The Source Of Motivation For Human Actions Essay Example
Like most other personality theorists, Freud thought that it was essential for a comprehensive understanding of personality to have a statement of the source of motivation for human actions.
Freud postulated that this source of motivation was a unitary energy source, called psychic energy, which can be found within the individual. Freud held that human development follows a more or less set course from birth, and he divided development into a series of stages that all persons must pass through. Freud’s theory is also developmental in the sense that it stresses the importance, indeed the dominance, of early childhood development as a determinant of adult personalities.Freud was trained as a medical doctor and applied terms from scientific study to his ideas, particularly early in his career, to give them a biological basis. Freud emphasized the importance of the f...
irst five years of life for adult functioning. He came to believe that the major influence on development was the psychosocial conflict surrounding the sexual drive during these early years of life.
The pervasive importance of this drive in shaping development and adult functioning was seen to arise from a number of its properties. Sexuality begins early in life and its development is long and complicated, making it very prone to distortion. This means that many aspects of life can be sexualized. Therefore, in addition to biological development, environment and social context exert important influences on both the form and the expression of the sexual drive.
Freud describes puberty as the point in time when changes set in, destined to give infantile sexual life its final normal shape. Anna Freud, his daughter, became mainly interested in the period of adolescenc
and extended Freud’s developmental theory to expand upon what takes place during this time. While Sigmund Freud worked mainly with adults and focused his attention on impulses and the unconscious elements of intra-psychic life, Anna Freud worked with children and adolescents and was interested in the place of the ego in the dynamics of the psyche. That focus on ego became known as ego psychology. Erik Erikson, whose ideas will also be discussed in this paper, is perhaps the best-known exponent of ego psychology, and undoubtedly was strongly influenced by Anna Freud’s ideas on adolescence in the course of his training with her.
Meanwhile, in his book, The Ego and the Id, Freud states, “The state of things which we have been describing can be represented diagrammatically, though it must be remarked that the form chosen has no pretensions to any special applicability, but is mere intended to serve for purposes of exposition.” (The Ego and the Id, p. 18). This is where a working model of the psyche is important so that one is able to communicate what is happening in one’s psyche. The psyche is discerned by knowing the descriptive and the dynamic aspects of the idea.
Adolescence was seen as a time of great uncertainty about the self. Issues of self-identity subconsciously come to pervade everything that is done. To regain psychological equilibrium the adolescent is faced with the task of balancing the instinctual wishes against the social demands of the ego. Adolescence was, therefore, by its nature an interruption to peaceful growth. (Hurluck, 1982.
). Freud views human nature as anti-social and rebellious. It is this destructive nature of humans that he mentions when
he states, “For masses are lazy and unintelligent; they have no love for instinctual renunciation, and they are not to be convinced by argument of its inevitability; and the individuals composing them support one another in giving free rein to their indiscipline.” (The Future of an Illusion, p. 7). Freud argues that religion is from a child-like sense of helplessness in the world (The Future of an Illusion p.
71), still Freud thinks that atheism could be detrimental to a society’s stability.Freud conceived of his first topology of the psyche in The Interpretation of Dreams. Here he proposed the argument that the “unconscious exists”. He states that one can gain access to it. Dreams can be an important way for a person to better understand himself or herself. Dreams can also be therapeutic as they help an individual understand the unconscious and send messages and insights, which are difficult to see just by contemplating.
In his work, Freud emphasizes that “there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that, if the procedure is employed, every dream reveals itself as a psychical structure which has a meaning and which can be inserted at an assignable point inh the mental activities of waking life.” (The Interpretation of Dreams, p. 35).Significance of Developmental TheoriesIt is worthwhile to note that the developmental theories just presented have had broad impact of child rearing practices. They have not only provided a variety of concepts in explaining and understanding human development, but they have generated further researches and theorizing in the field of developmental psychology.Describing development as a stage-by-stage progression, these theories have focused the attention of parents on
one important fact- that behavior becomes more and more highly organized and complex in nature as the person matures and experiences numerous interactions with the environment from one stage to another.
(Hurluck, 1982.).Each individual, as the theories hold, is provided with inherent potentials for development. However, environmental intervention in development is acknowledged as a crucial factor as well. An individual’s potential may be fulfilled or hindered by the experiences provided by his environment. These theories point to the important role of parents as agent of the environment in assisting an individual explore and attain his full potentials.
