Psychology has existed since ancient times; the Greeks had developed
the first scientific method to treat the mentally ill. They had developed two therapies:
sleep therapy and interpretation of dream therapy. In the year six hundred the
systematic approach was taken to treat mentally ill. Although, after the Greek
empire had fallen they started treating mentally ill patients as abnormal. The
thinking of abnormality in human, had started changing in the nineteen hundred.
Since then time to time the new psychological theories had developed. Each theory
of psychology has different purposes, as well as different point of view. By focusing
on different research methods, techniques and goal, the psychologists had developed
new theories. For example, the behaviorist focused on the environmental factors
because according to them environment influences the behavior, the humanistic
psychology believes in the whole person and the uniqueness of each individual,
the cognitive psychology is the scientific study of the mind as an information
processor and the psychoanalytic theory believe in the unconscious mind and their
drives. The psychanalytic theory also known as the Freudian theory of the personality. According
to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, personality develops through a series of
stages, each characterized by a certain internal psychological conflict. In this
paper I will focus on the Freud’s theories of human personality and psychosexual
stages of development, as well as, the common criticisms of his theories and

The Freudian theory of personality and treatment have been interrogated
since it started.  Critics had questioned
many aspects of psychoanalytic theory: for instance, “whether or not it is a
science; the method and effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatment; the theory over-emphasis on sexual drive; time-consuming
and expensive therapy.” On the other hand, recent study has been
admiring the psychoanalytic theory, “The unconscious part of the mind can
perceive things without conscious awareness (Erdelyi, 1974) Defense mechanisms
occur e.g. repression appears to occur (Weinberger & Davidson, 1994) Anal and
Oral characteristics are intercorrelated (Weston, 1990) Catharsis is helpful
for physical/psychological health (Erdelyi, 1994) Lab studies have demonstrated
transference (Andersen & Baum, 1994).” Psychoanalysis is a great theory of
personality that should not be ignored.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

The psychoanalysis was founded by Sigmund Freud in Vienna during
the 19th century, it was developed from social and intellectual circumstances.
Freud work was impacted by various social trends, such as, the birth of German
School, discrimination against Jews and the role of women in society; for
instance, the German school helped him to enforce his treatment technique and discrimination
against Jews policies forced him to study the medical profession and work with
Jean Charcot in Europe. Freud work was influenced by Josef Breuer and Jean-Martin
Charcot. Freud had learned the hypnosis techniques to treat hysteria and other
abnormal conditions from the Jean Charcot. Although, soon he realized that the beneficial
effects of hypnosis do not last long. Therefore, Freud adopted the techniques
of talking, which was developed by the good friend Josef Breuer. After talking
to patent Freud had noticed that many phobias are formulated by deeply
traumatic experiences, which are happening in the patient’s past, although the
traumatic experience was hidden from consciousness. Since the traumatic
experience were forgotten by the patient, the talking treatment allowed the
patient to recall the experience, and it helped them to confront the issue intellectually
and emotionally. After their research, Freud and Breuer wrote book name
“Studies in Hysteria,” in 1895. Although Breuer and Freud had a disagreement
of “sexual origins and content neurosis” therefore Freud continued working

During his practice, some women complained feelings of numbness
in part of their body, although they did not have any physical defects that can
be pinpointed to the cause. In other words, Freud found nothing wrong with any
of those patients. Therefore, he form a hypothesis stating, if there is nothing
wrong physically, then maybe something is wrong within the brain. There might
be some mental or psychological issues with the patient’s. To conduct his investigation,
he used a method call “Free Association.” In Free Association method, Freud had
told the patient to come six days of the week for 50 minutes, during that time
patient has to lay on the couch and they had to talk whatever came into their
mind. He did not have any pictures on the walls, as well as, the wall was
painted with soothing blue color and there wasn’t any movement in the room; so
that the patient would not get distracted or stimulate their brain with the
thought that relates to the picture or the movement. Additionally, he makes
sure that there is no overhead light were patient is laying down because the
brain is sensitive to light and may stimulate by light. Furthermore, he seated in
the back of the patient head, so that patient has no distraction. While sitting
there he didn’t speak a word, he just took notes of the patient’s thoughts. After
his research, he had learned that unconscious thoughts and feelings can
transfer to the conscious mind in the form of “fuzzy thought” a person says something,
yet they do not mean to say that. For example, when the commentator was reading
the score, she said Nancy lost by the goal, instead of saying they’d won by a
goal. Freud called it a Freudian Slips; according to Freud “sips of the tongue”
provides an information that is stored in persons unconscious mind; it is not an
accident. Every behavior has insight into it, including slips of the tongue, has
meaning to it. His findings helped him to develop the theory of Psychoanalysis.
“psychoanalysis refers to (1) a theory of the personality and psychopathology,
(2) a method of investigating the mind, and (3) a form of treatment for
psychopathology” (McWilliams &Weinberger, 2003)

Freud compared the human brain to the iceberg; the part that
shows above the surface of the water represents conscious mind and the much
larger mass under the water level represents the unconscious mind. According to
Freud unconscious mind is a storehouse of desires, cravings, and unreachable
memories that affect our thoughts and behavior. “Freud believed that the two
basic drives that motivate human behavior are sexual drive, which he referred
to as libido, and aggressive drive (McWilliams &Weinberger, 2003).” The free
association method helped Freud to discover the unconscious mind and allow him
to formulate the theory of personality, which is made of three major systems:
the id, ego and superego. The id, ego and superego help us to control the
energy from drives, which constantly seeks to be free.  Each system of personality has its own
functions, although they all act as a one to direct our behavior. The id is
made up of basic biological impulses the drives: works on principle of “I want
it, and I want it now” The id seeks immediate gratification of impulses and operates
on the pleasure principle; the id tries to avoid pain and obtain pleasure
regardless of the external circumstances. Second comes the ego, which develops
as a child learns to consider the demands of reality. It is a store house of
rules and regulation. The ego creates our conscious self and follows the
reality principle: the ego is essential the part of personality that decides
what actions are appropriate and which are id impulses. Last but not least, the
superego. The superego is constructed on the base of the values and morals of the
society. Another word, the values that are taught by parents and teachers in
childhood help develop the superego. Basically, superego is individual’s conscience;
the superego helps us decide whether an action is right or wrong.

