In this article we will discuss about the psychoanalytic theories of personality.
1. Sigmund’s Theory of Personality:
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founder of psychoanalysis. His theory of psychoanalysis is dynamic and based on the assumption that personality and personality development are determined by conflicts and events that are largely unconscious in nature and which can be understood only by its in-depth study.
Freud’s anatomy of personality is built around the concept of id, ego and super ego. Each of these aspects of personality is related to the other two. Personality is a three-tier system of Id, Ego and Super ego. The Id is totally unconscious, Ego is partly conscious and Super Ego is totally conscious.
The Id is the primary aspect of personality. Freud believed that Id is a mass of blind instincts. It has no logical organization. Indeed contradictory impulses may exist in it side by side. Id is amoral. It possesses no sense of values. It cannot distinguish between good and evil. It is dominated by the pleasure principle. The Id processes are unconscious. Id is best characterised as the conative, unconscious aspect of personality.
Frued’s assumption was that since so much of the person’s personality operates at the unconscious level, the individual can bring to the surface of the consciousness only when engaged to adopt the method of Free Association. He also considered dream analysis as an important technique to explore the contents of the unconscious.
The Id consists of everything that is inherited psychologically. It is instinctive in nature. It is also the reservoir of psychic energy. It provides all the power for the operation of Ego and Super Ego. Id operates through the pleasure principle. It commands two processes known as reflex action and primary process. Reflex actions are inborn and automatic processes like blinking and sneezing.
They reduce the tension caused on account of the non- gratification of the needs. It is a matter of common knowledge that the new born baby demands gratification or satisfaction of his needs (hunger, warmth and elimination, etc.).
For the satisfaction of the needs, the primary process unconscious is more powerful than the conscious. Unconscious consists of all repressed wishes and forbidden experiences. The repressed material, sometimes, appears at conscious level in a disguised form as in dreams and slips of the tongue (sex for six), etc.
Libido and Infantile Sexuality:
Libido is that part of the Id structure that seeks its gratification from purely sexual activity. Sexual gratification is like other gratifications and should be considered a normal need of an individual. Freud considered it as the total striving of an organism. Freud stressed that libido was always present in the organism, even in the infant. Every child is born with an organically determined sexual excitability.
Libido can be stimulated through the following zones:
1. Oral Zone:
From birth to 2 years. At this stage, the infant gets pleasure from sucking the lips.
2. Anal Zone:
From 2 to 3 years. The child derives much pleasure through anal expulsion or anal manipulation.
3. Genital Zone or Phallic Stage:
From 3 to 5 years, the child derives gratification by touching his genitals.
4. Latency Stage:
From the age of six till about thirteen, there is the latency stage where there is avoidance of sexuality on account of the pressures of society.
5. Fixation Stage:
During this period of adolescence, homosexual and heterosexual interests develop.
Freud found that most of his patients suffered on account of sex repression i.e., non-gratification of sex. Sublimation of sexual desires helps in the development of an integrated personality.
Evaluation of Freud’s Theory:
Freud’s theory of personality is very helpful to understand personality and its development. According to Jacobs (1961). “To Freud goes the distinction and merit of having opened to observation dark abysses of human mind hardly suspected before him.”
Another psychologist Inkeles has observed, “His theory, has a scope, a unity and a coherence which is unmatched in psychology. Freud’s theory of personality is a comprehensive theory and includes almost all aspects of personality and its complexities. It is a holistic approach to understand personality.
It lays more stress on the functioning of the individual as a whole. It gives more freedom to the individual to respond in the form of free association. It recognises the importance of unconscious motivation in the development of behaviour patterns. This theory emphasises the importance of early childhood experiences.
Freud’s theory is not without critics. According to G. Gorer (1968), Freud’s theory gives inadequate attention to the role of environment in the development of personality. Freud’s experiences are based on the data collected from patients without any verification from other sources.
Freud never quantified his findings. Freud’s theory is based on the concept of instincts which has been discarded now. Freud’s concepts of repression and libido have been used differently in different situations and thus there is a confusion regarding the precise meaning of these terms. Freud has laid undue emphasis on sex in the personality development.