By knowing the particular challenges, conditions, activities and tasks for each developmental stage, parents may utilize these theories as bases in determining what enriching experiences can be provided in the various levels of developmental stages.Awareness of parents on the role of experiences during the early stages of the life cycle may be considered as the most outstanding contribution of Freud’s theory to understanding the concept of personality development. Despite its being controversial, it has generated much interest in the study of developmental processes. The importance of a consistent and regular satisfaction of needs during the early stages of development is the sense of trust to be developed by infants. Parent’s awareness and knowledge of care-giving approaches in satisfying such needs can be achieved through a parent- or family-education component.
(Hurluck, 1982).The importance of providing experiences to children during the pre-school age that will encourage independence and reward initiative, within their capabilities, if the sense of autonomy and sense of initiative are to be achieved by pre-school children. Such experiences may take the form of supervised play activities or group work which
can be provided by the parents and pre-school education. In motivating them to achieve therse psycho-social senses, children learn to become productive and to work cooperatively with others. (Hurluck, 1982).
The importance of providing opportunities to children to acquire basic skills and competencies considered important if they are to develop a sense of mastery or industry. Mastery of academic skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics and social skills in accordance with their sex-roles will hinge, to a great extent, on the nature of parental education they receive as well as the competencies of teachers with whom they will be spending more time than with anyone else. (Hurluck, 1982).The need to help adolescents cope with their struggle to know who they are, what they are, and what they will become if they are to establish a clear sense of identity. Since the basis of struggle during the adolescent years lies not only in societal demands but also in physical changes taking place, establishing with certainty their worth as individuals, the values to be considered important, and the path to achieving a vocational role they will assume in adult life. It is in this sense where child raising practices is considered to be crucial in guiding adolescents towards satisfactory adjustment in the later years of their lives.
(Hurluck, 1982). Freud’s “Civilization and its Discontent”Freud’s main thesis on “Civilization and Its Discontent” emphasizes on his stand that the psychological discontent and the problems we bear are caused by the civilized world and is brought about by the effects of civilization on man. Freud believes that the less civilized man is, the more contented he may become. Yet, reality shows that
in our present civilization, everyone finds himself discontented and oftentimes in conflict with other men for survival. Does man become discontented when civilization is supposed to be the means of building a communal bond for all? Have cultural urges caused man to become out of his mind or “neurotic”? (Freud p. 144) Has man gone overboard in developing his culture to the extent that he overmastered his understanding about communal life and by human aggression and self-destruction, such communal life is continually disturbed?Contributions and Criticisms of Freud’s TheoryFreud’s contributions to psychological theory were so extensive that it is difficult to summarize them briefly.
He stressed the enormous importance of unconscious mental processes in human behavior. He also showed how such processes affect the content of dreams. Freud developed the technique of psychoanalysis as a method of treating mental illness. He formulated a theory of the structure of the human personality.
He also developed or popularized psychological theories concerning anxiety, defense mechanisms, the castration complex, repression and sublimation. His writings greatly stimulated interest in psychological theory. Many of his ideas were, and are, highly controversial, and have provoked discussion ever since he proposed them. Freud’s phases of sexual organization are normally passed through smoothly, with little more than a hint of their existence. Too little or too much gratification at any stage results in the individual becoming fixated. Each stage, therefore, has an adult character type associated with it and particular defenses which predominate.
These defenses become particularly strong if fixation occurs. The character traits related to fixation at any stage are described in terms of bipolar opposites, either of which may be shown.In his Sexuality and The Psychology
of Love, Freud emphasizes the evolution aspect of the sexual factor in neuroses as he states, “I am of the opinion that the best idea of my theory concerning the aetiological significance of the sexual factor in neurosis is obtained by examining its evolution (Sexuality & The Psychology of Love, p. 1).
His reference to a patient’s past was attained because he referred to a person’s infancy and sexual life. In this work he states succinctly, “… further and further back into the patient’s past, experiences were finally reached which belonged to his infancy and concerned his sexual life; and this was so even where an ordinary emotion; not of a sexual kind, had led to the outbreak of the disease.” (Sexuality & The Psychology of Love, p. 3).
