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Theories Of Personality: Sigmund Freud Vs Carl Rogers

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Psychology has been a part of our lives for many years and there are a multitude of perspectives on human personality. Sigmund Freud and Carl Rogers theories of personality have changed the world of psychology forever. There analysis on human progress and the steps it takes towards building and shaping our personalities is truly genius. Among both theorists you will see as they are both ventured into in great detail how they differ in regards to the science of how personality is created and have some similarities to one another in regards to their foundations and overall what personality is for a human.

Personality is a pattern of relatively permanent traits and unique characteristics that give both consistency and individuality to a person’s conduct. Over centuries Psychologist’s have studied the way humans personalities and minds develop as we go through our life span starting as infants and ending in adulthood, which eventually leads to death. There are many psychologists whose ideas about personality have greatly affected the field of psychology entirely but the two theories that really appealed to me are those of Sigmund Freud and Carl rogers. Sigmund Freud holds the title of being the “father of psychiatry” as he has accomplished many things in the field of psychoanalysis. Freud’s theory has been scrutinized over the years for being seen as sexist but it is still one of the most hot discussions to date. His theory of personality says that there are five stages of psychosexual development that humans go through starting from the infantile stage which is during the first four to five years of age.

These are the most crucial years for personality formations according to Freud. He believes that infants go through their own phase of sexuality as they show interest in genitals. Unlike adult sexuality, children cannot reproduce but they can satisfy their sexual impulses with other organs which begins with the oral phase. During this first stage infants are fixated on their mouths as it is the first organ of pleasure. Children relieve this pleasure through sucking with their first experience of sucking being through the nipple when born. As children develop they have their first autoerotic experience which is when they suck their thumb. This phase typically lasts from birth until turning a year and a half old before moving into the next stage of development. Following the oral phase comes the anal phase that begins from the age of a year and a half until the child turns three years old.

This stage primarily focuses on children adopting healthy potty training habits. During this stage children can sometimes behave in a very aggressive manner, especially towards their parents so to satisfy their need to destroy they take an interest in their feces which is a pleasure they receive from defecating through potty training. The next stage to follow the anal phase is the phallic phase which begins at the age of three years old and continues until the child turns five years old. During the phallic phase childrens sexual interest is primarily focused towards their gentials and they learn to develop substitues for the sexual attraction they have towards the opposite sex. Due to the fact that many parents frown upon their child masturbating at their age they learn to repress that urge. The next stage to follow is the latency stage which begins at age five and ends at age twelve. During this phase of changing from a child to an adolescent, you begin to develop healthy inner sexual feelings towards the opposite sex.

They begin to go to school and create friendships, create hobbies for themselves, and continue to repress their sexual drive. The last stage of development is the genital stage which is from the age of twelve years old up into adulthood. In this final phase all of the previous stages are combined which creates a healthy mental onset of sexual feelings and behaviors. It is through all of these stages that really help to shape a person’s personality in life as they transition into adulthood.

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Each level of development serves as a purpose towards the creation of one’s personality. A person’s ability to be able to solve some inner conflicts as they go through each stage will really determine how they will cope and function as an adult. All of these stages get processed into a three level system that consists of superego, ego, and id. Superego is essentially reality or as Freud liked to call it the “screening center”. Superego is the level that takes into consideration the opinions of parental guidance, society, etc and goes against your own personal pleasures which commonly leads to conflict. Ego is like the mediator out of the three levels. At this level you can rationalize, make judgements, plan, defend, and analyze information until you can come out with an outcome that is satisfactory. Finally there is the id which is the center of our ego. The id is what is constantly fighting for everything to go our way in anything you take on in life.

