Character Analysis According to Freud: Blanche Devereaux

This paper will be an analysis of the personality of Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux from the show titled “The Golden Girls.” In this paper Blanche will be analyzed from two points of view. The first analysis will be from the view of psychodynamics using Freud’s ideas on personality. For this analysis I will begin with the structure of Blanche’s personality in regards to the Id, which is the aspect of personality that deals with the instincts, the Ego, which is the rational aspect of the personality, and the Superego, which is the moral aspect of personality. The second analysis will be from the perspective of Abraham Maslow; I will use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and his assumptions about people’s human nature in the process of the analysis.

Blanche’s Superego seems to be under-developed and her Id seems to be over-developed. The superego deals with urges and pleasures and those are the building blocks of Blanche. In Blanche’s younger days she never dated men in her own age group and says that she’s been dating seniors since she was twelve years old. She was married to a man named George and ever since his death she’s been sleeping with different men almost on a daily basis. She lives with her friends Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia (Dorothy’s mom) in a home in Miami Beach, Florida. Her friends try to make her a better person and make her understand that she doesn’t need bundles of men in her life but she doesn’t listen. She tells them that she loved her husband so much and that she misses the love she got from him. In order for her to feel complete she needs the love from the other men because it reminds her of her husband. Blanche does a lot of wish fulfillment, she creates images of herself with these men having sex and then living good lives but then she thinks about her husband and feels like she wouldn’t be loyal to him. Blanche uses this wish fulfillment as a way to get rid of the pain of losing her husband and also to release the tension she has.
When it comes to Blanche’s Ego she has one but it seems to be very weak. She can’t compromise very well; it’s always either her way or no way at all. Even though her friends often call her names it’s all in good fun and they are usually the ones who have to step up and act as her Ego. Blanche is very irrational and in situations where her Ego is needed she often finds herself in trouble. When she’s with men at restaurants, instead of her Ego stepping in and making her aware that she’s in a pubic place and that some things just aren’t appropriate; she’ll hop on a man’s lap or even grab his genitals. Blanches’ Superego does step up sometimes because in some situations she thinks about morals, her husband, and how much she adored him. She often thinks back to the times when they were married happily and she was faithful to him. In one show her Ego Ideal stepped in as she imagined how she’d be awarded in the end if she stopped sleeping with all those men. She had a dream where she died and met her husband in heaven and he was pleased with her because she made the decision to stop sleeping with men. Then her conscience stepped in and showed how things would be if she continued to sleep with the men. She was in heaven and her husband acted as if he never knew her.
It seems as if Blanche is motivated by her wish that she’d once again be loved by a man and that she could be faithful again. The object that she feels will make her happy is sex. The object she uses to get sex is men. Blanche seems to be living on life instincts because even in cases where she’s aware that men are married she still sleeps with them. It’s risk-taking but she doesn’t seem to care, this is done unconsciously and her life is dominated by life instincts because she wants to ensure her survival by satisfying her need for sex. Her need for sex seems to outweigh what her punishments would be if she were to get caught with another woman’s husband.
She often thinks about what the women would say and do but she just goes ahead and has sex with the men anyway. Blanche seems to be flooding her Ego with too much anxiety. The anxiety she has is caused by her insecurities. She’s insecure about herself because often she feels that even if she were to stick with one of the men they wouldn’t want her after awhile. Blanche has both neurotic and moral anxieties. On the neurotic side, she feels as if her instincts (for sex) will get out of control and make her crazy. She often feels like sex has taken over her life and that’s she’s become dependent on it. She knows that it isn’t good for her but feels like she has no other options. On the moral side, she fears that she’s going against her husbands wishes when she sleeps with all the men. Blanche’s ego is overwhelmed and she often uses the defense mechanism of rationalization to help that. She often tries to turn situations into to ones that are more acceptable. For example, on one show after she slept with a man who hadn’t had sex in awhile she made herself feel better by claiming that “he needed it” and that she did him a favor. On another show she says that she collects lingerie because one day she can pass it all down to other women who may need it. Blanche also seems to use the identification technique in order to reduce anxieties. She attaches herself to the idea of men and sex in order to increase her self-esteem and her self-worth. Blanche also uses the technique of regression. She lies about her age to everyone she meets. She even lies about her age to the friends who live with her. She’s in her middle 50’s but tries her hardest to act as if she were 30. She puts lots of time and money into her clothes, facial products, and hair products in order to look and feel younger. Another ego defense mechanism used by Blanche is intellectualization. She knows exactly what she’s doing when she sleeps with these men but she just accepts that and is persistent in her dealings with the men.
