Comparing and Contrasting Psychoanalytic and Existential/Humanistic Perspectives Essay - 4349 Words

Comparing and Contrasting Psychoanalytic and Existential/Humanistic Perspectives

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis, Unconscious mind Pages: 11 (4349 words) Published: August 28, 2013
This essay is about comparing and contrasting two out of the eight personality theories commonly used to decipher one’s personality. Those two are the psychoanalytic perspective and the existential/humanistic perspective. Both perspectives are equally important as they play a major role in understanding personality in different ways and explaining them as well. Freud’s psychoanalysis helps us to understand the individual’s personality from its early years right up to adulthood while existential and humanistic theorists postulate the interpretation that personality changes throughout the lifetime. The contents of this essay include the comparing and contrasting between the structure, concepts, methods, theorists, and strengths of the psychoanalytic perspective and the existential and humanistic perspectives.

Structures of the Psychoanalytic and Existential/Humanistic Perspectives The psychoanalytic perspective contains the structures of the Id, Superego, and the Ego. Freud defined the Id as the lustful and aggressive part of our personality and works on the pleasure principle in which it satisfies its pleasure and reduces inner tension (Dennen, 1896). This energy is also known as libido, the energy of life instincts, such as sex, hunger, and thirst (Lahey, 2011). The Superego is made up of the norms, values, and ideals that upbringing and education have developed in us (Berg, 2009). However, it can be seemingly selfish in its own way since it is instantly moral seeking in the same way the Id strives to attain pleasure (Berg, 2004). The ego, unlike the id and superego strives for immediate satisfaction without regard for the well-being of the individual, tries to achieve compromises or sacrifices between the id and superego (Sagan, 1988). It is located in the conscious and pre-conscious part of the mind. The existential/humanistic perspective on the other hand, contains the structure of the Spirit and the concept of Being-in-the-world (Friedman & Schustack, 2011). In terms of humanism, it can therefore be considered optimistic in regards to the good side of the individual but is considered positive also in regards to the existentialistic view since this view argues that we are born well, but a dark shadow shall always linger over us (Haught, 1955). Being-in-the-world is a concept of the existentialistic approach that focuses on the meaning of human existence. Positivism is the view of the world that emphasizes the laws or experiences that govern the behavior of objects and animals in the world (Schultz & Schultz, 2009). By comparing both psychoanalytic and humanistic ideas, it is understood that if they were to put on a continuum of environment or person, it seems that both the theories are right in the middle since both internal person and external environment play a role in the individual’s personality (Personality, 2005). The existential/humanistic perspective would also be in the middle of environment and person because the phenomenological concept that says about people’s perceptions or subjective realities is true and valid (Cohen & Daniels, 2005) . Although contrasting both the perspectives in their terms of structures, it can also derive a certain comparison between the two which is the idea that both the structures are internal or internally supportive rather than structures that are external. Concepts of Psychoanalytic and Existential/Humanistic Approaches The key concepts of psychoanalytic are psychosexual stages, Oedipus complex, and defense mechanisms. Meanwhile, for the Existential/Humanistic perspectives are those of Abraham Maslow’s self-actualization, alienation, and well-being. Freud stated that, as the developments are taking place during childhood; a series of fixed stages had taken place in the psychosexual stages (Stevenson, 1996). This is when the ego and superego develop in order to apply the control and direct the need for satisfaction into socially acceptable...

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