Identity of Humans

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Developmental psychology, Psychosexual development Pages: 6 (1985 words) Published: June 4, 2002
What is a human being? A human being is a combination of the biological makeup of the individual and the state of being. The state of being can be characterized by the individual's state of consciousness, and an individual's state of consciousness is characterized by his or her identity. In the most general sense, identity refers to one's answer to the question, who am I? 1 To fully understand and grasp the concepts and ideas related to identity, two different psychological perspectives will be explored, as well as three theorists including Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers. Freud - Psychic Structures

Sigmund Freud explored identity through the psychodynamic theory of Psychosexual Development. According to psychodynamic theory, the human personality is characterized by a dynamic struggle as basic physiological drives come into conflict with laws and social codes.2 Freud then categorized human personality into elements, or psychic structures. Freud hypothesized the existence of three psychic structures: the ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO. 3 The ID is present at birth, represents physiological drives, and is unconscious. The ID follows the pleasure principle, which demands instant gratification of instincts without consideration for the law, social norms, or the needs of others. The EGO begins to develop during the first year of life when the child learns that his or her demands for instant gratification cannot always be met immediately. The EGO stands for reason, good sense, and for rational ways of coping with frustration. The EGO is guided through the reality principle, which takes into consideration what is practical and possible in gratifying needs. According to Freud, it is the EGO, which provides the conscious sense of self. The SUPEREGO is the third and final psychic structure, which develops throughout early childhood. The SUPEREGO incorporates moral standards and values into the individual though the moral principle, which sets moral standards and enforces adherence to them. The SUPEREGO monitors the actions of the EGO and judges them right or wrong. If the SUPEREGO judges an action as ‘wrong' then the SUPEREGO floods the EGO with feelings of guilt and shame.4 Freud - Psychosexual Stages of Development

Freud theorized the Psychosexual Stages of Development, which is the process by which libido energy is expressed through different erogenous zones during different stages of development.5 Freud hypothesized five periods of psychosexual development: oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. Freud believed that children would encounter conflicts during each stage of development, and possibly become fixated on a previous stage of development. A fixation occurs when the individual is gratified insufficiently or excessively and exhibits characteristics of that stage.6 The first period of development is the oral stage where gratification is attainted primarily through oral activities. Oral traits include dependency, gullibility, and optimism or pessimism. Adults fixated in the oral stage experience exaggerated desires for "oral activities" such as smoking, overeating, alcohol abuse, and nail biting. During the anal stage, gratification is attained through contraction and relaxation of the muscles that control elimination of waste products. In this stage, the child learns to delay the gratification of eliminating wastes as soon as they feel ‘the urge'. Here, the general issue surrounds self-control. Anal fixations branch into two sets: anal-retentive and anal-expulsive. Anal-retentive traits include excessive self-control, perfectionism, a strong need for order, and exaggerated neatness and cleanliness. While anal-expulsive traits include carelessness and messiness. Children enter the phallic stage during the third year of life. In this stage, the major erogenous zone is the phallic region. Here, parent-child conflict is likely to develop as the child develops...

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Erikson, Erik H. Identity: Youth & Crisis. New York: Norton and Co., 1968
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