This research examines Sigmund Freud's personality theory. The research will set forth the historical and social context in which Freud's structural hypothesis emerged and then discuss the details of that theory, which lent a host of terms that have not only passed into common parlance but survived in the professional literature and discourse in ways that appear to make Freud's work theory indispensable to Freudians and non-Freudians alike.
What is commonly referred to as the structural hypothesis belongs to Freud's formulation of a theory of personality that constructs it out of three principal and one ancillary component: the ego, superego, and id, plus the libido. Freud defines each component operationally. That is, he explains how each component functions to build the individual personality not only intrinsically but also in relation to other individual personalities in the external world. That world, in turn, may be formulated as configured as society, family, or culture. To that extent, Freud's theory of personality can be considered psychosocial, not merely psychological.
Freud, trained as a physician, first articulated his personality theory as an outgrowth of his clinical practice as a neuropsychologist, with many of his patients being treated for hysteria. He abstracted from clinical experience to describe the decisive role of the unconscious mind in shaping manifest human experience and suppressing conflicts going on between the ego, id, libido, and superego, as well as an array of defense mechanisms aimed at censoring, or resisting, expression (and, by implication, resolution) of those conflicts (Jay, 2000). Equally important about Freud's personality theory is its deliberate scientific orientation. It is significant, therefore, that Freud begins Interpretation of Dreams with the caution against the utility of "dim intuition" in the matter of finding hidden meanings outside the scientific method (1978, p. 9).