The structural portion of Psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud, attempts to explain how the unconscious mind function with three distinct components, namely id, ego and superego and how the conflict between two of the three component could give rise to Marilyn’s behaviours when her phobia of the dark is activated. The maintenance of Marilyn’s behaviour with regards to her fear of the dark will also be explained using Classical conditioning by John. Watson and Rosalie Rayner as well as Operant conditioning by Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Each component in Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory contributes to the way a person behaves towards an experience. The first component, Id, is the instinct portion of the mind that give rise to basic emotions without consideration of any other factors that one should consider before reacting.
This meant that if Id were to function alone without any restriction, it may cause someone to behave in a selfish and impulsive manner because the person’s feelings are always put first without any compromise. Superego is the judgemental portion of the mind because it is very conscious of everything and is responsible for more complicated feelings like guilt. Ego is like the control centre of the mind with regards to the balancing out the consequence of Id and Superego. Ego ensures that the combination of behaviour caused by Id and superego when put together produces a consequence that is socially accepted and does not deviate from the norm of society. However, during childhood, when id and superego are in conflict with each other and no solution is formed, repression and displacement occur onto the feared object, which in Marilyn’s case is darkness. There is a possibility that Marilyn’s phobia is rooted in her mother’s behaviour post losing her firstborn when Marilyn was four years old. The loss of a child could have caused her mother to feel hurt but because Marilyn’s father is a workaholic, he may not have done his part to provide emotional comfort to Marilyn’s mother during the period she needed him the most.
Marilyn’s mother might have had very little time to grieve since there was little Marilyn to take care of, therefore, without realizing it, her mother might have put her defence mechanism to use when she repressed her internal mental and emotional conflict and displaced it onto Marilyn’s father each time he returned home from work by straining the marital relationship by calling him weak. Marilyn’s mother’s guilt of losing her son could have triggered her to pay close attention to Marilyn, waiting on her foot and mouth just so she will not repeat the same mistake of losing her child again. There is also a possibility that because Marilyn observe this behaviour very often between her mother and father, she starts to believe that indeed her father is weak because her idea of a person who is strong would be her mother because the difference she observed in her parents was the treatment they each showed towards her was very different; her mother will say that she will be there for Marilyn and makes it a point to be physically there for her but her father, on the other hand, will not make good of his word but instead will brush Marilyn’s worry off. This does not settle well with Marilyn because her id expects an automatic response when she voices out her needs and because her father does not make it a point to be there for her like her mom does, tension arises between Marilyn and her father. Marilyn’s mother is very protective of her and that could mean that they both have a very close relationship with each other compared to Marilyn and her father. Sigmund Freud, consider the fear of the dark to be a manifestation of separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder is an excessive display of fear and distress when faced with situations of separation, so in Marilyn’s case, it could be from the home or from a specific attachment figure like her mother. This might explain why when Marilyn is in the dark and her mother cannot be there by her side, each day after work, she experienced anxiety but it is masked as fear of the dark.
When we look at Marilyn’s phobia from the behavioural perspective, her phobia could have stemmed from her mother‘s own childhood fear of the dark because of the “boogie man”. In the behavioural perspective, the environment, as well as interactions with others, contribute to learning which shapes behaviour. In Marilyn’s case, she initially did not fear being alone in the dark but perhaps upon listening to her mother’s childhood fears she developed a fear of being alone in the dark because she is afraid the “boogie man” might come after her, once this association has been formed she developed a phobia of the dark. This phobia did not decay over time perhaps because she figured that she needs to not be alone in the dark so she will avoid having to work late but she did not realize that she was not confronting her fears but instead she was not doing anything about it since she avoid working into the night, as a result, her phobia of the dark never went away.