The Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Brain Diagram

Sigmund Freud is renowned worldwide as the founder of psychoanalysis. Which is a clinical method used for the treatment of psychopathology. He laid out the psychoanalytic theory of personality development for the first time in the late 19th century. This theory became a guide for psychoanalysis, but it underwent significant changes over the years. It was about two decades after Freud’s death that the theory became prominent.

According to the psychoanalytic theory of personality development, the interactions between the mind’s three components influence human behavior. These three components are the Id, ego, and superego. Some dynamic interactions between these three components are believed to progress through five psychosexual developmental stages. How we approach the world and the way we behave are determined by the three components of the mind.

The ID

This component of the human mind is the source of all bodily needs and wants. The Id is also the source of libido and aggression. It is present in an individual at the time of birth and creates desires and emotional impulses. A newborn child’s mind is completely ridden with Id. 

It is free from morality and the concepts of good and evil. The Id seeks immediate gratification of a human being’s basic physical urges and needs. It forms much before the development of ego in its structured form.

The super-ego

The super-ego is formed by the cultural values that are taught by parents. It is, therefore, constructed on the model of the super-ego of an individual’s parents. Over a period of time, it becomes a means of transmitting the traditions and judgements of value. It forms a part of an individual’s personality structure that is not entirely unconscious but organized. It is like a form of conscience that punishes the wrong behavior of an individual.

The super-ego does this with feelings of guilt. This is true in cases like extra-marital affairs. In such situations, this component of the mind acts just like parents, pointing out the individual’s mistake.

The ego

The ego is relatively less primitive when compared to the Id. It seeks a more rational and pragmatic approach to fulfil Id’s demands. The very purpose of this is to bring some benefits rather than bad consequences. In a way, the ego acts as a mediator between the Id and reality. As a result, an individual is able to delay the gratification of immediate needs. This helps him or her to function effectively in the real world.

Though all the functions of the ego are not conscious, it has a conscious awareness residing in it. The greatest benefit of ego is that it helps humans in organizing their thoughts so that they make sense.

According to Freud, all these three components of the mind are in constant conflict. An adult personality is a manifestation of the results of these conflicts that go on throughout childhood. A conflict in the mind can be explained through an example. 

In this example, the mind says, “I want to do that now”. The super-ego is the individual counters it by saying, “It’s not right to do that”. In response, the ego says, “Maybe we can arrive at a compromise”.

The Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

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