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Personality Theories Essay

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This paper will compare the Psychodynamic Theory and the Humanistic Theory. A description of each theory and its leading theorist will help in pointing out both their differences and similarities. Psychodynamic Theory, developed by Sigmund Freud in the 1900s, believes that most human behavior stems from their unconscious. That personality comes from beliefs, memories, feelings, and instincts of which the individual is not aware of (Feldman, 2010).

According, to Freud the personality is made up of three major components; the Id, Ego, and Superego.

The Id is the raw inborn part with sole purpose is to reduce tension caused by aggression and irrational impulse, operating according to the pleasure principle (Feldman, 2010). Ego acting as a buffer between the Id and the outside world, the Ego is developed soon after birth and strives to balance the desires of the Id. The Ego operates according to the reality principle, making decisions permitting problem solving at a higher level than the Id is capable of (Feldman, 2010).

While the Superego is part of the conscience representing right from wrong in society, thus being handed down by one’s parents, and teachers, the Superego keeps one from improper behavior by causing one to feel guilty. Freud suggest that personality development has several distinct stages; Oral (birth – 18 months), Anal (18 months – 3 years), Phallic (3-6 years), Latency (6 years to adolescence), and Genital (adolescence to adulthood) (Feldman, 2010).

Another huge part of Freud’s theory is the defense mechanisms which include: Repression, Regression, Displacement, Rationalization, Denial, Projection, Sublimation, and Reaction formation. These defense mechanisms are used to cope with life’s anxieties. Humanistic Theory believes that it is at the conscience level that all people have the drive and tendency to move forward. Both Maslow and Rogers is theorist that believe in the Humanistic Theory, believing that we all have a basic need of self- fulfillment to reach our highest potential in our own unique ways.

This Theory suggest that people see and judge themselves through the eyes of others causing one to become preoccupied with what others think. This is why unconditional positive regard from family and friends is so important to how one feels about themselves. The acceptance one gets from others has a direct effect on both emotional and cognitive development. Maslow believes a person grows in stages based on needs: beginning with physical needs such as food, and sexual needs, than safety needs, a secure safe place to live or an organized life, on to a sense of belonging, where one feels connected or loved.

Maslow believes these needs have to be met in order to have self-esteem which drives one to be all they can be (Feldman, 2010). The Humanistic Theory suggests that personality is more about one’s unique self and freedom of choice. In comparing the Psychodynamic Theory and the Humanistic Theory, the most noticeable difference is that the Psychodynamic believes that the determinants of personality are of the unconscious, while the Humanistic believes more of the opposite in that personality determinants are of the conscious.

The Humanistic suggest that it is the interaction of both nature and the environment that set the path for personality, while the Psychodynamic believes that personality is more inherited that nurture factors. These two theories are opposite in their believes of free will, Humanistic stresses the freedom of individual choices, and Psychodynamic stress the view that behavior is directed by factors outside of one’s self (Feldman, 2010). Psychodynamic suggest that a person’s personality keeps the same characteristics throughout a person’s life.

On the other hand Humanistic believes that personality characteristics remain flexible and resilient throughout one’s life. Assessing personality can be done in many different ways. There is psychological test that are used to help people understand more about themselves. Psychological test are based on norms which are created by giving the same test to a large number of people and comparing their answers. Self-Report measures personalities by asking a person to explain a sample of their behavior, these reports are than used to look for particular characteristics.

Projective testing is done by showing an ambiguous stimulus and asking that the person tell a story about the stimulus. The responses are considered to be projections of one’s personality. These are just a few of the ways personality can be assessed. While the Psychodynamic and Humanistic Theories are different in their beliefs they both hold valid aspects at evaluating human personalities. Just as there is no one way to test personality there is no one theory. Reference (Feldman, 2010) Feldman, R. S. (2010). Psychology and your life. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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