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Psychoanalytic Approach to Personality

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This paper will provide an overview analyzing the various components of the psychoanalytic approach to personality. First, Freudian theory will be examined, and the different characteristics of Freud's explanation of the development of personality will be delineated. Secondly, this paper will explore the evolution of psychoanalytic theory as provided by Carl Jung, an early protoge of Sigmund Freud. Lastly, the teachings and beliefs of Alfred Adler's approach to personality will be compared to Freudian theory and important distinctions will be made.

Carl Jung initially was a staunch proponent of Freudian theory and he and Sigmund Freud worked closely together in the field of psychoanalysis. However, after a period of several years of close collaboration with Freud, Jung began to develop his own ideas about how individual psyche and personality developed and evolved over time. Freud emphasized sexuality as the primary force in personality development and believed that personality was determined by middle childhood.

Conversely, "Jung believed that the goals and motivations of individuals were just as important in determining their life courses as were their sexual urges" (Beginnings of Jung's Theory). As described earlier, Freud divided the psyche into three components, the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. After breaking away from Freudian theory, Jung eventually concluded the psyche was made up of three different components: the conscious ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.

The conscious ego was comparable to Freud's definition of ego showing Jung was not willing to totally discredit the teachings of his former mentor. Jung's conscious ego, like Freud's ego, comprised the sense of self, developed in early childhood, and governed how one perceived themselves in the greater context of society. The personal unconscious, "contains thoughts and feelings that are not currently part of conscious awareness" (Personal Unconscious). The collective unconscious is one of the more unique components of Jung's theory and reveals his propensity towards the mystical and spiritual aspects. According to Jung, this component of the psyche is derived from ancestral responses to events that have repeated throughout history, thus creating unconscious patterns of responding to the world around us that persist with all humans.

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