B. Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalysis about Personality Structure
The most influential single individual, in terms of influence upon society’s conception of the nature of man, was Sigmund Freud. Freud’s major contributions came
during the last decade of the nineteenth century, and certain elaborations upon his earlier ideas were made into the 1920s and the 1930s.
Freud is the first to suggest the now widely concept that human mind and personality are like an iceberg, with only a small
part visible and the great bulk submerged and concealed.
One of Freud’s most influential ideas concerned so central to the study of psychology is his concept of the
unconscious mind, composed in part of repressed motives and thought. Dealing with the unconsciousness of mind, Freud brought out the theory of
Psychoanalysis. It was a reasonably deterministic approach to explaining personality and behavior of an individual.
In this theory, Sigmund Freud saw personality as developing out of conflicts between the three basic structures of personality: id, ego and superego.
Each of them serves a different function and develops at a different time. Although each of them has different function, feature, principle, mechanism and dynamism, but they
interact one to another. So, it is difficult to separate their influences and their contribution in human behavior. Behaviors or actions of an individual are produced by the interaction
of these three systems.
Walter M. Vernon, Introductory Psychology Chicago: Rand Mcnally College Publishing Company, 1974 p. 403
Jerome Kagan, Ernest Havement, Psychology: An Introduction 2
edition USA: Harcourt brace
Javanovich, Inc, 1968 p. 405
Walter M. Vernon, op.cit, p. 403
Id is the most primitive part of the personality, present in the newborn infant, from which the ego and superego later develop. Id consists of the basic biological
impulses; the needs to eat, drink, eliminate wastes, avoid pain and gain many pleasures. The id operates on the pleasure principle; it endeavors to avoid pain and obtain pleasure
regardless of the external circumstances.
The id is the core of consciousness in human’s mind. It includes the instinctual drives, sex and aggression. The id seeks to gratify its desires immediately and to reduce
uncomfortable physical tensions. In attempting to satisfy these needs, the id acts without considering external circumstances, whether these needs can or should be satisfied at the
moment. To accomplish its aim of avoiding pain and obtaining pleasure, the id has its
command two processes. These are reflex actions and the primary process.
Reflex actions are inborn and automatic reactions like sneezing and blinking: they usually reduce
tension immediately. The organism is equipped with a number of such reflexes for dealing with relatively simple forms of excitation. The primary process involves a
somewhat more complicated psychological reaction. It attempts to discharge tension by forming an image of an object that will remove the tension. For example, the primary
process provides the hungry person with a mental picture of food. This hallucinatory experience in which the desired object is present in the form of a memory image is called
wish-fulfillment. The best example of primary process in normal people is the nocturnal dream, which Freud believed always represents the fulfillment or attempted of a wish.
The hallucinations and visions of psychotic patients are also examples of the primary
Rita L. Atkinson, et. al, Introduction to Psychology New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publisher, 1981 p. 395
Calvin S. Hall, op. cit. p. 36
process. Wishful thinking is highly colored by the action of the primary process. These wish-fulfilling mental images are the only reality that id knows.
Obviously, the primary process by itself is not capable of reducing tension. The hungry person cannot eat mental images of food. Consequently, a new or the secondary
psychological processes develops. When this occurs, the structure of the second system of the personality, the ego, begins to take form.
According to Freud, there are two broad types of drives or instinct in the id. The first type is Eros, the constructive life instinct responsible for survival, self-propagation,
In Eros are included the need for food, warmth and sex. Freud used the term sex broadly to cover a wide range of life-giving and life-sustaining activities from
genital intercourse to artistic creation. The energy of Eros is generated by what Freud called as the libido.
The second type of instinct is Thanatos, or the death instinct, is opposed to Eros.
This instinctive attraction to death gives rise in each individual to aggressive tendencies directed at the self. However, since self-destruction is opposed by the life-preserving
energy of libido, aggression against the self usually is redirected outward against the world, motivating human being to compete, to conquer, and to kill. Aggression can take
many forms; angry attacks, verbal insults and even self punishment. However, punishment comes about, some children and some adults develop strong tendencies to
injure themselves or others. The extreme forms have been given name sadism for the extreme motives to pain others. In the id, those instincts operate irrationally; impulses
Darley, et. al, Psychology 3
edition New Jersey: Prentice Hall inc, 1986 p. 491
Ibid, p. 492
push for expression and gratification “no matter what”, without considering whether what is desired is realistically possible.