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Freud was a one of a kind thinker. There can be little question that he was influenced by
earlier thinking regarding the human mind, especially the idea of there being activity
within the mind at a conscious and unconscious level yet his approach to these topics
was largely conceptual. His theoretical thoughts were as original as they were unique. It
is a testament to Freuds mind to know that whether you agree, disagree, or are
ambivalent about his theory, it remains as a theoretical cornerstone in his field of
Human Personality: The adult personality emerges as a composite of early childhood
experiences, based on how these experiences are consciously and unconsciously
processed within human developmental stages, and how these experiences shape the
Not every person completes the necessary tasks of every developmental stage. When
they dont, the results can be a mental condition requiring psychoanalysis to achieve
proper functioning.
Stages of Development
Believing that most human suffering is determined during childhood development,
Freud placed emphasis on the five stages of psychosexual development. As a child
passes through these stages unresolved conflicts between physical drives and social
expectation may arise.
These stages are:
Oral (0 1.5 years of age): Fixation on all things oral. If not satisfactorily met
there is the likelihood of developing negative oral habits or behaviors.

Anal (1.5 to 3 years of age): As indicated this stage is primarily related to

healthy toilet training habits.

Phallic (3 5 year of age): The development of healthy substitutes for the

sexual attraction boys and girls have toward a parent of the opposite gender.

Latency (5 12 years of age): The development of healthy dormant sexual

feelings for the opposite sex.

Genital (12 adulthood): All tasks from the previous four stages are integrated
into the mind allowing for the onset of healthy sexual feelings and behaviors.
It is during these stages of development that the experiences are filtered through the
three levels of the human mind. It is from these structures and the inherent conflicts that
arise in the mind that personality is shaped. According to Freud while there is an
interdependence among these three levels, each level also serves a purpose in
personality development. Within this theory the ability of a person to resolve internal
conflicts at specific stages of their development determines future coping and
functioning ability as a fully-mature adult.
Super ego
Each stage is processed through Freuds concept of the human mind as a three tier
system consisting of the superego, the ego, and the id. The super ego functions at a
conscious level. It serves as a type of screening center for what is going on. It is at this
level that society and parental guidance is weighed against personal pleasure and gain
as directed by ones id. Obviously, this puts in motion situations ripe for conflict.
Much like a judge in a trial, once experiences are processed through the superego and
the id they fall into the ego to mediate a satisfactory outcome. Originally, Freud used the
word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions
such as judgment, tolerance, reality testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of
information, intellectual functioning, and memory.
The egocentric center of the human universe, Freud believed that within this one level,
the id is constantly fighting to have our way in everything we undertake.

Defense Mechanisms


He called his form of therapy logotherapy, from the Greek word logos, which can
mean study, word, spirit, God, or meaning. It is this last sense Frankl focuses on,
although the other meanings are never far off. Comparing himself with those other
great Viennese psychiatrists, Freud and Adler, he suggested that Freud essentially
postulated a will to pleasure as the root of all human motivation, and Adler a will to
power. Logotherapy postulates a will to meaning.
Frankls concept is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an
individual is to find a meaning in life. The following list of tenets represents basic
principles of logotherapy:

Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.

Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.

We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at

least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

The existential vacuum

This striving after meaning can, of course, be frustrated, and this frustration can lead
to nogenic neurosis, what others might call spiritual or existential neurosis. People
today seem more than ever to be experiencing their lives as empty, meaningless,
purposeless, aimless, adrift, and so on, and seem to be responding to these
experiences with unusual behaviors that hurt themselves, others, society, or all three.
One of his favorite metaphors is the existential vacuum. If meaning is what we desire,
then meaninglessness is a hole, an emptiness, in our lives. Whenever you have a
vacuum, of course, things rush in to fill it. Frankl suggests that one of the most

conspicuous signs of existential vacuum in our society is boredom. He points out how
often people, when they finally have the time to do what they want, dont seem to want
to do anything! People go into a tailspin when they retire; students get drunk every
weekend; we submerge ourselves in passive entertainment every evening.


"Sunday neurosis," he calls it.

So we attempt to fill our existential vacuums with stuff that, because it provides some
satisfaction, we hope will provide ultimate satisfaction as well: We might try to fill our
lives with pleasure, eating beyond all necessity, having promiscuous sex, living the high
life; or we might seek power, especially the power represented by monetary success;
or we might fill our lives with busy-ness, conformity, conventionality; or we might fill the
vacuum with anger and hatred and spend our days attempting to destroy what we think
is hurting us. We might also fill our lives with certain neurotic vicious cycles, such as
obsession with germs and cleanliness, or fear-driven obsession with a phobic object.
The defining quality of these vicious cycles is that, whatever we do, it is never enough.

A similar idea is hyperintention. This is a matter of trying too hard, which itself
prevents you from succeeding at something. One of the most common examples is
insomnia: Many people, when they cant sleep, continue to try to fall asleep, using
every method in the book. Of course, trying to sleep itself prevents sleep, so the cycle
continues. Another example is the way so many of us today feel we must be
exceptional lovers: Men feel they must last as long as possible, and women feel
obliged to not only have orgasms, but to have multiple orgasms, and so on. Too much
concern in this regard, of course, leads to an inability to relax and enjoy oneself!

A third variation is hyperreflection. In this case it is a matter of thinking too hard.

Sometimes we expect something to happen, so it does, simply because its occurrence
is strongly tied to ones beliefs or attitudes - the self-fulfilling prophecy. Frankl mentions
a woman who had had bad sexual experiences in childhood but who had nevertheless

developed a strong and healthy personality.

When she became familiar with

psychological literature suggesting that such experiences should leave one with an
inability to enjoy sexual relations, she began having such problems!


1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from
3. Love and belongingness needs - friendship, intimacy, affection and love, - from
work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
4. Esteem needs - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige,
self-respect, respect from others.
Maslow posits esteem needs take two forms: (a) a need for strength,
achievement, mastery and competence; (b) a need for reputation, status,
recognition and appreciation. Fulfillment of these needs leads to a sense of selfconfidence, worth, and value to the world.
5. Cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for
meaning and predictability.
6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking
personal growth and peak experiences.

8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualization.