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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 10-06-13 16:34

Key Words

OVERDEVELOPED SUPERGO = guilt and worthlessness in overdrive, feel terrible about self etc

REPRESSION: put into unconscious, still affects behaviour

REGGRESSION: younger behaviour (re-experience feelings of childhood); Relevant to depression because repressed anger inwards – could trigger unconscious memory, and re-experience feelings associated with childhood, instead of dealing with it you revert to childhood coping techniques

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Freud noted a similarity between the grieving that occurs when a loved one dies and symptoms of depression. He theorised that depression is a grief response to loss (eg lose job) that evokes feelings associated with real or imagined loss of affection from the person on whom the person was most dependent as a child.

In this sense, both actual losses (eg death of a loved one) and symbolic losses (eg loss of a job) lead us to re-experience parts of childhood. According to Freud, this explains why depressed people become dependent on others and regress to a child-like state. The greater the experience of loss in childhood, the greater the regression that is likely to occur in adulthood.

Some studies do report that children who have lost a parent (eg death or divorce) are particularly susceptible to depression later in life (eg Palosaari and Aro, 1995). However, others have failed to find such susceptibility (Parker, 1992).

Freud also argued that unresolved and repressed anger towards parents can cause depression. For example, a person may be unconsciously angry towards a parent who has died (rejecting and abandoning them). When any kind of loss is subsequently experienced, anger is evoked and turned inward on the self. This is because the outward expression of anger is unacceptable to the superego. Such self-directed hostility may be intense enough to not only motivate depression, but also suicide.

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  • Firstly, there is no direct evidence that depressed people interpret the death of a loved one as desertion or rejection of themselves
  • Secondly, in contrast to the idea that anger is turned inwards, depressed people tend to display hostility towards those that are close to them (Weissman and Paykel)
  • Thirdly, there is mixed evidence for a direct connection between early loss and the risk of depression in later life
  • Finally, since imagined loss cannot be observed, this aspect of the theory cannot be experimentally tested
  • Unfalsifiable 
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