Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Personality is that makes the individual separate from each other. There are many theories to explain the personality. One of them is Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development. We are already discussed Five Factor Model of Personality Development.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Psychoanalytic theory of personality development was developed by Sigmund Freud. According to him, the basic factor that drives one’s personality is the structure of human mind. Another name of this theory is Freud’s structural theory of personality.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory says that the development of personality occurs through these three stages: is, ego and superego. So, one’s personality is the result of the interactions among these three component parts of mind.

Personality Structure

According to Freud, an adult personality is determined by three stages or structures of mind namely Id, Ego and Superego. He argues that the combination or interactions between these three stages determine or shapes adult’s personality. These three parts of personality are normally called as tripartite personality.


Id refers to the needs and demands which are irrational in nature. That means the demands and pleasure required to satisfy their basic biological and physiological needs. It doesn’t have any relation with reality of the situation. This stage is completely unconscious and wants to fulfill pleasure.


Ego helps in fulfillment of Id with consideration of rational part or reality. It considered the reality of the situation. That means this stage try to compromise with the needs and real situations. It balances between id and superego with reality.


It is that stage where moral constraints comes into play. This stage determines the moral side of doing something, says “it is not right to do so”. It develops in a child from his culture, family, religion, society, etc. This stage is partly conscious and partly unconscious.

Psychosexual Stages

According to Freud, five stages can use to represent psychosexual development of a person. One will develop personality trait based on specific stage and its focus. The five stages of psychosexual development are oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage and genital stage.

Oral Stage: It is in between birth to eighteen months of age. Mouth is the pleasure-seeking focus during this period. If it is not met during the period, fixation in this stage will occur. This can lead to habits like thumb-sucking, smoking, over-eating, etc. Development of some traits like optimism, pessimism, independence, etc. are also have link to oral fixation.

Anal Stage: Age in between eighteen months to three years. Pleasure seeking centers are bowels and bladders. Traits like neatness, preciseness, disorganized, destructive, messy are having link to this stage.

Phallic Stage: Age from three years to six years. Pleasure seeking focus is on the genitals. Traits like self-esteem are developed during this stage.

Latency Stage: Age from six years to eleven years. There is no pleasure-seeking region of the body. During this period children are developing social skills, family interaction, peer interaction etc.

Genital Stage: Starts at age of eleven and ends when one reaches adulthood at the age of eighteen. During this age there is strong interest from one person to another of the opposite sex.

Criticism of Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development

Even though Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development have many advantages, it also has some criticism.

Freud has developed his theory on the basis of sexuality as the main driver of human personality development. Another criticism is that this theory is based a narrow approach of structures of human mind as the only factor of personality development. Some also says that Freud’s theory is patriarchal, anti-feminist, and misogynistic (anti-women). Many other questions the scientific basis of this theory. There is no empirical for this theory.

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