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Freud’s View On Human Nature. Research on Sigmund Freud’s Theory

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2020

According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic investigation, human nature comprises some deep characteristics which yearn to satisfy particular needs and impulses such as aggression, the ego that drives him towards pleasurable experiences, the need for love and avoidance of pain in all areas of life. The impulses are considered to lead either towards good or evil, according to the nature of satisfaction they bring to an individual and the community at large. This research paper shall analyze Freud’s view of human nature that became a considerable contribution to psychology.

Freud’s View On Human Nature: Main Points

The nature of the society, either civilized or barbaric, is a result of the personality type of people inhabiting the environment. It is also a function of the degree of moral standards set by society, which forms continuous suppression of human instinct, leading to the need for either reaction or compensation (Ziegler, 2002).

Freud, on his psychoanalytic perspective, argued that personality development is one of the significant characteristics of human nature that leads to a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of each person’s life. Movement of individuals from one stage of life to another results in conflict between social and biological drive found within human nature. Freud’s drive theory assumes that the ability of any individual to cope with his/her environment is determined by the individual’s ability to deal with the forces within the society and learn from them.

His argument on psychosexuality was that the management of a child’s sexual and aggression drives by the parents within the early stages of life contributes more significant percentage on a healthy personality development which comprises of three parts; id which forms the source for primary and biological needs and forms substantial rate of the mind.

Then there is the ego that forms the conscious part of human nature and is driven by survival and contributes towards the directing of id’s impulses as appropriate. Then there is the superego that forms part of social conscience and develops as a result of relationships and interactions with parents who teach the children to accept and conform to the society’s values and norms (Ziegler, 2002).

Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis

Freud in his continues to argue that human nature finds it difficult to accept anything less than excellence. According to Sigmund Freud’s theory, the instinct that drives them towards this contributes towards intellectualism and more of ethical sublimation, which makes a human crave for a superiority complex. Freud argued that there is a significant relationship existing between man and society, which makes him/her naturally antisocial based on the level of evil nature within each individual.

He believed that the function of the society was to check on the human antisocial instincts. According to his psychodynamic view of human nature, the level to which a human being becomes civilized is purely dependent on the process of sublimation. This brings about the inverse relationship between human nature’s urge to satisfy his drives and societal cultural practices. The degree to which an individual is subjected to suppression determines the level of his civilized lifestyle (Ziegler, 2002).

Sigmund Freud’s human nature view is seen as being more pessimistic since he placed so much emphasis on the traditional belief that there is a significant relationship between human behaviors and the society from which an individual grows. This makes the roots from which individual originates to be eviler and at times, leads to destruction. Freud believed that the superiority of the majority determines the way society is led and driven.

He argued that the main essence of human nature comprises a more significant percentage of id, which yearns to satisfy only the antisocial instincts that bring about an imbalanced society. Human nature theory by Sigmund Freud led to the question of whether it would be possible for human nature to contain the principles that drive towards pleasure (Ziegler, 2002).

In the study of human personality, Freud believed that the central part of human nature is as a result of id and the control of human decisions by the superego. He argued that childhood behaviors and experiences influenced a significant percentage of adult characteristics.

According to his discovery, neuroses were a result of powerful emotional forces brought about by traumatic and harsh experiences at the childhood stage. According to Freud, childhood experiences shape up the adult life stage to the extent where infantile character shapes the formation of characters into adulthood.

Sigmund Freud’s Theory: Is Humanity Disposed of More Towards Granting Mercy or Towards Aggression?

Freud discovered that the general behavior of an individual was much driven by motivations arising from the emotional forces built on the unconscious part of the mind, and free will is only an illusion. According to Freud’s theory of personality, human actions are as a result of mental and neurotic conflicts. It is in human nature, according to Freud, to be more inclined towards aggression, which demands the satisfaction of more antisocial instincts that drive towards the attainment of an individual’s pleasure.

This leads to more conflict between individuals and society and, ultimately, the destruction of humanity. Freud argues that humanity cannot be inclined towards granting mercy since there was no much emphasis on the constructive human nature forces. There was no clear indication of human creativity and productivity in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of human development (Freud, 1930).

The urge to the immediate satisfaction of human instincts results in conflict. According to Freud, the aggression is produced by the id, which is considered as the little devil from within that urges individuals to indulge in pleasurable activities irrespective of the consequent results provided that some satisfaction is guaranteed.

The superego, on the other hand, operates on ideal principles that tend to push individuals away from trouble. Human aggression can well be seen in the behaviors of a growing child who cares less about the inconveniences his/her demands cause to other people, including the parents (Freud, 1930).

How Do We Progress in a Moral Sense?

There was a belief in Sigmund Freud’s theory that love, as a virtue, was a result of sexual sublimation. Human behaviors are regarded differently depending on the culture of the society from which it emanates. The culture, within which an individual functions, determines to a greater extent the abnormality or normality of specific actions and behaviors. Morality brings clear differentiation on what is considered good or bad within the societies. Moral behaviors are believed to be a result of shared values within the community.

According to Freud, morals are developed to provide means by which humanity can live together in peace and unity. These codes of morals are formed as a result of social and societal dictates. The general society contributes to a significant percentage of an individual’s morality since individuals know no moral boundaries (Freud, 1930, 49).

This is because people are so much concerned about their own persona good as opposed to others within the same environment, there is no reliance on others as long as an individual is at peace with himself. Based on individual drives and egos, moral restrictions are not of importance so long as there is security within.

The creation of communities led to the introduction of morality since individuals saw the need for healthy interactions and the realization of strength in unity of purpose. Greater strength calls for sole restrictions on individual behaviors and actions. This, according to Freud, sets up the power of the community as being superior to an individual’s power, which at times turns brutal. The power of the community is only eminent after dealing with the egocentric nature of human beings.

Individual actions require regulations by the moral codes for stability to be maintained within the societies. Freud argued that all negative behaviors must be dealt with in order to guarantee safety to other members of society. This is only possible when the concept of empathy is enforced upon individuals dwelling within the same community.

This is summed up in the golden rule principle, which states that we should do unto others what we expect them to do unto us. The moral code based on this principle ensures that individuals treat one another in a more cautious and less violent manner (Freud, 1930).

Freudian perception of morality is based upon the concept of empathy, such that any behavior associated with social evil is condemned by every society. According to Freud’s view on human nature, most individuals within the society accept the adoption of the principles and rules that guards against inflicting harm on others since no one desires evil behaviors against him or his family. The morality of an individual is majorly based on the behavioral actions which guarantee continuity within societies.

Morality is less associated with one’s thoughts since it is more revealed in an individual’s actions. Freud argued that what prevents an individual from inflicting harm on others is the fear of consequent results of community actions against him rather than empathy (Carpendale and Krebs, 1995).


Carpendale, J., & Krebs, D. L. (1995).Variations in the level of moral judgment as a function of type of dilemma and moral choice. Journal of Personality, (63), 289-313

Freud, S. (1930).Civilization and its discontents. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Ziegler, D. J. (2002). Freud, Rogers and Ellis: A comparative theoretical analysis. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive- Behavior Therapy, 20(2), 75-91

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IvyPanda. "Freud’s View On Human Nature. Research on Sigmund Freud’s Theory." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sigmund-freud-on-human-nature/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Freud’s View On Human Nature. Research on Sigmund Freud’s Theory." March 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sigmund-freud-on-human-nature/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Freud’s View On Human Nature. Research on Sigmund Freud’s Theory'. 22 March.

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