Freud and the Psychoanalytic Perspective
The basic assumption in Sigmund Freud’s (1924) psychoanalytic approach is that human behavior and personality originate from unconscious forces within individuals.Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who is known as the founder of psychoanalytic theory, developed his major theories in the Victorian era, when biological explanations of human behavior were prevalent. It was also an era of extreme sexual repression and male dominance when compared to contemporary u.s. standards, Freud’s theory was greatly influenced by these cultural factors, as reflected in the importance he assigned to sexual motives In explaining behavior. For example, Freud based his ideas 011 the belief that people have two basic tendencies: the urge to survive and the urge to procreate. According to Freud (1924), human development
occurs in tl.rce states that reflect different levels of the personality, which he referred to as the id, ego, and superego. The id is the component of personality that includes all of the individual’s basic biological drives and needs that demand immediate gratification. For Freud, the newborn child’s personality is all id, and from birth the child finds that urges (or self-gratification such as wanting to be held. fed. or changed-are not going to be satisfied immediately.
However, id remains with people throughout their life in the form of psychic energy, the urges and desires that account for behavior. By contrast, the second level of personality-the· ego-develops as infants discover that their most basic desires are ‘not always going to be met by others. The ego is the rational, reality-oriented component of personality that imposes restrictions on the innate, pleasure-seeking drives of the id. The ego channels the desire of the id for immediate gratification into the most advantageous direction for the individual. The third.level ofperscnality=-the superego-is in opposition to hoth the id and the ego. The superego, or conscience, consists of the moral and ethical aspects of personality. It is first expressed as the recognition of parental control and eventually matures as the child learns that parental control is a reflection of the values and moral demands of the larger society. When a son is well adjusted, the ego successfully manages opposing forces of the id and the superego.