Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development

The mechanisms of personality development have always been of interest to psychology theorists, which gave rise to a number of personality theories. In the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud presented his psychodynamic theory of personality organization, thus introducing a set of controversial but revolutionary ideas, including the great role of innate aggressiveness and hidden desires in personality development. Later, Carl Jung, one of Freud’s prominent followers, proposed analytical psychology to introduce new concepts related to the unconscious mind and reconsider the role of sexuality and past events in development.

One of the main similarities between the mentioned approaches relates to the idea of the opposing forces that interact to contribute to personality development. According to the psychodynamic approach, the development of personality is catalyzed by an individual’s efforts to strike the right balance between innate and poorly controllable drives (the id) and a self-critical conscience (the superego) (Spielman, 2017). Similarly to it, Jung’s theory stresses the opposition between the conscious and rational ego and the two dimensions of the unconscious (Spielman, 2017). Considering the ideas of the two distinct and even conflicting forces, both approaches in question shed light on the great role of learning how to compromise between the desires and rational decisions in personality development.

Although the perspectives in question are similar in the willingness to single out the parts of the human psyche, Freud and Jung disagree on the structure of the unconscious. Freud sees the id as a monolithic agent that is present in any individual from birth and is comprised of the various instinctual desires that require immediate fulfillment (Spielman, 2017). In his neo-Freudian theory, Jung further develops Freud’s idea of the id by distinguishing between the two types of the unconscious – the personal and the collective unconscious (Cashford, 2018). In Jung’s understanding, it is not accurate to think that the individual’s unconscious mind is shaped only by his or her personal experiences. Instead, he insists on the existence of inheritable ancestral memories that affect the psychological development of any person (Spielman, 2017). According to Jung, the collective unconscious is comprised of the universal dynamic forms and images that find reflection in totally different cultures (Cashford, 2018). Therefore, in Jung’s view, the subconscious is not fully specific to the person and is more complicated than a set of chaotic egoistic desires.

Another prominent difference between the psychodynamic approach and Jung’s analytical psychology is the degree to which sexual desires and events of the past shape personality development. As Freud believes, the development of personality takes place in early childhood and involves five stages, each of which has to deal with specific erogenous zones and related conflicts (Spielman, 2017). Similarly to other neo-Freudian theorists, Jung is critical towards the idea that sexual drive is central to psychological development and runs through it (Cashford, 2018). Next, Freud’s theory is centered on the assumption that the individual’s personality is shaped by past events, whereas Jung’s concepts of self-realization and the eternal archetypes place this view into question (Cashford, 2018; Spielman, 2017). Thus, the approaches being analyzed vary in terms of the suggested sources of behaviors and personality characteristics.

To sum up, the similarities between the perspectives refer to attempts to structure the psyche and single out its conflicting elements. However, it is more typical for neo-Freudians to prioritize culture and the universal experiences of humanity rather than sexual desire when discussing the motivators of psychological development. In particular, Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious encourages taking a new look at the role of people’s common issues in personality development.


  1. Cashford, J. (2018). ‘Who is my Jung?’ The progressive, though sometimes ambivalent, expansion of Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious: From an ‘unconscious humanity’ to – in all but name – the soul of the world. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 63(3), 322-335.
  2. Spielman, R. M. (2017). Psychology. Rice University.

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"Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development." PsychologyWriting, 10 Aug. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development'. 10 August.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development." August 10, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development." August 10, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Psychodynamic and Neo-Freudian Approaches to Personality Development." August 10, 2023.