According to Freud, the interaction amongst the id, ego and
superego occurs in the unconscious mind. The id is in search for pleasure, the
superego tries for the perfection, thus the ego becomes a judge and works on
reality principle. It is safe to say that all three components of personality
are in constantly fighting: the ego delays the satisfaction of the id wants and
the superego fights. Furthermore, Freud develops an idea that the ego develops
a series of defense mechanisms to deal with a conflict. According to him, an
individual uses a defense mechanism regularly to control his or her behavior
and personality. Some theories of defense mechanisms are:

 “The repression -burying a pain full memory in
to the unconscious mind, like it never happened; the projection – which credit
to own unwanted feelings or ideas on another person; rationalization – making
up a reasonable excuse for unacceptable behavior and really believing it; suppression
– forgetting a shocking event on purpose, putting it out of one’s mind and
focusing on something else; denial;- refusing to acknowledge something because
it is so distressing; displacement – transferring feelings from one person or
object to another; identification – imitating someone who is admired and
modelling oneself on them; reaction formation – consciously substituting the
opposite emotion for true feelings about someone/something.”  (Nolen Hoeksema)

Freud believed that conflict is the
primary cause of human anxiety and unhappiness. The defense mechanisms help
us to deal with our inner conflict, when the defense mechanism does not respond
properly then people suffer from abnormal behavior.

Out of all the defense mechanism, the repression is the most
important, according to Freud’s theory “when a person experiences an
instinctual impulse to behave in a manner which the super-ego deems
to be reprehensible than it is possible for the mind to push this impulse away,
to repress it into the unconscious.” (Beystehner) Ego settles in the
reality with the demand of both id and super-ego. Since, ego avoids the
internal conflict and pain it is one of the dominant mechanism of all;

Freud was a physician, although he saw the psychological
growth based on the physical growth. According to Fraud there are five stages
of psychological development in unconscious mind. Freud believed that during
the first five years of life, everyone goes through several developmental
stages which affects their personality, he called these periods psychosexual
stages. During each stage, the pleasure-seeking impulses of the id focus on a
particular part of the body and derive pleasure from the activity that relates
to that area.

Consequently, Freud called the first stage “oral stage” of
psychosexual development. During the first 18 months, infants derive pleasure
from nursing and sucking: they explore everything through their mouth. The
second stage called anal stage, between the age of 18 months to 3 years, children
have their first experience of control in the form of their toilet training. The
third stage is called phallic stage, from about age 3 to age 6, children focus
on their genitals, they observe the differences between males and females and
may direct their awakening sexual impulses toward the parent of the opposite
sex. It is at this stage that children have to resolve the Oedipus and Electra
complexes. A latency period follows the end of the phallic stage, during which
children become less concerned with their bodies and turn their attention to
the skills needed for coping with the environment. The last stage, the genital
stage, occurs during adolescence, where young people begin to turn their sexual
interests toward others.


Freud felt when the needs of each stage are not fulfilled, then
person’s mind is stuck at that stage, he called it “fixation”, thus the person unconsciously
develops lasting effect on their personality. Example, a person who did not
have enough sucking pleasure might become fixated at the oral stage and as an
adult, this person may be excessively dependent on others and may have eating,
drinking and smoking obsession; The person fixated at the anal stage of
psychosexual development may be abnormally concerned with cleanliness,
orderliness, and saving; The person fixated at the phallic stage may have
derivative of transgender or effeminate as an adult.

Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis changed the view of society;
in regards of treating the mental illness. Before the invention of psychoanalysis,
mental illness was considered disease of a brain. Since the study of
psychoanalysis doctors started treating mental illness as psychological causes
instead of physical causes. In the field of psychology researchers had started searching
for inner psychic conflicts and early childhood traumas. According to Freud, he
himself had an Oedipal crisis, “child’s feelings of desire for his or
her opposite-sex parent and jealousy and anger toward his or her same-sex
parent,” and everyone could possibly mentally ill. Psychoanalysis has had an
enormous impact on the practice of psychiatry, particularly within the United
States. But then again, today the theory is observed by many medical and academical
professionals arguing that theory is almost entirely incorrect in its origin of
the mind. This judgment is based on the crucial test of psychoanalysis: whether
it really helps patients with behavioral or psychological problems. The
consensus is that is does not. Psychoanalysis in its many varieties appears to
have little or no efficacy in treating mental illness.

Besides all the controversy, Freudian Theory is important?
In a field of psychology people still speak of him as a great figure in Western
thought. There are main two reasons, at first Freudian theory is purely
practical; historically mental illness affects a large part of the population,
either they are suffering from it or they are connected because of their loved
once. Thus, any curative theory may have had accepted widely as Freud’s. The
second, most important, reason is the Freud forced people to think differently about
their behavior, “why they acted the way they did”. He created a whole new way
of understanding the behavior: after his study, one can justify their actions,
by claiming their motives, desires, and beliefs were buried in the unconscious
mind; which they knew nothing about, but then those thoughts nevertheless
directly controlled and motivated their conscious behavior.