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freud personality

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Introduction

Evaluate how useful Freud's psychoanalytic theory is to understand personality The aim of this essay is to understand how useful Freud's theory to understand personality is. This shall be achieved by firstly understanding the structural components of personality namely psychic energy, structure of the human brain, systems of personality and defence mechanisms against anxiety. Secondly the application of these components in Freud's psychosexual development theory will be analysed. Personality is the set of psychological traits and mechanisms within the individual that are organized and relatively enduring and that influence his or her interactions with, and adaptations to, the intrapsychic, physical, and social environments. (Larsen & Buss, 2005) The starting point of Freud's psychoanalytic theory is that psychic energy is the motivation factor of all human activity. It follows the principle of law of conservation of energy. The psychic energy people possess remains constant and redirection of this energy causes personality change. Psychic energy arose from strong innate forces known as instincts. Freud's classified instincts broadly in two categories: sexual and self preservation. He later then modified it into life and death instinct which were known as libido and thanatos respectively. Libido was a broad term for any life-sustaining, pleasure gaining activity. ...read more.

Middle

The superego imposes the ethics and causes guilt when the id wants to conduct actions on the basis of its immoral impulses. The later two are internal conflicts and objective anxiety is an external conflict. (Campbell & Hall, 1998) The anxiety caused is to be defended by the ego, which is done by using several defence mechanisms. The most fundamental of all defences is repression. When stressful unconscious thoughts wish to enter the id the ego tries to find substitute acceptable actions and represses the unacceptable thoughts back into unconscious. The next defence is suppression in which the person tries to ignore, not think about thoughts that cause anxiety. Efforts are made to keep such anxiety provoking thoughts in preconscious. In denial defence the person decides not to perceive the stressful thought. In displacement mechanism the thoughts that cause stress are experienced but the energy release is done in a direction different from the original. This is done since the original direction is not available and in most cases it will help relieve it. In sublimation the emotion is taken out but in a constructive way which does well and is accepted by society. Regression copes with painful emotions by temporarily moving from a mature attitude to an immature attitude. ...read more.

Conclusion

Heuristic value: Various studies show that though Freud's theory is disagreed by many it has had a major influence on the further development of personality psychology and has made vast contributions to clinical psychology. Testibility: All of Freud's theory cannot be empirically tested and hence it can be stated to be a poor theory. Parsimony: Freud's theory does have many premises but since it covers such a vast area it is impossible to maintain parsimony. Compatibility and integration across domains and levels: Freud unlike most personality psychologists has not been able to achieve these criteria. (Larsen & Buss, 2005) Though Freud's theory does not meet all of the criteria and strict terms it will be graded as a poor theory it has played a major role in psychology. His theory of psychosexual development plays an important role in developmental psychology. The psychotherapy techniques he suggested are still practiced though modified. It can be said that his theory is the most comprehensive personality psychology theory and though it has not been accepted as whole parts of it have been the basis of many other personality theories. The graph of the validity of Freud's theory is ever increasing and hence it can be said that this theory has played a vital role in understanding personality. ...read more.

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