Id, Ego and Super EgoFreud's Psyche

Freud divides the human Psyche into three distinct parts; The id, the ego and the super ego.

The "Id"

The id contains all of our most basic animal and primitive impulses that demand satisfaction. Has an urge, impulse, or desire so strong that it just had to be satisfied ever overpowered you? A new car, sexual desire, a dream job? The answer is probably a resounding "Yes!" Where does such desire come from? According to Freud, desire comes from the part of your personality called the id. The id is a type of "container" that holds our desires and operates on the pleasure principle. Relentlessly driven by a force Freud called the libido, the collective energy of life's instincts and will to survive, the id must be satisfied!

But don't give the id a bad rap. Where would you be without desire? Your desire pushes you through life; it leads you to seek the things you need to survive. Without it we'd die, or at the very least, we'd be really boring! So keep in mind that a large part of your personality consists of your desires and your attempts to satisfy them.

The "Ego"

Wouldn't it be nice if you could get everything you wanted, whenever and however you wanted it? Unfortunately, most of us know otherwise. We all know how frustrating it can be when a desire goes unmet or gets stifled. Well, you can blame your ego for that. The ego is Freud's second mental apparatus of personality. The ego's main function is to mediate between the id's demands and the external world around us.

So far, it seems that, if it wasn't for reality, we would be a lot more satisfied. Even though the ego finds itself in conflict with the id, satisfaction is not abandoned. The ego is like a sports agent for a really talented athlete. Even though the athlete may demand a multimillion-dollar contract, the agent reminds him that he could price himself out of a job. So the ego negotiates with the id in order to get it what it wants without costing it too much in the long run. The ego accomplishes this important task by converting, diverting, and transforming the powerful forces of the id into more useful and realistic modes of satisfaction. It attempts to harness the id's power, regulating it in order to achieve satisfaction despite the limits of reality.

The "SuperEgo"

As if the ego's job wasn't hard enough, playing referee between the id and reality, its performance is under constant scrutiny by a relentless judge, the superego. While the ego negotiates with the id, trying to prevent another tantrum, the superego judges the performance. Superego is another name for your conscience. It expects your ego to be strong and effective in its struggles against the libido's force.

Usually, our conscience comes from our parents or a parental figure. As we grow, we internalize their standards, those same standards that make us feel so guilty when we tell a lie or cheat on our taxes. But does everyone have a conscience? There are certain people throughout history who have committed such horrible acts of violence that we sometimes wonder if they are void of conscience. How can serial killers such as Ted Bundy or Wayne Williams commit such horrible crimes? A strong bet is that they lack the basic capacity to feel guilt, so nothing really prevents them from acting out their violent fantasies.

A famous psychiatrist once said that evil men do what good men only dream of.

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