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Id, Ego And Superego

  Id, Ego and Superego are the essential components in Freud\'s final model of the mind. A fourth component was Pcpt-Cs (short for perception-consciousness), which provided the window onto external reality.

The Ego (a term Freud derived from the Latin for ‘I’ and used as early as 1895) is an agency of mind which civilizes the Id, organizing translations between the Id (which does not work on the reality principle) and the outside world. Its function is to control behaviour, taking into account reality as well as the instinctual impulse. Although it is reality-oriented it is part unconscious, part pre-conscious (unconscious at a particular moment but not repressed), and performs the disciplined activities of thinking and judging.

The Id (Latin, ‘It’) is the unconscious, the undifferentiated psychic source of instincts and passions. Freud saw the whole mechanism of human development as a move from undifferentiated primitive states to differentiated and structured ones. The human infant is seen as virtually all Id. Repressed ideas move from the Id through the Ego and undergo distortions in dreams, displacement and neurotic presentation.

The Superego was initially thought to be part of the Ego. Eventually Freud saw this mechanism as being formed by the Oedipus complex into a separate function. The intensity of those conflicts in the child and the defensive action that they precipitate creates the Superego, an area which prohibits the expression of Oedipal wishes. It is an enforcing mechanism, with an energy of its own, and inhibits moral behaviour. MJ

Further reading Raymond E. Fancher, Psychoanalytic Psychology: the Development of Freud\'s Thought; , Merton M. Gill, Topography and Systems in Psychoanalytic Theory.



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