Murphy and Freud are among the social scientists considered to be great contributors to the field of social sciences. Murphy, for example, studied disability and the issues that result with it. On the other hand, Sigmund Freud writes about personality development in young children, describing the concepts of the id, ego, and the superego. This paper will examine the medical cause of Murphy’s disability, the resulting attitudes of non-disabled people towards him, and his study of disability. The study will also highlight Freud’s explanation of the personality development stages.

Even though the works of Murphy and Freud have not escaped criticism by the contemporary social scientists, they have continued to be of great impact on the field of social sciences. Freud’s explanation sof the id, the ego, and the superego have been continuously used in the study of child development. This paper addresses the issues faced by those who are physically disabled as discussed by Robert Murphy and various aspects of child development discussed by Sigmund Freud.

According to Murphy (2001), the medical cause of his disability was the mistaken diagnosis of the symptoms that was done at the initial stages of his multiple sclerosis. Because of his condition, Murphy had to spend most of his time on wheelchair. This further led to other complications which worsened his condition as indicated by his acquisition of pores due to constant pressure, poor capillary circulation, and, ultimately, the acute quadriplegics.

Murphy (2001) observes that during his disability, he noticed some changing attitude towards him by the non-disabled people he interacted with. He first noticed the way a particular dentist treated him  “like a child”. This was not very different from the way his sympathizing students treated him. Murphy’s work also reveals that his wife was equally very supportive, even though he noticed some reservations from his wife when he records that, “Do I detect a note of impatient? ”, and further asks, “Is she annoyed?”.

In his study of disability, Murphy applied the concepts of the Goffman’s theory of stigma, which elaborates the social dimension of the lives of those who are physically disabled. Using this theory, Murphy relates his experiences to the Goffman’s concepts. This helps him in highlighting the kind of stigmatizing experiences the disabled have to go through in life as a result of their condition. For example, he observes that people with disabilities are normally looked down upon in the society (Murphy, 2001).

Freuds’ Psychoanalysis

In his psychoanalysis theory, Freud observes that children are born with the id which forms part of the human personality. According to Freud, the id is based on a pleasure principle that assists young children to get their needs met. The id makes the newborn children demand for what they feel is good at any particular time without considering the reality of any given situation. They, for example, cry whenever they want food until the need is catered for. The id, therefore, makes the children demand for attention without caring about the needs of others (Sigmund & Chase, 2007).

The second part in the personality development which emerges at the age of 3 years is the ego. It results from the interaction between the child and the world. Freud notes that the ego recognizes that other people also need to take care of their needs and that being too persistent like in the case of the id may hurt others. The ego, therefore, takes care of the id’s needs by taking into consideration the needs and the situation of other people (Sigmund & Chase, 2007).

When the child reaches the age of five, Freud notes that another personality, known as the superego, develops. He describes it as the moral part of the child that develops as a result of the societal moral and ethical standards. Freud further notes that the Superego assists children in differentiating the wrong from the right. Sigmund & Chase (2007) observe that once the children acquire it, they will try to observe the moral values as required by their parents and the larger community. 


The paper has emphasized on the need for people to be accommodative to the disabled in the society to avoid stigmatization. The paper, through highlighting the contributions by Freud, has also made clear the origin of the witnessed conflict between the pleasure principle and the reality principle. Using the id, the ego, and the superego, Freud showed how the id will always insist on pleasure while the ego recognizes the reality represented by the superego.

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