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Learn about Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality and the different structures of our mind that contribute to our personality. By Shreena Desai. . Created by Shreena Desai.
Video transcript
All right. So let's dive into the first theory of personality, called the psychoanalytic theory. Now, you've probably heard of someone super famous in the psychology world named Sigmund Freud. So let's write his name down here, because it's very important for this theory. OK. So Sigmund Freud. Well, it so happens-- fun fact here-- that Freud was not even a psychologist. He was a physician, more specifically a neurologist. And in 1885, he went to Paris to study hypnosis with a fellow neurologist. But this experience is actually what turned him towards medical psychopathology. And psychiatry as we know it was actually unknown at the time Freud began his work. So there you have it. There's your history lesson for the day. OK. So let's go back and talk about the psychoanalytic theory. The psychoanalytic theory says that our childhood experiences and unconscious desires influence behavior. So this is a key word for this theory, "unconscious." So our personalities have memories, beliefs, urges, drives, and instincts that we are not always aware of and that make up this unconscious. And the major driving force behind Freud's instinctual theory is the concept of libido. And you may have heard of this in a different context, but we'll go over it in terms of this theory. So libido is natural energy source that fuels the mechanisms of the mind. And when this libidinal energy is stuck or fixated at various stages of psychosexual development-- there's another keyword. So when this fixation occurs at this psychosexual development and stages, conflicts can occur that have lifelong effects. So fixation at a particular stage is what predicts adult personality according to this theory. For example, someone fixated at the oral stage, which is actually the first stage in psychosexual development, might have oral personality characteristics like being overly talkative or having a smoking habit when they grow up. OK. So Freud breaks down those mental structures that I was talking about into three parts. And we can look at this by looking at an iceberg. So let's break this down into two parts first. The top of the iceberg, which is shown up here, above the surface of the water, is the conscious part of our mind. So this is everything we are aware of. And if that's the conscious, what do you think this bottom is? If you said unconscious, you are right. So it's the unconscious mind. And what do you notice? The unconscious is a lot larger than the conscious. You know that saying, it's only the tip of the iceberg that we see? Well, it's true. Most of our mind is hidden below the surface. OK. Let's go into the first structure of our mind. And that is the id. So the id is located down here in this compartment. And it's the unconscious part of our mind that makes up most of the mind. It's hidden below the surface. And it develops right after birth, and demands immediate gratification. Now, the second part of this structure is the ego. So the ego is right here in this compartment. And it's part of our conscious and our unconscious mind. OK. We'll see why that's the case in a little bit. But the ego is involved in our perceptions, thoughts, and judgments. And it seeks long-term gratification as opposed to the id's immediate gratification. In the third compartment, right over here, I'm going to try to fit it in, is the superego. Now, the superego develops around the age of four. And it's our moral compass or our conscience. Don't get that confused with conscious. Conscience, it's a little tongue-twister. OK. So let's go back to these psychosexual stages I was talking about. So our libidinal impulses, right here, are what want to be gratified. And when they are either over-gratified or not gratified at all or partially gratified, fixation occurs at a psychosexual stage, and we face either conflict or anxiety. Now, what I mean by "conflict" is not this whole battle or drama that plays out. But it's a conflict between these three mental structures of our mind, the ego, the superego, and the id. Because all of them are competing for demands, so they're in a conflict. Think of it like this. I'm going to draw out ourselves right here, like that. And there's the rest of us. You get the picture Well, this person has really big arms, but you get the idea. OK. So think of it like this. We have the id sitting on one shoulder over here. And this is us, looking-- we're in little bit of a conflict. OK. So the id is sitting on one shoulder here. And it's really, really upset, because it's demanding gratification and it isn't immediately getting it. Remember, I said it wants immediate gratification. But then, over here, you have the superego. And the superego is sitting on its high horse. And it's preaching to the id about what's moral. And then what about the ego? What happens to the ego? What role does that have? Well, it's going to be in the middle. Because the id wants gratification, and only gratification. And it's going back and forth with the superego. So the ego, right over here, is trying to gratify the id, but it also has to take into account what the superego is saying. The superego is moral oversight, which represents the values of society. Now, remember I said earlier that the ego is part of the conscious and the unconscious minds. So it basically acts as a mediator between the unconscious desires of the id and the moral demands of the superego. So have you ever heard of a Freudian slip? That's actually an example of a mental conflict. So for example, a financially stressed patient tells his doctor, oh, doctor, please don't give me any bills. Well, what he really meant to say was, please don't give me any pills. So this whole process that I went through of the ego, the superego, and the id becoming fixated in psychosexual development due to conflicts is all part of the psychoanalytic theory. And this process is part of personality development for all individuals. But it's especially problematic when there's a problem with gratification in a particular psychosexual stage.