Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis theory

According to research done by Freud, our activities, particularly those which we instinctively repeat, are all related to the pleasure principle. Whether negative or painful, the need for, and the eventual occurrence of a pleasurable emotion or situation are the source of the activities we take.

In a nutshell, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality maintains that human behavior is basically an outcome of the relations between three element parts of the mind, namely: the id, ego, and superego (Boundless, 2016). This theory, famously known as Freud’s structural theory of personality, stresses great focus on the role of unconscious psychological conflicts towards determining the behavior and personality of a person (Boundless, 2016). However, during the past century, Freud’s thoughts have been met with criticism, to some extent mainly because Freud’s singular concentration on sexuality as the key driver of human personality growth.

According to his writings, Freud postulates that the personality of an individual develops from the interactions between what Freud proposed to be the three essential structures of the human mind, that is, the id, ego, and superego (McLeod, 2013). Conflicts among the three structures of the human mind, and our struggle to find a balance between what each of the structures desires basically governs how we behave and approach the world around us each day.



Conflicts within the mind










The Psyche

The id

This is the most primitive of the three structures. The id is associated with immediate satisfaction of simple physical needs and desires. This part functions completely unconsciously, that is, outside the conscious mind (Boeree, 2006).

The superego

This part is concerned with the social rules and morals comparable to what a lot of people call their conscience or moral compass. The superego progresses as a kid learns what his or her culture agrees is right and wrong (Boeree, 2006).




The Ego

In contrast to the visceral id and the moral superego, the ego is considered to be the rational, practical part of a human personality. This part is less primitive than the id and is partially conscious and partially unconscious (Boeree, 2006). Essentially, it is what Freud stated as the “self,” and its function is to balance the demands of the id and superego in the real setting of reality.

Defense Mechanisms

  1. Repression

This is an unconscious mechanism initiated by the ego to keep distracting or intimidating opinions from becoming conscious (Thompson, 2009).

  1. Denial

This involves the act of hindering outside events from consciousness. If an occurrence is too much for an individual to handle, the individual completely declines to experience it (Thompson, 2009). For instance, a smoker might refuse to admit that smoking is harmful to his or her health.

  1. Projection

This is associated with a situation where an individual attributes his or her own unwanted views, feelings and intentions to another person (Thompson, 2009). For instance, you might love someone, but your superego tells you that such love is undesirable.

  1. Displacement

This involves satisfying a drive, for instance, anger with a substitute object. An employee who is frustrated by his or her colleague at work may go home and kick the cat.

  1. Regression

This is a movement from the psychological past when a person is faced with stress. Here a child might start to suck his or her finger again or even wet their bed when they need to be admitted at the hospital.

  1. Sublimation

This is the act of satisfying an instinct with an alternative object. However, in an acceptable social way.


Boundless (2016), Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from

Thompson, T. (2009), Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from

McLeod, S. (2013), Sigmund Freud. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from

Boeree, G.C (2006), Personality theories. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from



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