Psychoanalytic personality assessment;freud theory

The understanding and the assessment of personality in psychology have been aided by the theories of personality development. Among the much-studied theories are those developed by Carl Jung, theorist Alfred Adler, and theorist Sigmund Freud. This essay aims at comparing and contrasting the three theories. The essay will also discuss the Freudian theory of psycho-sexual development. Finally, it will look at the defense mechanisms and their application in real life. For a thorough discussion, the essay has been divided into sections.

Comparison and contrast of the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler:

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The psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud considers a human’s personality as being composed of three elements of the id, ego, and superego. Freud theorizes that a conflict exists between these three elements. Such disagreement, according to Freud, is what dictates personality. Alfred Adler, on the other hand, developed the theory that presupposed that: all the activities of human beings are geared towards the main plan that they have in their lives. According to Fisher (2001), a major similarity between these theories is the agreement that the features they talked about have a basis during childhood. Similarly, the theory developed by Carl Jung uses the conscious and the unconscious components that were proposed by Sigmund Freud. A difference between the theories emerges in their view on religion. Freud argues that every human being on earth has a different interpretation of religion.  The view expressed by Jung is different. He connotes that all people do not have access to religion. Adler on his part proposed that he understood their world through the use of religion (Hart, 2008). He presupposes that it can only be through the creator, that one can realize their religion.


Agreements and disagreements with the theories:

It is agreeable with the theories that religion plays a major part in the understanding of the complicated world. Also, according to Sigmund Freud, the interactions of the id, ego, and superego determine a person’s personality. Looking at the behavior of human beings in relation to Freudian theory, it is agreeable that the argument has a basis.

The argument by Freud that behavior is controlled by the unconscious mind does not seem to hold water. If the behavior is controlled by the unconscious mind, it cannot be controllable. In real life, however, people are able to control behavior even in situations that seem very emotional. According to Putnam (1917), Freud placed a lot of emphasis on sexual motivation. This necessitated the disagreement of his proposition of psychosexual development by the fellow theorists Jung and Adler.  This may even be a reason why Adler’s analytical psychology seems a counter-attack on Freud’s psychosexual development.

Sigmund Freud’s stages of development:

Sigmund Freud is credited with the development of the theories of psychoanalytic and psychoanalysis. He brings about the discussion of the theories by discussing three parts of the mind as the conscious, preconscious and the unconscious. He presupposes that personality is determined by the interactions between these aspects of the mind. The proposition is that when these aspects of the mind come into conflict, it creates tension. In order to deal with this tension, people apply defense mechanisms.

To explain his psychosexual development, Freud described five stages of development. The first stage that he called the oral stage is said to be in a person in the first year and a half period of their life (Santrock, 2004). During this period, a child experiences pleasure in the mouth and in the processes that are involved with the ingestion and the physical digestion of food such as swallowing, biting, chewing and sucking. Freud argued that the fixation of neurotic behaviors may manifest in some people’s adult life if it was abnormal during childhood.  This explains why some people display some childish behaviors in their adulthood.

The second stage that follows in the development is the anal stage. It occurs between 18 months and 3 years. During this period, anus and elimination functions are the centers of pleasure (Santrock, 2004). A person fixated in the anal stage may display some childish personality even in their childhood.

The third stage of development theorized by Freud is the phallic stage between the years three to six. The center of pleasure during this stage is the genitals and their self-manipulation by the individual. To relieve any life tension during this stage, a child establishes close contact with the same-sex parent (Santrock, 2004).

The fourth stage of development according to Freud is the latency stage from around six years to puberty. The pleasure in this period is on interacting with other people. This explains why the child directs all her energy into establishing relationships with peers. The fifth stage of development proposed by Freud is the genital stage (Santrock, 2004). This stage begins at puberty and goes all through to adulthood. The main characteristic of this stage is a full sexual awakening. Pleasure at this period is sought from a person who is distant from the family. According to Freud, the ability to form a strong relationship depends on whether the child resolved all the conflicts with the parents. He argued that those who resolved conflicts with the parents were capable of forming long-lasting relationships. This explains the personality of people in the way they behave in their relationships.

Freud explained defense mechanisms that people use when their mental aspects come into conflict with one another. Denial is a defense mechanism that involves refusing something that is real. In reality of life, for example, one may be agitated by their colleagues. For moral reasons, they may not want to show their anger openly. When asked whether they are offended, they refute. Rationalization is the act of justifying a behavior even if it is wrong. For example, a person may fail an exam on campus and argue that their opinion differed with that of the teacher. After all, even the teacher is a student. Repression is the act of blocking a threatening idea in the mind to make sure that it does not disturb again. It involves completely refusing to give attention to an issue that is appearing to disturb the mind. For example, a student may fail to submit an assignment in time, and they well know the consequences.  When the idea of the consequences comes to the mind, the student ignores it.

In conclusion, this essay has discussed the theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler. The theories have been compared and contrasted. The Freudian theory of psychoanalytic development has been discussed in relation to personality. Finally, the essay has discussed the defense mechanisms of denial, repression, as well as, rationalization, and applied them to real-life development. The three theories discussed are relevant to the understanding of personality in psychology.






Fischer, M. (2001). Alfred Adler: People in psychology. Retrieved online from

Hart, W.C. (2008). The varieties of religious experience revisited. Journal of Health and Religion, 48 (4): 516-524

Putnam, J. (1917). The theories of Jung, Freud, and Adler: The work of Sigmund Freud. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 12 (3): 145-160.

Santrock, W. J. (2004). Life-span development (9th ed). Boston: McGraw Hill.

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