Comparison of George Herbert Mead and Sigmund Freud

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Abstract

Self is one’s awareness of ideas and attitudes about one’s own personal and social identity. Identity is shaped at a young age from interpreting concepts about one’s own self from others (Mead, 1934). The present study will compare Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality the (id, ego, and, superego) to George Herbert Mead’s social self-theory the (“I” and “me”). The study will give an overview of both theorist and discuss each approach in relationship to each other, and defining the key concepts. According to Schultz and Schultz, (2008) the id is defined as the source of psychic energy and the aspect of personality allied with the instincts. The ego is defined as the rational aspect of personality responsible for controlling the instincts. Lastly, the third part of Freud’s structure of personality the superego, which is defined as the moral aspect of personality derived from internalizing parental and societal values and standards. The “I” is defined as the self that results from the progressive stages of role-taking and is the perspective self that is un-socialized and spontaneous. The “me” is defined as the self that results from the progressive stages of role-taking and is the perspective that we assume to view and analyze our own behaviors. Considering both theoretical prospectives, this study is going to examine and apply both theories as it relates to deviant behavior and homosexuality. The present study is going to analyze deviant behaviors and homosexuality according to the views of both Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality and George Herbert Mead’s social self-theory.

Keywords: homosexuality, deviance, George Herbert Mead, Sigmund Freud, id, ego, superego, “I’, “me”.

The Work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor, Czech Republic). At a young age Freud moved to Vienne and there he remained for nearly 80 years. As a boy, Freud felt both fear and love toward his father. Freud’s mother was protective and loving toward Freud. The fear of his father and a sexual attraction to his mother is what Freud later called the Oedipus complex (named after the mythical Greek character Oedipus the King, who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother). Much of Freud’s theory is autobiographical deriving from his childhood experiences and recollections. Being exposed to Darwin’s theory of evolution he became interested in the scientific approach to knowledge. He decided to study medicine. He was not interested in being a practicing physician but felt a medical degree would lead to a career in scientific research. In 1873 Sigmund Freud began his study at the University of Vienna. Freud received his M.D in 1881 and established a practice as a clinical neurologist (Schultz and Schultz, 2008).

Sigmund Freud’s main emphasis was on the unconscious and the repressed elements of the mind (Riviere, 1962). Freud looked at unconscious motivating forces, conflicts among those forces, and the effects of the conflicts on behavior based as a system of personality. Freud believed instincts are the motivating forces of the personality, the biological forces that release mental energy. Although “instinct” has become the accepted usage in English it does not convey Freud’s intention. The German equivalent, Instinkt refers to human personality, only when describing innate drives in animals. Freud’s term for human motivating forces was Trieb, which translates as to impulse or driving force (Bettelheim, 1992). Instincts were grouped into two general categories: the life instincts and the death instinct. Life instincts include hunger, thirst, and sex. The death instinct is a destructive force that can be directed inward as suicide, or outward as in hatred and aggression (Bettelheim, 1992).

Sigmund Freud looked at levels of personality. Freud suggested mental life consisted of two parts: conscious and...
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