In the preceding quote, Freud argues that as psycho-analysis is about identifying the division between the conscious and unconscious aspects of the mind it is through that psycho-analytical work that psychology has determined that consciousness is just an aspect of the psychical rather than consciousness being the psychical. Furthermore, as the conscious mind is the aspect of the psychical that perceives the outside world in the form of sensations and feelings, all sensations and feeling originated from Cs. We have formed the idea that in each individual there is a coherent organization of mental processes; and we call this his ego.
This introduction to the what has been called the ego, to which consciousness is attached, describes how the ego is responsible for our conscious actions.
We must not be led … to forget the importance of optical mnemic residues, when they are of things, or to deny that it is possible for the thought-processes to become conscious through a reversion to visual residues, and that in many people this seems to be the favoured method. Internal perceptions yield sensations of processes arising in the most diverse and certainly also in the deepest strata of the mental apparatus. Sensations of a pleasurable nature have not anything inherently impelling about them, whereas unpleasurable ones have it in the highest degree … we interpret unpleasure as implying a heightening and pleasure a lowering of energic cathexis. The main thing to note from the above is that feelings and sensations react differently to ideas. I propose to take into account by calling the entity which starts out from the system Pcpt. We shall now look upon an individual as a psychical id, unknown and unconscious, upon whose surface rests the ego, developed from its nucleus the Pcpt. By now, hopefully, we can begin to understand the function of the ego and perhaps its relationship to the id: the ego represents consciousness (but is also unconscious) and the window to the world for the id which is unconscious and the root of instinct, passion and desires. The notion of these object-identifications may be explained as follows: our personality, as a representation of our ego, is normally driven by desires (objects) which, in day to day life, we pursue in trying to achieve happiness and thus appease our inner self (the id). Along with the demolition of the Oedipus complex, the boy’s object-cathexis of his mother must be given up. The broad general outcome of the sexual phase dominated by the Oedipus complex may, therefore, be taken to be the forming of a precipitate in the ego, consisting of these two identifications in some way united with each other. The super-ego is, however, not simply a residue of the earliest object choices of the id; it also represents an energetic reaction-formation against those choices.
The ego ideal is therefore the heir of the Oedipus complex, and thus it is also the expression of the most powerful impulses and most important libidinal vicissitudes of the id … Whereas the ego is essentially the representative of the external world, of reality, the super-ego stands in contrast to it as the representative of the internal world, of the id. For the opposition between the two classes of instincts we may put the polarity of love and hate.
We have here, according to Freud, two basic classes of instincts: Love as Eros and Hate as Death.
An interpretation of the normal, conscious sense of guilt … is based on the tension between the ego and the ego ideal and is the expression of a condemnation of the ego by its critical agency.
In melancholia the impression that the super-ego has obtained a hold upon consciousness is even stronger. Guilt, as a feeling or sensation, is a result of an internal struggle between the ego and the super-ego, that is the struggle between the ego and what it believes to be its ideal.
Our ideas about the ego are beginning to clear, and its various relationships are gaining distinctness.
From the other point of view, however, we see this same ego as a poor creature owing service to three masters and consequently menaced by three dangers: from the external world, from the libido of the id, and from the severity of the super-ego.
Here we can finally see the realtionship between the ego, the super-ego and the id, and, in a fairly straight-forward manner, Freud explains the complex position that the ego resides in as it attempts to appease three masters; the external world, the id and the super-ego. The fear of death in melancholia only admits of one explanation: that the ego gives itself up because it feels itself hated and persecuted by the super-ego, instead of loved.
Perhaps Freud's single most enduring and important idea was that the human psyche (personality) has more than one aspect. Although each part of the personality comprises unique features, they interact to form a whole, and each part makes a relative contribution to an individual's behavior. The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts. The id remains infantile in it's function throughout a persons life, and does not change with time or experience, as it is not in touch with the external world.
On the contrary, it operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920) which is the idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of the consequences.


