Category: Theories

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory Of Personality Development

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory Of Personality Development

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory Of Personality Development


Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of personality argues that human behavior is the result of the interactions among three component of the mind: the id, ego, and superego. This theory, known as Freud’s structural theory of personality, places great emphasis on the role of unconscious psychological conflicts in shaping behavior and personality.


According to Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory, personality develops through a series of stages, each characterised by a certain internal psychological conflict


Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
Freuds Structure Of Human Mind

Freud (1923) later developed a more structural model of the mind comprising the entities id, ego and superego. These are not physical areas within the brain, but rather hypothetical conceptualizations of important mental functions.
Each component not only adds its own unique contribution to personality, but all three elements interact in ways that have a powerful influence on each individual.
According to theory, certain aspects of your personality more primal and might pressure to act upon your most basic urges. Other parts of your personality work to counteract these urges and strive to make you conform the demands of reality.


Let’s have a closer look at each of these key parts of personality, and how they work individually in details:


Freud’s Structure of the Human Mind-


According to Freud, our personality develops from the interactions among what he proposed as the three fundamental structures of the human mind: the id, ego, and superego. Conflicts among these three structures, and our efforts to find balance among what each of them “desires,” determines how we behave and approach the world.

Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory

The Id


The ID is the only component of personality that is present from birth. This aspect of personality is entirely unconscious and includes the instinctive and primitive behaviors. According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality.

It is the part of the unconscious that seeks pleasure. Freud’s idea of the id explains why people act out in certain ways, when it is not in line. It is the part of the mind, which holds all of human’s most basic and primal instincts. It is the impulsive, unconscious part of the mind that is based on desire to seek immediate satisfaction. The id does not have a grasp on any form of reality or consequence. Freud understood that some people are controlled by the id because it makes people engage in need-satisfying behavior without any accordance to what is right or wrong.

Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory

Freud defined the id as the part of the mind “cut off from the external world, has a world of perception of its own. It detects with extraordinary acuteness certain changes in its interior, especially oscillations in the tension of its instinctual needs, and these changes become conscious as feelings in the pleasure-unpleasure series. It is hard to say, to be sure, by what means and with the help of what sensory terminal organs these perceptions come about.

The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state anxiety or tension.

This sort of behavior would be both disruptive and socially unacceptable. According to Freud, the id tries to resolve the tension created by the pleasure principle through the primary process, which involves forming a mental image of the desired object as a way of satisfying the need.

Although people eventually learn to control the id, this part of personality remains the same infantile, primal force all throughout life. It is the development of the ego and the superego that allows people to control the id’s basic instincts and act in ways that are both realistic and socially acceptable.

 The Ego


The EGO is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world.
The ego operates based on the reality principle, which strives to satisfy the id’s desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses. In many cases, the id’s impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification–the ego will eventually allow the behavior, but only in the appropriate time and place.

Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
The ego also discharges tension created by unmet impulses through the secondary process, in which the ego tries to find an object in the real world that matches the mental image created by the id’s primary process.


Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory.


In contrast to the instinctual id and the moral superego, the ego is the rational, pragmatic part of our personality. It is less primitive than the id and is partly conscious and partly unconscious. It’s what Freud considered to be the “self,” and its job is to balance the demands of the id and superego in the practical context of reality.
In order for people to maintain a realistic sense here on earth, the ego is responsible for creating balance between pleasure and pain. It is impossible for all desires of the id to be met and the ego realizes this but continues to seek pleasure and satisfaction.


Although the ego does not know the difference between right and wrong, it is aware that not all drives can be met at a given time. The reality principle is what the ego operates by in order to help satisfy the id’s demands as well as compromising according to reality. Although both the id and the ego are unconscious, the ego has close contact with the perceptual system. The ego has the function of self-preservation, it has the ability to control the instinctual demands from the id.

The Superego


The superego, which develops around age four or five, incorporates the morals of society. Freud believed that the superego is what allows the mind to control its impulses that are looked down upon morally. The superego can be considered to be the conscience of the mind because it has the ability to distinguish between reality as well as what is right or wrong. Without the superego Freud believed people would act out with aggression and other immoral behaviors because the mind would have no way of understanding the difference between right and wrong.


Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory

The superego is considered to be the “consciousness” of a person’s personality and can override the drives from the id. Freud separates the superego into two separate categories; the ideal self and the conscious. The conscious contains ideals and morals that exist within society that prevent people from their internal desires. The ideal self contains images of how people ought to behave according to societies ideals.


Freud’s concept of the human mind is processed through each stage. The super ego functions at a conscious level. It serves as a type of screening center for what is going on. Society and parental guidance is weighed against personal pleasure at this level. Obviously, this puts in motion situations ripe for conflict. The last component of personality to develop is the superego.
The superego acts to perfect and civilize our behavior. It works to suppress all unacceptable urges of the id and struggles to make the ego act upon idealistic standards rather that upon realistic principles. The superego is present in the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious.


Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory

Freud believed that the id, ego, and superego are in constant conflict and that adult personality and behavior are rooted in the results of these internal struggles throughout childhood. Much like a judge in a trial, once experiences processed through the superego and the id fall into the ego to mediate a satisfactory outcome.


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In this post I will be explaining the ERIKSON’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT.

Erik Erikson, a German psychoanalyst heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud, explored three aspects of identity: the ego identity (self), personal identity (the personal idiosyncrasies that distinguish a person from another, social/cultural identity (the collection of social roles a person might play).

According to Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future.


Erikson’s theory of ego psychology holds certain tenets that differentiate his theory from Freud’s. Some of these include:
• The ego is of utmost importance.
• Part of the ego is able to operate independently of the id and the superego.
• The ego is a powerful agent that can adapt to situations, thereby promoting
• mental health.
• Social and sexual factors both play a role in personality development.
Erikson’s theory was more comprehensive than Freud’s, and included information about “normal” personality as well as neurotics. He also broadened the scope of personality to incorporate society and culture, not just sexuality.


Erikson describes eight developmental stages as we grow from childhood to adulthood and the trauma of resolving certain critical conflicts we face at each of these stages. Till we resolve the particular conflicts of a particular stage, we cannot move to the next stage.


Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development considers the impact of external factors, parents and society on personality development from childhood to adulthood. According to Erikson’s theory, every person must pass through a series of eight interrelated stages over the entire life cycle.

1. Infant (Hope) – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust
2. Toddler (Will) – Autonomy vs. Shame
3. Preschooler (Purpose) – Initiative vs. Guilt
4. School-Age Child (Competence) – Industry vs. Inferiority
5. Adolescent (Fidelity) – Identity vs. Identity Diffusion
6. Young Adult (Love) – Intimacy vs. Isolation
7. Middle-aged Adult (Care) – Generativity vs. Self-absorption
8. Older Adult (Wisdom) – Integrity vs. Despair
These eight stages, spanning from birth to death, are split in general age ranges.






Trust Vs. Mistrust:

During the first year of life, a child has a great need for dependency. Feeling of Trust vs. Mistrust are developed in this state and these feelings depend upon the behaviour of the parents. If the parents care for the infant in a very affectionate way, the child learns to trust other people. Lack of love and affection on the part of the parents results in mistrust. This stage makes a serious impact on a child that influences his behaviour throughout his life.



In the early stages of organisational life when a person knows very little about the job and is dependent on others for guidance, he develops the feelings of trust or mistrust towards others in the organisation depending upon how the other people respond to his needs and help him to find his place in the system.


The major emphasis is on the mother and father’s nurturing ability and care for a child, especially in terms of visual contact and touch. The child will develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security if properly cared for and handled. If a child does not experience trust, he or she may develop insecurity, worthlessness, and general mistrust to the world.



      Autonomy Vs. Shame and Doubt:


The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying himself or herself with pride rather than shame. During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills.



In this stage of life a child begins to assert independence and experiences a great need to operate on his own. If the child is allowed to control those aspects of life that the child is capable of controlling, a sense of autonomy will develop. If he encounters constant disapproval by parents or elders a sense of self doubt and shame is likely to develop.


Likewise, in the organisation life, a person wants to operate independently after the initial training. If he is allowed to do so, a sense of autonomy will develop. But if he is criticized and disapproved by the others for making mistakes, he will tend to have self doubts about his competency and experience a sense of shame for not doing the things right.



