Literary Theory Essay

LiteraryTheory Essay

Thepsychoanalytic theory is a personality theory developed by SigmundFreud in the late 19thCentury (1856-1939). It focuses on dynamics of personalitydevelopment and personality organization that directs psychoanalysis.Psychoanalysis is a clinical method used in the treatment ofpsychopathology. The theory is used to examine and treat personalitydisorders, and it is used in psychotherapy. The psychoanalytic theoryfocuses on identification of the childhood events and how theseevents impact on the mental functioning of adults. Freud evaluatedthe genetic and developmental aspects, which was used to develop thecharacteristics of the psychoanalytic theory. The psychoanalysistherapy is used to treat anxiety disorders and depression by helpingindividuals release their experiences and emotions. Freud believedthat making the conscious minds of people become unconscious can curethem. Freud stated that the mind consists of two parts including theconscious and the unconscious mind and the unconscious mind in mostinstances makes quick decisions without the conscious mind realizingit (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Thispaper seeks to analyze the psychoanalytic theory and use the “Tenderis the Night” through the analysis.

Analysisof the Psychoanalytic Theory

Thepsychoanalytic theory of personality states that human behavior isshaped by the interactions that take place among three major elementsof the mind and this includes the ego, id, and super-ego.These are fundamental structures of the mind of human being in whichconflicts that forms personality takes place. He states that as aperson grows, the character of conflicts changes with time among thethree parts of the mind. Freud regards id as a total unconscious partof the psyche that is impulsive and demanding without determining thereality of the situation. Freud bases ego on the principle of realitythat checks id to ensure that reality of a situation is considered.Freud describes super-ego as a moral part of the psyche that promotesmorality despite the situation a person is in. It works by balancingthe id and the ego thereby facilitating the development of healthypersonality among individuals (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Freudfocuses on the sexuality as the key driver of the development ofhuman personality. Freud argues that personality of an individual isdeveloped during childhood and this is influenced by thepsychotherapy theory of development. In each stage, a childexperiences a conflict between social expectations and biologicalfactors. These biological factors and social expectations result inthe mastery of every stage of development that eventually leads to acomplete growth of maturity (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Freudindicated that the conflicts advance through the five basic stages ofdevelopment which include genital, oral, latency, phallic and anal.He referred to this kind of development as the psychosexual theory.The oral stage represents children from birth to 18 months when achild focuses on sucking as an oral pleasure thus an oralpersonality. The anal stage represents children from 18 months to 3years of age where they focus on learning how to control things suchas feces that help them to become organized individuals in future.The phallic stage represents children from 3 years to 6 years of agewhere children focus on pleasure shifts to their genitals and developan unconscious sexual desire. The latency stage represents childrenfrom 6 years to puberty where sexual desires are largely contained.In genital stage, which involves individuals from puberty stageonwards, the focus of pleasure switches to members of the oppositesex (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Inthe five stages, a child experiences different types of conflictsthat occur between superego (moral and social conscience) and theirid (biological factors). The conflicts occur due to biologicalpleasures which focus on different parts of the body that Freudreferred to as erogenous zones. Freud states that the ability of achild to address the internal conflicts determines their ability indealing with conflicts in future as adults. Freud indicates thatfailure of a person to resolve the internal conflicts at every stagecan cause them to become engrossed in that particular stage therebyresulting in the acquisition of unhealthy personality traits.Therefore, he indicates that addressing problems at each stagesuccessfully contributes to a healthy adult (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Freudbases psychoanalysis therapy on the idea that people do not haveknowledge of the different factors that contribute to the developmentof certain behaviors or emotions. He states that the unconsciousfactors have the capability of generating unhappiness that isdisplayed through distinct features such as poor personality traitsthat make it difficult for an individual to associate with others(Psychoanalysis15-17).

Freudhas discussed ways that psychoanalytic treatment shows how theunconscious factors influence mental health, relationships, andbehavior. He states that the treatment tracks the roots of theunconscious factors and determines their evolution and developmentover the years. Therefore, through psychoanalysis treatment,individuals are able to overcome the challenges they experience inlife (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Additionally,the psychoanalysis therapy enhances the understanding of thedifferent stages of growth and development as well as the functioningof the mind. The theory explains the complexity of associationbetween the mind and the body, and this facilitates comprehension ofthe role of emotions in health and illness. It is evident that thepsychoanalysis treatment provides a foundation for other treatmentprograms including psychiatric practice, child psychiatry, generalpsychiatric practice and family therapy (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Freud’stheory of psychoanalytic has contributed to the expansion ofknowledge of the personality of individuals. However, it is evidentthat the theory has some limitations. For instance, it has a narrowfocus in that it focuses largely on pathology and does not talk aboutthe “normal” healthy functioning of people. Also, it focuses onlyon human sexuality and ignores other important factors such as theimpact of culture, sociology or environment on the behavior of aperson (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Additionally,critics have indicated that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory lacks ascientific basis. It is argued that the theory has no empirical datato support it. For a theory to be considered to be scientificallyvalid, it must prove the information through empirical evidence.However, Freud’s ideas of the psychoanalytic theory lack scientificideas. This has resulted in the questioning of the validity of thepsychoanalysis both as a theory and treatment. Also, the method usedin psychoanalysis treatment as well as the effectiveness of thesemethods has been criticized widely. Similarly, the value of data onwhich Freud developed the psychoanalysis theory has been highlyquestioned. Moreover, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory has beencriticized for being patriarchal. The theory has been developed onmasculine narcissism thus considered to be biased towards women(Psychoanalysis15-17).

