Over the years, people have wondered what goes on in a person's mind that guides them to meet their needs. Sigmund Freud developed a system of personality that boldly attempts to explain the course of personality and what was it origins. Freud theory assumes that one's personality is shaped and some powerful inner forces motivate one's behavior. According to Freud, personality differences commence from the different ways in which people deal with their underlying drives. By picturing a continuing battle between antagonistic parts of personality, Freud was able to develop three systems that make up the total personality. The three systems of personality are the id, ego, and the superego. If the three systems work together in harmony and unite together to form one complete organization, it enables one to create a positive transaction with the environment. If the systems are fighting with each other, one is said to be dissatisfied with himself or the world. By examining the ego, the id, and the superego, one should see how these three systems of personality play an important role in the development of one's personality. In doing so one should understand what conscious and unconscious, and the functions of the id, ego, and superego.
Freud did not invent the idea of the conscious versus the unconscious. However, he was responsible for making it popular. What you are of aware of at any particular moment is called being conscious. By being conscious you are aware of certain things such as your present perceptions, memories, thoughts, and fantasies. All of our knowledge is bound up with consciousness. Consciousness is the surface of the mental
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apparatus. All perceptions, whether it is received from both within and without, are conscious.
Freud (1960) said "that very powerful mental processes of ideas exist which can produce all the effects of the mental life that ordinary ideas do, though they themselves do not become conscious" (p. 4). This is an indication that there are other parts of the mind in which thoughts occur. According to Freud (1960), "the state in which the ideas existed before being made conscious is called by us repression" (p. 4). It is by the theory of repression that the concept of the unconscious is obtained.
The unconscious is the largest part of the mind. All the things that are not easily available to awareness are part of the unconscious. This includes the many things that have their origins there, such as our drives or instinct. The unconscious also includes the things that are put there because we can't bear to look at them, things such as memories and emotions associated with trauma for example. The unconscious is the source of motivations, whether it is simple desires for food or sex, or the motives of becoming a doctor or lawyer. These motives are available to us. However, we are often driven to deny or resist becoming conscious of the motives which are in a disguised form.
There is still another part of the mind. Freud (1960) wrote "that we have two kinds of unconsciousness- the which is latent and is capable of becoming conscious, and the one which is repressed and which is not, in itself and without more ado, capable of becoming conscious" (p.5). This part of the mind is called the preconscious. In other words, Freud was saying anything that the preconscious is anything that can easily made conscious. The memories that you are thinking of can easily be brought to the mind.
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The difference between the an unconscious and preconscious thought is that in the unconscious the former thought consist in is carried out on some material unknown, whereas the latest, the preconscious the thought is brought out into connection with word presentations. These word presentations are residues of memories. At one time they were all memories, and they can become conscious again. Where feelings are concerned, the distinction between the conscious and the unconscious has no meaning. The preconscious is no more, and the feelings are either conscious or unconscious.
It is the role of the systems of the mind that brings the parts of the mind into existence. The conscious is part of the external world, whereas the unconscious is part of the internal world. According to Freud (1960), "in each individual there is a coherent organization of mental processes; and we call this his ego. It is to this ego that consciousness is attached; the ego controls the approaches to motility-that is discharge of excitations of the external world" (p. 7). The ego is the executive of personality. It controls and governs the id and the superego as well as the external world.
The ego relies mostly on the reality principle, which states that one's actual needs exist but the discharge of energy must be postponed until the actual object that will satisfy the need will found. Freud (1960) wrote that "the ego seeks to bring the influence of the external world to bear upon the id and its tendencies, and endeavors to substitute the reality principle which reigns unrestrictedly in the id" (p. 15).
The id is the system of personality that is in the unconscious part of the mind that consist of natural instincts, urges, and drives that are repressed. The id is the cause of all activity, though the thoughts are often unconscious. The function of the id is to provide
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for the immediate release of the quantities of excitations that are discharged in the person by internal or external stimulation. Unlike the ego and the superego, the id cannot be changed with time. The id is more in touch with the body and it processes than the external world. The id is not governed by laws of reason of or logic, nor does it possess value or morality. It is driven by one consideration, to obtain satisfaction for instinctual needs in accordance to the pleasure principle. The pleasure principle can be understood as a demand to take care of needs immediately.
The ego is part of the id that has been modified by the direct influence of the external world. The ego is not sharply separated from the id but merges into it. According to Freud (1960) "for the ego, perception plays the part in which the id falls to instinct. The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains passion" (p. 15).
Connection between the id and ego is the superego. It contains the influences what is learned from other people. Unlike the id, the superego is not present at birth. It is acquired at childhood. The superego is the moral branch of personality. It represents the ideal rather than the real. Known as the moral code of a person, the superego develops from one's ego as a result from what a child assimilates as what is good and what is bad which are based upon ones parents' standards. According to Freud (1960), "the differentiation of the super-ego from the ego is no matter of chance; it represents the most important characteristics of the development both of the individual and of the species; indeed by giving permanent expression to the influence of the parents it perpetuates the existence of the factors to which it owes it origin" (p.25). The superego consists of two
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parts, the ego ideal and the conscience. What a child believes his parents consider to be good realized by rewards is the ego ideal. What a child believes his parents to be morally wrong realized through punishments is the conscience. By creating rewards and punishments such as feelings of pride or feelings of guilt or inferiority the superego will take on the role of the parents. It is the super ego that inner restraints on upon lawlessness and disorderly, thus enabling a person to become a law abiding member of society.
The ego struggle to keep the id happy. The ego meets with obstacles in the world. It occasionally with objects that actually assists it in attaining it goals. The ego keeps a record of the obstacles and aides. It also keeps a record of punishments and rewards administered out by the two must influential objects in the world of a child, its mom and dad. This record of things to avoid and strategies to take becomes the superego. As stated earlier the primary function of the id is to satisfy its immediate instincts, drive and urges it superego that links the mind to society and reality. As Freud (1960) states "superego is however, not simply a residue of the earliest choices of the id; it also represents an energetic reaction formation against those choices" (p.24).
The id, ego, and superego play a vital role in a person's development of their personality. If thy work together in harmony a person will grow up to be a be a healthy mentally person.
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Freud, Sigmund (1960). The Ego and the Id (J. Rieviere, Trans. ). New York: W. W.
Norton & Company Inc.
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The Ego and the Id
Psychology 318 Personality
Dr. Steve Lobello
May 16, 2000