1: Introduction to Development, Personality, and
2: Motor and Cognitive Development
3: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
4: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
5: Freud's Structural and Topographical Model
6: Freud's Ego Defense Mechanisms
7: Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Structural and Topographical Models of Personality
Freud's Theory is quite complex and although his
writings on psychosexual development set the
groundwork for how our personalities developed, it
was only one of five parts to his overall theory of
personality. He also believed that different
driving forces develop during these stages which
play an important role in how we interact with the
Model (id, ego, superego)
to Freud, we are born with our Id.
The id is an important part of our personality
because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic
needs met. Freud believed that the id is based
on our pleasure principle. In other words, the
id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no
consideration for the reality of the
situation. When a child is hungry, the id
wants food, and therefore the child cries.
When the child needs to be changed, the id
cries. When the child is uncomfortable, in
pain, too hot, too cold, or just wants attention,
the id speaks up until his or her needs are met.
id doesn't care about reality, about the needs of
anyone else, only its own satisfaction. If you
think about it, babies are not real considerate of
their parents' wishes. They have no care for
time, whether their parents are sleeping, relaxing,
eating dinner, or bathing. When the id wants
something, nothing else is important.
the next three years, as the child interacts more
and more with the world, the second part of the
personality begins to develop. Freud called
this part the Ego.
The ego is based on the reality principle. The
ego understands that other people have needs and
desires and that sometimes being impulsive or
selfish can hurt us in the long run. Its the
ego's job to meet the needs of the id, while taking
into consideration the reality of the
the age of five, or the end of the phallic stage of
development, the Superego
develops. The Superego is the moral part of us
and develops due to the moral and ethical restraints
placed on us by our caregivers. Many equate
the superego with the conscience as it dictates our
belief of right and wrong.
a healthy person, according to Freud, the ego is the
strongest so that it can satisfy the needs of the
id, not upset the superego, and still take into
consideration the reality of every situation.
Not an easy job by any means, but if the id gets too
strong, impulses and self gratification take over
the person's life. If the superego becomes to
strong, the person would be driven by rigid morals,
would be judgmental and unbending in his or her
interactions with the world. You'll learn how
the ego maintains control as you continue to read.
believed that the majority of what we experience in
our lives, the underlying emotions, beliefs,
feelings, and impulses are not available to us at a
conscious level. He believed that most of what
drives us is buried in our
If you remember the Oedipus and Electra Complex,
they were both pushed down into the unconscious, out
of our awareness due to the extreme anxiety they
caused. While buried there, however, they
continue to impact us dramatically according to Freud.
role of the unconscious is only one part of the
model. Freud also believed that everything we
are aware of is stored in our conscious.
Our conscious makes up a very small part of who we
are. In other words, at any given time, we are
only aware of a very small part of what makes up our
personality; most of what we are is buried and inaccessible.
final part is the preconscious or
subconscious. This is the part of us that we
can access if prompted, but is not in our active
conscious. Its right below the surface, but
still buried somewhat unless we search for it.
Information such as our telephone number, some
childhood memories, or the name of your best
childhood friend is stored in the preconscious.
the unconscious is so large, and because we are only
aware of the very small conscious at any given time,
this theory has been likened to an iceberg, where
the vast majority is buried beneath the water's
surface. The water, by the way, would
represent everything that we are not aware of, have
not experienced, and that has not been integrated
into our personalities, referred to as the