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Psychoanalytic Personality Assessment


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The Psychoanalytic personality process has been examined over many centuries. During the first half of the twentieth century, American psychology was dominated by two schools of thought: behaviorism and psychoanalysis (Association for Humanistic Psychology, 2001). These early approaches of studying the human psyche were limited in many aspects. These ideas of personality assessment were confined to more of the unconscious process, with limited focus on the decision making elements of the conscious mind. Many of these original ideas were studied by well established Psychologists and mental scientists. Three of the most significant, noted figures of this field, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler were well known for their Psychoanalytic Theories, each with their own depiction of how a humans psyche operates and develops as we mature. Sigmund Freud was influenced and helped mainstream the idea of conscious versus unconscious mind. Freud's theories were established on a foundation of the unconscious mind. He believed that an individual's personality was composed of three important aspects: the Id, the ego, and superego. Carl Jung examined the personal psyche with different fundamental points. Jung had a strong belief that intuition had a great influence on our inner personal psyche. He structures his studies around four basic human psyche functions: sensation, feeling, thought, and intuition. In addition to the other well respected psychoanalytic theorist was Alfred Adler. Adler believed personality was unique with each person, and the social environments and moral influences that inspire the desires of each individual were the foundation for their personalities. In this paper, I will address more in depth details about each of the psychoanalytic theories and ideas of well known human psyche scientist, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler. Comparing and contrasting each of their theories of the human psyche, providing a layout of diverse ideas and similar discoveries about the human personality.

Psychoanalytic personality theories can be constructed with many variables to help determine how and why an individual's personality is shaped throughout time. Three important figures helped mold a new social acceptance of many personality development theories. The introduction briefly covers each figures outline for how a personality develops, In addition to continuing to discuss in greater detail about each of their concepts. Sigmund Freud formulated a foundation for the human psyche. This foundation of the human personality included three driving factors, the Id, the ego, and the super ego. The Id is defined as a characteristic that persuades us to make decisions based on pleasurable desires; an individual makes choices based on specific urges of fulfillment or gratification. The ego is the state of mind which allows an individual to balance the equal needs of both the Id and super ego, producing solutions and meeting needs for both mind sets in an acceptable manner. The super ego simply represents your guilty conscious. This aspect of the unconscious mind is your moral compass and guides you when your inner voice speaks. He essentially believes that your psyche is balanced with these three aspects. When an unbalance or conflict occurs within your mind, whether it be conscious or unconscious you have adaptive mechanisms. Freud came to the conclusion that the mind can establish three forms of adaptive mechanisms; defense mechanisms, neurotic symptoms, and dreams. These can be signs of distress or conflict amongst your self. Defense mechanisms include; repression, depression or denial. A Neurotic symptom would be defined as a psychosomatic disorder, or a type of physical symptom. The dreams express desires of the Id, and are usually depicted in a manner that represents an unconscious message. Carl Jung emphasized intuition as influencing our inner being. In his view, "The inner personality is the manner of one's behavior towards the inner psychic processes. I term the outer attitude, or outer character, the persona; the inner attitude I term the anima, or soul" (Jung, 1933, p.593). Jung felt the human psyche was driven by four underlying points, sensation, feeling, thought, and intuition. Jung believes Imagination plays a large role in an individuals psyche, and also considers imagination to be another fundamental function of the psyche. Jung insisted that an active imagination can influence the unconscious desires, usually manifested through dreams, eventually emerging to the surface of an individual's persona. Alfred Adler perceived that a human's persona is developed according to ones environment. Each person contains characteristics pertaining to their social environments. To Adler, a person's "style of life" was basically his or her personality, including goals, self-concept, and social interest (Feist J., & Feist G. 2002).

Furthermore, many of these distinct theories and points established by Freud, Jung, and Adler can be examples of how the substructure of a human personality develops throughout a period of time. These concepts seem to be logical and without a doubt evident of influencing every aspect of an individuals personality. At one point, each of these individuals collaborated together to investigate personality development, but had many differences. For example the balance of Freud's three dynamic factors of the personality, the Id, the ego, and the super ego provide a balance of stability as an individual grows and matures. The Id enabling you to structure decisions based upon your wants and desires, the ego helps sustain balance, meeting needs for both your Id and super ego, Ensuring solutions in an appropriate manner. The super ego, this is defined as your moral compass and that inner voice that speaks to you when your contemplating a negative choice. Many would strongly agree, including myself, about how Freud's theories are very evident in our everyday lives. The same applies to Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler's Theories. Jung felt that intuition and your mental human senses were a monumental aspect of character development. These unconscious desires that are developed by our social environments are what mold's our personality and passions. Adler only believed only a portion of this. He felt an individual's personality characteristics were solely based upon ones social environment. In studying each of these individuals I felt there theories were very evident in not only my own life but in others. I did not necessarily disagree with any of the characteristics of their theories, but defiantly would not claim one or another theory to be the complete explanation of how a personality develops or is attained.

The Freudian theory can be examined in more depth to investigate some other detailed concepts that may explain his motive for his three most important factors of a personality. Some of these concepts or stages developed by Freud may be outdated, but overall try to explain human's developmental stages in a way which creates self desire, which is incorporated in their personalities. The Pre-Oedipal stage describes an infant as developing its erotogenic zone or sexual drive. Freud feels that all humans are born with natural instincts such as the desire for, food, shelter and warmth, Including sexual urges and fascination. Freud explains these as the oral stage, anal stage and phallic stage. As a child develops they enter his next stage or theory to development. The Oedipus complex, this entails a boy being close with his mother, leading to an unconscious desire of future companionship with women. On the other hand a girl who has penis envy will look for attention and or "seduce" their father in order to feel more like a boy. Personality can take shape using these components, however they don't explain everything. All human beings are sexual and it is developed at one point or another in an individual's life, usually as a child. Subsequently we all encounter the Pre-Oedipal stage, which unveils our unconscious desires as adults. The Oedipus complex reviles our desire to think or desire the other sexes counterparts and opposite sexes approval. These types of early behavior can develop into negative personality traits. A women may be independent because she was raised by her father, but lacked a women's influence and guidance, therefore she may not be compassionate or caring. These stages of early childhood development can sometimes impact an individuals "life style" or personality. Freud also created techniques that the psyche uses to defuse anxiety or conflict within the mind. Denial is an example of what your mind might do if it encounters a significant event. This entails a blocking of current events from your mind state. Repression is another technique used by your mind to distract you from a fear, an encounter or very emotional event. Your inner psyche may suppress certain phobias or incidents, in which you had a dramatic experience. Another equally important technique your mind uses to control your impulse in certain situations is isolation. Isolation is defined as a factor that takes your emotional impulses and puts them aside when involved in a tragic situation, treating that problem as if it were insubstantial. This can be noticed when witnessing an emergency situation; some may act calm during the act of the emergency, but fall apart right after. Meeting obligations of your social environment before reacting emotionally can sometimes be your best bet, unfocused on your emotional needs.

In sum, Personality development can be explained in many ways. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler had many strong points that I believe can be used to describe the evolving process of the human personality. Concluding that personality can not be summed up in one theory, but should be a study of all collaborations and techniques presented by these well renowned psychoanalytic theorists.

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