Phenomenological Psychology

Phenomenological Psychology header image

Theories of Personality – Freud, Adler, Jung – Questions and Answers

May 20th, 2009 by David Kronemyer · No Comments

QUESTION: “I can’t stand my brother,” your 10:00 client exclaims. “He’s always trying to control me. I can never talk to him without his getting defensive. I can’t share feelings, I can’t set boundaries, I can’t be in the same room with him without his needing to dominate the conversation. He’s totally neurotic!” If you wanted to find out if your client’s diagnosis of her brother was accurate, what three qualities, according to Alfred Adler, would suggest that he was, in fact, “neurotic?”

ANSWER: (1) unrealistic goals; (2) self-absorption; (3) rigidity.

QUESTION: Adler identifies three “neurotic safeguards.” What are they?

ANSWER: (1) excuses; (2) aggression; (3) withdrawal.

QUESTION: Which one would best fit your client’s brother?

ANSWER: Aggression.

QUESTION: Your client was referred by her physician. She has an autoimmune disorder exacerbated by stress. You suspect that much of her stress and physical symptoms might be a type of “compromise formation.” Considering her relationship with her brother, how might Freud explain the origin of her physical symptoms?

ANSWER: The ego undertakes compromise formation to manage the anxiety created by the tension between the superego and the id. It does so by creating defense mechanisms. Failure or inability to understand or articulate them results in stress and the somatic complaints she expresses. Likely defense mechanisms she displays are repression (forcing of the anxiety-ridden experience into the unconscious), suppression (conscious inhibition of unacceptable memories) and reaction formation (pretending to love somebody you hate).

QUESTION: Earlier in the session, your client had brought in a dream that she had been swimming in the ocean when she suddenly became aware that a shark was nearby and immediately work up feeling anxious. How would Freud refer to the symbols of swimming in the ocean and the shark?

ANSWER: The “manifest content” of the dream.

QUESTION: What would Freud call the underlying emotion symbolized by this dream image?

ANSWER: The “latent content” of the dream.

QUESTION: What term would Freud have used to describe the dream’s compacting a great deal of content into this one symbol?

ANSWER: Condensation.

QUESTION: What do you suppose the shark might represent?

ANSWER: Displacement, which occurs when a dream image is replaced by some other idea. It could represent negative feelings, for example, the feeling of being devoured.

QUESTION: Talking about her brother has made your client very anxious. List and briefly define three types of anxiety described by Freud.

ANSWER: (1) neurotic anxiety – an apprehension about an unknown danger. One is flooded with id impulses. It is “ego dystonic.” (2) moral anxiety – the conflict between the id and the superego. One feels that yielding (for example) to a temptation would be morally wrong. (3) realistic anxiety, which is situational or “normal” anxiety involving fear or other nonspecific feelings.

QUESTION: In your next appointment your client complains of waking up at 3:00 AM most mornings feeling anxious and has trouble getting back to sleep. She often remembers being chased in her dreams by a strange male. Carl Jung would recognize the male figure in her dream as possibly being an aspect of this woman’s “shadow” complex. What would Jung mean by the term, “shadow”?

ANSWER: “Shadow” is an archetype of darkness and repression; those qualities one does not wish to acknowledge and attempts to hide from oneself and others. One must continuously strive to know one’s shadow and this quest is a test of courage.

QUESTION: What does Jung mean by the term “complex”?

ANSWER: “Complex” is the contents of the personal unconscious; an accumulation of emotionally charged messages and imperatives. They can be activated by a primer sparking an emotional response that blocks the smooth flow of thought.

QUESTION: Jung also might suggest that the dream represented the woman’s “masculine” energy “pursuing” her for conscious access. What term did Jung use to describe a woman’s “inner masculine?”

ANSWER: Animus.

QUESTION: What term did Jung use to describe a male’s “inner feminine”?

ANSWER: Anima.

QUESTION: Jung referred to the concepts above as “archetypes.” What is an archetype?

ANSWER: An ancient or archaic image that derives from the collective unconscious. It is an innate dispositional representation and a common theme of human experience.

QUESTION: Why was understanding and interpreting dreams important to both Freud and Jung?

ANSWER: Freud referred to dreams as the “royal road” to the unconscious. Dream interpretation transforms manifest content into latent content, putting experiences into coherent narrative form. Freud approached dreams as retrospective indicators of personality, requiring interpretation. For Jung on the other hand they were prospective indicators of different paths to self-actualization.

QUESTION: In your next session, you decide to find out more about her early childhood. When you think about asking her for her first memory, Adler comes to mind. What else would Adler want to know about your patient?

ANSWER: (1) what are her feelings of inferiority. (2) what is her final goal. (3) what is the narrative she uses to construct her life (schema). (4) what is her style of life. (5) how does she exercise her creative power. (6) does she have social interest. (7) what are her safeguarding tendencies. (8) what is her family constellation.

QUESTION: For Adler, what was the principal origin of human motivation and a guiding factor in human development?

ANSWER: The inferiority complex. Psychologically unhealthy persons strive for “personal superiority” whereas healthy ones seek “success” for all humanity and are motivated by “social interest.”

QUESTION: What did Adler mean by the concept of “final goal” or “guiding self ideal.”

ANSWER: The final goal is a product of the creative power – one’s ability to freely shape one’s behavior and personality. It unifies personality and makes behavior comprehensible. It can either be “personal superiority” or success for all humankind. It is the “for the sake of which” one exists.

QUESTION: Write the letter of the psychological defense next to its appropriate definition.

a. Regression.

b. Sublimation.

c. Introjection.

d. Denial.

e. Repression.

f. Displacement.

g. Projection.

h. Reaction formation.

1. Attributing to another person or object one’s own unacceptable impulses.

2. Redirection of impulses, usually aggressive ones, onto a substitute target.

3. Transformation of unacceptable impulses into their opposites and more acceptable forms.

4. Blocking of external events from entry into awareness (motivated negation).

5. Abrupt and involuntary removal from awareness of any threatening impulse (motivated forgetting).

6. A primitivization of behavior in the face of stress, a return to earlier defense when confronted with anxiety.

7. Incorporating into one’s own behavior and beliefs the characteristics of some external object or admired person.

8. Transformation of an impulse into a socially productive and acceptable form.


1 – G; 2 – F; 3 – H; 4 – D; 5 – E; 6 – A; 7 – C; 8 – B.