GLOSSARY OF TERMS

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Id: the reservoir of all psychological energies and inherited instincts. For Freud, it represented the inner world of subjective experience. The id is unaffected by the environment and operates according to the pleasure principle, seeking to reduce tension, avoid pain and obtain pleasure. It is regarded as the most primitive part of our personality.

Ego: the centre of conscious personality through which we mediate conscious life - it effectively acts as a referee between the needs of the instinct and the demands of society. It puts a rein on the id's desire for pleasure until a suitable outlet can be found. Thus Freud saw the ego as representing 'reason and good sense'.

Superego: Freud's term for the last system of personality to develop, representing the voice of morality, the rules of parents and society, the power of authority. The superego consists of the ego ideal, those moral and social standards you come to believe are right and the conscience the inner voice that says you did something wrong. The superego sits in judgement on the activities of the id.

Repression: a threatening idea, memory or emotion is blocked from becoming conscious and the word refers to the mind's effort to keep a lid on unacceptable feelings and thoughts in the unconscious so that you are not even aware of them. Repression is only partly successful and can cause havoc with memory.

Projection: one's unacceptable feelings are attributed to - literally projected on to - somebody else. For example, a person who cannot accept their own anger might attribute that anger to another person saying, for example: "Uncle Joe is always so angry. He's a really uncomfortable person to be around."

Regression: Freud believed that personality develops in a series of stages, from birth to maturity; each new step, however, produces a certain amount of frustration and anxiety. If these become too great, normal development may be briefly or permanently halted and the child may remain fixated at the current stage. People may regress in their mind or behaviour to an earlier stage if they suffer a traumatic experience later in life.

Defence Mechanisms: these have two characteristics: they deny or distort reality, and they usually operate unconsciously. Freud believed them to be unhealthy patterns that cause emotional problems and self-defeating behaviour.

Denial: when we are in denial we refuse to admit that something unpleasant is happening, that we are behaving in a particular way or that we are experiencing a taboo emotion.

Displacement: people release their pent-up emotions (usually anger) on things, animals or other people that are not the real object of their feelings. People use displacement when they perceive the real target as being too threatening to confront directly.

! This glossary is adapted from "All In The Mind - the Essence Of Psychology", by Adrian Furnham

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