From society’s standpoint, one of the most important indexes of morality is the extent of which a person is able to resist pressures to violate social norms. A person who is able to resist the temptation in the absence of external surveillance not only has learned a moral rule but is internally motivated to abide by that rule. How do children acquire moral standards and what motivates them to obey these learned codes of conduct? There are several theories on moral development which have attempted to answer these questions. Freud’s theory of moral development is very closely linked to aspects of his psychoanalytic theory.
Freud’s theory was quite controversial and appeared to be mainly concerned with sex. However, looking at some of his work and theory’s there are perhaps some areas we may be able to relate to or even understand. Darwin influenced Freud. He produced the first ever-psychological theory on personality, how we develop and treatment for mental health illnesses. Freud’s Psychoanalytic approach is quite complex. However, its basic rationale is that all human behaviour is a result of a basic driving force- instinct and survival. The driving force has to be sexual, the need to reproduce.
Freud believed that there are three parts to a persons mind. This is the conscious mind, preconscious mind and the unconscious mind. The conscious part of the mind is what is going on immediately. The preconscious part of the mind is when a particular event or reminder of a certain time that something has happened, the memory will become clear again. The unconscious part of the mind is buried. It apparently gives us our drives for sex and our drives for life and death. This can be explained in terms of the Greek Gods. The Libido (Eros) is the drive for sex and life as it represents life and love.
The Greek God Thantos is the drive for death. This can be seen as fulfilling the drive through extreme sports, abusive relationships, drug or alcohol misuse and career driven people. Freud believed that the personality comprised of three parts. The Id, Ego and Superego. He believed that when we are born, we are born with the Id, which is the selfish part. “I want. ” When the Id receives gratification, the Id receives gratification, which works entirely on the Pleasure Principle. The Ego is like the executive. It does things logically and is governed by the Reality Principle. “I will get it this way if I can’t get it another way.
” This part of the personality just defers the gratification. The Superego works on the Morality Principle. Morality can be described as a set of principles or ideals that help the individual to distinguish right from wrong, to act on this distinction, and to feel pride in virtuous conduct and guilt fro conduct that violates ones standards. The morality principle in Freud’s theory is split up into two parts. The conscious, which represents the punishing parent and imposes the guilt for immoral deeds or thoughts or any wrongdoing. For example, witnessing a theft but not reporting it.
The ego-ideal, which represents the rewarding parent and imposes the pride which is feelings of satisfaction for doing something good. For example, finding a wallet and handing it in to the police station. Freud proposed that our moral development comes from our Superego. This is as a result and part of our Oedipus complex. This occurs in the phallic stage of our development. This is again a controversial part of Freud’s theory. Freud’s explains this as a child’s feelings and attraction towards the parent of the opposite sex. However, because the boys fear castration he learns his masculine role and internalizes his fathers moral standards.
Internalizing is the process of adopting the attributes or standards of other peoples, taking these standards as their own. The girls fear losing their mothers love they develop a conscious and internalizes her mothers moral standards, so both identifying with the same sex parent. The identification is internalised by the same sex parent’s moral behaviour, so therefore the “inner parent” rewards or punishes good or bad actions. However, Freud claims that because girls do not experience the intense fear the boys do of castration, they will develop weaker superegos than the boys do.
We might be able to credit Freud with him pointing out that moral emotions such as pride, shame and guilt are important and that the internalization of moral principles is a crucial step along the way of morality. However, a lot of Freud’s work is largely unsupported. Freud had also done his work based only on one subject who he interacted with through letters via his parents. (Little Hans. ) furthermore, there is simply no evidence that boys develop stronger superegos than girls. Finally, Freud’s proposed age trends for moral development are actually quite pessimistic.
As early as 13 to 15 months some toddlers are already complying with some prohibitions in the absence of external surveillance. (Kochanska, Tjebkes and Foreman, 1998. ) According to Kochanska et al. , 1995, by age two toddlers are beginning to show clear signs of distress when they violate rules and sometimes try to correct the mistakes that they have made. These observations suggest that the children internalize morals a lot younger than Freud has suggested. So even though the generalization of Freud’s morality theory has some credit, maybe the his theory of oedipal morality is not as black and white as he makes it out to be.