The Tri-Partite Mind
Theory of Psychosexual Development
In this essay I will be examining Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development. In order to understand fully I will begin by exploring his theories regarding the tri-partite structure of the human mind. I will be looking at the functions of the Id, Ego and Super-Ego and also those Ego Defence mechanisms that Freud describes as essential to human growth and survival. Once I have demonstrated comprehensive understanding, I will then examine his Theory of Psychosexual Development. In this part of the essay I will be exploring how his ideas relate to an understanding of neurotic behaviour in adults. Following on from this I will examine the advantages and disadvantages of Freud’s theory which will be discussed in my final evaluation.
The Tri-Partite Mind
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) the” Father of Psychoanalysis” was a Neurologist, Medical Doctor, Psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century. He is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind, repression and his concept of the dynamic unconscious. He stipulated that it is the unconscious mind that determines human behaviour. He also believed that the sexual drive was the dominant motivation of human life. Freud developed the theory that the human mind operates as a complex energy-system. He explains; The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied. Trilling. L The Liberal Imagination (1979)
This was a radical departure from contemporary beliefs and his new concept became a therapeutic frame of reference for the understanding of human psychological development. It became the foundation for understanding and treating abnormal mental conditions. Freud was fascinated by the unconscious mind saying; “Properly speaking, the unconscious is the real psychic; its inner nature is just as unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is just as imperfectly reported to us through the data of consciousness as is the external world through the indications of our sensory organs.” Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
Freud distinguished three structural elements within the mind, which he called Id, Ego, and Super-Ego. He believed that the human mind has both conscious and unconscious areas and in this sense the mind can be viewed as a dynamic energy-system. He saw the unconscious mind as being the source of mental energy which determined behaviour. He based these findings on the results of his use of hypnosis where he found that he was able to produce and remove symptoms of hysteria. In his theory he proposed that the unconscious part of the mind is dominated by what he referred to as the “Id”. The Id contains the instinctual sexual drives which require satisfaction. This is a primitive part of the personality and as such is not concerned with social rules. It seeks only pleasure and self-gratification. Its function is to meet the most basic needs, without thought for others. The Ego inhabits the conscious mind. The conscious mind relates to the outside world and is used to govern and maintain reality. With reality comes responsibility and therefore the Ego monitors cause and effect. In this way consequences of actions are realised and evaluated. This means that the Ego is a conscious self and is largely created by the dynamic tensions and interactions between the Id and the Super-ego, which is the third part of the mind. The Ego performs the task of reconciling the conflicting demands with the requirements of external reality. Freud describes this; It is easy to see that the ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world. Freud. The Ego and the Id (1923)
The third part of the mind is the Super-Ego. This...
References: • Freud. S The interpretation of Dreams (1900) (Translation A.A Brill 1913) New York; Macmillan
• Freud. S The Ego and the Id (1923) The Hogarth Press Ltd. London, 1949.
• Trilling.L The Liberal Imagination. Essays on Literature and Society (1979) Re-print of 1950 ed. New York; Harcourt
• Jung, C. G. (1955–56). The Conjunction, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Collected Works, XIV, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
• Angier.Natalie Women: An Intimate Geography (1999) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
• Fromm E Escape from Freedom, (1994) Henry Holt & Company Inc; Owl Book ed
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