Freud’s theory of personality development developed a rich thought in mental health. This paper is to discuss Freud’s theory and the principle of personality development and explore the implications for positive enlightenment to the child in mental health. Firstly, we discuss application of optimize of the initial environment of personality construction. Secondly, we establish a healthy psychological defense mechanism, Thirdly, is to promote children’s games, pay attention to emotional counselling; the fourth how to build a moral concept that is suitable for children’s age characteristics.
Sigmund Freud’s theory of personality development (1856-1939) played an important role in the history of personality psychology. Freud’s theory of personality development is a rich and explores to help us to understand the factors affecting children’s mental health and effectively implement education of children’s mental health.
1. Freud’s theory of personality development
Freud is the founder of the theory of psychodynamics. The theory of psychodynamics emphasizes the role of psychological conflicts in the subconscious sphere in damaging children’s mental health and causing psychological abnormalities. Freud believes that the difference between normal behaviour and abnormal behaviour reflects the difference in degree rather than types. People with mental health who try to minimize internal conflicts by developing effective strategies.
Freud divided the personality structure model of psyche into three parts id, ego and superego from the subconscious, pre-conscious and vertical levels of consciousness. The id is often seen as part of the personality structure that pursues the instinctive desires of living things, the Ego refers to the positive control, observation and learning functions of personality; The superego refers to the moral ideals, social precepts and norms that the person learns during he or she grows up.
The “id” is in the bottom which is the basic structure of the personality, completely in the subconscious, is determined by genetic biological instinct, it follows the principle of “pleasure”, required to satisfy the basic biological needs. If you need not satisfied, it will appeal be anxious, and unpleasure, regardless to get rid of the pain and frustration to get satisfied, or only use illusion to reduce tension. The “Ego” is divided from the id, is the reality of the id. The ego is the mediator of the relationship between id and the outside world. It should not only meet the needs of id but also stop the behaviours that violate social norms, moral norms and laws. Therefore, the ego no longer follows the “pleasure principle” to pursue unconditional and immediate satisfaction, but accepts the reality by the logic, and under the guidance of the “reality principle”, strives not to conflict with the requirements of reality. It also to make itself satisfied. The ego is the rational part of the personality structure. Its task is to feel the reality externally, recognize the reality, and adapt to reality. It is responsible for managing the release of instinctive impulses and desires internally. Superego is defined the part developed from the ego, the highest level and ideal part of the personality, and the moralized self. In terms of the order of formation of three distinct, it is the last component of the personality structure. It follows the principle of “perfection”, which makes people act in accordance with values and ideals and pursue perfection endlessly. Therefore, it is also unrealistic.
Freud believed that the person with a strong ego can lead to a healthy personality, which is subject to the person can undergo the pressure of id, ego and superego at the same time. If these three distinct can maintain a dynamic balance, people can have a mental health. Otherwise, it can cause psychological conflict and even produce abnormal psychology.
Five Stage of personality development
In each stage of the personality development, will have a special area to become the center of the libido excitement and satisfaction. Freud depending on the libido excited area could be divided into five stages of personality development, Freud in the process of research of personality development. In different stage of physiological basis and the role of education and training in each stage of development. The division of his five stages of psychological development and psychological age phase of the science division of consistency. Freud emphasizes that the early experiences in the important role of personality development, think the child is father of the man, think personality disorder is one of the causes of the early experiences of psychological mark or trauma. as shown in Fig. 1.
Implication of Freud’s theory of personality development on education of children’s mental health
Freud put the basic motive force of human behaviour in human instinct and asserted that all human action lies in the pursuit of pleasure or the satisfaction of organic needs. He overemphasized the influence of biological factors on the formation of personality, and overemphasized the role of instinct and subconscious, and neglected the critical regulatory role of consciousness in human activities, which is one of the most significant drawbacks of Freud’s personality development theory. However, Freud opened up a new field to research on the person’s psychology, behaviour motivation. He put forward the psychological abnormalities are not by a physiological and anatomical structure of the brain, which is caused by the damage of inner psychological conflict can also cause abnormal psychology, so that the psychologists from the physiological process itself to study abnormal behaviour motivation and content. Freud’s theory of personality development has positive implications for the way we explore education in children’s mental health.
(1) Optimize the initial environment for personality construction
Personality is the externalization of people’s internal physical and psychological characteristics, and the basic characteristics of people’s quality, ability and character when they handle and deal with various external contradictions. Personality integrity is the concentrated embodiment of mental health. Childhood personality education is of great significance to the formation and improvement of future personality.
Freud emphasized the importance of childhood experience in the formation of personality and believed that the misfortune of individual life could be traced to his experience, especially his childhood experience. That is to say, most of the patients with psychological diseases can often trace their causes back to the childhood environment and education factors. Freud’s discussion on the importance of early experience mainly focuses on the satisfaction and frustration of children’s biological needs, which will contribute to the smooth development of personality, while excessive indulgence and frustration will make children fixed in a certain stage and cause damage to personality. In childhood, the bottom, the nature of the conflicts between ego and superego and strength depends on childhood education situation and the attitude of the caregivers, educators, sympathy for the support, take good care, and reasonable parents raise children is good at dealing with conflicting desires, motivations, rarely use the destructive psychological defense mechanism. On the contrary, the children raised by parents who adopt punishment and excessive restriction may overuse the psychological defense mechanism and efficiently produce psychological disorder. Freud’s theory, we think it is critical to optimize the initial environment of personality construction.
