Main Ideas:

  • Sigmund Freud believed that hidden forces are the cause of human behavior, rather than the obvious forces.
  • Unconscious thoughts reveal themselves in something called the free association, such as dreams where you talk and think freely.
  • He believed that personality consists of three major systems.

The Structure of Personality:

  • id- this starts at birth. This is based on the pleasure principle, which suppresses negative feels and enhances pleasuring instincts such sexual desires. The libido fuels psychic energy. The id feelings have to release its tension by impulsive actions and dirty thoughts.
  • ego– this is between unconscious and conscious thoughts. This is based on the reality principle, which puts a hold the id unless it is appropriate to be shown.
  • superego- this is the last system of personality to develop. This represents the part of us that does things just to please others. It shows ours morals and how well we follow the “rules of society.”

The Development of Personality:

The Stages of Psychosexual Development











0 – 12 months


18 months


Libidal energy is focussed on sucking things (nursing; being fed; accepting things through the mouth)

Primary conflict is weaning

Frustrated when urges are ignored; becomes pessimistic, envious, suspicious

Overindulged when urges are excessively met; becomes optimistic, gullible, full of admiration







12 – 18 months


3 years

Libidal energy is focussed on the anus

Begins with start of toilet training; obsessed with the erogenous zone of the anus, and with retention or expulsion of the feces

Primary conflict is between withholding and expelling feces

Expulsive – messy, careless, disorganized, defiant

Retentive – neat, precise, withholding, orderly, meticulous


Phallic Stage




3 years


6 years


Libidal energy is focussed on the genital region

Emergence of Oedipus (males) and Electra complexes

-desire to possess the opposite-sex parent, and to eliminate the same-sex parent

Person learns their proper sexual role by identifying with their same-sex parent

Phallic character (reckless, vain) develops if fixated in this stage


Latency Stage




6 years




Period where the sexual drive remains dormant (inactive);

Libidal energy (desires and impulses) is suppressed

-put sexual energy into sports, extra-curricular activities, same-sex friendships etc.

when puberty hits, repression ends


Genital Stage








Libidal energy is focussed on the genital region again

Interest in sexual relationships grow

If fixated on a previous stage, will have trouble developing normal relationships

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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