Personality in Psychoanalytic and Humanistic Theories

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Personality is such a complicated subject that it evades a simple definition. There is no defined criterion for determining personality. Critics of personality theories argue that a person’s behavior cannot be the basis of determining personality type.

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However, there are several valid efforts at defining personality theories. One of these attempts is the psychoanalysis theory that explains personality growth in three stages. These stages are the id ego and superego, and the id influences the ego and superego. There is also the humanistic theory that purports that human beings are inherently good and can determine their personality through free will. This paper will explain how my personality complex is modeled in both these theories and the answered question that still linger in mind.


The term personality has eluded a conclusive definition for a long time. This is because the psychologist cannot agree on what constitutes personality and what criteria should be used to determine personality. Numerous studies and research have been conducted throughout history to determine the criterion to determine human personality. Hofstee (2006) argues that the best way to determine a person’s personality is when other people observe commonly occurring behavioral traits. Self-determination of a personality is thus futile and does not yield valid results, as it is error-prone.

Cicchetti and Grove, (1991, p 12) counters this argument and explains that personality is not merely “in the eyes of the beholder and that personality types are not subjective construction about self.” This means that personality type cannot be identified by merely generalizing a person’s character traits. That when people merely agree on the characteristics of a person does not mean that those characteristics are inherent in that person. Despite this, continuous research and debate by psychologists have yielded a clearer understanding of the theories of personality and self-concept ( Wiggins, 1996). This however does not mean that personality and self-evaluation lack a workable definition. The purpose of this paper is to describe my personality using two of these personality threes.

One of the most common personality theories is the psychoanalytical approach proposed by Sigmund Freud. Freud proposes that personality is a result of a person’s childhood experiences that shape their current thinking, perception, and behavior.

The human personality is a result of the interaction of the “conscious and unconscious” human faculties (Boeree, 2009, n.pgn). The human consciousness is that forms a personality are based on memories of past experiences, dreams, and fantasies. There are also very many unconscious factors s are that influence human behavior without personal knowledge. Freud explains that personality has three levels of growth. These levels of growth are characterized by human needs and each preceding level of personality growth influences the succeeding level (Beystehner, 1998).

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Beystehner (1998) explains that Freud’s levels of growth start with the id. This level of need exists at birth. The id exhibits all characteristics an offspring adapted from a parent at birth. This personality characteristic is only concerned with the fulfillment of basic needs. The id is for the fulfillment of pleasurable needs such as hunger, need for sex, pain relief, among others. It also wants instant gratification and has no concern for external factors that may influence the gratification of that need.

The id is a characteristic of small children at birth but can influence behavior up to adulthood. Adults too have basic needs that need instant gratification regardless of circumstances (Psychology101, 2003). As a person, the urge to fulfill basic needs such as hunger, rest, and avoidance of displeasure is natural to me. These basic urges are sometimes powerful and can affect my daily life. For example, I have established meal times that are followed almost to the letter. There are at least two meals a day. Whenever a mealtime is missed there is a conscious feeling that I have a need that needs urgent attention and must be fulfilled regardless of the circumstances.

Psychology101 (2003) continues to explain that a human personality is not all about the id. Some realities may not guarantee the immediate satisfaction of the id. At this stage, a person seeks to satisfy the needs of the id but with the reality of life in mind. Even though I have urgent needs that push me to satisfy them I have to consider the realities of the moment and calculate the future implications of the satisfaction of these needs.

As a student, the id urges me to sleep an extra hour, miss classes, and not to read late into the night. The body does not want to go through the fatigue of studying. However, upon quick calculation, I have to read to achieve my academic goals. Therefore I wake up on time to attend lectures and make sure that I am through with my academic work and rest in time. I have to moderate the satisfaction of the id and working for my academic goals. Freud called this personality trait the ego (Beystehner, 1998).

