From working with mental patients as a medical doctor, Sigmund Freud was able to develop his personality structures and psychoanalytic theory. Freud believed that most of the personality is obscured from us. He also believed that the personality was divided into three structures: the id, the ego, and the superego. According to Freud’s theory, the id is the source of instinctual power and wants immediate satisfaction. The id is completely unconscious, chaotic, and illogical. Because the id is completely unconscious, we can only study the id through the study of dreams. The ego develops from demands and constraints of reality. The ego is the conscious mind which controls behavior and motor functions. The ego makes all the rational decisions and controls the id and satisfies the superego. The id and the ego are unable to differentiate between wrong and right. The superego is the moral self which restrains the ego and the id. The superego is made up of the conscience and the ego ideal. The conscience compels one to do what is right. The ego ideal is a manifestation of our ambitions.
Defense mechanisms cause the conflict and tension in an adolescents’ life to be buried in the unconscious mind according to Freud. These defense mechanisms protect us from the conflict and tension between the id, the ego, and the superego. One of these defense mechanisms is known as repression. Freud believed that many of the sexual tensions in the lives of adolescences are repressed during one of the stages of life. Freud believed that his patients’ problems were rooted in their early life experiences. In order to identify where the early life experiences occurred and in which part of the body more pleasurable experiences occurred, Freud developed five stages of psychosexual development.
First was the oral stage, which occurs between birth and 1 years of age. During this time, an infant seeks pleasures of the mouth, such as chewing, sucking, and biting; therefore, tension is reduced.
Next is the anal stage. It occurs between 1 years of age and 3 years of age. During the anal stage, a child will seek pleasure involving the anus by holding or releasing waste. The movement of the anal muscles gives the child pleasure and reduces tension.
The third stage is the phallic stage. It occurs between 3 and 6 years of age. During this period, children derive pleasure from the genitals where self-manipulation relieves tension. Freud believed during this stage is where the Oedipus complex occurs. The Oedipus complex is when boy envies his father and wants to win the affection of his mother. The opposite is called the Electra complex; this is where a girl envies her mother and wants to win the affection of her father. Freud goes so far as to say that the Electra complex arises from penis envy; a girl wants to be like a boy and have a penis. The Oedipus complex is resolved when the child finally realizes that he or she may be punished for his or her incestuous desires; therefore, the child begins to identify himself or herself with the parent of the same-sex and strives to be like him or her. Freud believed failure to resolve the Oedipus complex would result in the child becoming fixated in the phallic stage.
The forth stage is known as the latency stage. The latency stage occurs between 6 years of age and puberty. During this period, the child’s sexual desires are repressed and forgotten. Since all the child’s energy is directed toward emotionally safe areas, the child forgets how stressful the phallic stage was. During this period, the child becomes more concerned with social and intellectual pursuits.
The last stage is the genital stage. It begins in puberty and causes a sexual reawakening. The child seeks sexual pleasure outside of the family. Any unresolved conflicts with the parents reemerge during this period, and if not resolved, the child will be incapable of developing a mature relationship as well as becoming an independent adult.