Sigmund Freud is known as the founder of psychoanalysis. He saw the development of the personality as based on early childhood sexuality and libido and the human mind as divided into the id, the ego and the superego. Conflicts between these elements were the formative basis for neurosis. Carl Jung was Freud’s associate, patient and protégé. He took Freud’s work a step further, and in a differing direction. At the outset, Freud saw Jung as his successor and they shared an intense exchange of ideas from 1906 to 1912. As Jung developed his own theories, which focused on the collective unconscious, personality types and analytical psychology this close association became untenable. Alfred Adler was one of the founding members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. He viewed the individual holistically, as an individuum. This was a sharp contrast to the Freudian practice of reductionism. Freud had Adler expelled from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society due to his conflicting views.
According to Freudian theory, the personality passes through definite stages in its development. Three of these phases; the oral stage, the anal stage and the phallic stage follow each other in rapid succession as the individual passes from infancy to childhood. After this initial development Freud saw children as entering a longer latency period until the onset of puberty. From puberty to death, Freud saw the individual as experiencing their genital stage where the infant and childhood experiences played out and developed into adult behavior.
The first is the oral stage. This initial stage takes place from birth to when someone is about a year old. At this phase of development, an individual seeks gratification through oral stimulus such as taste and sucking. Individuals stuck at this phase act out with problem like overeating, drinking to excess, smoking or nail biting.
Termed the anal stage, the next stage of Freudian development evolves as the infant develops bowel and bladder control and generally takes place between the ages of one and three. Freud saw parental support, encouragement, responses and attitudes at this phase of young childhood development as being formative in the development of an anal-expulsive or anal-retentive personality.
When a child develops through the phallic stage between ages three to six he or she discovers the genitals. This is when a child begins to discover the differences between males and females and establish a personal sexual identity. Some of Freud’s most controversial theories are set forth regarding development in this phase. These theories involving the Oedipus complex, the Electra complex and penis envy continue to be contested and redefined as society and psychiatric science develop.
After their passage through the early phases of development through infancy, Freud believed children entered a latent period until they reached puberty. At this stage of their development they developed intellectual interests and peer relationships. Although he saw this as a time of sexual and self exploration he viewed the focus of the personality directed in a more outward direction into intellectual and social pursuits that developed a child’s communication skills and self-confidence.
In sharp contrast to the developmental phases of infancy and childhood, Freud saw the next phase, the genital stage, as lasting from puberty to death. It is characterized by the individual’s focus on the maturing sexual interests, developing adult relationships and balancing the multiple areas and concerns of an adult life. It is during this period that the infant and childhood experiences play themselves out subconsciously as the individual seeks to establish balanced behavior and rational conduct in keeping with social values.
Carl Jung based his theories on his conviction that the human psych had a religious nature that traced itself back to a greater collective unconscious. He felt that individuals had the ability to gain personal insight and integrate the unconscious with the conscious mind through dreams in a process he termed individuation. In the course of his work he created some of the best known and most widely accepted concepts of the archetypes, the collective unconscious and synchronicity. He explored and employed concepts and understandings from his research into philosophy, alchemy sociology and literature into the scientific practice of psychiatry. Jungian theory uses four functions combined with one of two attitudes that form eight different personality types. The attitudes are introverted and extroverted and the functions are thinking, feeling, sensing and intuitive. He saw people as multi-dimensional constructs consisting of a hierarchical structure comprised of these elements. Jung observed that most people only made significant use of two of these functions with the other two taking positions of lesser importance. In his psychological theory, the goal of the individual was to achieve self-realization by integrating all these elements in the course of their lifelong development.
Alfred Adler saw a sense of inferiority as the basis for neurosis. In his psychological theories individuals lost touch with reality through a false impression of low self worth that developed into neurosis. When this process began in childhood, adult behavior mirrored the stage of maturity when this false sense of inferiority began. He saw the helplessness of childhood as a precursor to adult neurosis and health concerns. The struggle for power dynamics in Adler’s theories and the helplessness of childhood self-determination if left unresolved became the influential factors. Because of this, his school of thought promoted developing a strong sense of self in early childhood. When working with adult patients, Adler set aside the traditional analyst’s couch in favor of two chairs that put patient and analyst on an equal basis. In performing an analysis he also employed the more democratic thought process of the nature of interrelated factors or “life tasks” that further developed the adults sense of self.
Jung and Adler both disagreed with Freud on his emphasis on sexual motivation; however that does not mean they agreed with each other. Adler saw neurosis as rooted in early childhood experiences. However, he saw it as reliant upon a sense of self worth that was separate from the deep sexual issues Freud viewed as being the primary influence driving human nature, personality and neurosis. Jung differed from both Adler and Freud in that he saw influences, relationships and contributing factors that went far beyond individual experiences and called upon the collective social pool of experience and archetypes. When analyzed, Jung and Freud have close parallel theories however Jung extended into the realms of personal and societal evolution. Adler agrees with Freudian theory that the root of neurosis is in childhood, but sees it as a function of the individual’s ability to develop a sense of self worth, not related to a deep sexual motivation. Like Jung Adler viewed the individual holistically. Adler and Jung agree in part as to the importance of social views in shaping early personality development, however. Adler did not take that extensive social importance into the area of the collective subconscious.
Friedman, H., & Schustack, M. (2011). Chapters 3, 4, and 8. In Personality: Classic Theories and Modern Research (5th Edition). Needham Heights: Allyn and Bacon.