Freud’s theory has received mixed reaction. On the one hand, there is A. Inkeles (1963) who observes that his “theory is a tremendous factor in the growth of psychology of personality’ and on the other hand, there is McDougall who writes, “that the theory of strict determination developed by Freud leaves no scope for creativity and volition on the part of human beings. The theory was taught a generation ago by men of science and philosophers with dogmatic confidence. In modern days the theory has been discredited on the basis of recent scientific investigations.”
2. Alfred Adler (1870-1937):
Adler was Freud’s earliest disciple but he soon broke away from his master and formulated his own theory of personality. In his theory Adler has given much importance to life-span the goal, end in view or purpose. Adler in this context observes, “The final goal alone can explain man’s behaviour. Experiences, traumata, sexual development, mechanisms cannot yield an explanation but perspective in which these are regarded, the individual way of seeing them, which subordinates ail life to the final goal.”
Adler’s psychology is known as Individual psychology as he emphasises individual differences.
According to Adler, self-assertion rather than sex impulse is the major drive. Alfred’s theory minimised the role of sex on which Freud so much concentrated. Adler thinks that an individual’s motivation has social origins and are not merely the psychological interests. Every individual strives to develop a unique style of life in which sexual drive plays a minor role.
Adler considers consciousness as the centre of personality. An individual is self-conscious individual. He knows about his inferiorities and is conscious of the goals for which he strives.
Adler thinks that inadequacy of childhood is primarily responsible for the development of feeling of inferiority in the beginning. This feeling of inferiority arises from a sense of incompleteness or imperfection in life. It helps to strive for a higher level of development. We have the example of Demosthenes who sturrered as a child but became one of the greatest orators of the world. Similarly President Roosevelt of America was a weeking in his youth but by systematic exercise later on became a physically strong man.
Adler thought that will to power was necessary for superiority. By superiority, he meant superiority over self.
A person’s behaviour to overcome his feeling of inferiority to achieve feeling of superiority is revealed through his style of life. There are different ways in which a person can strive to be superior. The style of life is the principle by which the personality of an individual functions. The style of life is shaped by two factors-inner self and the forces within the environment.
Experiences of early life have great influence on the style of life of an individual.
Adler believes that each individual creates a self-structure out of his heredity endowment and the impressions he receives from his environment.
Adler states that while style of life is mechanical, the creative self is inventive and makes something that never existed before. The creative self gives meaning to life. It is influenced by nurture.
Adler stresses the impact of social interaction. Working for the welfare of others compensates one’s weakness and inferiority complex. It helps him to express his superior feelings.
Evaluation of Adler’s Theory:
Adler laid more emphasis on individual differences and differences in environment. This is a useful point for the teachers.
The concept of inferiority complex is a useful concept for the teachers who can make its best use in the development of the personality of the students.
Adler gives due emphasis to creativity and consciousness.
Adler attaches importance to social factors in the development of personality.
Adler is criticised for giving undue emphasis to organic factors. Personality distortion is not necessarily an inevitable accompaniment of physical handicaps.
Educational Implications of the Adler’s Theory of Personality:
According to the Adlerian theory, the primary objective of education is to lead the child to discover and follow his style of life to find out and reach his goal. The life style is formed during the first four or five years. Therefore, the upbringing and training at this stage is of utmost importance. The mother’s influence during this period is relatively more important.
Secondly, Adler stresses that all those having to do something with the education of the child must understand the significance of self-education – a pre-requisite for correct education of others. In the first place, the educator must renounce his striving for power so that the child is not subject to the pressures of his own inferiority and the superiority of the teacher. A teacher, a parent, a doctor and a gardener cannot afford to be pessimistic.
The child is not a mere wax in the hands of the educators as many think but takes an active part in the development process. It is, therefore, very essential that the adult who is bringing up the child must observe carefully how the child comprehends this or that. In order to avoid failure the inferiority complex must be checked at its source.
