Sigmund Freud was a Viennese physician, whose psychoanalytic theory is the best-known psychodynamic approach today. He believed that behavior revealed unconscious internal forces. His work shows there are probably three parts that make up individual personality. All three parts are used for most behavioral decisions. This paper will go over: the id; the ego; the superego; as well as interactions of the id, ego, and superego.
The id is thought to be made up of natural biological instincts and urges. The id’s instincts and urges lie in the unconscious. They are all self-serving, impulsive, and irrational. The id runs according to the pleasure principle (Dennis Coon pg. 465). That means the id will try to act on any pleasurable experience it conceives of. The libido, or energy of the id flows from life instincts or Eros. Freud thought the libido emphasized the effort to live as well as have sex. He also believed we have a death instinct, or as he called it Thanatos. This is where he suspected aggressive and destructive urges came from.
One’s ego powers direct behavior by adjusting the id’s desires to real settings and occasions. The ego functions on the reality principle using it consciously to operate personality. The strategy of thinking, planning, problem-solving, and deciding all happens in the ego (Dennis Coon pg. 465). The ego makes decisions based on both the id and the superego.
The superego serves as a judge or censor for thoughts and actions carried out by the ego. The superego is what people today think of as a conscience. When the conscience’s demands are not met that person will have to bear guilt as penance. However, if that person were to meet a goal set by the conscience they would feel pride (Dennis Coon pg.465). Dr. Sigmund suspected the superego could make a difference in the life of that person. If the superego was weak he said that person would become a delinquent, a criminal, or an antisocial. If that superego was too harsh he said that would cause a person to become repressed, stern, or feel unbearable guilt.
Interactions of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego
A person’s interactions with the outside world must contain an equilibrium of power between the id, the ego, and the superego. This is a short example of how they must coexist.
Freud in a Nutshell
Let’s say you are sexually attracted to an acquaintance. The id clamors for immediate satisfaction of sexual desires, but is opposed by the superego (which finds the very thought of sex shocking). The id says, “Go for it!” The superego icily replies, “Never even think that again!” And what does the ego say? The ego says, “I have a plan!” (Dennis Coon pg. 466).
This example shows Freud’s basic ideas at a simple level.
Freud’s theory, although hard to confirm scientifically, has been somewhat accepted by many psychologists. I believe he is right about how these three things work together, but I did not agree with his theory of personality development. I do think that it has to do with our surrounding environment and our parents, but it doesn’t have that much to do with sexuality until we hit puberty.
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