Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Personality development refers to enhancing an individual’s personality for him to stand apart from the rest and make a mark of own. An individual with a pleasing personality is respected and appreciated by all.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory of Personality Development

According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality development, there are two basic factors which drive an individual and help in shaping his/her personality. These two basic drivers are love and aggression which have a direct impact on what an individual does and thinks. According to Freud, love and aggression have a direct control on our minds and thoughts.

Freud referred to Love and Aggression as “Eros” and “Thanatos” respectively.

“Eros” refers to intimate and passionate love between two partners. It is often defined as a kind of madness which one experiences for his/her partner.

“Thanatos” was a figure in Greek mythology, though he never really existed as a person. Thanatos symbolizes death.

Freud believed that Eros represents an individual’s instinct to survive. Eros refers to an individual’s determination to live, where sex is the major driving force.

Thanatos on the other hand represents aggression which ultimately leads to death.

Structure of Personality

According to Freud, an individual’s mind has a fixed amount of desire towards sexual activity, often called as libido. No two individuals would have similar desire for sexual activity and the same would vary as per an individual’s situation, circumstance at the moment.

An adult personality generally has three determinants: Id, Ego and Super Ego

The outcome of the combination of all the three determinants shapes an adult personality. Freud believed than an individual’s personality has three parts and thus is often called as tripartite personality.

  • Id
  • Ego
  • Superego

Id - refers to irrational needs and demands, something which has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. Freud believed that Individuals seek immediate pleasure in order to satisfy their biological and physiological needs without taking into consideration the reality.Id gives immediate pleasure to individuals and is often irrational.

Ego - Ego develops when individuals start interacting with people around. Ego helps in the fulfillment of id, taking into consideration the reality of the situation.

Super Ego - Super ego is often the third stage which includes the moral constraints imposed on an individual by his parents or family.

Defense Mechanisms

According to Freud’s theory, Repression is one of the most powerful defense mechanisms which push irrational impulses into unconscious mind. Defense mechanisms play an important role in pushing unrealistic thoughts out of awareness. Stressful thoughts which are threatening to an individual’s survival should be pushed into unconscious mind to reduce anxiety through repression.

Psychosexual Stages

Freud believed that a single organ or body part is more sensitive to sexual stimulation at a particular stage in a child’s complete development cycle. These organs often referred to as erogenous zones include mouth, genital regions and anus. An individual’s sexual desires depend on erogenous zone for a particular age. Sometimes a child finds himself/herself overindulged in sexual pleasures of a particular age and is reluctant to grow beyond that stage. Frustration arises when sexual needs are not fulfilled. Overindulgence and Frustration sometimes lead to fixation. Fixation refers to a state where an individual is reluctant to progress beyond a particular stage and is often obsessed with a sexual attachment.

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