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Psychoanalysis developed by Sigmund Freud is traditionally discussed as the most popular personality theory. Freud’s theory was based on his observation and case study approaches according to which the patients’ experiences help in understanding the human personality. In his theory, Freud focuses on the role of unconscious motives, instincts, and drives in determining the human personality.
The Driving Force behind Personality according to Freud
Freud discusses instincts as the main driving forces to motivate people and affect their behaviors. People usually do not understand what instincts drive their life because instincts are the part of the human unconscious. Sex and aggression are two instincts which motivate the human behaviors (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 29). Sex is associated with the life instinct, and aggression is associated with the death instinct.
Drives and instincts are connected with the human personal experiences, and the id associated with the human unconscious nature is oriented to pleasure and satisfying the sex instinct and to satisfying the aggression instinct (Schultz & Schultz, 2012, p. 61). As a result, the individual’s main goal is to address these instincts during the life and to reduce tensions associated with personal experiences and anxiety.
Elements of Freud’s Theory
Freud’s psychoanalysis is based on the idea that all individuals can be analyzed according to the levels of mental life, provinces of the mind, and instincts or personality dynamics. According to Freud, all individuals have three levels of mental life which are unconscious, preconscious, and conscious (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 34). At the unconscious level, Freud determines such common personality dynamics as instincts and anxiety.
These forces are not identified by the individual, and they are the part of the person’s id. Following the concept about the provinces of the mind, all individuals have the id, the ego, and the superego as the parts of their mind (Hall, Lindzey, & Campbell, 1998, p. 38).
If the id is based on the human instincts and anxiety as the main force to motivate the people’s life, the ego is associated with the individual’s reality vision and control principle, and the superego is associated with the person’s ideal vision and expectations.
The Role of Society and Developmental Stages
Freud states that the society forms the personal experiences at different stages of life, and these experiences are the fundament for developing the person’s painful complexes. Freud determines such personal development stages as Infantile Period (0-5 years) divided into oral phase, anal phase, and phallic phase; Latency Period (5-12 years); and Genital Period (12-adulthood) (Hall et al., 1998, p. 52).
The role of experiences is most significant during the Infantile Period, when the individual’s personality forms most actively. Freud’s stages are based on the idea of the individual’s psychosexual development as the core to determine the aspects of the person’s behaviors.
Individual Differences in Personality
To accentuate the individual differences, Freud utilizes the concepts of the id, the ego, and the superego with references to individual experiences which can cause the developing of these parts of the mind.
According to Freud, all people have commonly structured the id, the ego, and the superego, but experiences, fears, complexes, and drives which cause their development influence persons differently, depending on those individual events experienced during the childhood (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 38).
Furthermore, all individuals choose different defense mechanisms to protect them from pain. Such defense mechanisms as repression, displacement, fixation, sublimation, regression, and projection can be combined by an individual differently, according to the personal needs and inclinations.
Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis is based on the idea that all individuals are motivated by such instincts as sex and aggression, and they try to cope with such a drive as anxiety. All individuals have three levels and three parts of mind such as the id, the ego, and the superego, but the combination of forces to motivate the persons’ behaviors and the used defense mechanisms can be different.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Hall, C., Lindzey, G., & Campbell, J. (1998). Theories of personality. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Schultz, D., & Schultz, S. (2012). Theories of personality. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.