Personality could be something that you are born with, or it could develop in childhood and remain difficult to change thereafter, or it could be entirely learned and therefore flexible. Theorists differ in the extent to which they accept these ideas. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory account of personality development is closely related to other aspects of his psychoanalytic theory, in particular the structure of the personality and motivan. Freud believed that the personality comprises of three parts the id, ego and superego.
The id is unconscious, the undifferentiated psychic source of instinct and passions. A young child is seen as virtually all id. If your id dominates your epinions personality, you can find yourself having a lot of frustration on your adventure. The ego is an agency of mind, which civilises the id organising translations between the id and the outside world. Its function is to control behaviour taking into account reality as well as the instinctual impulse. It performs the discipline activities of thinking and judging. Ego works with the id.
Superego was initially thought to be part of the ego. Eventually Freud saw this magnesium as being formed by the Oedipus complex into a separate function. The intensity of those conflicts in the child and the defensive action that they precipitate creates a Superego, an area that prohibits the expression of oedipal wishes. It is enforcing mechanism, with energy of its own and inhibits moral behaviour. Between these magnesium there is conflict. Id wants instant gratification; ego must satisfy reality principle and the superego. The mind is constantly in conflict.
Freud believed our personality is largely formed by age 5 and has to do with how children deal with there immature but powerful sexual urges. The psychosexual stages of personality development start off with the oral stage, between 0 to 1 years. This stage focuses on the mouth to give erotic stimulation. The baby gets pleasure from sucking for it’s own sake. Stage 2 is the anal stage this happens between 2 to 3 years. The anal cavity and sphincter muscles of the bowel are now the main source of pleasure. Stage 3 is the phallic stage between 4 to 6 years.
Genitals and masturbation becomes a new source of pleasure. This is the stage that the Oedipus complex starts. Both boys and girls experience conflicting emotions in relation to their same and opposite sex parents and how successfully these are resolved is crucial for future personality development. It is through the resolution of the Oedipus complex that a child’s superego and sex role are acquired. Stage 4 the latency stage between 6 to 12 years. Child sexuality is suppressed and becomes latent. The balance between the id, ego and superego is greater than at any other time in a child’s life.
Stage 5 the genital stage 12 years and onwards. Erotic focus is again on genitals, but child seeks gratification from peers of the opposite sex both excessive gratification and extreme frustration can result in an individual getting emotionally stuck at a particular stage. Unique individual experiences account for different personalities. At each stage the id seeks a zone of the body (an erogenous zone) from which it can gain feelings of pleasure. Our personalities are affected by how successful the id is at gaining enough pleasure at each stage. If there is too little or too much, fixation may result.
This means that energy becomes tied up in the stage and unbalances the personality. Freud’s theory has been very influential in our thinking and in inspiring other psychodyamic theorists. The theory acknowledges the importance of biological and environmental forces in shaping personality. The theory has stood the test of time and there is some evidence for the existence of the personality types predicted by Freud. For example Kline (1972) describes support for the anal personality type but there is little evidence that this is connected to the type of toilet training experienced in childhood.
Freud showed us the child we had not known and showed us that things may not be what they seem and that one may have to go beyond the obvious unlike the behaviourists who blame everything on the environment. Freud proposed the first system approach to personality and its development. Erikson viewed the child as a passive percipient of socialisation but as an active explorer in the life’s journey thought development is not complete in adolescence but stretches over the life span unlike Freud which stretches over 12 years.
For behaviourist personality is a person’s repertoire of behavioural tendencies in various situations and results from the person’s history of classical conditioning, observational learning and operant conditioning. Personality is the sum total of one’s learning experiences. Therefore think Freud’s theory is not true as he doesn’t consider the environment in great detail and focuses on the unconscious mind which no one can see or measure. The human approach thinks the only way to understand a person is to understand their individual experience of the world and not to look in their mind when a baby as they have had no experience of the world.
Personality can not be formed in childhood as they have had little experience of the outside world. The biological approach believes that personality is genetic. Freud’s view is not scientific at all. You can not measure if anyone stuck at one particular stage. A child might go through the 5 stages all at once or a child might be fixated in between stages. Freud doesn’t suggest this. Biological university of Minnesota centre for Twin and adoption research follows over 40 pairs of identical twins raised apart, 27 pairs of fraternal twins. The results so far have shown strong support for genetic inheritance of personality.
Personality results from both genetic inheritance of personality. Freud’s theory was not based on experiments, mostly case studies of his neurotic clients. His theory therefore can not be generalised to the whole population. Freud’s theory is therefore not reliable. His theory was based mostly on the analysis of free-associations, dreams, slips of tongue and other unconscious behaviours not testable. Many key elements of Freud’s theory for example unconscious mind, fixations have wide appeal but cannot be observed directly. They are therefore difficult to test.
For example a study by Yarrow (1973) linked short time periods spent feeding in infancy with later thumb sucking but these children may have had a stronger urge to suck all along leading them to feed quickly and thumb-suck. Freud believed every child should go through the Oedipus Complex he believed it was a universal phenomenon and other criticism is that it is cultural bias. For example the Malinowski’s study of Trobriand islanders the boys were disciplined by their uncles instead of their dad. It was the uncle’s role to guide the boy through childhood. However the father remained the mothers lover.
Malinowski found was that a Trobiand Island boy his relationship with his father was very good, free of the love- hate ambivalence, which is central to Freud’s Oedipus theory. It backs up the behavioural view as he has learned his feelings through his environment by comparison the relationship with the uncle was not usually so good. Segal (1990) suggests that more societies need to be examined including both western and avuncular. His theory has low ecological validity. Freud’s theory is not widely accepted anymore. It is hard to give a precise definition of personality. As time changes personality changes over time or does it?