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The Eras, Life Histories, And Personalities Of Freud And Rogers


In the field of psychology, the study of personality is a complex issue. Carl Rogers and Sigmund Freud are commonly recognized and prominent psychotherapists. They both theorized regarding aspects of hidden personality, which individuals are not aware of. These theories were developed over years of clinical experience but are governed by different assumptions. The contrasting views of both Psychologists have been compared, identifying their own influences and how they influenced modern psychology today.

Literature Review

Contemporary psychologists have used different processes and interventions that have been developed based on Freud’s theories. For instance, in the article entitled ‘Affective agnosia: Expansion of the alexithymia construct and a new opportunity to integrate and extend Freud’s legacy, a different kind of agnosia is described by (Richard D. Lan, 2015) that refers to a lack of one’s ability to mentally know or represent what an individual is feeling. The term “agnosia” was coined in 1891 by Freud before forming his psychoanalysis theory in 1895. According to the study, the concept of “affective agnosia” progresses the measurement, theory, and treatment of alexithymia, which refers to a “lack of words for emotion.” The neural substrates of affective agnosia and emotional attentiveness are compared with related conditions, and key implications for clinical practice and basic emotion research have been discussed.

In the article entitled ‘Mindfulness: A foothold for Rogers’s humanistic person-centered approach,’ (Julius Jooste, 2015) contextualized and probed strong similarities between Rogers’s humanistic person-centered (PC) approach and meditation-derived mindfulness. An evaluative and conceptual literature review of the person-centered approach was carried out to provide definitive explanations of mindfulness. The research, based on Roger’s OC, proposed that mindfulness deepens, harmonizes, and cultivates vital therapist abilities in PC therapy and provides a justification for important inferences in the application of meditation-inspired activities for trainee therapists undergoing practical training and preparation.

Theories and Worldviews

Freud was of the view that our behavior and actions are a result of our childhood experiences, defined by psychosexual stages. During these psychosexual stages, if there were problems in a period, this would leave a deep impact on an individual’s adult personality. Freud established a number of different ideologies and theories that set the foundations of his approach to psychology through the psychodynamic method. He theorized about the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the pre-conscious proper. According to him, the subconscious is the place that holds invisible or subversive memories that one wants to block out and forget. The memories that one wants to bring to the conscious mind are stored in the pre-conscious proper brought whenever one wants. The human mind, according to Freud, is like an iceberg in which above water level lies only the conscious mind, whereas the sub-conscious and pre-conscious proper are underwater and not easily accessible.

Carl Rogers famously introduced the person-centered theory. His theory based itself not on behavior but on personality. His theory of self is one of the most important concepts he presented. According to Rogers, three core conditions must be met by the therapist: congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. A relationship between the client and the therapist cannot be built without these core conditions, resulting in a lack of trust in the counselor. His theory of self-actualization is the fundamental driving force that motivates individuals to reach their potential to the fullest and be self-actualized. He believed it was composed of three parts: the self-concept, the organismic self, and the ideal self. Who we really are from deep down inside is characterized by our organismic self.

Freud, Rogers, and Contemporary Advances

If Freud and Rogers were alive today, their theories may have been different. For example, Freud could not differentiate properly between male and female sexuality. His views may have changed upon discovering that today, women act independently of men, taking pride in their sexuality. His theory that women are actually envious of males and their genitals may have changed, and his argument that women resent their mothers or men for lacking male genitals or that their minds are distorted would also likely change. Carl Rogers’ theory of self-actualization may also have changed if he had been alive upon seeing the war and violence that has become a part of today’s world. He may have seen the world to be violent in nature, affecting his theory on individual behavior. According to him, an individual behaves the way in which he perceives his surroundings, and the surroundings of a man of his era and today’s man are entirely different.

Influence of Social and Cultural Factors

A combination of socio-cultural background factors led to Freud developing his theory of personality. The family structure Freud was brought up in was different, before his father married his mother he was widowed twice. He was expected to live with his parents until he was 27 years of age, according to prevailing cultural conditions. As he finished medical school, he spent three years in a hospital as a resident physician, spending five months in the department of psychiatry. In his era, psychology paid little attention to human behavior, which was a social drawback that led Freud to pursue his studies in psychology and develop his research. With it, he was able to influence everyone’s view of human behavior and psychology by presenting his groundbreaking psychoanalysis theories.

Rogers was brought up in a practicing and strict Christian family, beginning his early education late owing to his family traditions. He studied agriculture in college, but his social obligations and influences motivated him to switch to religious studies. He attended a seminar once on ‘Why I am entering ministry’ and again changed his career, later inspired to choose psychology. His travels to faraway areas of national or social conflict and his efforts to bring Protestants and Catholics together also influenced his thoughts. In South Africa, he tried to reconcile blacks and whites.


It is understood that Roger’s humanistic theories and Freud’s psychoanalytic theories are two theories that contradict each other and make use of different methods, ideas, and foundations, but they both became very influential and dominant perspectives within psychology that heavily influenced and shaped the psychologists of today. Both theories emphasize the significance of early childhood experiences and environment on adult behavior, despite adopting different approaches towards it, and contributed greatly to our understanding of personalities today.


Campbell, J. A. (2017). Person Centered Theory and Considerations for Counseling Practice and Teaching. Journal of Global Engagement and Transformation, 1(2), 1-20. Retrieved from

Julius Jooste, A. K. (2015). Mindfulness: A foothold for Rogers’s humanistic person-centered approach. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 25(6), 554-559.

Richard D. Lan, K. L. (2015). Affective agnosia: Expansion of the alexithymia construct and a new opportunity to integrate and extend Freud’s legacy. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 55, 594-611. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.06.007



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