In regards to the psychosexual development of Blanche she’s also a mess. When in her oral stage, it seems as if she was over gratified because now she’s very dependent on men and also very gullible. All a man has to do in order to sleep with her is tell her that she’s beautiful or that they love her. While Blanche was being potty trained she must have been anal retentive because now she’s stubborn and also very tidy. She’s stubborn when her friends try to give her advice. She never listens to them and continues to sleep with various men. Often you can find Blanche wiping down counters after Sophia. When it comes to the phallic stage, this is where Blanche may be stuck. When she was about four years old she started noticing her body parts and becoming curious, well this seems to have gotten out of control because now she’s a little too curious for her own good. She seems to want to venture into a world where sex is really the only thing that matters. Blanche seems to have done okay while in her latency and genital stages. She and her husband produced four children- Matthew, Rebecca, George Jr. and Janet and Blanche also did well with her survival skills. She became an assistant curator at the local art museum and a leading lady in several community theater productions. She knew she had to have money to survive after her husband’s death so she did what she had to do. Before getting the job at that art museum she tried being a dancer in a group called “The Tinkerbells” but that didn’t work out for her.
In predicting a course of treatment for Blanche I would go with the dream interpretation. In many of the shows she tells her friends about dreams where her husband show up while she’s having sex. She also dreams a lot about the men she sleeps with. Analyzing Blanche’s dreams would give a good insight on what’s going on with her deep down inside. It may also help Blanche with her insecurities and help reveal to her that she’s worth something and that a man may one day really want to be with her for her and that sleeping with all these men isn’t making her happy at all. In all actuality it’s making her a worse person slowly but surely by demoralizing her.
Now I will analyze Blanche using ideas from Maslow’s theory. According to Maslow, personality is developed based on a hierarchy of needs. There are five of theses needs; physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. These needs are broken down into two categories; deficit needs, which are the lower needs, which must be at least partially satisfied before the higher needs become significant, and being or growth needs, which are the higher needs. These higher needs are less necessary than deficit needs for survival but they involve the realization and fulfillment of human potential (Schultz & Schultz, 312). According to Maslow, if deficit needs aren’t satisfied it causes a deficiency in the body. If a person fails to satisfy a higher need it doesn’t cause a crisis, on the other hand, failure to satisfy a lower need does. Any of these needs, however, can dominate or be affected due to learning and social experiences. People are not reliant on all the needs at the same time and usually one need will dominate our personalities.
