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Concepts of Personality Development

Mr. Ibrahim Rawhi Ayasreh RN, MSN, CNS

Concepts of Personality Development

Personality is the combination of character, behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits that are unique to each specific individual. Temperament is the inborn personality characteristics that influence an individuals manner of reacting to the environment, and ultimately his or her developmental progression.

Psychoanalytic theory

Sigmund Freud (1961), who has been called the father of psychiatry, is credited as the first to identify development by stages. Freuds personality theory can be conceptualized according to structure and dynamics of the personality, topography of the mind, and stages of personality development.

Structure of the Personality

Freud organized the structure of the personality into three major components: the id, ego, and superego.

Id The id is the locus of instinctual drivesthe pleasure principle. Present at birth, it endows the infant with instinctual drives that seek to satisfy needs and achieve immediate gratification. Id-driven behaviors are impulsive and may be irrational.

Structure of the Personality


The ego, also called the rational self or the reality principle, begins to develop between the ages of 4 and 6 months. The ego experiences the reality of the external world, adapts to it, and responds to it. As the ego develops and gains strength, it seeks to bring the influences of the external world to bear upon the id, to substitute the reality principle for the pleasure principle. A primary function of the ego is one of mediator, that is, to maintain harmony among the external world, the id, and the superego.

Structure of the Personality


If the id is identified as the pleasure principle, and the ego the reality principle, the superego might be referred to as the perfection principle. The superego, which develops between ages 3 and 6 years, internalizes the values and morals set forth by primary caregivers. Derived from a system of rewards and punishments, the superego is composed of two major components: the ego-ideal and the conscience.

Structure of the Personality

When a child is consistently rewarded for good behavior, his or her self-esteem is enhanced, and the behavior becomes part of the ego-ideal; that is, it is internalized as part of his or her value system. The conscience is formed when the child is consistently punished for bad behavior. The child learns what is considered morally right or wrong from feedback received from parental figures and from society or culture. When moral and ethical principles or even internalized ideals and values are disregarded, the conscience generates a feeling of guilt within the individual.

Structure of the Personality

Topography of the Mind

Freud classified all mental contents and operations into three categories: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. The Conscious Includes all memories that remain within an individuals awareness. It is the smallest of the three categories. Events and experiences that are easily remembered or retrieved are considered to be within ones conscious awareness. Examples include telephone numbers, birthdays of self , dates of special holidays.

Topography of the Mind

The Preconscious The preconscious includes all memories that may have been forgotten or are not in present awareness but, with attention, can readily be recalled into consciousness. Examples include telephone numbers or addresses once known but little used and feelings associated with significant life events that may have occurred at some time in the past. The preconscious enhances awareness by helping to suppress unpleasant or nonessential memories from consciousness. It is thought to be partially under the control of the superego, which helps to suppress unacceptable thoughts and behaviors.

Topography of the Mind

The Unconscious It includes all memories that one is unable to bring to conscious awareness. It is the largest of the three topographical levels. Unconscious material consists of unpleasant or nonessential memories that have been repressed and can be retrieved only through therapy, hypnosis, and with certain substances that alter the awareness and have the capacity to restructure repressed memories. Unconscious material may also emerge in dreams and in seemingly incomprehensible behavior.

Freuds Stages of Psychosexual Development

Stages of Development in Sullivans Interpersonal Theory

Eriksons Psychosocial Theory

Trust versus Mistrust: Birth to 18 Months

In this stage, the major task is to develop a basic trust in the mothering figure and be able to generalize it to others. Achievement of the task results in self-confidence, optimism, faith in the gratification of needs and desires, and hope for the future. The infant learns to trust when basic needs are met consistently. Nonachievement results in emotional dissatisfaction with the self and others, suspiciousness, and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.

Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt: 18 Months to 3 Years

The major task in this stage is to gain some self-control and independence within the environment. Achievement of the task results in a sense of self control and the ability to delay gratification, as well as a feeling of self-confidence in ones ability to perform. Autonomy is achieved when parents encourage and provide opportunities for independent activities. Nonachievement results in a lack of self-confidence, a lack of pride in the ability to perform, a sense of being controlled by others, and a rage against the self.

Initiative versus Guilt: 3 to 6 Years

During this stage the goal is to develop a sense of purpose and the ability to initiate and direct ones own activities. Achievement of the task results in the ability to exercise restraint and self-control of inappropriate social behaviors. Nonachievement results in feelings of inadequacy and a sense of defeat. Guilt is experienced to an excessive degree, even to the point of accepting liability in situations for which one is not responsible.

Industry versus Inferiority: 6 to 12 Years

The major task of this stage is to achieve a sense of self-confidence by learning, competing, performing successfully, and receiving recognition from significant others, peers, and acquaintances. Achievement of the task results in a sense of satisfaction and pleasure in the interaction and involvement with others. Nonachievement results in difficulty in interpersonal relationships because of feelings of personal inadequacy.

Identity versus Role Confusion: 12 to 20 Years

At this stage, the goal is to integrate the tasks mastered in the previous stages into a secure sense of self. Achievement of the task results in a sense of confidence, emotional stability, and a view of the self as a unique individual. Nonachievement results in a sense of self-consciousness, doubt, and confusion about ones role in life. Personal values or goals for ones life are absent. Commitments to relationships with others are nonexistent or superficial and brief.

Intimacy versus Isolation: 20 to 30 Years

The objective during this stage is to form an intense, lasting relationship or a commitment to another person, a cause, an institution, or a creative effort. Achievement of the task results in the capacity for mutual love and respect between two people and the ability of an individual to pledge a total commitment to another. Nonachievement results in withdrawal, social isolation, and aloneness.

Generativity versus Stagnation: 30 to 65 Years

The major task of this stage is to achieve the life goals established for oneself while also considering the welfare of future generations. Achievement of the task results in a sense of gratification from personal and professional achievements and from meaningful contributions to others. The individual is active in the service of and to society.

Nonachievement results in lack of concern for the welfare of others and total preoccupation with the self.

Ego Integrity versus Despair: 65 Years to Death

The goal of this stage is to review ones life and derive meaning from both positive and negative events, while achieving a positive sense of self. Achievement of the task results in a sense of selfworth and self-acceptance as one reviews life goals, accepting that some were achieved and some were not. Nonachievement results in self-contempt and disgust with how life has progressed.