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Sigmund Freud - Psychodynamic Theory of Psychosexual Development

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What is a human being? A human being is a combination of the biological makeup of the individual and the state of being. The state of being can be characterized by the individual's state of consciousness, and an individual's state of consciousness is characterized by his or her identity. In the most general sense, identity refers to one's answer to the question, who am I? 1 To fully understand and grasp the concepts and ideas related to identity, two different psychological perspectives will be explored, as well as three theorists including Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers.

Freud - Psychic Structures

Sigmund Freud explored identity through the psychodynamic theory of Psychosexual Development. According to psychodynamic theory, the human personality is characterized by a dynamic struggle as basic physiological drives come into conflict with laws and social codes.2 Freud then categorized human personality into elements, or psychic structures. Freud hypothesized the existence of three psychic structures: the ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO. 3 The ID is present at birth, represents physiological drives, and is unconscious. The ID follows the pleasure principle, which demands instant gratification of instincts without consideration for the law, social norms, or the needs of others. The EGO begins to develop during the first year of life when the child learns that his or her demands for instant gratification cannot always be met immediately. The EGO stands for reason, good sense, and for rational ways of coping with frustration. The EGO is guided through the reality principle, which takes into consideration what is practical and possible in gratifying needs. According to Freud, it is the EGO, which provides the conscious sense of self. The SUPEREGO is the third and final psychic structure, which develops throughout early childhood. The SUPEREGO incorporates moral standards and values into the individual though the moral principle, which sets moral standards and enforces adherence to them. The SUPEREGO monitors the actions of the EGO and judges them right or wrong. If the SUPEREGO judges an action as Ð''wrong' then the SUPEREGO floods the EGO with feelings of guilt and shame.4

Freud - Psychosexual Stages of Development

Freud theorized the Psychosexual Stages of Development, which is the process by which libido energy is expressed through different erogenous zones during different stages of development.5 Freud hypothesized five periods of psychosexual development: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. Freud believed that children would encounter conflicts during each stage of development, and possibly become fixated on a previous stage of development. A fixation occurs when the individual is gratified insufficiently or excessively and exhibits characteristics of that stage.6

The first period of development is the oral stage where gratification is attainted primarily through oral activities. Oral traits include dependency, gullibility, and optimism or pessimism. Adults fixated in the oral stage experience exaggerated desires for "oral activities" such as smoking, overeating, alcohol abuse, and nail biting. During the anal stage, gratification is attained through contraction and relaxation of the muscles that control elimination of waste products. In this stage, the child learns to delay the gratification of eliminating wastes as soon as they feel Ð''the urge'. Here, the general issue surrounds self-control. Anal fixations branch into two sets: anal-retentive and anal-expulsive. Anal-retentive traits include excessive self-control, perfectionism, a strong need for order, and exaggerated neatness and cleanliness. While anal-expulsive traits include carelessness and messiness. Children enter the phallic stage during the third year of life. In this stage, the major erogenous zone is the phallic region. Here, parent-child conflict is likely to develop as the child develops strong sexual attachments to the parent of the opposite sex and begin to view the same-sex parent as a rival for the other parent's affections, although, this conflict is unconscious. Freud labeled conflicts in this stage of development as the Oedipus complex in boys and the Electra complex in girls. In both of these conflicts, the child desires a sexual relationship with the parent of the opposite sex and perceives the same-sex parent as a rival. By the age of 5 or 6, Freud believed that the pressures of the Oedipus and Electra complex would motivate the child to repress ALL sexual feelings, thus they enter the latency period. The fifth and final stage is the genital stage where puberty begins and sexual feelings are again expressed, although this time they have been displaced onto socially acceptable members of society.7

Erikson Ð'- Identity Development Process

Continuing with the psychodynamic model is a theorist named Erik Erikson. According to Erikson's identity development process, identity is the process of simultaneous reflection and observation, taking place at all levels of mental functioning, by which the individual judges himself in the light of what he perceives to be the way in which others judge him in comparison to themselves. Erikson also stated that this identity struggle is of great significance for adolescents.8 According to Erikson's theory, society offers teenagers a time relatively free from adult responsibility where they are expected to explore social roles and personality styles, make decisions about important issues, and integrate new choices, personal history, and goals into a coherent sense of self. Those who do not resolve this identity crisis will experience identity confusion and isolate themselves, and draw their identity from a peer group.9

Erikson Ð'- Psychosocial Stages of Development

Based on Erikson's identity development process he theorized the Psychosocial Stages of Development. In this model, each stage has a crisis. The crisis is not a catastrophe, but rather a crucial time in which the individual has a heightened potential, and has an opportunity to resolve the problem and learn more about oneself, and become a more complete human being. Each stage develops into healthy or unhealthy characteristics. Erikson's model incorporates eight stages.10

Stage 1 occurs during infancy (birth to age 2) and is titled Trust vs. Mistrust. Here the infant goes through a crisis regarding hope, where he or she will either lead a life of trust or mistrust in regards to their view of the world. At early childhood (age 2-3) the individual will enter Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt. Here, the individual goes



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