Now Carl Rogers is the complete opposite of Sigmund Freud. Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who believed in person centered therapy and that in order for an individual to grow that they needed to be surrounded by a genuine, empathetic, and accepting environment. Rogers biggest contribution to the world of psychology was the idea of self-actualization. He believes that without these important relationships, one’s personality will not be developed properly. Rogers identified five characteristics that displayed a fully functioning person which includes being open to experiences, existential living, trust, creativity, and a life that is fulfilled. Being open to experiences means accepting the positive and negative emotions we go through in life and processing those emotions in a healthy manner. Existential living goes hand in hand with experiences in the sense that this characteristic has to do with appreciating the present with the experiences that you go through and not have any preconceptions. This means not looking back to the past or thinking too much of the future to come. Trust is involved with a person’s feelings, and instincts meaning being able to trust yourself and the choices that you decide to make. Creativity to Rogers meant being able to think in this manner and being able to take risks in your life. This involves being able to adjust to change and wanting to go out of your way to seek new experiences. Finally living a fulfilled life is when a person is truly happy and feels good about their lives. When this arises a person will go out of their way to look for new challenges and experiences. The central idea to Rogers theory of personality is through self-concept which would be a person’s set beliefs.

Rogers describes the self as being our inner personality which he believes is shaped by a person’s experiences and the understanding of those experiences. Rogers claims that the two major factors that shape our personalities are childhood experiences and the opinion of others. A child’s feelings about themselves is crucial to their mental health and how they choose to go out chasing after their goals and ambitions in life. Rogers says that feeling accepted and valued by others is an essential feeling that children want in life. Children want to be loved unconditionally for who they are. The self aka our personality includes three key components which are self-worth, self image, and our ideal-self. Self-worth involves our self esteem which is what we think and feel about ourselves. According to Rogers these feelings of self-worth develop very early in a person’s childhood and is first formed by a child’s interactions with their mom and dad. Next is self-image which is how we see ourselves whether it be good or bad. Our self-image affects how a person thinks, feels, and chooses to behave in life. The ideal-self is the person that we would like to be in our lives. It involves our goals and aspirations in life which is constantly changing as we grow. Amid both of these theorists there are many differences and similarities that allow them to both be a part of the branch of psychology but in different subdivisions. Between these theories there are a few differences that are easily point out one of them being that in Rogers theories he describes one’s personality as a whole whereas Freud breaks down personality into three equal parts being the superego, ego, and id. Another difference among the two theories is that Rogers does not analyze the history of any of his patients whereas Freud’s theory shows how if certain phases in a child’s life are not completed correctly that they would have problems in certain areas as adults.

Rogers idea of the ideal-self is shown as a positive where he wants his patients to be able to reach their goal of their ideal-self and then essentially create a new ideal-self with more goals and aspirations because we are constantly changing. Freud’s idea of the ideal self would be the superego portion of this theory which is very negative. Your superego is constantly telling you what it is in life that you are doing wrong rather than the good things. The similarities between the two theories are as follows: both theories talk about one’s natural drives in life for example Freud’s id and rogers idea of being genuinely yourself. Finally both Rogers and Freud’s theories began through the study of people who were emotionally a mess. Overall I feel that between both Carl Rogers and Sigmund Freud’s theories that Rogers Humanistic theories is the more accurate representation of the human personality. Rogers looks a person as an individual and not as something that can be altered by science. The human mind is one of the most complex organs in the human body and shaping our personalities as individuals should be done in an enviornment that allows us to grow and prosper in a healthy fashion. Being able to take on experiences and learn from them at our own descretion is very important especially in a childs life as they are just beginning to see what the world they live in is actually like. Rogers really pushes towards living in the moment which not many people do in this generation.

Living in the present and being able to appreciate how far you have come as a person, and how many of your goals have been achieved is crucial to your mental health and overall well being. If we were to constantly look to the past and reminisce in the dreary experiences that we have been through or look very far into the future and think about our lives as a whole and thinking of death is a detriment to your mental health. You have to be present and go where life takes you in order to be able to self actulalize to be best of your abiliy and live your life to its absolute fullest. Our personality really displayes how every human differentiates from each other whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, quite and shy or social and bubbly the uniquness of our personalitites among the human race is astonishing.


  1. The Freudian Theory of Personality. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. De Sousa, A. (2011, January). Freudian theory and consciousness: a conceptual analysis**. Retrieved from
  3. Joseph, S., & Murphy, D. (n.d.). Person-Centered Approach, Positive Psychology, and Relational Helping: Building Bridges - Stephen Joseph, David Murphy, 2013. Retrieved from
  4. Revisiting Carl Rogers Theory of Personality. (n.d.). Retrieved from
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Theories Of Personality: Sigmund Freud Vs Carl Rogers. (2021, September 03). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
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