
Klein was strongly opinionated and a forceful advocate for her point of view. She was part of an on-going battle of words that threatened to destroy the British Psychoanalytical Society. Some of the conflict was over how to discover and interpret a child’s ego defenses. But much of the drama was not about the use of fantasy, projection and regression. It was a battle of personalities. It was the battle of giants: Melanie Klein vs. Anna Freud.
In this corner, was Melanie Klein: the first to apply psychoanalysis to children (beating out Anna Freud by four years). Klein was a radical, daring to challenge the ideas of Sigmund Freud. And in this corner, there was Anna Freud: youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud and heir to the Freud legacy and upholder of classical psychoanalysis. Joining Anna Freud group was Melitta Schmideberg, Melanie Klein’s daughter (with whom she never reconciled).
Each camp offered a training program, and held that their approach alone should be the official training program of the organization. More than that, each wanted the other expelled from the society.
The winner? Actually, the winner was a third group: the independents, whose primary concern was compromise. In the end, the Society did what all organization do: they solved the issue politically. Each side was asked to make formal presentations of their theories. A panel listened to all concerned and decided the Society would offer both training programs. A simple solution that only took 5 years to reach.