An individual’s personality is an aggregate conglomeration of decisions we have made throughout our lives. There are inherent natural, genetic, and environmental factors, which contribute to the development of our personality in the pursuit of a more defined person, many individuals enroll in courses offered in colleges to further or enhance the image they intend to project to others. These classes help in identifying your conscious traits and contrasting them with what you intend to exhibit. Hereditary factors that contribute to personality development do so as a result of interactions with the specific social environment in which people live. In other words, personality is the sum total of what a person is – behaviors, thoughts and feelings- that endure throughout life.

Personality Development Concepts

Drives: The two basic drives- sex and aggression- motivate all our thoughts and behaviors. They are referred as eros (love) and Thanatos. Eros represents the life instinct where sex being the major driving force. Thanatos represents the death instinct; this allowed the human race to procreate, whilst at the same time eliminating our enemies.

The structure of personality: It is believed that the mind as only having a fixed amount of psychic energy (libido). The outcome of the dynamic interaction between the id, ego and the superego determines our adult personality.

The tripartite personality: Personality has three basic things – the id, ego, and superego- referring to this as the tripartite personality. The id allows us to get our basic wants met. It is believed that the id is based on the pleasure principles ie it wants immediate satisfaction, with no consideration for the reality of the condition. As the child interacts more with the world, the ego begins to develop. The ego’s job is to meet the needs of the id, while taking into account the constraints of reality. The ego acknowledges that being impulsive or selfish can sometimes hurt us, so the id must be constrained. The superego develops during the phallic stage consequent to the moral constraints placed on us by our parents.

Defense Mechanisms: The ego has a very difficult time trying to satisfy both the needs of id and the superego and so, it employs defense mechanisms. Repression is the most powerful of these. Repression is the act by which unacceptable id impulses are “pushed” out of awareness and into the unconscious mind.

Psychosexual Stages: It is believed that at particular points in the child’s development, a single part of the body is particularly sensitive to sexual stimulation. These erogenous zones are the mouth, anus and the genital region. At any given time, the child’s libido is focused on the primary erogenous zone for that age. As a result the child has certain needs and demands that are related to the erogenous zones for that stage. Frustration occurs if these needs are not met, but, a child may also become overindulged, and so may be unwilling to progress beyond the stage. Both frustration and overindulgence may lead to fixation- some of the child’s libido remains locked into that particular stage. If a child is fixated at a particular stage, the method of obtaining satisfaction that characterized that stage will dominate his adult personality.

Michael Teo is an expert on the Human Psychology and Behavior.
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