For Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, our personality is rooted in the dynamics of our unconscious; all the ideas, thoughts, and feelings of which we are normally unaware. Freud identified sexual and aggressive instincts as the primary unconscious drives that determine human behavior. According to Freud, personality is made of three structures: the id, the only personality structure present at birth, operates in the unconscious according to the pleasure principle, meaning it tries to obtain immediate pleasure and avoid pain.
The ego, the id’s link to the real world, controls all conscious thinking and reasoning activities and operates according to the reality principle. It tries to delay satisfying the id’s desires until it can do so safely and effectively in the real world. The superego acts as the person’s moral guardian or conscience and helps the person function in society (Morris, G. , & Maisto, A. , 2002). It also compares the ego’s actions with an ego ideal of perfection.
In Freud’s view, when the ego is unable to control impulses from the id in a way that is acceptable to the superego, it experiences anxiety and may resort to using defense mechanisms to reduce the discomfort caused by the anxiety. Carl Jung believed that the unconscious consists of two distinct components: the personal unconscious, which contains an individual’s repressed thoughts, forgotten experiences, and undeveloped ideas; and the collective unconscious, a subterranean river of memories and behavior patterns flowing to us from previous generations.
Jung also believed that people generally exhibit one of two attitudes toward the world: Extroverts are interested in other people and the world at large, whereas introverts are more concerned with their own private worlds (Morris, G. , & Maisto, A. , 2002). Jung further divided people into rational individuals, who regulate their behavior by thinking and feeling, and irrational individuals, who base their actions on perceptions. For Carl Rogers, people develop their personalities in the service of positive goals.
The biological push to become whatever it is that we are capable of becoming is called the actualizing tendency. In addition to trying to realize our biological potential, we attempt to fulfill our conscious sense of who we are, which Rogers called the self-actualizing tendency (Morris, G. , & Maisto, A. , 2002). A fully functioning person is someone whose self-concept closely matches his or her inborn capabilities. Fully functioning people were usually raised with unconditional positive regard, or the experience of being valued by other people regardless of their emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.