Freud, Sartre, And Humanism Term Paper

Length: 2 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Psychology Type: Term Paper Paper: #75901718 Related Topics: Humanistic Psychology, Ego, Deception, Nature
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Freud and the existentialists are too pessimistic about human nature? Are humanistic psychologists closer to the truth, or too optimistic?

According to Freud, all desire is a form of displacement. First, the young boy desires his mother. However, unable to realize this desire because of societal conventions, he shifts the focus of his affection to another woman and tries to become like his father instead and find a substitute mother/woman. Similarly, the young girl shifts her desire for a penis onto a male, which becomes her way of 'having' a penis. Both developmental trajectories result in the child similarly never having the thing he or she truly wants. However, this form of repression is necessary to prevent incest and repression of all kinds is required for human society to function. For Freud, society is an inevitable series of compromises: the id (and the ego, which satisfies the id's desires) is always at war with the superego, which relegates individuals to a state of constant denial. To be alive is to be neurotic or in a constant state of conflict....


"The Id accounts for 90% of who we are. It is unconscious and therefore unknown to us, but it shapes our conscious life and sometimes even dominates the Ego. We then become neurotic" when the id is denied ("Theories of human nature," n.d.).

Existentialists similarly see human beings in a state of conflict with their environments. Sartre famously stated that "existence precedes essence" ("Theories of human nature," n.d.). Rather than essentializing human nature, Sartre believed that human beings had the potential to be free of constraints, but that they had tremendous difficulty exercising this freedom. "The reality of our freedom is good and bad -- it creates anguish, it leads us to self-deception as we try to avoid our freedom. We must struggle against having our lives determined by the others -- this is inauthentic" ("Theories of human nature," n.d.). In stark contrast to Freud, Sartre sees external pressures and determination not as negative but as a threat to human freedom. Human beings create barriers for themselves that hem in that freedom. These barriers only exist in their own head and are not necessary.

Although Freud and Sartre have very different views of human nature, both see most human beings as effectively in conflict with themselves and with society. For Freud, natural desires are inevitably going to clash against…

Sources Used in Documents:


McLeod, S.A. (2007). Humanism. Retrieved from:

Theories of human nature. (n.d.). Retrieved from:

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