In terms of Blanche’s physiological needs it doesn’t seem as if she’s only worried about the sex. She’s in a secure home where food and other things that are essential to her survival are readily available, so these things aren’t a worry to her. When Blanche doesn’t have a man by her side she seems to be very anxious and needy. It seems as if this needs for sex controls her life. In regards to her safety needs, one must be stable, secure, and free of fear and anxiety in order for this need to be completely satisfied in emotionally healthy adults. This isn’t the case with Blanche; she always seems to be anxious when it comes to men. In terms of Blanche’s belongingness and love needs, she seems to have a huge problem. According to Maslow, these needs can be expressed through “a close relationship with a friend, lover, or mate, or through social relationships formed within a group” (Schultz & Schultz, 314). Blanche has a close relationship with the three friends she lives with and often relies on them to build her up when she’s down. This doesn’t seem to be a problem but her need to feel as if she belongs when it comes to men is one. There isn’t not one episode where Blanche doesn’t talk about a man she’s slept with or has had relations with, and when it comes to her friends, she’ll completely blow them off when a man comes into the picture. People innately have the need to receive and give love and Blanche uses these men to try to fulfill this need. Sex is a physiological need but Blanche uses it to express the love part of the need. Maslow also suggests that if the love need isn’t met emotional maladjustment occurs. This applies to Blanche, she’s very emotional and this may be the cause of it. She feels as if back to back sex is the best way to satisfy her love need when this isn’t true. On the issue of Blanche’s esteem needs, there also seems to be a problem, in order for this need to be satisfied a person must acquire esteem and respect from themselves and from other people. The feeling of self worth, status, recognition, and social success are all things that are need. Blanche seems to think that if she sleeps with all these men her, this fact inhibits her to feel confident and adequate. Her thoughts are skewed and it’s shown on episodes where she has just had se with a man. She usually brags to her friends about it and in many cases talks about how easy it is to talk to the man or how good the man makes her feel. She uses these men and the sex to boost her confidence level. When people lack self esteem they don’t have much confidence in their coping skills, this is also apparent in Blanche because if she’s dissed by a man or something goes wrong she acts as if her whole world will cave in an there’s nothing she can do about it. She goes on and on complaining to her friends. Blanche. In regards to the need to self-actualize, Blanche is way off track. Self actualization is the highest need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This need is based on realizing and fulfilling our potentials, skills, and talents at the highest level that is possible. In Blanche’s case, she seems to still be distracted by her lower needs that haven’t been met. She’s so worried about sex and men that it’s impossible for her to be self-actualized at this point. Another problem that exists in Blanche is the fact that she doesn’t have a realistic knowledge of her virtues and vices. Sometimes she thinks about her dead husband and says she doesn’t want to hurt him but look at what she’s doing. Her morals don’t seem to be up to par and she seems to be a hypocrite. Cognitive needs are a second set of innate needs suggested by Maslow. These are the need to know and to understand. Maslow suggests that “the need to know is stronger than the need to understand; therefore, the need to know must be partially satisfied before the need to understand” (Schultz & Schultz, 316). These needs to know and understand are usually apparent in late infancy and results in curiosity. This may have been a problem when Blanche was a child, she may have been kept under watch very closely by her parents and now she feels as if it’s her time to be curious, but she’s taken it a little too far.
Metamotivation is defined as “The motivation of self-actualizers, which involves maximizing personal potential rather than striving for a particular goal object (Schultz & Schultz, 316). Maslow suggests that people who are not self-actualized (Blanche) have D-motivation and it involves striving for something specific in efforts to make up for something that is lacking. This seems to clearly be the case with Blanche. It seems as if she’s using these men and sex in order to make up for the face that she has no self-esteem and also a feeling of inadequacy. She does all this in order to relieve the tension she has developed. Maslow also talks about peak experiences. During these experiences a person feels powerful and confident. In Blanche’s case she may consider her sex with men as her peak experiences; therefore she refers to them and does it over and over again. Maslow also suggests that the failure to become self-actualized may come from childhood experiences. He suggests that hostile parents make it hard for a person to satisfy love and esteem needs; this is yet another option that could be the source of Blanche’s problems. The Jonah complex suggests that the fear that maximizing our potential will lead to a situation with which we will be unable to cope (Schultz & Schultz, 321) this could also apply to Blanche.
In my opinion, I believe that Maslow’s theory explains Blanche’s personality and behaviors better that Freud’s. I say this because with Maslow’s theory you can actually see what’s going on with Blanche and it’s more like things on the outside. With Freud, he focuses on the Id, Ego, and Superego, which can’t even be seen. I feel that Maslow’s theory is a lot more proficient and that the depth of his theory outweighs the depth of Freud’s theory. Maslow’s theory focuses on psychological health, growth and potentials, unlike Freud’s theory which focuses on illnesses and limitations. Maslow also suggests more about the uniqueness of people’s personalities and behaviors.