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Explain Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality development

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Explain Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality development Sigmund Freud practiced as a psychiatrist in Vienna in the late nineteenth century. He mainly treated neurotic middle-aged women and his observations and case studies of these women led Freud to propose a theory of personality development. The main basic principle of his study suggested that adult personality is the result of an interaction between innate drives (such as the desire for pleasure) and early experience. Freud proposed that individual personality differences can be traced back to the way the early conflicts between desire and experience were handled. These conflicts remain with the adult and exert pressure through unconsciously motivated behaviour. ...read more.


For example, people who are dominated by their Id are said to be 'erotic' and seek pleasure. Freud also defined stages of psychosexual development. These stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. If a child experiences severe problems or excessive pleasure at any stage during development, this can lead to fixation which can then lead to differences in personality. Regression can also occur if adults experience stressful situations. Freud believed that both fixation and regression play important roles in determining adult personality. A good example of this can be seen in children that become fixated on the anal stage. They feel that they can control their bodily functions and enjoy retaining faeces. ...read more.


Freud saw these defences as unhealthy and believed that they affecting personality development. Much of Freud's work was supported by other research evidence whereas others conflicted with his work. Evidence supporting Freud's theory of fixation was published by Rosenwald (1972). He found that people who scored high for anal retentiveness were reluctant to put their hands into a brown substance resembling excrement. This suggests that anal retentives do have anxieties about faeces. Freud's theory can also be used to explain 'inconsistency' ('part of me wants to, but the other part doesn't'). it also largely omitted social influences and promoted a deterministic, biological view. Also criticisms of Freud's theory include that Freud conducted his study on middle-classes white Viennese women and so is hard to generalise for other cultures. ...read more.

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