Brain and Personality Development

Fraud believed that most development and the hardwiring of the brain take place from birth to six years. Bonds, especially sexual bonds between child and mother – the most primitive quality (the ID) are imprinted in those first years of life and are predictors of adult behavior (Corey, 2005). When bonds are severed, adults have anxiety and depression due to conflicts between instinctual behavior (ID) and the moral correctness (superego). Fraud believed in five stages oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital (Santrock, 2009)).

Erickson’s psychoanalytic approach believed in stages throughout life. Erickson thought Fraud focused too many sexual influences and covered too short of a developmental period. Erickson states, “The crisis is not a catastrophe but a turning point, a time of increased vulnerability and enhanced potential” p. 22. Erickson believes development occurs over a lifetime and in eight stages. He felt the better we handle these changes the better the development. His stages include, “trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiorly, identity versus identity confusion, intimacy versus isolation, and generality vs. stagnation and integrity versus despair” p.23.

Cognitive therapists, like psychoanalyst, believe development comes in stages. However, cognitive therapist like Piaget feel children develops understanding through four stages of cognitive development – sensor motor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operation stage, and formal operation stage. Vygotsky stressed that the development of memory, attention, and reasoning involves learning to use the invention of society. These include language, mathematic system, and memory strategies. Vygotsky believes that development is a give and take and adaptive approach. By cognitively interacting with limited cognitive skill in a society, the maturing person continuously develops patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving – always adjusting and adapting to interactions that are more complex (Santrock, 2009).

Ecological theory has been criticized that it discounts biology too much, I like how in depth in breaks down social inner actions, starting with closest and most prevalent interactions and extending out to fewer, yet influential, interaction. I like how the theory follows a chain of events back to explain residual effects. Santrock illustrates this theory by describing the following, “work experience can affect a women’s relationship with her husband and their child” p. 29. Even positive experiences at work, like promotions, can have a large impact on the family dynamics. I know from personal experience that when my father took a job as an auditor, which required him to be gone two weeks out of every month, our relationship completely changed and never went back.

The role each of these theories has seemed quite complimentary and pick up where other theories left off. I like how Psychoanalytical focuses on how our subconscious is the foundation and comes out in our interpretation of daily interactions. I am very much a strong believer in how cognitive processes can shape our emotions and then our behavior. Moreover, I think all of them come together in demonstrating how our brains learn to process and internalize information in relatively predictable fashions, whether starting at a young age or interacting with a boss at work as an adult. It seems to me, that our biology predispose us to certain patterns, especially if your environment reinforces that pattern. I think from this point, the development becomes extremely complex; however, the development remains relative to a person’s genetics.


Corey, G. (2005). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson/Brooks/Cole.

Santrock, J. W. (2009). A topical approach to life-span development (custom ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.