Psychoanalytic-Social Personality Perspective

What makes the psychoanalytic-social perspective of personality unique?

Our personality is who we are, who we become. Personality is a major interest within study of psychology because it can be used to better understand who people are. It helps us understand why people react differently in same situations, as well as the consistency of their responses. A simple breakdown shows that the Psychoanalytic social theory was created upon the theory that cultural and social conditions, particularly the various experiences one would have during their childhood, play a big role in shaping a person’s personality. Those who did not have their needs for love and affection fulfilled during their childhood develop some sort of aggression toward their parents, because of this aggression they could develop some level of anxiety. It could be an understood culture that is not controlled by any sort of cultural values, but this could be a hard task to complete. “Erikson envisioned a psychoanalytic approach that would consider social and cultural realities rather than focusing exclusively on the individual, as Freud had done. James Cote and Charles Levine have developed such a psychoanalytic social psychology in their research and theorizing” (Cloninger, 2013).

What are the main components of each of the psychoanalytic-social personality theories? What are some of the main differences between theories?

The psychoanalytic-social personality theories are composed of the individual psychological theory, psychosocial development, and interpersonal psychoanalytic theory. In the individual psychological theory, Alder proposed that people should be characterized by a social perspective, and not biological. In other words, Alder argued that we should focus on a person’s individual goals and how it shapes an individual. Adler’s inferiority complex is a concept that a person is overcome with a feeling of lack of self-worth. This suggest that each person has a felt minus, since all people began life as a newborn, inferior to others and relying on the needs of others for their survival. Any short comings may encourage an individual to excel further to achieve their desire outcome the “aggressive drive”. Likewise, Erikson’s psychosocial development theory argues that a person develops based on its culture or society. The main components of this theory are the psychosocial stages which incorporate culture starting from infancy. Erikson further explains his theory with the epigenetic principle, which states that psychosocial development based on a biological model. Karen Horney’s psychoanalytic-social personality theory’s main components consist of neurosis and psychoanalysis involving inner conflicts. Langenderfer (1999), “The personality she gave is an example of children and how parents as well as other socializing factors influence their personality. For instance, a normal child goes through life having certain characteristics of themselves when relating experiences with school, hobbies, and home. However, when looking at a child that is neurotic the environmental factors isolates their true self.” Horney believes that Freud’s theory about sexuality and continuous compulsives, is interfering with an individual, the family, and social factors where there is organization of values, and attitudes. Freud believes they are compulsive drives from nature, involving every human being. She believes they are compulsive drives but become neurotic by a human feeling isolated, helpless, afraid, and hostile.

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Choose one of the psychoanalytic-social personality theories, and apply it to your own life. Explain your own personality and personality development through this theory.

Erikson’s eight stages of the life cycle is the most intriguing to myself. McLeod (2013), “According to Erikson, the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future”. As you progress through the life cycle, you encounter different events that influence your personality over time. Completing a stage successfully results in a healthy personality. Whereas failure to complete a stage results in a reduced ability to complete the future stages. Growing up my parents set expectations for me based off my age. Every life lesson I was taught was so that I would be able to successfully make it to the next life cycle. Because of the guidance I received from my parents, I didn’t encounter all of the crisis described in Erikson’s life cycles. The next life cycle for myself is Generativity vs Stagnation. I can achieve the virtue of care by giving back to society, being productive at work, and becoming involved in the community. From the experiences of my past, I can create a wonderful future with a healthy personality.


Cloninger, S. C. (2013). Theories of Personality: Understand Persons (6th ed.). : .

Langenderfer, G. (1999). Karen Horney. Retrieved from http://muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/horney.htm

McLeod, S. (2013). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html


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