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Psychoanalytic Perspective on Personality Development

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L & D Assignment 1: Psychoanalytic Perspective on Personality Development Submitted By Pravin Bang Submitted To, Prof. Abhishek Kumar Psychoanalytic Theory, conceived by Sigmund Freud and developed and modified by his colleagues, students, critics and later by ‘neo-Freudians’ such as Erich Fromm in the 19th and 20th centuries, has been a significant influence and contribution to psychological research, treatment of mental illness and a general understanding of the development and functioning of the human psyche[1].

Tenets of Psychoanalytic Theory Though the field has developed into several complex branches with a variety of ideas and theoretical frameworks since its conception, some of its basic and fundamental tenets can be recognised as follows: 1.

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)Human personality is determined by, apart from hereditary characteristics, childhood environment, experiences and memories. 2. )The Human mind is divided into three ‘parts'(not physically): Conscious, Pre-conscious and Subconscious.

The conscious mind is where we put things which we are currently attentive to, the pre-conscious mind is is where we put things we are aware about but which are not the subject of our attention and finally the subconscious is where we have little control or awareness about the processes or emotions, i. e. , is not reached the conscious mind. 3. )The above concept was later evolved into the idea of the Id, Ego and Super Ego, by Freud. Id is the process of the mind which operates almost solely on the ‘pleasure-principal’ and is the source of our impulses and desires, it is a part of the mind when an individual is born.

Ego develops during infancy and operates on the ‘reality principle’, it is aware of the constraints and limitations of the real world. The Super ego refers to how we perceive ourselves and our moral and ethical values. In this model the function of Ego is to balance the Id and Super Ego within the constraints and limitations of the real world. 4. )Human impulses and desires originate from the subconscious mind, this has the profound consequence that we are not in control of our behaviour and drives. The main human drives are sex and aggression.

Conflict and neurosis arises when the attempt to bring subconscious drives into the conscious mind meets psychological resistance, i. e. , when certain emotions are ‘repressed’ and forced to remain in the subconscious primarily because of their incompatibility with the value systems and moral standards applicable to the self as perceived by the Super Ego. This is done through ‘defence mechanisms’. Psychoanalysis and Childhood Development Psyschoanalytical theory has been an influential concept for explaining the development of an individual’s personality.

The two major theories regarding this subject are Freud’s Psychosexual Development theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Development theory. It is worth noting that both these thoeries lend great significance to childhood environment and it can be said that psychoanalytical approaches led to childhood being regarded as being of much greater psychological significance than it had been historically. Erkison’s Theory of Psychosocial Development Unlike Freud’s Psychosexual theory, Psychosocial Development regards personality being continually affected and modified throughout the individual’s lifetime.

Erikson’s theory defines the the term ‘Ego Identity’ which may be explained as the individual’s perception and awareness of self developed through social interaction across his or her lifespan. Each stage in this theory is characterised by a conflict or ‘challenge’ which arises through differences in personal and sociocultural views and which the individual must resolve to grow into a better personality. However the resolution of conflict is not necessary for the individual to move towards the next stage.

The eight stages of Erikson’s theory are outlined below: a. )First Stage: Starting from birth and lasting for one year, this stage involves the conflict between Trust and Mistrust, with the infant being completely dependent, the competence and consistency of his caregivers would determine whether his outlook towards the world is that of trust or mistrust. b. )Second Stage: Spanning from age two to three, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Autonomy and Shame and Doubt.

At this age the child begins to develop motor abilities and is able to fulfil some of his own needs, however parents still remain a crucial support through which and under whose supervision the child starts learning tasks and begins to explore the world around him. Parents who watchfully encourage these early attempts at self-sufficiency instil a sense of autonomy and confidence in the child’s personality, however too restrictive or demanding parents may hinder the positive effects of this process and instil a sense of self-doubt and shame in the child. . )Third Stage: Seen in children of age three to six, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Initiative and Guilt. At this age children rapidly acquire new skills and knowledge, they are learning principles of mechanical causality, lingual and grammatical abilities, performing complex tasks which grant increased self-sufficiency and mastery of the world. At this age the child’s motivation for action is that of achievement, he aims to solve a purpose with the tasks he ndertakes, successful resolution of this stage leads to a sense of initiative and leadership, although undertaking tasks which are too complex or not yielding positive results may induce frustration and anger. However, if parents discredit or undermine this newfound motivation of the child he develops a sense of guilt regarding his feelings and urges for getting involved in various actions and tasks. d. )Fourth Stage: Occuring from age five to twelve, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Industry and Inferiority.

During these years children become familiar with and learn about technology and crafts and become motivated to contributing to fruitful and productive action. During this stage the child develops a sense or cooperation and willingness to “do it right”. Successful resolution of this stage leads to the inoculation of industrious qualities; however failure to achieve a sense of productiveness and mastery leads to feelings of inferiority. e. )Fifth Stage: Spanning from thirteen to nineteen years of age, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Identity and Role Confusion.

During adolescence, children explore their independence and develop a sense of self. Those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. Those who remain unsure of their beliefs and desires will feel insecure and confused about themselves and the future. f. )Sixth Stage: Covering young adulthood from age 20 to 24, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Intimacy and Isolation.

During this stage people begin exploring personal relationship and the successful resolution of this stage requires the individual form close, committed relationships and leads to a sense of security. Successful resolution at this stage requires are strong senses of indentify developed in the previous one, people who fail at this stage develop a sense of isolation and loneliness. g. )Seventh Stage: Covering middle age from 25 to 64 years, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Generatively and Stagnation.

The main motivation of individuals at this stage is to provide guidance to the next generation; this stage also involves forming strong, accepting and healthy familial relationships. Failure at this stage leads to a feeling of stagnation. h. )Eigth Stage: The final developmental stage, this stage is characterised by the conflict between Integrity and Despair. If the individual is able to look at the life he has led and feel accomplished then he feels a sense of integrity, however failure to do so leads to a sense of despair.

Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development Unlike Erikson’s theory, Psychosexual Development postulates adult personality being determined only from heredity or past childhood experiences and memories. Freud outlined the stages of personality development during childhood, being characterised by certain erogenous zones and their attendant conflicts the positive resolution of which leads to a healthy personality whereas “fixation” at a particular stage, i. e. , getting stuck at the drives of a particular stage leads to negative personality traits, as follows: a. Oral Stage: The first stage of development lasting from birth to 1 years of age, at this stage children explore the world with their most sensitive zone, the mouth. Fixation at this stage leads to habits such as smoking, over eating, etc. b. )Anal Stage: This stage stars from age to and lasts unto age three, at this age children learn control over elimination of bodily waste. Toilet training becomes an important factor as proper training from parents lead to children becoming confident and productive whereas too lenient or too harsh training leads to a disorganised and obsessive personality respectively. . )Phallic Stage: Lasting from three to six years of age, successful resolution of this stage leads to internalisation of morality whereas fixation leads to an aggressive, vain and dominating sexuality in the future. d. )Latency Stage: Lasts from six years of age until puberty, successful resolution of this stage leads to development of social and people skills and ability to build and maintain relationships. e. )Genital Stage: Final developmental stage, lasts from puberty to most of the adult life, successful resolution leads to psychological independence from parents.

References: 1. ) Slater, Charles L. (2003), “Generativity versus stagnation: An elaboration of Erikson’s adult stage of human development”, Journal of Adult Development 2. ) Erikson, Erik (1956). “The problem of ego identity”. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 4: 56–121. 3. ) Marcia, James E. (1966). “Development and validation of ego identity status”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3: 551–558.

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