Freud's theories of personality may seem complicated because they incorporate many interlocking factors, but 2 basic assumptions underlie them all. Psychic Determinism & Conscious Unconscious Dimension. Principle of psychic determinism states that all behavior whether overt or covert is caused by prior mental events. The outside world & the private psychic life of the individual combine to determine all aspects of behavior. As a clinical practitioner, Freud sought to modify unwanted behavior by identifying & eliminating it's psychic determinants.
Freud assumed that mental events such as thoughts & fantasies varied in the case with which they come to the individual's awareness. For example, aspects of mental life that are in awareness are conscious. Mental content that are not currently ar the level of awareness but can reach that level fairly easily are preconscious. Mental content that can be brought to awareness only with great difficulty are unconscious. Freud was interested mainly in how these unconscious mental contents could influence overt behavior.
Freud was especially intrigued by thoughts of fantasies that seem to go underground but then reappear in conscious level. He asserted that the level of intrapsychic conflict was a major factor in determining our awareness of particular mental event. According to Freud, the classic example is when a young boy desires to take father's place in relation to his mother but at the same time feels love & affection for his father. Freud believed that, the greater the degree of intrapsychic conflict, the greater the likelihood that the mental events connected with it would remain unconscious. The more massive the unconscious conflict, the greater the person's vulnerability to stress. Freud believed that behavior disorders that occur after childhood are caused by a combination of early traumatic experiences & later experiences that trigger the emotions & unresolved conflicts associated with the early events.
Freud contended that hidden emotions are involved in human conflict. He referred to these drives as libido & believed that they were a form of psychic energy analogous to the individual's supply of physical energy. Just as some people are more athletic, some have stronger libidos. Freud also believed that the psychic energy or drive level of the individual sets up an inner state of tension that must somehow be reduced.