Ever wonder how you’ve become the person you are today? The truth lies in the concept of psychodynamic theory. Your past experiences, relationships, and influences have all contributed to your personality in some way or the other. In this post, we will discuss a number of psychodynamic theory examples to help you develop a better understanding of personality development from a psychological perspective.



What is the Psychodynamic Theory of Personality?

The psychodynamic theory is a collection of different psychological theories that together contribute to the psychodynamic perspective. These theories mainly emphasize on how one’s individual personality is an amalgamation of early childhood experiences and unconscious desires and impulses. Famous theorists such as Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Alder have contributed to the psychodynamic theory.


Sigmund Freud’s Psychodynamic Theory

Sigmund Freud is among the most influential names in psychology. The Austrian neurologist is considered as the pioneers in the field of psychodynamics because of his extensive research.

Freud has also widely known for the wealth of work he has produced over the years. In his study, Freud categorized personality into three parts namely id, ego and superego.

According to Freud, a person is born with id – which drives us to fulfill our basic needs. The id can be inconsiderate, forcing one to run after their desires since it is fuelled by aggression.

However, as kids grow older, he or she develops the ego. Unlike id, ego is transfixed on the principle of reality and mediates between id and superego. The superego serves as a moral conscience which helps us differentiate between right and wrong.


Alfred Adler’s Inferiority and Birth Order

According to Alfred Adler’s theory, each one of us is born with a sense of inferiority. This is evidenced by how weak and fragile a newborn baby is. Adler believed that inferiority is an integral part of our personality. In fact, the very feeling of inferiority is what pushes us to become superior.

Alder also explained birth order and how older children may develop inferiority complex once they have a younger sibling. In this scenario, the middle child may feel more superior to their older sibling and consider themselves as healthy competition.

On the other hand, the youngest sibling is likely to feel the most helpless of the lot. Because of this, the younger child may develop a sense of inferiority that is quite similar to the sentiments of a newborn.


Erik Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

Erik Erikson is widely known for his theory of Psychosocial Development. In it, Erikson discussed eight stages of personality development starting from infant-hood to adulthood.

In each stage, the person experiences a certain challenge that helps mold him into the person he/she ought to become, thus contributing to personality development.


Psychodynamic Theory Examples

To help you gain a better idea, we’ve compiled a list of psychodynamic theory examples. The key concept to keep in mind here is that early childhood memories greatly contribute to the person we are today. Some examples include:

  1. Early childhood events may cause some people to develop a nail-biting habit
  2. A childhood incident that caused fear in the past may trigger anxiety in adulthood
  3. Behaviors such as obsessive handwashing are often linked to may be linked to childhood trauma in the past
  4. Skin picking and hair plucking are compulsions which may be linked to developmental trauma
  5. Feeling pangs of nervousness after completing certain tasks may be associated or linked to a childhood memory.
  6. A childhood experience that caused fear of an open space may lead to the development of agoraphobia in adults
  7. Number aversion is another obsessive behavior that is commonly associated with childhood development

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading about psychodynamic theory examples. For more information, check out our psychology section. Happy learning!



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