Theories of personality are truly amazing as each theorist speculates from his or her own point of view. All theories are a reflection of their author’s personal background, childhood experiences, interpersonal relationships, philosophy of life and the way they look at the world (feist & feist, 2009). In the following document strengths and limitations will be discussed in relation to underlying assumptions, deterministic versus free will, and awareness of self through conscious and unconscious motives for behavior.
The psychoanalytic theory presented by Sigmund Freud paved the way for future psychoanalysts to add their own theories. According to McLeod (2007) ...view middle of the document...
His primary concern was with understanding patients and helping them develop foresight, improve interpersonal relations, and restore their ability to operate mostly on a syntaxic level. The study of interpersonal relations most greatly affects knowledge of human personality. Sullivan’s theory also emphasizes the importance of various developmental stages and how personality develops in a social context. Freud used three levels of consciousness first the unconscious holds thoughts, memories and feelings that may cause anxiety causing unconscious influence on behavior and emotions.
The thoughts and feelings that we are aware of our consciousness and the preconscious area that stores memories that have no impact on our personalities. Freud established three provinces of the mind. The Id is pleasure seeking without guilt identity, chaotic in nature and not in tune with reality. Ego is like the babysitter for the id. The ego keeps the id in check and operates on reality principles. The ego also initiates repression and other defense mechanisms when our aggressive or sexual urges are being punished. The super-ego designed to uphold moral and idealistic principals. The super-ego would be the authoritative figure as the ego is the babysitter to id. Sullivan’s theory was formed from interpersonal relations, rates high on social influences and low on biological ones and high on unconscious determinants.
According to revision (2001) the debate surrounding free will and determinism is one that has occupied psychologists and philosophers for centuries. Freud believed strongly in determinism. According to Freud, trivial phenomenons such as calling someone by someone else’s name are due to definite causes in the person’s motivational system. Freudian slips are involuntary but motivated errors that reveal a person’s true desires. The psychodynamic approach believes that internal systems such as defense mechanisms determine the way people behave as adults. The biological approach believes that behavior is determined by a person’s genes and internal systems. In contrast the humanistic approach believes that individuals have free will. The psychodynamic approach, mainly deterministic believed that there is a potential for free will. Freud stated that psychoanalysis is based on the belief that people can change their behavior. However there are two main problems with this approach; firstly what is meant by free will? According to determinism everything has a definite cause then is free will random?
According to Mitchell (1984) Sullivan’s system is as determinist as Freud’s; in fact he goes out of his way at several points to deride the concept of will and to emphasize his belief in the causal determinism of mental phenomena. In Sullivan’s view all behavior is the sum of various motives impinging on the person at any particular moment. The sense of choosing is a reflection in awareness of the various motives pertaining to needs for satisfaction and...