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Boeree (2009) explains that Freud’s final stage of personality development is called the superego. This is the realization of the notion of right versus wrong and the need to satisfy the desires of the id alongside moral principles. The superego is a personality trait achievable from the age of 5 years and above and only present in a person considered to have healthy personalities. As I grow, I have developed my moral principles that direct how I satisfy my basic needs.

Sex is one of the basic needs that need urgent gratification. However, due to the existence of sexually transmitted diseases, I have to be very responsible. My community frowns upon irresponsible sexual behavior and thus the need is subordinated under societal morals.

Freud’s personality analysis provides credible information about my current personality. However, it does not holistically address my personality complex. Abraham Maslow developed humanistic psychology as a way of criticizing psychoanalysis. Humanist psychologists stipulate that as much as the unconscious nature forms our personality, the external environment also plays a major role in personality formation. Human beings are inherently moral but several natural obstacles may influence behavior. As a result of innate goodness and the external environment, human beings have developed free will (Maslow, 2009).

This means that my personality has also been influenced by the choices I make every day based on free will (Tate, 2009). I ensure that I make a conscious choice to moderate the satisfaction of the id and the consequences that arise. According to humanists, I can determine the direction my life will take by making good choices. Making good choices is only possible because of my inherent positive self-worth (AHP, n.d.).

Pursuing my degree and adapting to responsible sexual behavior are some of the good choices I have made (AHP, n.d.). These good choices that a person makes are intended to propel the individual towards personal growth, development, and “self-actualization” (Pescitelli, 1996). Pescitelli (1996) continues to explain that human needs are categorized into a hierarchy and have to be satisfied progressively, from basic life-supporting needs such as food, air, and water, to self-actualization, the final level of human needs.

As a college student with many friends and a great family, I have attained the firsts three hierarchy of needs. My personality is currently based on respect for morality, acceptance of factual knowledge, respect for people and their beliefs, building of self-esteem and confidence through the things that I do. There are external factors that influence a person’s behavior such as motivation from parents. This motivation helps me build a level of self-worth and propels me towards self-actualization (Pescitelli, 1996).


In conclusion, personality is such a complicated matter that it evades even the most basic definition. With this in mind, it is worth noting that all theories of personality hold some truth about human personality. Their only weakness is that they are not all-encompassing and each leaves out important aspects valuable to defining a personality. As explained in this paper my personality type has experienced tremendous growth. However, it is yet to reach full maturity.

My personality has been influenced by several factors. The id is influenced by selfish motives and personal gains. It is one of the most powerful urges in people and needs great will power to control. The superego utilizes my moral faculties in the fulfillment of basic needs. I am also a person of free will and possess the power to determine what to do. These choices are the propelling factors for personal growth.

These theories fail to explain one fundamental reality. Human behavior is erratic and fluctuates reportedly. At one time, a person can experience a sense of self-worth and at a different time, he/she can experience insecurity. There is a need therefore to examine the underlying factors behind this.

Reference List

AHP (n.d.). Humanistic psychology overview. Association for Humanistic Psychologists. Web.

Beystehner, K. (1998). Psychoanalysis: Freud’s revolutionary approach to human personality. Web.

Boeree, G. (2009). Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939: personality theories. Webspace. Web.

Cicchetti, D., & Grove W. (1991). Personality and psychopathology. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Marslow, A. (2009). Humanistic psychology. Abraham Maslow. Web.

Pescitelli, D. (1996). An analysis of Carl Rogers’ theory of personality. Pandc. Web.

Psychology101 (n.d.). Personality development. Allpsychonline. Web.

Tate, A. (2008). Humanistic personality theory & trait personality theory comparison. Associated content. Web.

Wiggins, J. (1996). The five-factor model personality. New York: Guilford press.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Personality in Psychoanalytic and Humanistic Theories." January 14, 2022.

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PsychologyWriting. "Personality in Psychoanalytic and Humanistic Theories." January 14, 2022.