Freud – ID, Ego and Superego

As we were focusing on identity and the perception of self and other in our work, we decided to research Freud and his theory of ‘ID, Ego and Superego’.

Freud saw he psyche as three structures: The id, ego and superego, all of which develop at different times within a persons’ life. What we found interesting is that these parts forms unique parts of someone’s personality, but interact as a whole to create someones individual behavior. Similarly to our study, each of the groups influence on the portraits contribute to form a complete persona.

The Id

The Id is described as the primitive component of personality consisting of the inherited parts of personality at birth. This includes: the sex instinct and the aggressive instinct. The Id is the ‘impulsive part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts’. The Id does not change throughout a person’s life and is not affected by reality or logic as it functions within the unconscious part of the brain.

The Id, according to Freud, operates on a basis of pleasure and that every desire should be fulfilled with no regard for consequence; when it is not a period of tension occurs.

 ‘The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented. This form of process thinking has no comprehension of objective reality, and is selfish and wishful in nature.’

The Ego

The ego is said to develop to mediate between the id and reality. It acts as the decision making part of personality. The ego is reasonable where the Id is chaotic and impulsive. The ego seeks to find realistic ways to accomplish the Id’s desires, and to avoid the negative backlash from society that the Id may unknowingly create in order to satisfy its desires. The ego follows social realities and etiquette in order to decide how to act.

The ego does not understand concepts of right or wrong and follows its desires as long as it doesn’t cause harm to itself or the Id. If the ego is unsuccessful in utilising ‘The Reality Principle’ then defense mechanisms surface that can help deter anxieties.

The Superego

The Superego includes the morals of society that are learned from parents and others. This has said to be developed around the age of 3 until the age of 5 during psychosexual development.

The superego is there to control the Id’s impulses, in particular the ones that society would frown upon such as aggression and sex. It also persuades the ego to focus on moral goals in favour of realistic ones. The Superego is made up of ‘the conscience and the ideal self’. The conscience is responsible for feelings of guilt (used as a punishment). The Ideal Self is the image of perfection that people should strive to achieve in the eyes of society. Despite this, the Superego can reward us through feelings of pride if we behave in society.

The ideal self and the conscience are influenced by the standards established in childhood by parental figures.

Link to ‘Simply Psychology’ where all information was gathered from





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