Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Term Paper

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Personality Psych Analysis of Tony Soprano

Psychodynamic Theory

Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality

Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality makes the argument that human behavior is resultant of the interrelations amongst three constituent parts of the mind including the id, ego, and superego (Petocz, 1999). This theory of personality lays substantial significance of the manner in which conflict, more often than not unconscious, amongst the areas of the mind end up shaping an individual’s behavior and personality. The Id deals with instantaneous satisfaction of basic physical needs and desires and it functions completely unconsciously. The Superego takes into account social rules and morals, and is largely referred to as a person’s conscience. The Superego develops as a child progressively learns what is deemed to be right or wrong. Lastly, the ego, unlike the instinctive Id and the ethical superego, the Ego is the sensible, realistic part of an individual’s personality (Caducci, 2015). It is what is deemed to be the “self” and its main function is to ensure that there is poise in between the demands of the Id and Superego in the real-world setting of reality. In accordance to Freud, there is an incessant conflict amongst the Id, Ego, and Superego and that the personality and behavior of an adult are entrenched in the outcomes of these intrinsic struggles all the way through childhood (Ellis, Abrams and Abrams, 2009).

Furthermore, in accordance to Freud’s beliefs, the nature of the conflict that exists amongst id, ego and superego transform in the course of time as an individual grows and develops from a child to an adult. In particular, he asserted that these conflicts advance through a sequence of five basic phases with every one of them having a dissimilar emphasis. These stages comprised of the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital phases. As a whole, this notion was referred to as the psychosexual theory of development (Ellis, Abrams and Abrams, 2009). Throughout these five phases, the child faces various conflicts between their biological endeavors, which is the Id, and their social and moral conscience, which is the superego. This is largely for the reason that their biological self-satisfaction desires lay emphasis on dissimilar parts of the body. The capability of the child to come up with a resolution of these internal conflicts is a determination of his or her capacity to cope and function as an adult. The inability to come up with a resolution in any of these five stages can give rise to an individual becoming hooked in that particular stage, which results in unhealthy personality traits (Elliott, 2015).

As aforementioned, one of the key aspects of the theory is the conflict amongst three constituent parts. In the HBO TV Series, The Sopranos, the main character and personality of Tony Soprano can be largely elucidated using Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality. The struggle between the ID, ego and superego correlates to Tony’s struggle between the villain and the family man within his psyche. Tony faces a tough time in balancing the needs of his actual family, his wife Carmela, daughter Meadow and son Anthony Soparano Jr. and mother Livia, which are in conflict with the needs of his Mafia family. More often than not, Tony demonstrates behavior traits representative of a vicious sociopath, but at the same time struggles with depressive disorders and is also susceptible to panic attacks. Tony incessantly tries to make certain that his children do not lead the similar kind of life that he leads. He tried to shadow his children from his mob activities.

Freud’s theory outlines that the human mind is categorized into three levels including the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. The unconscious mind is considered to be a pool of emotional states, thoughts, urges and memories that are external to our conscious mindfulness.

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According to Freud, the unconscious goes on to impact a person’s behavior and experience, despite the fact one is oblivious of these underlying influences (Caducci, 2015). Throughout the episodes of the show, Tony has impulsive sexual desires. The preconscious mind comprises of anything that could prospectively be set into the conscious mind whereas the conscious mind comprises of all the views, memories, feelings and desires of which an individual is cognizant at any particular moment (Caducci, 2015). Fitting examples of Freud’s personality theory of the unconscious mind, particularly encompassing the mechanism of repression, the redefinition of sexual urges and the therapeutic techniques are displayed in different episode of the show. Repression is a form of defense mechanisms that takes place when an individual incessantly deflects from painful deliberations, desires or memories in an endeavor to maintain the mind in a more pleasant state (Caducci, 2015). When Dr. Melfi reveals to Tony that he cannot admit that he did not have a mother that loved him and conspired with his uncle to kill him, Tony deflects by turning it around on the therapist.

The theory of personality asserts that the adult personality emanates as an amalgamation of early childhood experiences, on the basis of how these experiences are consciously and unconsciously handled within human growing stages, and the manner in which these experiences form the personality. The influence of childhood memories is specifically perceived in Tony’s life. A great deal of what The Sopranos is based on is Tony’s past and childhood memories with his family. In flashback scenes of an episode, it can be seen how Livia, Tony’s mother, was emotionally violent with her children. For instance, in one of the scenes, Livia waves a fork in Tony’s face and threatens that she could easily stab him with it. Similarly, when Tony Soprano’s father points out that he would like to move with his kids to Reno, Livia tells him that she would rather kill her children by smothering them with a pillow than allow them to leave. These childhood memories significantly shape Tony’s adult personality and more so his parental relationship with his children and for the most part with his son Anthony Soprano Jr. A.J is a troubled child with self-esteem issues. He smokes marijuana during his confirmation, steals communion wine and gets drunk on it, destroys the school’s swimming pool and eventually gets expelled because of exam cheating. A.J is diagnosed with deficit attention deficit disorder (ADD). In spite of knowing that A.J is not performing well in school, Tony buys him a drum set worth $5,000. In addition, he goes ahead to buy him a Nissan Xterra, which he claims is to give motivation.

These childhood experiences also shape Tony’s personality in terms of his search for dominance. During a therapy session, Tony reveals to Dr. Melfi, “Now that my father's dead, he's a saint. When he was alive, nothing. My dad was tough. He ran his own crew. A guy like that, and my mother wore him down to a little nub. He was a squeaking little gerbil when he died.” This made him be in a constant quest for male dominance. This is part of the reason why Tony hesitates opening up to a female therapist and also distrusts a female therapist. In this regard, Tony attempts to reinstate his manliness by sexualizing the relationship….....

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References

Barry, J. A., & Seager, M. (2014). What can Tony Soprano teach men about therapy. In Mens Health Forum. Retrieved July (Vol. 12, p. 2015).

Carducci, B. J. (2015). The psychology of personality: Viewpoints, research, and applications (3rdEdition). Wiley-Blackwell.

Elliott, A. (2015). Psychoanalytic theory: An introduction. New York: Macmillan International Higher Education.

Ellis, A., Abrams, M., & Abrams, L. (2009). Personality theories: Critical perspectives. New York: Sage Publications.

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). McGraw-Hill series in social psychology. Social cognition (2nd ed.). New York, NY, England: Mcgraw-Hill Book Company.

Karson, M. (2017). A Case Formulation for Tony Soprano. Psychology Today.

Martinko, M. J. (Ed.). (2006). Attribution theory in the organizational sciences: Theoretical and empirical contributions. IAP.

Petocz, A. (1999). Freud, psychoanalysis and symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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