3. Carl Jung (1875-1961):
Jung was a close associate of Freud during the early period of psychoanalysis. Ultimately he like Adler, disagreed with his master and founded his own school of Analytical Psychology.
Jung held that Freud’s conception of infantile sexuality was incorrect.
Jung did not agree with Freud on his concept of libido.
Again Jung believed that the sexual instinct is not of primary importance.
Jung considered personality in terms of introversion and extroversion concepts which have become part of our everyday speech.
Jung tended to think in terms of opposites or polarities.
According to Jung, mental activity takes four dominant forms: sensation, thinking, intuition and feeling. Thinking and feeling are polar opposite and both tendencies are always present in the individual at the same time. If his or her dominant mental activity is thinking, the individual’s unconscious tends towards feeling. Similarly, sensing and intuition are opposite. Both are operative in the individual at the same time.
General Characteristics of Extrovert and Introvert:
1. Fluent in speech.
2. Free from worries.
3. Likes to work with others.
5. Not easily embarrassed.
6. Interested in athletics.
7. Governed by objective data
8. Flexible and adapatable.
9. Neglectful of ailments and personal belongings.
12. Popular with people.
1. Better at writing than at speech.
2. Inclined to worry.
3. Likes to work alone.
4. Rather reserved
5. Easily embarrassed.
6. Fond of books and magazines.
7. More influenced by subjective feeling.
8. Lacking in flexibility.
9. Careful of these.
12. Not popular with people.
There are hardly a few downright extroverts or introverts. People in general are a mixture of both. The majority of individuals demonstrate characteristics of both the introvert and extrovert and are accordingly classified as ambiverts.
Obviously, where so many conflicting and diverse tendencies are operative, there is a great danger of one-sided development. One aspect of the personality of the individual tends to become dominant and totally overshadows the other.
Jung believes that the total personality consists of three elements of conscious ego, personal unconscious and collective unconscious:
(i) The Conscious Ego:
It is in fact, the sense of “being” which includes conscious aspects of thinking, feeling and remembering.
(ii) The Personal Unconscious:
It includes repressed and suppressed experiences of the individual which are accessible to the conscious. It also includes the experiences of the individual which he has in his social environment.
(iii) The Collective Unconscious:
It is primitive in nature. It is the reservoir from which all other systems emerge.
Evaluation of Jung’s Theory:
Jung has explored new dimensions of personality. Whether psychologists accept the concept of introversion or extroversion, these terms have become very popular. His theory of self-actualisation has a great significance. His theory emphasises the importance of the culture and religion of the race.
Jung combines in him the material and the spiritual approach. Jung’s idea of collective unconscious seems to be very near to the cosmic mind as expounded by Aurobindo.
Educational Implications of Jung’s Theory of Personality:
Appropriate Education at Every Stage:
Jung observes “To remain child too long is childish, it is just as childish to move away and then assume that childhood no longer exists because we do not see it.” So appropriate education at every step of life is very necessary.
Importance of Individual Difference:
Jung considers individual differences as very important. This necessitates the provision for diversified courses.
The child should get opportunities for expression. Due freedom should be given to the child. No rigid discipline is to be imposed.
Healthy pictures of different objects should be put before the child and negative pictures with many conflicts should not be painted before the mind of the child. The teacher as well as the parents should be mentally healthy and should not be torn between the conflicts themselves.
Jung gives importance to creativity. Appropriate opportunities for creative expression should be provided in the school so that the child may express the message of unconscious through creative work which may help him in attaining integration of personality.
Due Recognition to the Child:
Due recognition should be given to the4 child and he be treated as an individual and not considered as a ‘cog in a machine’.
Home and the School to Provide a Pleasant Environment:
Home and school should be pleasant places for proper emotional training of the child. Children do not get proper direction in restless environment. Lack of proper freedom and licence both are injurious for the development of the child’s personality as the child does not get proper opportunity for communication with his unconscious.
A Sense of Security:
The school should also have the responsibility of assisting the child to have a sense of security and protection.
Importance of Religion:
Jung believes that religion is so important in the life of man that it cannot be left out of any school programme.
