Is Freud’s psychology important today?

Freud’s principium school of psychoanalytical theory offered humanity a coherent annotation detailing the intrinsic aspects of the human psyche and the developmental stages of personality. In order to ascertain the prevalence of his work today I will initially outline Freud’s key concepts and continue to analyse the respective strengths and weaknesses of Freudian theory before culminating my conclusion on their relevance to date. Freud introduced a three part personality structure consisting of the Id, Ego and Super-ego.

He postulated that at the core of each individual resided an innate and primary component which he identified as the Id. The Id, Primitive and instinctive by nature and operated purely on the basis of the pleasure principal, the Id consists of fantasies, dreams, images of immediate gratification and other creative products manifested on a unconscious level. Ignorant to reality and morality the Id solely strives for selfish satisfaction.

The Ego was said to operate on the reality principal and was bestowed with the responsibility of self- preservation. The Ego determines the appropriate action to take from the conflicting impulses and ideas from the Id and Super-ego and calculates how to achieve maximum pleasure with minimum negative consequences. The Super-ego is fuelled on the morality principal and distinguished by our internalised morals and ideals set by our family and society.

The Super-ego provides us with an inner conscience encouraging us to make correct judgements and behaviours. According to Freud we each transition through five psycho-sexual stages of development, Oral, anal, Phallic, latent and genital, with each stage representing a fixation of the libido. The first five years of life were said to be crucial to the formation of adult personality. Freud proposed that during the Phallic stage boys became sexually attracted to their mother and wished to replace their fathers.

He named this The Oedipal Complex. It is during this time the boy also develops fear of castration from his father as punishment for his feelings and instead begins to identify with him and represses the sexual feelings for his mother. During the Phallic stage, girls were said to become sexually attracted to their fathers, this has been termed The Electra Complex by contemporary psychoanalysts. However due to their lack of penis they do not fear castration but instead experience penis envy and never fully resolve The Electra Complex.

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