Personality and Freud

High School ・Sociology ・APA

The reviews focused on Sigmund Freud’s arguments of how the mind influences the personality of an individual. Freud held the view that mental functioning does not happen without the contribution of a psychological motive. These psychological motives are driven by unconscious forces that emanate from a person’s psyche. Based on the article, the development and conservation of energy influenced Freud’s research on how it can impact the human life because human beings use energy to execute tasks that originate from the brain.

The first review concentrated on Freud’s arguments about the three parts of the human psyche; the id, ego and the superego. The id is the psychical province that include the drive energy and all the components of the phylogenetic inheritance. It operates unconsciously and compels a person to engage pleasurable activities which satisfy human needs and reduce tension. Undifferentiated in the id later become the ego. Development of the ego according to Freud involves renunciation of selfish self-love and embracing of ethical and cultural ideals inculcated in a child by the parents. The super-ego represent the conscience which serves to enforce moral standards and goals. The super-ego works to perfect the ego and the id by inducing guilt. Thus the personality of an individual results on how they balance the ego and the super-ego. Although the second review mentions the three parts of the human psyche, it concentrates on the role of infantile sexuality in development.

Personality Development

The first review focused on negative drivers as the main components of personality development. Agreeably, personal progress is pushed as life progresses. Personal progress dictate harmony and balance such that one acts in ways approved by moral and cultural beliefs in a society. In the article, Freud argues that personality development is driven by the urge to obtain a resolution of the problems a person faces in day-to-day activities. This motivation becomes the driving force which oftentimes pushes people to the limit and they do not obtain the sought satisfaction. On the other hand, the second review concentrated on infantile sexuality as the principle that explains personality growth and development. Although it mentions how childhood occurrences negatively impacts a person at adult age, it settles on childhood sexuality as the main contributing factor of the personality and individual will have. Freud evaluates how different behaviours and responses a child has from infancy and how they determine their personality. The article interlinks the two positions are important in personality development.

According to the article, a search for significant traumatic experiences normally takes one to early childhood. These experiences would mean a reflection of some sort of disturbance in infantile sexual life. This argument a major controversial element of Freud’s theory. In Freud’s view, infantile sexuality entails sensations of pleasure that come from being held, maternal caressing, and oral and anal satisfactions (Lapsley & Stey, 2011). However, the use and explanation of infantile sexuality is broader that its common use. To Freud, the development of sexuality is dysphasic in that, in the infantile period, sexual instincts are sequentially placed in different zones in the body and later develop into genital and reproductive sexuality during adulthood. Between the infantile and the adult period, sexual motivations are diverted to other activities. This intertwining between infantile sexuality and bad experiences as the main components of personality development credits both reviews as valid. For instance, the article posits that the libido becomes invested in the phallic region between the ages of 2 and 5 years (Oedipus complex). It affirms that the Oedipus complex is the foundation for the formation of the superego. Freud marries the development of the id, ego and superego with infantile sexuality. The first review took negative experiences as the main drivers of personality development, while the second review sees infantile sexuality as the main contributing factor of personality development. However, from the article, both factors are so intertwined such that one cannot point to one without mentioning the other, a point both reviews exemplify. The article says that most childhood habits stem out of sexual and bodily desires. This is evident from the fact that, from early stages of human development, people engage in activities that gives them pleasure and satisfaction. Therefore, it suffices to say that experiences will be classified as good or bad based on an individual classification of how well they served their pleasure needs. The first review takes back bad experiences and their impact to personality development to the id, ego and superego, the second review focus more on the different stages of sexuality development and how they eventually form the basis for personality development.


Freud posited that it is hard to explain true behaviour based on a person’s motivations because human beings are prone to self-deception. In this regard, he used the unconscious to explain what drives a person’s motivations and how they actively determine a person’s character. His argument that all human motivation are geared at giving pleasure and satisfaction thus is a rationale that people live trying to erase the bad experiences that happened to them – according to their definition of pleasure and satisfaction. On the other hand, in the second review, personality development follows stages just like sexual development. Since sexual development affects, personality development, lack of resolution on developmental conflicts at childhood years cause people to form “unacceptable behaviour” like homosexuality, which defines their personality. Acceptable behaviours then points back to the ego and superego.



In his arguments, Freud used the psychoanalysis theory which postulates that human beings are not aware of the factors that influence their emotion and behaviours. In his explanation, he gives the example of a patient with a hysterical condition which changes according to the different stimulus and emotions he is exposed to. This example compares how a patient reacts when he remembers and exciting event in the past as compared to tragic events. When they remember exciting events, the symptoms fade away, but flare up when they remember tragic events in the past. This supports the assertion of the first review that past evens in a big way impact the personality of an individual. Focusing on Freud’s view of infantile sexuality, good or bad events are interpreted based on how they satisfy the pleasure needs of an individual.

The psychoanalysis approach is based on a person understanding the unconscious forces that impact how they behave. Once the person understands these forces and how they affect them, they are able to create and understanding of how to stimulate their emotions to get happiness, an emotion that is satisfying to human beings. Again, the article points to the possibility of human beings diverting their bodily and sexual desires into artistic, socially and economically acceptable activities. Forming such habits stimulates the Eros helping human beings to adapt emotions and behaviours that help them survive the harsh conditions they are faced with in life (Lapsley & Stey, 2011). The second review focused on the two basic unconscious factors – love and aggression – which drive the development of personality. These two factors impact on how an individual thinks or acts. Both reviews point to the development of Eros, which is love, a quality that helps them to survive against the aggression of life. Freud explains that these unconscious factors affect how an individual behaves and ultimately their personality.

Research Method and Analysis

Both reviews identify the Freud’s work as primary research with observation as the main method of data collection. His data collection and analysis was based on middle-class Viennese. He employed the ethnography of observation and comparative material to analyze his findings on personal development. For instance, he used the tragedy of Oedipus to explain the concept of Oedipus complex and psychosexual development. This research method can be termed as qualitative. As observed from the two reviews, his findings have been faulted since they are not supported by any empirical or experimental data. His claims cannot be supported scientifically, importantly so because he studied the subconscious and some of his assertions cannot be verified. For a theory to be considered scientific, there needs to be experiments or empirical evidence to back it. Although his theory sufficiently support his research and findings, it may be falsified due to its inability to meet the requirements of a scientific research.


The first review concluded that Freud’s perspective on personality development is influenced by the unconscious where the instinctual drives are mainly love and aggression. Personality develops according to how the natural psychic drivers regulate behaviours. Also, the childhood experiences in the psychosexual development years predict one’s personality in adulthood.  As the second review shows, the article has effectively analyzed human personality from the psychoanalysis perspective. The early sexuality of a child impacts their adult life. Argued from the perspective of how behaviours satisfy the pleasure needs of an individual, this assertion is valid. An important observation in this review is Freud’s failure to focus on adult development because to him, most factors are imposed to the individual by the society. In this regard, his theory lacks, at least, in its failure to include the society in a person’s development.


Lapsley, D. K., &Stey, P. C. (2011). Id, ego, and superego. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2nd Edition. Ramachandran VS (ed): Elsevier, 1-9.

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