Family is the initial environment for children’s growth, and the personality characteristics formed by children have a great relationship with the initial education of the family. The survey also found that children with deviated psychosocial development were related to their parents’ educational level, education attitude, education method and family atmosphere. Therefore, the family has a special impact on the promotion and maintenance of children’s mental health. (Rajyaguru, 2016). Making a good family environment, is to create a healthy and harmonious family atmosphere. For a set up a healthy family in child initial stage, it is necessary to create a good relationship in between child and parents. When the children live in such a family will feel happy and safe. They can accept the others person, who can drain out of the stress, tension and anxiety in the deep in the heart. In early childhood, the children are alienated emotionally from their parents in various reasons. It is to lead they will deny and feel anxious, lonely and inferior. For this reason, in the process of children’s growth, parents should not only raise their children, but also love them with their own emotions. According to Freud, a person who receives fully love who will be a self-actualized person with loving ability, independence and responsibility. Therefore, parents should respect the nature of children, show concern instead of strong force. They should give children full freedom, let children grow up in independent. The second is to improve the cultivation of people’s personality traits. For example, less communication with children, high expectations of children, rude attitude towards children’s upbringing. it will affect children’s mental health.
(2) Establish a healthy psychological defense mechanism
In order to alleviate psychological conflicts, individuals will consciously or unconsciously use certain way of mechanisms to get rid of troubles so as to restore emotional stability. This mechanism or strategy is called psychological defense mechanism.
It is an adaptive tendency, resulting in the behavior, known as defensive behavior. According to Freud, psychological defense mechanisms are irrational ways to reduce and relieve anxiety. They are often used by individuals unknowingly, and often distort or distort reality. For example, in the psychological defense mechanism, repression is the most basic defense mechanism, which will make people feel confused or painful thoughts, desires or experiences blocked out. . Freud believed that individuals suppressed the memory of painful experience or the impulse which did not recognize by society, but they also did not disappear. Instead, they just transferred from the state of consciousness to the state of subconsciousness, which was temporarily hidden under the control of consciousness. If given the opportunity, they would still escape and affect people’s behavior. Moreover, if the subconscious contains too much painful experience and repressed impulse, which exceeds the ability of conscious management, the integrity of individual personality will be destroyed. It can be seen that the psychological defense mechanism has a certain positive effect. It t can temporarily relieve the inner pain and anxiety, but it will also produce some negative effects. It is because that most of psychological defense mechanisms and defensive behaviors are negative adaptation methods, such as avoiding contradictions, concealing contradictions and deceiving oneself, while potential psychological conflicts have not been solved. They will gradually accumulate and make people fall into a frustration or conflict situations, affecting their adaptation to the surrounding environment. Eventually, we have to help children establish mature psychological defense mechanism.
The survey shown that the mental health is low, the personality is not perfect individual, who use unhealthy defense mechanism. On the contrast, the mental health level is high who, use healthier defense mechanism. As long as the individual with health mental can relieve pain inside and adapt to the external environment of defense mechanism, the most important is “positive adaptation. Positive adaptation can not only alleviate the confusion and anxiety caused by motivation conflict or frustration, but also enable people to achieve self-improvement and self-realization. (Heydarinasab, 2009)
(3) Promote the game to children
Games are a way to build positive emotions and adjust negative emotions. Freud believed that games also have a subconscious component. Games are real things under the fantasy. Games can compensate children’s unrealized wishes in real life. It connects imaginary things with real things and obtain happiness from them. Games can reproduce those frustrated experience, and also express emotions and relieve psychological tension. The children can overcome difficulties, reduce anxiety, develop self-strength, so as to cope with the reality of the environment.
(4) Construct moral for children’s age characteristics
According to Freud, children not only develop the “ego”, but also know what is right and what is wrong. It can be distinguished between right and wrong, which is the “superego” in personality. “Superego” refers to the moral ideal, social discipline and norms, which plays an important role in maintaining children’s mental health. How to develop the “superego” of children’s health, we think the most important thing is to construct the moral concept for children’s age characteristics. Freud’s idea of morals was profoundly influenced by his time and the society. The superego develops as an expression of internalized authority figure originally based on the parents and later reinforced by social representatives such as teachers, police, and clergy. As he describes it, “when we were little children, we knew these higher natures, we admired them and feared them; and later we took them into ourselves” (The Ego and the Id, Sigmund Freud, 1923). However, children lack practical experience and deeper understanding of the significance of social norms or moral behavior requirements taught by adults. Therefore, the moral knowledge taught to children must be adapted to the psychological age characteristics of children. I n accordance with the characteristics of children’s moral awareness, select specific moral scenarios and contents of moral behaviors, and reflect them to children such as telling stories, reading children’s songs, looking at pictures for transference training.
Implication of Freud’s personal development theory
His theory is also difficult to test because it is unconscious, whether it is a childhood memory or a fantasy in the form of memory. Most of Freud’s theories were questioned for lack of empirical support, making the method difficult to disprove. However, while it is difficult to produce verifiable hypotheses, it is not impossible. It also depends on how you look at the theory, the scientific approach or the philosophical approach, whether it’s a weakness or a strength. Psychodynamics holds a deterministic view (Gross, 2005) that no one has free will. We are predetermined by our internal drive. This is seen as a weakness because therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and humanistic therapy have shown that we can change the way we behave. Another influence neglected by psychodynamic methods is the influence of biochemistry and genetics on behavior.