Anexampleofa psychoanalysis theory is the “Tender Is the Night” novelwritten by Fitzgerald Scott in 1934. The novel narrates a story ofthe tragic romance of an American couple Nicole and Dick Diver andthe young actress called Rosemary Hoyt. Dick is a psychiatrist and ahusband to Nicole, who is one of his patients. It highlights the riseand fall of Dick Diver, which is based on his personality. It depictsDick as a charmer and opportunistic, cunning, cheater and amanipulator (Fitzgerald36).

Beinga doctor and a psychoanalyst, Dick married Nicole who was hispatient. Nicole was suffering from severe case of neuroses, which issuggested to have been contributed by her incestuous relationshipwith her father. Based on Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, it isevident that unconscious factors affect the ability of individuals torelate well with others (Psychoanalysis15-17).In this case, Nicole could not associate well with her father(Fitzgerald36).

Nicolewas placed in a psychoanalytic treatment, which helped her doctor,Dick to trace the unconscious factors that influenced her illness.The doctor was able to determine that incestuous relationship Nicolehad with her father contributed to her illness (Fitzgerald36).According to Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, he states thatpsychoanalysis treatment helps to determine the evolution anddevelopment of behavior of a person over time and assist them toovercome the issues that are affecting their lives (Psychoanalysis15-17).

Duringthe course of treatment, Nicole becomes infatuated with Dick. Thisleads to the development of a romantic relationship between Nicoleand Dick. This aligns with Freud’s explanation on how unconsciousfactors influences a person’s behavior and relationship(Psychoanalysis15-17).Dick knowing of Nicole’s feelings towards him, he decides to marryher in order to provide her with long-term emotional stability.However, Nicole’s sister does not approve this marriage because shebelieves Dick is marrying Nicole due to her status as an heiress.Based on feelings of Nicole’s sisters towards Dick, it is clearthat Dick is cunning and a manipulator (Fitzgerald36).

Additionally,Dick’s personality becomes transparent after wedding Nicole. Hedevelops a drinking problem and gets infatuated with Nicole’sfriend Rosemary. According to Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, itis possible that Dick’s unhealthy personality traits resulted fromhis failure to address the internal conflicts at a particular stageof development. Freud reveals that addressing internal conflictsoccurring at each of development enhances a person’s ability todeal with future challenges (Psychoanalysis15-17).In this case, it is clear that Dick did not resolve the internalconflicts at a certain stage of development and thus affected hisability to handle challenges in his adult life, which contributed tohis poor personality trait (Fitzgerald,1934).

Theunconscious factors caused Dick to become infatuated with Rosemary.According to Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, unconscious factorshave profound impacts on behavior, relationship and mentalfunctioning of an individual. Being a psychiatrist, Dick decided toact upon the idea of having an affair with Rosemary. Here, Dick’spersonality is depicted as an opportunistic and manipulator. Dick andNicole’s marriage is crumbling and his infatuation with Rosemary isgrowing, who is a successful Hollywood star. According to Freud’spsychoanalytic theory, the unconscious factors can cause unhappiness(Psychoanalysis15-17) andin this case, the elements of unhappiness is presented through Dick’sinfatuation and drinking, which makes it difficult for him tointeract well with others (Fitzgerald36).

Dick’sunhealthy personality traits cause Nicole and Rosemary to realizethat he has inner securities and this is causing him to develop poorbehaviors. His behavior causes embarrassment in the family and socialsituations. Nicole and Rosemary were able to have an awareness of theindependence and thus made the decision to stay away from Dick.Rosemary cuts relations with Dick and Nicole divorces him and marriesTommy Barban. Therefore, Dick is left alone and finds himself indiminishing circumstances that impact profoundly on his life. Thisstory provides a good example of a psychoanalytic theory. It supportsFreud`s argument that personality has the profound influence on aperson`s relationship, behavior and mental health (Psychoanalysis15-17).Therefore, an individual’s personality is very significant indetermining their achievement and failures in life through theirability to overcome challenges (Fitzgerald36).


Freud’spsychoanalysis theory focuses on the personality of individuals intheir development and organization in different aspects of life. Thetheory is used to assess personality disorders and provide treatmentto these disorders through psychoanalysis. The theory has identifiedthe impacts of events that persons experience during their childhoodon their adult life. The psychoanalysis therapy involves making theconscious thoughts of individuals unconscious, and this plays a greatrole in healing anxiety disorders and depression. Freud indicatesthat human behaviors are influenced by relations in major keycomponents of the mind) ego, id, super-ego) where conflicts thatshapes personality occurs. In his psychoanalysis theory, Freud statesthat the conflicts that determine personality are advanced throughfive basic stages of development (psychosexual theory). These stagesinclude genital,oral, latency, phallic and anal. Therefore, the psychoanalysis theorycontributes significantly to the understanding of the developments ofpersonality in individuals.


Fitzgerald,F. Scott. &quotTender is the Night (New York: Charles Scribner`sSons, 1934).&quot Hereafterthis edition is referred to as TTN (I):36.

Psychoanalysis. Introductionto Theory and Criticism:15-17.