Initiative Vs. Guilt:


When a child is four and five years old they try to discover how much they can do. If the parents and other members of the family encourage the child to experiment and to achieve reasonable goals, they will develop a sense of initiative. But if on the other hand, they are blocked at every stage and made to feel incapable, they will develop a sense of guilt and lack of self confidence.

In the same way organisational members try to use their creative and acquired talents as they settle down in their jobs. But if things go wrong, other people make them feel guilty that they have wasted the resources of the organisation. But if the things go according to his planning, they will develop a sense of initiative. During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie’s and Ken’s, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—”WHY?”


While Erikson was influenced by Freud, he downplays biological sexuality in favor of the psychosocial features of conflict between child and parents. Nevertheless, he said that at this stage we usually become involved in the classic “Oedipal struggle” and resolve this struggle through “social role identification.” If we’re frustrated over natural desires and goals, we may easily experience guilt.
The most significant relationship is with the basic family.



Industry vs. Inferiority

From ages 6 to 12, as a child grows up but before reaching the stage of puberty, he learns many new skills and develops social abilities. If the child experiences real progress at a rate compatible with his abilities he or she will develop a sense of industry. If the situation is the reverse of it, he will develop a sense of inferiority. Likewise, in our organisational life, we try to work hard to make a position for ourselves. If we are not successful in our efforts, we will develop a sense of inferiority and low esteem otherwise we will develop a sense of industry.


During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.


As the world expands a bit, our most significant relationship is with the school and neighborhood. Parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.


Identity Vs Role Confusion :


As a child reaches puberty and almost to the end of his adolescence (teenage years) he experiences conflict due to the socially imposed requirements that he should become an independent and effective adult. In this period he has to gain a sense of identity rather than to become confused about who he is. The autonomy, initiative and enterprise developed in the earlier stages are very important in helping the teenager to successfully resolve this crisis and prepare for adulthood. My website will help you in it



In the organisational setup also every employee has to make contributions to the institution and establish himself as a high performing member. If he does it, he is identified in the eyes of the management but if fails to establish himself he becomes just another employee in the eyes of the management whose identity is diffused.
Up until this fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person.

At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.


Some attempt to delay entrance to adulthood and withdraw from responsibilities (moratorium). Those unsuccessful with this stage tend to experience role confusion and upheaval. Adolescents begin to develop a strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes, and friends.



Stage 6: YOUNG ADULT: 18 TO 3
Intimacy vs. Isolation


During young adulthood or the adults during the twenties, need is felt to develop intimate relations with others. The sense of identity developed during the teenage years allows the young adult to begin developing deep and lasting relationships.



However, if he feels it awkward to develop such relationships, he will feel isolated. In the organisational life also, people may desire to develop close contracts with others who are significant and important in the system. Those who can do it, have a sense of intimacy. For those others who find it difficult to do it, experience a sense of isolation in the system.




At the young adult stage, people tend to seek companionship and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years.

Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with marital partners and friends.


Stage 7: MIDDLE-AGED ADULT: 35 TO 55 OR 65

Adulthood/Generatively Vs. Stagnation:


This is the stage of middle adulthood. If a person becomes absorbed in his own career advancement and maintenance and he does not care for the development and growth of his children, which is a socially imposed demand on him, he will have a feeling of stagnation or self absorption in his life. On the other hand, a person who sees the world as bigger than himself and fulfills his social obligations will be generative and have a feeling of generatively.


Likewise in the organisation, as a person reaches his mid career, there is an expectation and need to mentor others in the system and help them to develop and grow in the organisation. If a person does not do this effectively, he senses a feeling of stagnation in the system.

Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control.

For this stage, working to establish stability and Erikson’s idea of generativity – attempting to produce something that makes a difference to society. Inactivity and meaninglessness are common fears during this stage.
Major life shifts can occur during this stage. For example, children leave the household, careers can change, and so on. Some may struggle with finding purpose. Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.


Integrity Vs Despair:


In this stage, a person is developed as a highly mature person. He has gained a sense of wisdom and perspective that can really guide the younger generations. This stage lasts from middle adulthood to death. In this stage conflict is experienced by individuals as their social and biological roles get diminished due to the ageing process and they experience a sense of uselessness.


If they resolve the issue, they can experiencehappiness by looking at their consolidated lifelong achievement. If they fail to do so, they will have a sense of despair.
Erikson believed that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage involves much reflection. As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society. Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “What was the point of life? Was it worth it?”


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