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Freud's Psychosexual Stages of Development.

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Define personality, and describe the basic structure of personality according to Sigmund Freud. Make additional reference to Freud’s psychosexual stages of development.


It is the pattern of enduring characteristics that differentiate a person. Those patterns of behavior are the ones that make each of us a unique person. It is personality that leads us to act consistently and predictably in different situations and in over extended periods of time.

“Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal condition of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.”

- Carl Gustav Jung, 1934

Various definitions of personality

• "Deceptive masquerade or mimicry."

• "The entire organization of a human being at any stage of development."

• "Levels or layers of dispositions, usually with a unifying or integrative principle at the top."

• "The integration of those systems or habits that represent an individual’s characteristic adjustments to the environment."

• "The way, in which the person does such things as remembering, thinking or loving."

• "Those characteristics that account for consistent patterns of behaviour"

• "Personality is not an existing substantive entity to be searched for but a complex construct to be developed and defined by the observer."

(Smith & Vetter, 1982, p.5)

Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of development:

Sigmund Freud was born in Austria and was a physician. He is now known as the father of psychology. All of his theories were made through the observation of his patients which were almost all of them women. In 1900 he introduced his theory called the psychoanalytic theory. He believed that a person’s unconscious experience was just the tip of his psychological makeup. Also he stated that much of our behavior is motivated by the unconscious.

Levels of personality.

He argued that our personality is divided into three levels. The conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious.

The conscious level is the one responding to everyday life. Our experiences through our senses. Every feeling that can be described is conscious.

The preconscious is anything that is intermittently accessible to memory. It is the store house of memories and thoughts which we are not consciously aware of, but we can bring into consciousness. Something we know but it is hidden behind our heads and when we experience something relative to it, we bring it back to the conscious level.

The unconscious level takes the larger area of our personality. When Freud describes something as unconscious, a wish or a feeling for example, he means that it is something inaccessible to the subject. To allow inferences about the unconscious to be made, the method of free association has to be used.

Structure of personality.

He also believed that personality has three parts. The id, the ego and the superego.

The id “…contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth that is laid down in the constitution- above all, therefore, the instincts.” (Freud 1923)

It is the wishes and impulses that arise from the body’s needs and create a tension which demands an immediate satisfaction. It also has no awareness of reality. The role of id is to reduce any pain and give pleasure and satisfaction to the person. From the time of birth the id is related to hunger, sex, aggression and irrational impulses. These drives are fueled by �psychic energy’ or �libido’ as Freud called them.

Because though, we can not always act according to our �pleasure principle’, Freud suggested a second component of personality which he called the ego.

The ego is �…that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.’ (Freud 1923)

It strives to balance the desires (id) and the realities of the objective outside world. In contrast to id, ego operates according to “reality principle”. It can be thought to be the вЂ?executive’ of the personality, the planning, decision making, rational and logical part of us. It is in contact with the outer world. It is broadly related with reason. Whilst id demands immediate gratification of our needs, the ego will postpone satisfaction until the appropriate time and place. The ego differentiates from the id as the child grows. The ego of a child is easily broken. By adulthood, the ego should be strong enough to stand the inevitable stresses of relationships.

�The ego seeks to bring the influence of the external world to bear upon the id and its tendencies… For the ego, perception plays the part which the id falls to instinct. The ego represents… reason and common sense, contrast to the id, which contains the passion.’ (Freud 1923)

The superego is concerned with the moral aspects of mental processes, feelings of right and wrong.

�It observes the ego, gives orders, judges it and threatens it with punishment, exactly like the parents whose place has be taken’. (Freud 1933)

It represents the social right and wrong, as taught from a person’s environment. Superego has two components, the conscience and the ego-ideal. The conscience prevents us from behaving in a morally improper way by making us feel guilty, if we do anything wrong, and the ego-ideal, which represents the �perfect person’, motivates us to do what is morally right. This part of our personality helps us to control impulses coming from id, making our behavior less selfish and more virtuous.

The five psychosexual stages of Freud’s psychoanalytic



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