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The theories of Freud, Jung & Adler

What are the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler?

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Sigmund Freud

Many believe that psychoanalytic theory started with the work of Sigmund Freud and his concept of the ego. But psychologists point also to the work of Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, side-by-side with Freud, to be the foundation of what we now deem as modern psychology. Their triumvirate established the science of mind and behavior, where the goal is to understand the mental and behavioural social processes via research to establish theories and applied principles from which to view and understand our experiences, our behaviour, and how the human psyche works, especially in the creation of identities, personalities, and meanings. Central to the question of the human mind is the ego, for the ego is central to the inner mechanisms of the human mind. All 3 use their knowledge of the ego to put together theories and mechanisms that led to the modern practice of psychoanalysis. The ego is the center of the notion of 'I' for the ego is one's conscious psychic apparatus, fully aware of what is going on around him/her. This psychic apparatus and structure was proposed by Sigmund Freud and his belief is that personality revolves and emanates from the interaction of this structure with reality. The apparatus/structure is made up of the following:

1.) Id: This is the unorganized and even unrealized elements of personality that influence and move the basic needs, wants, and desires of man. Freud explains that the id is driven by the 'pleasure principle' where the ideal is to avoid as much pain and difficulty as possible and to gain as much pleasure at the least possible difficult manner. The Id, according to Freud is 'dark' and is only accessible via mechanisms such as dreams or what we now call "Freudian slips."

2.) Ego: The conscious part of the psychic apparatus, it is aware of the world and its realities. At the same time, it answers the demands of the Id by working to achieve them in ways that reality and convention allows. The ego always works towards achieving the most possible gain with minimized difficulty and grief. The ego attempts to mediate the demands of the Id with that of reality via defensive, perceptual, cognitive, intellectual and executive functions. The ego then is the part of personality that allows us to have a sense of self, to practice tolerance, judgment, planning, defence, control, gaining knowledge, synthesizing information, testing and remembering (memory).

3.) Super-Ego: The super ego works as the ethical principle of the apparatus, the conscience of the system. It is the opposite of the Id in that it judges an action or the event according to what the person has learned to be right or wrong. Aiming for perfection, its parts are the organized structures of personality, mostly unconscious where the spiritual goals and ethics learned over time become the judge of the rightness and wrongness of the person's actions. Thus feelings of contentment arise when something is done right and feelings of guilt arise when something is done against what the super-ego has come to learn as the moral or 'right way'.

The Id, the ego and the super-ego come together to create and establish the personality. Problems with personality can arise when these 3 are not in harmony. Fortunately, Freud ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides an extensive discussion of the theories, work and ideas of the theorists Freud, Jung and Adler. Resources are listed for further exploration of the topic.

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