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Week 2: Psychoanalytic Theories

Without reading ahead, do a quick self-check. When you think about the field of psychology, who is the first theorist that comes to mind?

If you said Sigmund Freud, you are surely not alone. Freud, the father of the psychoanalytic theory of personality, is one of the most well-known psychologists in history. In fact, his influence is so pervasive that the term Freudian often appears in everyday language. Perhaps you have even caught yourself in a Freudian slip—saying something in error that seems to reveal something deeper within.

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Your focus this week will be exploring Freud’s contributions to the understanding of personality and human behavior—and, in the process, considering why his presence looms so large and has done so for so long. You will also be introduced to other theorists who brought Freud’s concept of personality and psychoanalytic theory into the 20th and 21st centuries. You will examine principles of psychoanalytic theory, analyzing its strengths and limitations. You will also consider its practical applications and effectiveness for explaining human behavior.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze the practicality of theorists’ ideas regarding self, others, and daily interactions
  • Analyze strengths and limitations of personality theory
  • Analyze Freudian theory of personality
  • Analyze psychosexual concepts of Freudian psychoanalytic theory
  • Evaluate effectiveness of psychoanalytic theories in explaining human behavior
  • Demonstrate an understanding of psychoanalytic theories

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Cervone, D., & Pervin, L. A. (2019). Personality: Theory and research (14th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Chapter 3, “A Psychodynamic Theory: Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality” (pp. 53-84)
Chapter 4, “Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory: Applications, Related Theoretical Conceptions, and Contemporary Research” (pp. 85-125)Review these chapters of the text to support your Discussion and Assignment in Week 2. Also note that the Week 2 Test for Understanding is based on the material in these chapters.

Case Study: Sigmund Freud (PDF)
Ashcraft, D. (2009). Personality theories workbook (4th ed., pp. 69–71). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Copyright 2009 by Wadsworth. Reprinted by permission of Wadsworth, a Division of Cengage Learning via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Read this case study on “Steve” and his behavior toward women as the basis of your Assignment in Week 2.


Boeree, C. G. (2009). Personality theories: Sigmund Freud. Retrieved from


Freud’s psychodynamic theory states: human personality is the result of largely unconscious, internal conflicts among the structures of the human mind and the dynamics of this conflict through early stages of development will aid in determining an individual’s personality in adulthood.

Two of the four assumptions made regarding his theory include the following:

Freud’s contentious theories and methods include his assumed universality, his focus on human sexuality, his treatment practices, his emphasis on adults, and his lack of empirical evidence.

Feminists have been highly critical of many of Freud’s concepts, arguing that the assumptions and approaches of psychoanalytic theory are profoundly patriarchal, anti-feminist, and misogynistic.”

Please choose one of the above assumptions, explain support for or against the assumption. Please defend and support your thoughts.


By Day 3 of Week 2:

Post a response that includes the following:

  • Identify the theorist that you will discuss, and note your selection in the title of your post.
  • Explain how your selected theorist has provided the most practical or useful ideas for understanding of one of the following: self, others, or daily interactions.
  • Briefly describe one specific concept or idea developed by your theorist that is particularly helpful in explaining one of the focus areas (i.e., self, others, or daily interactions) and your reasoning.
  • Conclude by noting one strength and one limitation of viewing personality from your selected theorist’s perspective.

Note: You are required to create a thread for your initial discussion post before you will be able to view other colleague’s postings in this forum.

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