Personal Growth Reflection Paper

PersonalGrowth Reflection Paper


PersonalGrowth Reflection Paper

Thestudy of personality is one of the major studies that have beenconducted in the field of psychology. Personality development isattributed to a wide array of factors ranging from environmentalinfluences, genetically established characteristics, as well as endresult of relationship between nurture and nature (Hergenhahn &ampOlson, 2011). This paper has focused on two theorists: Sigmund Freud(thePsychoanalytic theory of personality)and Erik H. Erikson (theoryof psychosocial development).The reason for their selection is founded on the influence onetheorist had on the other. Erikson’s theory of personalitydevelopment was influenced by Freud’s psychoanalyst theory,although their approach towards personality differs.

Backgroundon Freud’s Theory

Freudis believed to be the father of psychoanalysis (Hergenhahn &ampOlson, 2011). The theory centers on the conscious and unconsciouselements of personality (Carducci, 2009). The unconscious comprisesof personality components which individuals are not aware of, whileconscious comprises of those elements within individuals’understanding. As illustrated by Freud, thePsychoanalytic theory of personalityis comprised of three elements which include id, ego, and superego(Hergenhahn &amp Olson, 2011). The id is completely unconscious andincorporates primitive as well as inborn behaviors. It is the mainelement of personality as it is the basis of psychic energy. It isthe basis of drives such as biological drives –death and sexdrives, and it emerges at birth (Crain, 2011). The id is significantin early life and is motivated by the pleasure principle thatendeavors for immediate satisfaction of one’s desires. Freud arguesthat id employs the primary procedure to solve the tension generatedby the pleasure principle (Carducci, 2009).

Theego deals with reality. Freud argues that the ego stems from id andis responsible for making certain that the id’s desires arearticulated in the world in a suitable way (Hergenhahn &amp Olson,2011). It is motivated by the reality principle whose motive is togratify the desire of the id in a rational, timely and suitablemanner. It is founded on both the unconscious and conscious mind. Prior to gratifying or abandoning desires, the reality principleevaluates the benefits and costs of a behavior. The ego uses thesecondary process to release tension generated by unmet desires.

Thesuperego holds individuals’ moral principles and standards obtainedfrom the society and parents- sense of doing wrong or right (Engler,2009). It offers guidelines towards the formulation of judgment.Freud argues that the superego surfaces at the age of five and iscomprised of the ego ideals and the conscience. The function of thesuperego is to improve and perfect individuals’ actions. Itrepresses undesirable id’s desires, and makes the ego operate underidealistic principles. Freud puts forth that a healthy personalitycan only be attained by balancing the three elements, the id, theego, and the superego (Carducci, 2009).

Freudalso offers the psychosexual stages of development which include theoral stage (from birth to 1.5 years), anal (1.5-3 years), phallic(3-5 years), latency (5-12 years), and genital (12 years toadulthood) (Hergenhahn &amp Olson, 2011). The development of defensemechanism is also illustrated in the theory. These include denial,repression, displacement, reaction formation, projection, regression,sublimation, and rationalization (Engler, 2009). These mechanismshelp in fighting anxiety caused by various factors such as unpleasantinformation.

Applicationof Freud to my Personality

Freud’stheory of personality development is very applicable to mypersonality. Both of the three elements id, ego, and superego arecharacteristic in my life. I realize that every time I want to do myassignment, my id tells me to do something else, like going out withmy friends. However, my ego and superego plays a major role byweighing the benefits of going out and repressing the id’s desires.This leaves me with the option of doing the assignment first. Thereality principle plays a role in this case. Besides, I consider mypersonality as influenced by strong ego. I have the capacity toobjectively understand myself and the world around me. I am able toforecast, plan well, organized, and schedule. I select resolutelyamongst available options, and choose the most favorable. I amconscious regarding the subsistence of my drives which include eatingsnacks, relying for support from friends, requiring attention,arguing to get my way and having fun, but I know how to control themin a socially tolerable manner. Furthermore, I have the capacity toresist anxiety, and I always pursue what I choose. My parents,together with other people I have come across with in my lifetimehave helped me in developing my conscious ideals. Identification ispart of me, where I always identify with the characteristics ortraits of a favorable individual, who act as my role model.