Freud and Jung Compared:
According to Reud, unconscious is evolved out of conscious by repression, etc. He compares the human mind with Iceberg whose little visible is ‘consciousness’ and nine-tenth lies hidden as sub-conscious or unconscious. He attaches importance to ego and talks about super ego, ego and Id. An individual wants fulfillment of his desires. The repression of these desires leads to further troubles.
Jung’s approach is entirely different. He states that conscious is evolved out of unconscious which contains experience of the whole human race. The persona and ego in the conscious are referred to by Jung. Jung has vaster meaning of unconscious and talks of racial and collective unconscious. He attaches great importance to the unconscious.
Freud and Jung both think that dreams provide clue to the unconscious. Freud considers dreams wish-fulfillments. According to him, our repressed desires seek satisfaction in dreams and dreams preserve sleep. Jung talks of their prospective and compensatory functions. Dreams provide solution to the problems. Our psyche expresses human experience of the races through symbols in the dreams. Dreams are important for therapeutic purposes.
Freud regards libido as sex and emphasises sex-gratification. Even early childhood activities like thumb-sucking are termed as sex-satisfying. Jung does not agree with Freudian concept of sexuality. He retains the term ‘libido’ and calls it a life force which expresses itself in a number of ways.
4. Childhood Experiences:
Freud is a determinist and believes that childhood experiences determine one’s personality. Jung also gives great importance to early childhood experiences but he remarks that one’s philosophy of life can change one’s attitude entirely. He believes in idealism and morality. He talks of self-realization as aim of life.
Freud states that there are only two goals of life-satisfaction of sex and back to the inorganic state. On the other hand, according to Jung, self-realization and self-propagation are the greatest goals of life.
5. Individual Differences:
Jung seems to take more interest in individual differences but Freud is more interested in universal dynamics.
6. Free Association:
Freud believes in free association. He tries to discover and depend upon the past life. As an analyst, he tries to play the role of a father or mother. Jung believes in controlled association. He tries to discover and depend upon the present adaptation in life. As an analyst, he tries to play the role of a god or a mythical hero besides the roles of father and mother. Jung recognizes ‘repression’ and makes use of the concept of ‘regression’, but in a different way.
Freud does not attach importance to creativity whereas Jung thinks that unconscious expresses itself through creative work.
Freud refers to religion as a universal neurosis whereas Jung regards it as a great treasure which provides source of life. Unlike Freud, Jung regards morality to be a function of life. Morality is inborn according to Jung.
Freud’s approach is best suited for a ‘neurotic child’ through free association and cathartic outpour of pent-up emotions. Jung’s approach is best suited for a ‘creative child’ through a provision of harmonious atmosphere where the racial unconscious may give expression to its archetypes through him. Adler’s approach is best suited for a ‘normal child’ through a probe into his life style, family life and other environment providing him with an opportunity to expresses his best talent.
Educational Implications of the Theories of Personality:
Theories of personality have important educational implications. Trait theory of personality acquaints the teacher with the various traits that need to be adequately developed in the students.
Conscious mind is just one-tenth of the mind and unconscious mind is nine-tenth of it. Knowledge of the unconscious mind of the students is a must for the teacher. A teacher cannot take effective measures for the personality development of the students unless he has adequate knowledge in this regard. He must understand that the students have depressed desires and it is his duty to make use of various defence mechanisms.
The teacher should also understand the three tries of the mind-the Id, the Ego and Super Ego. The teacher is expected to redirect the pent-up feelings of his students to healthy or normal channels. Psychoanalysis brings out the importance of proper environment for the education of students. It has given impetus to such movements as Child Guidance, Mental Hygiene and Freedom of the Child.
Adler has laid more emphasis on individual differences. This is a useful point for teachers.
The concept of inferiority complex is a valuable concept for the teacher.
Dream analysis of Jung indicates that disturbing complexes relate not only to the past, but also have implications for the present and the future.
The concept of introversion and extroversion is very helpful to the teacher to understand the personalities of his students.