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The Connection of Conscience and Depression

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Personality is described as to the long-standing traits and patterns that propel individuals to consistently think, feel, and behave in specific ways (Rosie M. Spielman, 2014). With this being said there are many illnesses that are associated with personality. One of the most common mental illness that is tied to personality is depression. Depression can affect a person in many ways such as how they think, feel and act. The correlation between depression and personality has been studied by several scientists and many conclusions have been drawn as to what causes depression.

In the article “Psychological theories of depression” states that behaviorism emphasizes the importance of the environment in shaping behavior. Behaviorism primarily focuses on how people learn through observation. Subsequently, depression can be linked to behavior and the environment that the person is placed in. In the psychodynamic theory during the 1960’s depression was understood in terms of severe super-ego demands, introjection of love object loss, inwardly directed anger (Freud,1917), excessive narcissism, oral and/or anal personality need (Cheff, 1972), loss of self-esteem (Bibring, 1953) (Fenichel, 1968) and deprivation in the mother child relationship during the first year (Kleine, 1934). It was also said that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is an example of the psychodynamic approach. Freud later modified his theory stating that the tendency to internalize the loss of objects is normal, and that depression is simply due to an excessive severe super-ego. Thus, the depressive phase occurs when the super-ego or conscience is dominant.

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In the text the super-ego develops as a child interacts with others, learning the social rules, for right and wrong. It acts as our conscience is our moral compass that tells us how we should behave. It strives for perfection and judges our behavior leading to feelings of pride or shortcomings. The Cognitive Theory of depression in the text it says that depression is triggered by negative thoughts, interpretations, self – evaluations, and expectations (Joormann, 2009).

In a study to determine the answer to the question of what the effects of the deprivation of mother and child relationship Harry Harlow, John Bowlby, and Mary Ainsworth conducted a series of experiments, the outcome of the experiments were there was more to the mother-child relationship than nourishment. Feelings of comfort and security are the critical components to mother-child bonding, which leads to a healthy psychosocial development for the child.

In the article it states that the depressive phase occurs when the super ego is dominant. Within the book it says because the super-ego is based on morals and right and wrong this can cause a person to over think and make themselves sad or depressed. This is especially true when the person has recently lost something or someone. The article however mentions inwardly directed anger and excessive narcissism, which the book doesn’t mention. Also spoken about in the article is the deprivation of the mother-child bond whereas the book confirms that feelings of comfort and security are crucial components to the mother-child relationship.

The information given above deepened my knowledge about the connection of the conscience and depression because I never really thought that it was mostly based on your conscience. I thought it was mostly based on inwardly directed anger and loss of self-esteem since I myself was once depressed. I’ve never really thought about it being my conscience making the most impact on me. It really expanded my knowledge and now that I really think about it, I realise that it was actually my shortcomings and my conscience constantly telling me that I wasn’t good enough or I needed to do better, always evaluating myself before anybody else could, thinking the negative thoughts which actually made me depressed. I’ve also learnt about behaviourism and that it’s the importance of the environment in shaping the behaviour which can cause depression in someone if it’s a negative environment.


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