The Mediating ego - Deepstash

The Mediating ego

The ego is the mediator between the id, the superego, and reality. The ego works out how to meet the id's needs while upholding social reality and the moral standards of the superego.

When there is a balance between the id, ego, and superego, Freud claimed that it resulted in a healthy personality. If one of the parts of personality dominated over the other, difficulties would result. For example, if the id dominates, a person may act on their impulses and disregard the rules of society.

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The superego controls the id and tries to get the ego to aspire to moralistic standards. The superego emerges between the ages of 3 and 5 and differentiates between right and wrong.

The superego consists of:

  • The conscious. This part forbids unacceptable behaviours and punishes with feelings of guilt.
  • The ego ideal or ideal self. This includes rules and standards of good behaviour one should follow.

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  • Freud's theory oversimplifies the complexity of human nature.
  • Freud taught that the superego develops in childhood because children are afraid of punishment and pain. But research shows that children who fear punishment the most do not develop morality, but just want to avoid being caught and punished.

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Id is already seen at birth and is directed by instinct, desire and need.

The id is fuelled by the pleasure principle and wants all impulses immediately satisfied. The id drives newborn's behaviour - their immediate needs drive them. Since the id is an unconscious entity, it never considers reality and consequently remains illogical and selfish.

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Sigmund Freud's theory of personality

Freud proposed that the human psyche comprises three separate but related parts that form a person's personality.

  • The id
  • The ego
  • The superego

Freud suggested that the three parts develop at different times and have different roles but work together to form a whole.

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Freud's work is often viewed with scepticism as it was based on observations and case studies of his patients, not on empirical research.

However, Freuds' theories are still thought of as important and used as the foundation of psychoanalysis.

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Just like the id, the ego strives for pleasure, but realistically. Ego ensures to keep id in check and express it in socially acceptable ways. The ego may delay gratification, compromise, or anything else that will avoid the negative consequences of going against the norm.

Freud used the term ego to refer to one's sense of self. However, the word now refers to functions like judgment, regulation, and control.

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Repression: A Primer

Repression in psychological terms is a defence mechanism that involves keeping our feelings, thoughts and urges out of our conscious awareness. Our unacceptable desires are kept away from our consciousness so that we are less anxious.

It is a process by which painful and disturbing thoughts are intentionally hidden, and was first identified by Sigmund Freud. He compared the mind to an iceberg, where only the tip is visible and the major portion is hidden.

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Repression as a defense mechanism

Repression can best be defined as the psychological defense mechanism that involves pushing undesired thoughts into the unconscious in order to not think about them anymore.

While our consciousness keeps the thoughts and feelings we want to be aware of, the unconscious mind holds our entire history which, without the help of repression, might actually lead us to psychological distress.

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The Ego And The Reality Principle

According to the original psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, our ego is part of our personality that is between the id (our primal, animalistic instincts), our superego (the mature personality formed by the kind of upbringing and social influences in one’s life) and reality.

The ego works based on the reality principle, which strives to satisfy the id's desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle analyses the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses.

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