Backgroundon Erikson’s Theory

Eriksondeveloped one of the most acknowledged theories, theoryof psychosocial development (Hergenhahn&amp Olson, 2011). His main element of the theory is the emergentego identity. It is a conscious sense developed by individuals viasocial interaction (Engler, 2009). Erikson puts forth thatindividual’s ego identity keep on modifying as a result of novelinformation and experiences obtained by interacting with other people(Carducci, 2009). The stages of development offer novel challengeswhich assist in developing or obstructing identity development.According to Erikson, identity formation is a process that starts atchildhood, to adolescence stage, and goes on all through the entirelife.

Anotherelement of the theory is sense of competence (McAdams, 2001). Itstimulates individual actions and behaviors. The stages ofdevelopment in Erikson’s theory aim at making individuals morecompetent in a certain field of life. Better handling of every stageresults in ego equality or strength, while poor handling results ininadequacy. Challenges and conflicts are experienced by persons inevery stage and they serve as a defining moment in development(Crain, 2011). Erikson points out that dealing successfully with theconflicts enables individuals to develop psychological skills andstrengths, which help them all through their life. Failure tocomplete these stages pose challenges which resurface as problems infuture. The stages of Erikson’s personality development arerepresented herein.

Approximate Age


Psychosocial crisis

Significant relationship


0-2 years


Basic Trust vs. Mistrust


Feeding, Abandonment

2–4 years


Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt


Toilet Training, Clothing Themselves

4–5 years


Initiative vs. Guilt


Exploring, Using Tools or Making Art

5–12 years


Industry vs. Inferiority

Neighbors, School

School, Sports

13–19 years


Identity vs. Role Confusion

Peers, Role Model

Social Relationships

20–39 years


Intimacy vs. Isolation

Friends, Partners

Romantic Relationships

40–64 years


Generativity vs. Stagnation

Household, Workmates

Work, Parenthood



Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Mankind, My Kind

Reflection on Life

Hergenhahn&amp Olson, (2011)

Applicationof Erikson to my Personality

Eriksontheory is extremely applicable in my personality. The intimacy vs.isolation stage is characteristic of my life. Most often, I findmyself feeling isolated as a result of intimacy. I am always anxiousof my partner breaking up with me. It appears my ego is not strongenough to put up with pain which comes with being rejected by apartner. I always find myself asking “what is my identity”. Iunderstand that by establishing my identity, I have the capacity offavoring intimacy rather than isolation, which will help me inbuilding lasting commitments.

Similaritiesand/or Differences between the Two Ways of Approaching Personality

Freud’swork had a greater impact on Erikson during the development of histheory. Erikson is believed to be an ego psychologist who developed atheory focused on psychosocial development. In contrast, Freud’stheory is centered on psychosexual development. Similar to Freud, heconsidered that the development of personality is built on a sequenceof stages. He has provided his eight stages to indicate this asillustrated above. However, Erikson’s theory has endeavored atdescribing the effects of social experience in the entire lifespan,disparate to Freud’s psychosexual stages.

Duringearly childhood, Freud (anal stage) and Erikson (autonomy vs. shameand doubt) concur that one of the most important element is toilettraining. Nevertheless, their reasoning is different. Eriksonconsiders that a sense of sovereignty and control is achieved whenindividuals learn to control their bodily functions (McAdams, 2001).


BothFreud and Erikson have offered me with greater understanding ofdeveloping one’s personality. For instance, according to Freud,healthy personality can only be attained by balancing the threeelements, the id, the ego, and the superego. In my life as well ascareer, I realize that I need to follow my ego and superego insteadof succumbing to my id. By doing this, I will be able to prevent suchthings as procrastination in my work. From Erikson’s theory, I havelearnt about the formation of ego identity and how the stages ofdevelopment offer novel challenges which assist in developing orobstructing identity development. By interacting with other peopleand building an identity of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry,identity, intimacy, generativity and ego integrity, I will be in aposition of ensuring personal growth and developing strengths vitalin my life.


Carducci,B. (2009). Thepsychology of personality: Viewpoints, research, and applications.John Wiley &amp Sons.

Crain,W. (2011). Theoriesof development: Concepts and applications(6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc

Engler,B. (2009). Personalitytheories.Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Hergenhahn,B. R., &amp Olson, M. H. (2011). Anintroduction to theories of personality(8th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.

McAdams,D. P. (2001). The psychology of life stories. Reviewof general psychology,5(2), 100.