Over the last 100 years, the underpinning concepts in the fields of psychology and counseling were wrought. Within this period, these concepts have transformed and evolved from somewhat crude conceptions of the psyche toward more holistic interventions and approaches. As the profession continues to move forward, adaptations of the original theorists regarding the nature of man and the development of personality continue to emerge. These adaptations, along with the integration of new concepts and ideas, continue to contribute to the field. The author describes his view of man and human nature, personality development, and explores potential implications for counseling.
Nature of Man
The work of Sigmund Freud continues to influence contemporary practice, as many of his basic concepts remain the foundation from which other theorists develop. Freud described life instincts, a central tenant of the Freudian approach, as instincts that serve the purpose of survival for man as well as the human race. Glasser’s Choice Theory maintains that human behavior is internally motivated by five genetic impulses. The first noted among these impulses is survival (Skeen, 2002; Wubbolding, 2005). Man is a carnal being, sharing the same defensive and predatory instincts found throughout the animal kingdom. Man has basic needs and is driven towards satisfying them.
When examining the development of the human brain, it is known the first portion to develop is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the seat of human life support systems and our natural instincts. Sharing the fight or flight responses, the experience of apprehension towards looming animals or objects, and a need to live and reproduce are innate. These all may be experienced to different degrees as no two people are exactly the same, but at some point there is some degree of response. This is not to imply that we as humans should live as animals, as we have obviously developed the physical and mental ability to transcend this primitive mental state. It does, however, imply that at the center of all of us is a genetic code of animalistic survival. Regardless of how civilized we become, what moral guidelines we breed, or how giving we are to the less fortunate, we all at the core will do what is necessary to survive. This includes actions that would be considered antisocial, if not actions directly against others.
Freud proposed the psychological structure of personality to include three systems called the id, the ego, and the superego. At birth, the id is the original system of personality and is ruled by the pleasure principle. It is driven towards satisfying instinctual needs. The ego can be described as a mediator between ones instincts and their surrounding environment. The ego is ruled by the reality principle, using realistic and logical thinking to formulate action plans for satisfying needs. The superego includes a person’s moral code and strives for perfection, not...