Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, developed several models to explain human personality throughout his literary career.
In this article we will analyze Freud’s 5 theories of personality: Topography, dynamics, economy, genetics and structure.
Sigmund Freud’s 5 personality theories
Although there are certain contradictions between the personality models created by Freud in general they can be designed as complementary theories or as updates and developments in various fundamental concepts, for example drivers or defense mechanisms. Let’s see what each of these theories consists of.
1. Topographic model
Freud developed the topographic model during the first stage of his career. It was originally described in one of his main works: “The Interpretation of Dreams”, published in 1900. This theory of personality is also known as the “first subject”.
The topographic model it divides the mind into three “regions”: the unconscious, the preconscious and the conscious. In each of these places, which must be understood symbolically, we would find different contents and psychological processes.
The subconscious is the deepest level of the mind. There are hidden thoughts, impulses, memories and fantasies that are very difficult to access from consciousness. This part of the mind is animated by the pleasure principle and the primary processes (condensation and displacement), and psychic energy circulates freely.
The preconscious mind acts as a point of union between the other two sections. It is made up of verbal fingerprints in verbal form; in this case, it is possible to know the content of consciousness through the center of attention.
Finally, consciousness is understood as a system having an intermediary role between the deepest regions of the psyche and the outside world. Cognition, motor skills and interaction with the environment depend on the conscious mind, which is governed by the reality principle instead of the hair of pleasure, just like the preconscious.
2. Dynamic model
The concept of “dynamics” refers to a conflict between two forces that occurs in the mind: impulses (“instinctive” forces), which seek satisfaction, and defenses, which seek to inhibit to the above. From the result of this interaction are born psychological processes, which involve a more or less satisfactory or adaptive resolution of the conflicts.
In this model, Freud conceives of psychopathological symptoms as engagement formations that allow partial satisfaction of impulses while causing discomfort, acting as a punishment against the behavior of the person. This way mental health would largely depend on the quality of defenses and self-sanctions.
3. Economic model
The fundamental concept of the economic model of personality is that of “drive”, which can be defined as an impulse that favors the person seeking a particular end. These impulses have a biological origin (specifically related to body tension) and their objective is to suppress unpleasant physiological states.
In this model, we find in fact three different theories, developed between 1914 and 1920 in the books “Introduction to narcissism” and “Beyond the pleasure principle”. At the outset, Freud distinguished between the sexual or reproductive drive, Which leads to the survival of the species, and to self-preservation, centered on that of the private individual.
Freud later added to this theory the distinction between object drives, directed towards external objects, and narcissistic drives, which focus on oneself. He finally proposed the dichotomy between the life drive, which would include the previous two, and the death drive, harshly criticized by many followers of this author.
4. Genetic model
The best-known Freudian theory of personality is the genetic model, in which the five phases of psychosexual development are described. According to this theory, human behavior is largely governed by seek satisfaction (or relieve tension) in relation to the erogenous zones of the body, the importance depends on the age.
During the first year of life, the oral phase takes place, in which the behavior focuses on the mouth; thus, babies tend to bite and suck on objects for research and pleasure. The second year, the main erogenous zone is the year, so young people at this age are very focused on excretion; this is why Freud speaks of the “anal phase”.
The next stage is the phallic phase, which occurs between ages 3 and 5; during this period the famous Oedipus and castration complexes take place. Between 6 years and puberty, libido is repressed and learning and cognitive development are privileged (latency phase); finally with adolescence comes the genital phase, which marks sexual maturity.
Psychopathology, more precisely neurosis, is understood as the result of the frustration of the satisfaction of the needs characteristic of these periods of development, or of the total or partial psychological fixation in one of them due to an excess of gratification at the critical stage.
5. Structural model
Freud’s theory of personality was proposed in 1923 in the book The Self and That. Like the genetic model, the structural model is particularly well known; in this case, the separation of the mind into three instances that develop throughout childhood: the This, the Self and the Superego. Conflicts between these would lead to psychopathological symptoms.
The most basic part of the mind is the This, made up of unconscious representations of impulses related to sexuality and aggression, as well as mnemonic imprints of the experiences of gratifying those impulses.
The Self is conceived as a development of the. This structure has a regulatory role in psychological life: it evaluates the ways of satisfying impulses taking into account the demands of the environment, it works with both unconscious and conscious contents, and it is in this part of the mind that the defense mechanisms are exercising. .
Finally, the Superego acts as a moral conscience, censoring certain mental contents, as a supervisor of other instances, and as a model of behavior (that is to say, it assumes a kind of “ideal I”). this structure it is formed through the internalization of social norms, In which the Oedipus complex plays an essential role.