Freud’s’ theory of development based on the psychosexual stages proposes that adult behaviour is a direct consequence of how well individuals get through the stage sequence. The stages follow a child’s development when an erogenous zone becomes their focus in accordance with their age and these include the mouth (breast feeding), anus (potty training), genitalia (recognition of different sexes) and the phallic (genitalia) stage where the Oedipus/Electra complex results in a child identifying with the same sex parent.
Freud theorised that in order to have a normal personality as an adult the stages must be satisfactorily passed without fixation by overindulgence or frustration as this would result in undesirable characteristics such as vanity. For example if a man appears too uptight and stingy this could be a result of anal retention because he gains pleasure from controlling as and when he goes to the toilet. Freud believed that the id, ego and super-ego are parts of our psyche that develop during the psychosexual stages and are an ever changing dynamic that interact to influence our behaviours.
The id is our innate unconscious that thrives on the “pleasure principle” without societal restraints; it wants to be satisfied right now regardless of the consequences. The ego develops between the ages of 2-3 during the anal stage and is part of both the conscious and unconscious because it represents the reality of obtaining the ids demands in a less selfish manner by playing the mediator role and the superego consists of a conscious that makes us feel guilt and remorse if we do something wrong and an ego-ideal that strives for perfection it is in absolute opposition of the ids demands.
Ego defence mechanisms are unconscious or conscious attempts to protect the mind from extreme anxiety so that when traumatising events occur we push them into a compartment within our unconscious and do not have to outwardly deal with them.
Ego defence mechanisms include sublimation which involves diverting emotions into something not someone else for example losing your job and then putting all your time into running and exercising, another example is regression which is to basically revert to childish tactics when confronted with an overwhelming situations for example not being allowed to go out because your grounded so you sit in front of your parents pouting and sulking.
Freud’s psychosexual fixation proposes that personality is set by the age of 5 and the experiences we go through are just results of our childhood libido, this idea only explains behaviour after the fact and does not allow any environmental changes or methods of upbringing to change the course one might take.
It could be said that Freud’s tripartite psyche theory suggests normal personality is not to want superiority or success because the ego is so centred and only if you have too much super ego or id can you achieve any goals, this is impossible to substantiate because the unconscious cannot be seen, however the ego defence mechanisms correlate so well with actions that we might take when stressed and anxious but we do not know which mechanism is being portrayed because it cannot be objectively tested.
For example Ann might be in a supermarket having an argument with another customer who “deliberately” took the last carton of milk, Freud would explain this as the id being in control as a result of oral aggression due to frustration and her display of anti-social behaviour indicates projection…….. Alternatively Ann’s behaviour could be explained better using a behaviourist approach.