The opposing side of the debate asserts that aggressive tendencies are innate. Freud is one of the most famous proponents of this view, and he contended that the aggressive drive is one of the two main foundations of all human motivation. In his view, the drive to aggress is deeply rooted in the psyche and hence independent of circumstances. As a result, people have an innate and recurring need to inflict harm or damage, and this desire needs to be satisfied periodically, one way or another. He regarded self-control (as embodied in his concept of superego) as a form of aggression, insofar as one deprives oneself of other satisfactions by restraining oneself.
To Freud, this was an effective but costly way to satisfy the aggressive drive, which otherwise would manifest itself by harming or killing others or smashing property. There are several problems with Freud’s theory of innate aggression.
First, of course, it does not disconfirm the importance of learning just as the findings about learned aggression do not disconfirm the hypothesis of innate tendencies. Second, there is no evidence that aggression is a need, in the sense that people who fail to act aggressively will routinely suffer impairments of health or well-being. In that sense, it is possible to accept the view of aggression as having some innate basis without agreeing that the need to aggress arises independently of circumstances.If, as Freud proposed, the aggressive instinct comes from within and demands to be satisfied in one way or another, then failing to satisfy this need should be harmful, in the way that failing to eat or breathe or form social bonds is harmful to the person.
But there is no sign that people who fail to perform violent acts suffer adverse consequences. Aggression is not a need, contrary to Freud, because a person could live a happy, healthy life without ever performing violent acts – provided, perhaps, that the person always got what he or she wanted. Aggression may likewise not even be a want. But it may be a response tendency.
When one’s desire are thwarted, and other people stand in the way of one’s goal satisfactions, aggressive impulses arise as one way of trying to remove the thwarting and get what you want.Sigmund Freud’s contribution to the field of psychoanalysis and psychology would not have been monumental if not for his interest in the realm of the dynamic unconscious. At the time of the 19th century, the pattern in Western thinking was positivism which essentially meant that people could establish and discover concrete
and tangible knowledge about themselves as well as their surroundings and exercise control over it in a well-thought out manner. Freud disagreed on this notion and said that there are instances in our lives most especially actions and thought that we are not actually entire aware of. He even went to great lengths to say that we even often engage in activity for motives that have little to do with our conscious thoughts.This principle of unconscious thoughts was indeed revolutionary in the sense that Freud presupposed that our awareness are like layers and as such, our consciousness is not what is just happening and that some activity is also happening below the surface.
We see these in several scenes in the three stories. This particular interest in the mind spurred him to focus on the significance of the unconscious mental activity. Freud was so influenced by the idea that he worked on this during his entire life and he formulated several major theories on which the diverse psychoanalytic theories are based. He introduced the terms id, ego and superego. The id has the quality of being unconscious and contains everything that is inherited, everything that is present at birth, and the instincts (Freud, 1949, p.
14). The ego has the quality of being conscious and is responsible for controlling the demands of the id and of the instincts, becoming aware of stimuli, and serving as a link between the id and the external world. In addition, the ego responds to stimulation by either adaptation or flight, regulates activity, and strives to achieve pleasure and avoid unpleasure (Freud, 1949, p. 14-15).
Finally, the superego, whose demands are managed by
the id, is responsible for the limitation of satisfactions and represents the influence of others, such as parents, teachers, and role models, as well as the impact of racial, societal, and cultural traditions (Freud, 1949, p. 15).ConclusionIn the end, though, we should not reject all of Freud’s ideas simply because some of them may now seem a bit outlandish. Perhaps, Freud’s greatest contribution was his concept of unconscious motivation. When psychology came into being in the mid-19th century, investigators were concerned with understanding isolated aspects of conscious experience, such as sensory processes and perceptual illusions.
It was Freud who first proclaimed that the vast majority of psychic experience lay below the level of conscious awareness. Finally, we can also thank Freud for studying the emotional side of human development—the loves, fears, anxieties and other powerful emotions that play important roles in our lives. In sum, Freud was truly a great pioneer who dared to navigate murky, uncharted waters that his predecessors had not even thought to explore. In the process, he changed our views of humankind.
Finally, there seems little doubt that Freud is a towering figure in the history of human thought. His ideas on the psychology of love have completely revolutionized our conception of the human mind and actions, and many of the ideas and terms which he introduced have become common usage. Future psychologists may well conclude that repressed sexual feelings play a lesser role in human behavior than many Freudians have claimed. However, such feelings surely play a greater role than most psychologists who are now convinced that unconscious mental processes play a decisive role in human behavior—one that was greatly underestimated before
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