The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented. The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world. The ego operates according to the reality principle, working out realistic ways of satisfying the id’s demands, often compromising or postponing satisfaction to avoid negative consequences of society. Often the ego is weak relative to the headstrong id and the best the ego can do is stay on, pointing the id in the right direction and claiming some credit at the end as if the action were its own.
If the ego fails in its attempt to use the reality principle, and anxiety is experienced, unconscious defence mechanisms are employed, to help ward off unpleasant feelings (i.e. The ego engages in secondary process thinking, which is rational, realistic, and orientated towards problem solving. An important feature of clinical and social work is to enhance ego functioning and help the client test reality through assisting the client to think through their options. The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one's parents and others.
The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression. Behavior which falls short of the ideal self may be punished by the superego through guilt.
Further Information Defense Mechanisms Psychoanalysis Unconscious MindAre You Id, Ego, or Super-ego? Related Articles Defense Mechanisms Psychoanalysis Unconscious MindAre You Id, Ego, or Super-ego? This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theories of the Mind Id, Ego, and Superego 10 th Grade Psychology Instructor: Mr. Clipping is a handy way to collect and organize the most important slides from a presentation. Very little is known about these sensations and feelings; those belonging to the pleasure-unpleasure series may still be regarded as the best examples of them. Let us call what becomes conscious as pleasure and unpleasure a quantitative and qualitative ‘something’ in the course of mental events.
Feelings may move from the unconscious directly to the conscious level, thus bypassing the preconscious stage, whereas ideas must be brought into the preconscious level through the actions of associations.
Moreover, the ego seeks to bring the influence of the external world to bear upon the id and its tendencies, and endeavours to substitute the reality principle for the pleasure principle which reigns unrestrictedly in the id. Its place may be filled by one of two things: either an identification with his mother or an intensification of the identification with his father.
This modification of the ego retains its special position; it confronts the other contents of the ego as an ego ideal or super-ego. Conflicts between the ego and the ideal will … ultimately reflect the contrast between what is real and what is psychical, between the external world and the internal world.
While the ego is the representative of what is happening in the external world, the super-ego is the representative of what is happening in the internal world, namely the id. This perhaps could be also related as positive and negative, ying and yang, for and against etc.
The feelings of inferiority so well known in neurotics are presumably not far removed from it. The one is direct, the other leads by way of the ego ideal; which of these two paths they take may, for some mental activities, be of decisive importance. Three kinds of anxiety correspond to these three dangers, since anxiety is the expression of a retreat from danger. To the ego, therefore, living means the same as being loved – being loved by the super-ego, which here again appears as the representative of the id.
The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego.


The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world, as it operates within the unconscious part of the mind. This form of process thinking has no comprehension of objective reality, and is selfish and wishful in nature. The ego considers social realities and norms, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave. If a plan of action does not work, then it is thought through again until a solution is found. It develops around the age of 3 – 5 during the phallic stage of psychosexual development. It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection. From this ego proceed the repressions, too, by means of which it is sought to exclude certain trends in the mind not merely from consciousness but also from other forms of effectiveness and activity.
The visual components of word-presentations are secondary, acquired through reading, and may to begin with be left on one side; so may the motor images of words, which, except with deaf-mutes, play the part of auxiliary indications. They are more primordial, more elementary, than perceptions arising externally and they can come about even when consciousness is clouded. It is like a demonstration of the theorem that all knowledge has its origin in external perception. We are accustomed to regard the latter outcome as the more normal; it permits the affectionate relation to the mother to be in a measure retained.
Repressed guilt may evidence itself as a sickness whereas acknowledged guilt, as in the case of melancholia (extreme depression) can lead to the death of the ego through relentless torment from the ego-ideal.
The ego develops from perceiving instincts of controlling them, from obeying instincts to inhibiting them.
The ego has no concept of right or wrong; something is good simply if it achieves its end of satisfying without causing harm to itself or to the id. This is know as reality testing, and enables the person to control their impulses and demonstrate self-control, via mastery of the ego. For example, if the ego gives in to the id's demands, the superego may make the person feel bad through guilt. The ideal self and conscience are largely determined in childhood from parental values and how you were brought up. In analysis these trends which have been shut out stand in opposition to the ego, and the analysis is faced with the task of removing the resistances which the ego displays against concerning itself with the repressed. The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions.
By virtue of its relationship to the perceptual system it gives mental processes an order in time and submits them to ‘reality-testing’. In this achievement a large share is taken by the ego ideal, which indeed is partly a reaction-formation against the instinctual processes of the id.
The ideal self (or ego-ideal) is an imaginary picture of how you ought to be, and represents career aspirations, how to treat other people, and how to behave as a member of society.
Psycho-analysis is an instrument to enable the ego to achieve a progressive conquest of the id.
A new stand alone discipline who is based on the knowledge acquired from applying the investigation method and clinical experiences. It withdraws libido from the id and transforms the object-cathexes of the id into ego-structures.
With the aid of the super-ego, in a manner that is still obscure to us, it draws upon the experiences of past ages stored in the id.



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