The term character is used here in the dynamic sense in which Freud speaks of character. In this sense it refers not to the sum total of behavior patterns characteristic for one person, but to the dominant drives that motivate behavior. Since Freud assumed that the basic motivating forces are sexual ones, he arrived at concepts like „oral,“ „anal,“ or „genital“ characters. If one does not share this assumption, one is forced to devise different character types. But the dynamic concept remains the same. The driving forces are not necessarily conscious as such to a person whose character is dominated by them. A person can be entirely dominated by his sadistic strivings and consciously believe that he is motivated only by his sense of duty. ― (1941a: Escape from Freedom, New York (Farrar and Rinehart) 1941, p. 163.)

Character can be defined as the (relatively permanent) form in which human energy is canalized in the process of assimilation and socialization. (…) The character system can be considered the human substitute for the instinctive apparatus of the animal. Once energy is canalized in a certain way, action takes place „true to character.“ (…)

Not only has character the function of permitting the individual to act consistently and „reasonably“; it is also the basis for his adjustment to society. The character of the child is molded by the character of its parents in response to whom it develops. The parents and their methods of child training in turn are determined by the social structure of their culture. The average family is the „psychic agency“ of society, and by adjusting himself to his family the child acquires the character which later makes him adjusted to the tasks he has to perform in social life. He acquires that character which makes him want to do what he has to do and the core of which he shares with most members of the same social class or culture. (…) The fact that most members of a social class or culture share significant elements of character and that one can speak of a „social character“ representing the core of a character structure common to most people of a given culture shows the degree to which character is formed by social and cultural patterns. ― (1947a: Man for Himself. An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, New York (Rinehart and Co.) 1947, pp. 59f.)