The Awakening - Personality Developments


The idea that one can understand and comprehend the development of an individual is profound and abstruse, but very few people have actually had success dealing with such a topic. From obstacles such as proper test subjects to the whole stigma of taboo attached in trying to understand the human mind, researchers and psychologists have had success. One of the most notable successes is that of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, as we know it. Freud?s in depth pioneering journey into the minds of people, and how the mind itself develops with the passing of time and events. Other modern psychologists have elaborated on Freud, including the psychologists Erik Erikson and Karen Horney. Their thoughts on the personality development of people relate directly to Kate Chopin?s book, The Awakening. In this book, the theories discussed by Freud and his successors are shown explicitly and implicitly.

Obviously, Sigmund Freud?s work in the field of personality development was by far the most prolific and controversial. The father of modern psychology, Freud broke all barriers to expose what he thought to be the real reasons for human behavior. His theories of personality development can best start with the discussion of the conscious and the unconscious mind. The conscious mind?along with the lesser preconscious mind?is that part of the mind that one has control, or knowledge of. Ironically, this is the least part of the mind that one has control over. The so called "subconscious" mind is the part of the mind that lurks beneath the surface, filled with instincts, emotions, and unfulfilled desires (Shaffer 26). The total human mind is divided into the famous three parts of the Id, the ego, and the superego. The Id can be correlated directly to the subconscious, since it contains one?s innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires, or as Freud would call them, "wishes". The Id represents one?s innermost and primitive desires, such as food and reproduction, and it constantly drives one?s actions. The total antithesis of the Id is the superego. The superego in the case of personality development, comes directly from parents. This superego is consisted of the conscience (punishments and warnings) and the ego ideal (positive rewards and role models). Thus the superego can be defined as what keeps the Id in check, which leads to the ego. The ego is the rationalizing factor, it is the result of the superego and the Id, canceling each other out. The ego is the compromise between the Id and the superego, and it seeks to solve the problems that an individual may face. The ego is the visible part of the mind, and it is with the ego that individuals can either raise or lower themselves.

Thus having discussed Freud?s analysis of the brain, it seems logical to determine how the mind responds to events that in turn lead to the development of the individual. Freud mentions things such as traumatical events, which can affect one?s development that trigger what he calls "defense mechanisms" (Shaffer 61). One example would be suppression, wherein one tries to bury and put away all that is bothering them, such as the loss of a loved one, etc. This suppression may resurface at the wrong time (since it?s never been dealt with) and can have harmful effects on the individual. Another example would repression, or forgetting such a trauma occurred. Another well known mechanism would be denial, wherein one denies that something will happen, or denies the severity of such an event. All these things have one thing in common; that when a person doesn?t deal with a situation properly, it can affect them later on in life, when it is most likely unwanted (Cooper 73). Freud also dealt with the development of the child, and how one?s upbringing can affect one?s adult life. Skipping the parts of Oedipal-complex, etc., the one Freudian dogma that sticks out, especially in relation to the story is the lack of the mother theory. In this case which applies to the main character of The Awakening, Edna, a loss of the mother leads to a female child to lose her female role model, thus making her more manly, etc. This is shown in how Chopin describes Edna as "handsome, etc."

The next psychologist is Karen Horney, who deals with personalities slightly different from Freud. She agrees with Freud on the whole "neurosis" concept, but relates