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Chapter 6
Theories of Personality






Anna, was Freuds youngest daughter and the only member of his family to follow in his profession.

She worked closely with her father until his death, then became an eminent lay psychoanalyst in her own right.

She enlarged the application of psychoanalysis to new areas to include the study of children. In doing so, she extended the influence of psychoanalysis into areas such as pediatrics, childcare, education and family law.

She is best known for producing a Classification System for childhood symptoms which reflects development issues and a formal assessment procedure known as a "diagnostic profile". The profile included nine major sections briefly summarized as follows:

Reason for referral (why child is coming to see you)

Description of child (personal appearance, moods, manner)

Family background and personal history (life story and family make-up)

Possibly significant environmental influences (unusual experiences)

Assessment of development in terms of

development and expression of childs drives of libido and aggression

development of childs ego and superego, sex development line

Genetic assessment (signs of repression and/or fixation

Dynamic and structural assessment



Assessment of general characteristics in terms of

frustration tolerance

sublimation potential

overall attitude to anxiety

progressive versus regressive tendencies

Diagnosis: (integration and summary of above into a clinically meaningful


Anna Freud learned from her work with children that there are realistic limits to analysis. Certain constitutional or environmental factors may not be open to real change through analysis, though their effects may be reduced.

While recognizing the greater importance of environmental factors over internal ones in childhood disturbances, she was also impressed by the efforts of children to cope with and master extremely devastating situations.



(1902 - 1994)

Erik H. Erikson was born near Frankfurt, Germany, the product of an extramarital relationship. He never knew his mothers first husband or his birth father. In an act that Erikson later called "loving deceit", his adoptive parents concealed the fact of his adoption from him for several years.

Thus, the man who is famous for coining the term "identity crisis" did himself experience a significant identity crisis.

Erikson is said to be one of Freuds most avid followers. He extended Freuds psychoanalytic theory in the following ways:

Increased our understanding of the ego:

He increased our understanding of the ego, showing it is a creative problem solver that emerges out of genetic, cultural, and historical context of each individual


Elaborated on Freuds stages of development

Making explicit a social dimension that was implied in Freuds theory but never clearly stated

Extended the concept of development to include the entire life span

While much of the concepts of development by Freud and others centered on children or early childhood, Erikson developed the concept that development is continuous and encompasses the entire life span of an individual

Explored the impact of culture, society, and history on the developing personality.

Erikson illustrated this concept by performing psycho-historical studies of famous people (i.e. Martin Luther, and Gandhi)



Erikson believed that human beings everywhere face eight major psychosocial crises, or conflicts, during their lives. These crises included

Trust versus mistrust:

Revolves around whether or not an infant becomes able to rely on other people to be responsive to his or her needs. To develop trust, infants must be able to count on their primary caregiver to feed them, relieve their discomforts.


Autonomy versus shame and doubt

Toddlers are determined to do things themselves. to demonstrate their independence and their control over their parents. Their favorite words are me, me, me, or no, no, no. If parents humiliate or punish them when they have toilet accidents or spill their milk, they may end up doubting their competence or even believing that they are fundamentally bad people.

Initiative versus guilt

They develop a sense of purpose by devising bold plans but must also learn not to step on other people in the process.


Industry versus inferiority

To gain a sense of industry, children must master the important cognitive and social skills reading, writing, cooperative teamwork and so on that are necessary to win the approval of both adults and peers.



Identity versus role confusion

Adolescents attempt to define who they are (in terms of career, religion, sexual identity, and so on), where they are heading, and where they fit into society. They often change their minds and experiment with new looks, new majors, and new group memberships in the process.


Intimacy versus isolation

Young adult who has not resolved the issue of identity versus role confusion may be threatened by the idea of entering a committed, long- term relationship and being "tied down" or may become over-dependent on a partner as a source of identity.


Generativity versus stagnation

During middle age individual struggle to gain a sense that they have produced something that will outlive them, whether raising happy, healthy children or by doing something meaningful through their work or volunteer activities.




Integrity versus despair

Elderly adults try to find a sense of meaning in their lives that will help them face the inevitability of death. If they are successful, they are able to look back over their lives and say that there is little they could change: If they are not, they may dwell on past injustices and paths not taken and have difficulty preparing for death.




In Childhood and Society (1963) Erikson reported his findings of the difference between the sexes. He established a large playroom with a random selection of toys and invited children to construct out of their imagination any scene they desired.

Erikson noticed a distinct sex difference in the childrens construction.

Girls were apt to represent the interior of a room with a circle of furniture.

Boys, on the other hand, made towers and other high structures, some which were in a state of collapse. (see page 171 in your text)










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Erikson realized that girls and boys use space differently. Girls emphasize inner space and quality of openness versus closedness. Boys concentrate on outer space and qualities of highness and lowness.

These particular tendencies reminded him of the respective structures of the female and male genitals. This discovery led him to hypothesize that "ones experience is anchored in the ground plan of the body", and that there may be profound differences in the sense of space in the two sexes.


Erikson concluded that the development of women is influenced by their awareness of their reproductive capacity, and he identified a womans maternal potential as a key determinant of her personality. Unlike Freud, Eriksons clinical observation did not support the idea that a girls awareness of her sex focuses on a missing penis.


Erikson placed less emphasis on sexual urges as the drivers of development and more emphasis on social influences such as peers, teachers, schools, and the broader culture.

He placed less emphasis on the irrational, selfish id and more on the rational ego and its adaptive powers.

Erikson held a more positive view of human nature, seeing us as active in our development, largely rational, and able to overcome the effects of harmful early experiences.

He maintained that human development continues during adulthood, which accounts for his development of entire life span stages.

Erikson clearly did not agree with Freud that the personality is essentially "set in stone" during early childhood.





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