Individuals differ from one another and each personality is unique. Be it physically, emotionally, intellectually or psychologically, each person portrays distinct characteristics that are exclusive. Many psychodynamic theorists have theorized the origins and contributions that cultivate personality. Highlights of this paper will include contents of Freuds psychoanalytic theory to include the id, ego, superego, child experience, and the infantile stage, and Sullivans interpersonal theory to include the importance of interpersonal relationships defined early in age through needs and anxiety that contribute to the individual and interpersonal relationships.
PSYCHODYNAMICS AND INDIVIDUAL PERSONALITY
Psychodynamic theories, according to psychodynamic theory (2005), go a long way back throughout history. Psychodynamic theories of personality represent behavior and personality development. Dr. Sigmund Freud, recognized as propagating psychodynamic theories through his theory of psychoanalysis, depicts how the combination of the presence of unconscious and conscious mind, id, ego, super ego, and childhood experience create individual personality (_Psychodynamic Theory_, 2005).
Freud describes that the unconscious mind is divided. These divisions include the id, which represents the amoral unconscious need to fulfill pleasure through any means (good or evil); the ego, which recognizes reality and delivers needs of the id based on social norms; and the superego, which recognizes morality (good and evil) and delivers emotion such as guilt (Feist & Feist, 2009).
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Key factors that control the id, ego, and superego are childhood experiences with drives of sex and aggression.
Oftentimes anxiety arises because sexual and aggressive acts are punished during childhood. The ego keeps emotions of anxiety repressed in the id, which contributes to individual behavior, emotions, and attitudes throughout a lifetime (Feist & Feist, 2009).
The id, ego, and superego play significant roles in Freuds stages of development that all contribute to individual personality.
Sripakdeevong (2008) states that Freud’s psychosexual development during an individual’s childhood would determine personality as he grows up. This development begins during infancy; known as the Infantile period. The Infantile period includes the oral, anal, phallic phases. The oral phase is characterized by the id, in which the id aims to satisfy pleasurable needs. It includes the sexual urges of sucking because sucking is an infant’s first experience with pleasure. During the oral stage an infant does not heed considerations and consequences of any need as in the anal stage (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Second is the anal phase in which the ego is present on the individual. Reality of surroundings, praise, and consequences are considered. Freud explains that one of a child’s first experiences with punishment and reward begins during toilet training (Feist & Feist, 2009).
According to Freud toilet training ignites a child’s experience with aggression and the reaction of the parents influence personality and behavior. Freud determined when a child within this phase presents the gift of his feces to his parents and is praised he will display characteristics of generosity. If the gift is rejected a child will withhold the gift; influencing characteristics of orderliness and stubbornness (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Last, the phallic stage introduces the superego and the resolution of identification derived from Oedipus Complex. During the phallic stage children discover pleasure among their genitals and masturbation becomes a suppressed emotion because of punishment. During this stage an individual’s personality is affected. He is able to recognize if a behavior is right or wrong (Feist & Feist, 2009).
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The Oedipus Complex appears during the phallic stage, which relates to a child’s want and obsession for the opposite sexed parent and the need for elimination of the same sexed parent. The Oedipus Complex also highlights the concern of the penis. A boy develops an anxiety of fear of castration when the absence of the penis on girls is identified. The female experiences envy of wanting to grow a penis with the realization of the male’s organ. By the end of the phallic stage the superego begins to develop and the Oedipus Complex subsides. From this, personality would begin to emulsify into an individual that fits the norms and standards of the society.
PSYCHODYNAMICS AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
Whereas Freud focused on inner personal attributes such as the id, ego, superego, and childhood experience to support the origin of individual personality, theorist Harry Sullivan believed the development of personality exceeds the inner self. According to Feist & Feist (2009) Sullivan proclaimed “A personality can never be isolated from the complex of interpersonal relations in which the person lives and has his being” (p. 213).
Sullivan recognized the significance that establishing intimacy with other people has on healthy human development (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Like Freud, Sullivan also explains personality development in stages and emphasizes anxiety and needs. The following examines how anxiety and needs are prevalent in Sullivan’s interpersonal theory.
Tension is a form of energy that can promote the possibility of actions or are actions themselves (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Tension is transferred to satisfy a need or suppress anxiety. Feist & Feist (2009) describe needs as “a biological imbalance between a person and the physiochemical environment” (p. 217).
Sullivan speaks of tenderness as the most basic interpersonal need. The need for tenderness generates in infancy and the response to the need by the primary caregiver contributes to the personality development of the infant (Feist & Feist, 2009).
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The example of the need for tenderness described by Sullivan clearly demonstrates the need of interpersonal relationships and how reactions to the needs from the environment create personality.
Anxiety is the other type of tension described by Sullivan. Sullivan deems empathy to be the carrier of anxiety from mother to infant (Feist & Feist, 2009).
Because caregivers cannot detect an infant’s anxiety they themselves become anxious when trying to determine the babies need. Sullivan believed that the more anxious a mother is, the more anxious the infant becomes. Anxiety to Sullivan is responsible for blocking the development of interpersonal relationships because he believed anxiety contributes to delayed learning, impairs memory, and narrows perception (Feist, & Feist, 2009).
Feist & Feist (2009) describe how Sullivan also believed anxiety “prevents people from learning from their mistakes, keeps people pursuing a childish wish for security, and generally ensure that people will not learn from their experiences” (p. 218).
This psychodynamic theory emphasizes the importance that the two driving forces of tension-needs and anxiety-has on the ability of a person to develop and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. Other theorists also coincide with the influence of interpersonal relationships.
According to Domebeck and Moran (2006), a psychodynamic theory known as the object relations theory, describes how an individual represents his present and past relationships to other people. In this theory when a person has had a bad relationship in the past, there is a tendency that it would re-occur. However, if an individual had a healthy previous relationship, there is a greater tendency that he would have another healthy relationship in the future. The fulfillment of needs in infancy and the level of anxiety presented and infant have an influence on the ability to obtain healthy trusting relationships in the future.
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Sigmund Freud holds a superior position in the psychodynamic theories of personality. Freuds psychoanalytic theory explains how the unconscious mind, id, ego, superego, and childhood experience develop personality in the early stages of life. As early as infancy Freud believed sexual urges and the need to fulfill pleasure motivate behavior. Sexual urges and the need to fulfill pleasure reside within the id. Because the id does not recognize reality the ego is responsible for control the behaviors sent to retrieve pleasure filling needs. The ego develops personality because it recognizes social norms and controls behavior to them. The superego realizes morality and delivers emotions such as guilt if necessary. Whereas Freud relates personality to the inner self Sullivan believed the interpersonal relationships developed throughout a child’s life and throughout a lifetime constitutes personality. Sullivan believes personality would be nonexistent if were not for interpersonal relationships. Sullivan does not dismiss the ideas of Freud but believed elements outside of the self also contribute to personality. Could personality exist without the outer self world and interpersonal relationships?
Domebeck, M., Moran, J. (2006).
Psychodynamic Theories, _mentalhelp.net_. Retrieved on July 2, 2010 from //www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=9713&cn=353
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009).
_Theories of personality_ (7th ed.).
New York: McGraw Hill.
Psychodynamic Theory. (2005) Retrieved on July 2, 2010 from //www.depression- guide.com/psychodynamic-theory.htm
Sripakdeevong, P. (2008).
Personality Theories in the Psychodynamic Perspective, _scribd.com_. Retrieved on July 2, 2010 from //www.scribd.com/doc/2572295/Personality- Theories-in-the-Psychodynamic-Perspective-by-Pariya-Sripakdeevong