The components of the psychoanalytic approach to personality

The components of the psychoanalytic approach to personality

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From the very long time psychologists have been studying the people’s personality and how they differ between different individuals. The study of psychology is concerned with who the person is and why individuals are different in the manner of thinking and behavior. The psychological approach to personality argues that the person’s behavior and traits are determined by the childhood experiences which determines the person’s fears, desires, and gives motivation towards the intelligent levels throughout the individual’s life (Plotnik $ Kouyoumdjian, 2011). Various scientists have come up with different theories to try and explain different approaches towards the human psychology and why human behave in different ways. Among these scientists are; Freud, Jung, and Adler, whose theories are discussed below.

Psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler

Freud’s theory pointed about the basic concepts of psychoanalytic approach where he argued that people are motivated to satisfying sexual needs, and that human behavior is influenced by the awareness of the unconscious conflicts and also behavior is determined by the past events. Freud’s theory also explains about the three levels of consciousness which are: Conscious mind, Preconscious mind and Unconscious mind. From the theory the structure of personality is made up of three components: Id, Ego (primary conscious) and Superego. Id is the source of libido, that’s to say, it is an unconscious mind which need to be satisfied without minding about the end results. The Ego or the primary conscious satisfies the Id and is concerned about the results although the mind is conscious but immature. The Superego understands the morals and is the driver of the human personality which defines right and wrong. The individual has a conscious mind (Kaufman, 2009).

Carl Jung theory, like the Freud’s theory, also relates to human behavior. It was based on making the unconscious conscious. Jung disliked the unconscious and termed them as nothing but people with no sense of direction. Contradicting with the Freud’s theory, Jung’s theory is divided into three parts namely; ego, personal unconscious and collective unconscious. Jung identifies ego with the conscious mind whereas Freud identified ego with unconscious mind. The personal unconscious mind is somehow related to the ego but implies anything not conscious at the moment and does not contain the instincts as it is in the Freud’s theory. The personal unconscious is identified by the situations which are in someone’s mind but seems to be forgotten due to the memory loss. The collective unconscious is the representation of an inborn knowledge inherited from the parents but nobody can justify it. Collective unconsciousness will influence the behaviors and what the individual passes through but they reflect into someone’s mind after getting the consequences. Jung’s theory talks about the Archetypes which is a content of collective unconscious. An individual will only identify the existence of something when it appears and calls for an action to be taken towards it. He talks about the mother archetype which argues that every human being was born and it is through the mother that one learned to how to live from young age (Kaufman, 2009).

Alder’s theory was base on striving for perfection, which signifies that everybody has the desire to fulfill life goals. Alder came up with the phrase ‘aggression drive’ which talks about one’s reactions when some needs like eating, having sex and loving are not satisfied when the urge comes. Alder contradicts with Freud on this phrase since he said that aggression does not mean acting in a negative manner in which Freud had expounded in the sex drive in his psychoanalytic theory. Alder also claimed that everyone has a need of compensation which is a desire to overcome. Every person is faced with different problems and therefore calls for a need to overcome them (Plotnik $ Kouyoumdjian, 2011).

It is clear from the three theories that each scientist was striving to bring out a certain point. Freud was much concerned with the sexuality; Jung based his theory on archetypes while Adler was concerned about the need of power and how people strive to acquire power and recognition. The two scientists Jung and Alder based their argument from Freud’s theory. There are two characteristics of these theories that are agreed upon. First, they are all explaining why the human beings behave the way they are. They explain the reasons why people do some thing and what forces drive them into certain actions. Secondly, the theories lays a lot of emphasize on the childhood life of an individual. How an infant copes with the situations of life at earlier ages and how these relate to the older age. On the other hand there are some characteristics which are not true towards the life of an individual. The theories are so much concerned with the sources of people characters but do not mention about the relationship between creation and people behavior. They also have not explained how the environment changes the behavior of a person.

The stages of Freud’s theory

There are five psychosexual stages on Freud’s theory namely: oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage and genital stage. The oral stage starts from birth to one year where the individual needs are granted orally through suckling, chewing and biting. In the anal stage, the body needs are met through waste elimination. The phallic stage (3-5 years) is where the needs are met through genital stimulation and some developments occur differently in both boys and girl. Two things are seen on this stage, Oedipus complex where the boy develops sexual desire towards the mother and begins to fear the father and Electra complex where girls will have desires for their father and ignore the mother due to lack of protection. The latency stage will occur after the above conflicts are resolved and lasts until the age of 7 years. Genital stage is the last and is characterized by genital development, libido and desire for sex. From the above stages it is clear that one will become fixed at one stage if the issues on that stage are not resolved and these characters will dominate to adulthood. In order to reduce the anxiety there is need to do away with conscious mind and employ the unconscious mind (Kaufman, 2009).

Uses of Freudian defense mechanism

In the repression mechanism, the thoughts of an individual are not accessed by suppressing them. An example is where a child being molested suppresses the bad scenes and gets them out of the memory. Another mechanism is denial where an individual can refuse to accept bad news even if they are true. For example, when you hear of a friend’s death you do not accept it at all. Rationalization is another mechanism which occurs through justifying events which have already occurred. For example, a man may rape a lady to fulfill his desires not worrying about the consequences.


From the above theories, psychology plays an important role in an individual’s life. By understanding the above theories there is a clear knowledge on why some people have to behave in a certain way and also, it helps a person to relate with others in the society. Some incidences can be avoided naturally when we get to understand each other and also when these theories are related to daily life.

List of references

Rod Plotnik & Haig Kouyoumdjian, (2011). Introduction to Psychology, Wadsworth Cengage

Learning: Linda Schreiber. Retrieved from:

Walter Kaufman, (2009). Freud, Adler, and Jung, Discovering the Minds, Volume 3. Transaction

Publishers: New York. Retrieved from:

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