Freud’s and Erikson’s Personality Theories

Freud believes that personality is made up of three structures: the id, the ego, and the superego (Ticao, 2001). The id consists of instincts and all of our primitive, innate urges (Ticao, 2001). It is where our psychic energy is stored, is completely unconscious and works according to the pleasure principle (Ticao, 2001). Explaining further, the id always tries to find pleasure and keeps away from pain (Ticao, 2001). It wants instantaneous and total fulfillment (Ticao, 2001). The id is referred to as the “spoiled child” of personality because when it wants something, it wants it immediately (Ticao, 2001).

Fortunately, our personality structure provides a check to the id’s sometimes irrational demands (Ticao, 2001). The world, too, does not always give in to the demands of the id (Ticao, 2001). As this reality dawns on the child, a new structure of personality is fashioned (Ticao, 2001).

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The ego acts in response to reality (Ticao, 2001). It is the executive arm of personality because it is accountable for placing the id’s demands on hold until circumstances consent to the fulfillment of its impulses (Ticao, 2001). The ego works in accordance with the reality principle that takes into consideration existing peripheral conditions and the consequences of events inclined to increase pleasure and lessen pain (Ticao, 2001). Sexual and aggressive tendencies cannot go unrepressed (Ticao, 2001). The reality principle orders the ego to obey the rules set by the society or that which is referred to as “societal norms” to permit us to suit our wants/desires without getting into trouble and hurting ourselves (Ticao, 2001).

Tension comes into being within our personalities primarily because the id and the superego clash for the ego’s services (Ticao, 2001). Remember that it is the ego that confronts reality and carries out what the personality requires (Ticao, 2001). To keep the stability/equilibrium among the structures of personality, the ego employs strategies that carry out the varied demand of each (Ticao, 2001). These strategies are known as defense mechanisms or “ego defense mechanisms” and function principally by distorting reality to shield the ego from reality (Ticao, 2001).

The last structure of personality is the superego (Ticao, 2001). The superego is the moral arm of personality (Ticao, 2001). The id and the superego do not consider whether something is wrong or right (Ticao, 2001). It is the superego that handles this responsibility (Ticao, 2001). We acquire it from our parents and through our experience (Ticao, 2001). The superego is an outcome of the internalization of the norms of our society and is often referred to as the “conscience” which reprimands us when we disobey such norms (Ticao, 2001).

Erikson’s Personality Theory

Psychoanalytic theories actually share several fundamental principles. For example, “personality of composite of biological forces, early life experiences, as well as, current life experiences to some extent” (Ticao, 2001). Interestingly, early experiences are vital in understanding how personality is developed (Ticao, 2001). Elaborating further, psychoanalytic theories stress the role of conflict, anxiety, sexual impulse, and negative forces in the people’s lives (Ticao, 2001). A good example of the aforementioned elaboration is that of Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development. Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development speaks of the stage of development, the conflicts faced during that period of development, the age when that certain conflicts occur, and last but not least, the major challenges that comes along with it (SparkNotes, 2006). Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development has the following stages:

The first stage is technically referred to as the “Trust versus Mistrust”, which occurs during the first year of life wherein the major challenges involves having to meet the basic needs of an individual and getting attached to people (SparkNotes, 2006).
The second stage is called “Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt”, which happens during the first year up to the third year of an individual’s life wherein the major test is to obtain independence (SparkNotes, 2006).
The third stage is known as “Initiative versus Guilt”, which occurs from the third year to the sixth year of one’s life wherein the ordeal one has to face is to “act in a socially responsible way” (SparkNotes, 2006).
The fourth stage is identified as “Industry versus Inferiority”, which begins in the sixth year and ends in the twelfth wherein competition with peers arises and preparation for adult roles becomes an issue (SparkNotes, 2006).
The fifth stage is recognized as “Identity versus Role Confusion”, which presents itself during the adolescent years and the problem that one has to deal with is related to determining one’s identity (SparkNotes, 2006).
The sixth stage is known to be “Intimacy versus Isolation”, which occurs in Early Adulthood and the dilemma is on intimate relationships and how it is developed (SparkNotes, 2006).
The seventh stage is tagged as “Generativity versus Self-absorption”, which happens during Middle Adulthood and the quandary is about being productive (SparkNotes, 2006).
The eighth and final stage is labeled as “Integrity versus Despair” which, of course, presents itself during Old Age and the major challenge that these individuals will have to go through is to evaluate or look deeper into his or her life (SparkNotes, 2006).