In this essay, I will be discussing how the id, ego and superego, each contribute to Freud’s concept of analytical psychology. In order for me to do this, I will start by defining all of the three components of the mind and then talk about how each of them relate to psychoanalysis. I will then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Freud’s theory on this tripartite model of the mind. Freud’s most significant contributions to the understanding of human thought was to describe brain activity as occurring on three levels of awareness: conscious, preconscious and unconscious.
Later on, Freud developed a more sophisticated view of the brains activity. He categorized the mental process into three components: id, ego, and superego. He saw a person’s behaviour as the outcome of interactions among these three components. The id is little more than inherited biological drives, the ones that control many of our actions. There are two of these drives: Eros, the sex drive, and Thanatos, the death instinct. The id, according to Freud, operates under the Pleasure Principle: (Hayes.
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N 1994) “I want what I want and I want it now! ” The id demands immediate gratification, and will settle for nothing less. And because the world doesn’t always meet the desires of the infant, the id comes pre-packaged with an operative process, the Primary Process. (Hayes N 1994). If the thirsty infant doesn’t get mother’s milk, he creates a fantasy in which he does receive it (an act of wish-fulfillment ). Because the id is entirely irrational, there is no difference between the fantasy version and the “real” version.
The id, in conventional morality, is immoral. The ego develops as the buffer between the Id and reality, often suppressing the id’s urges until an appropriate situation arises. This repression of inappropriate desires and urges represents the greatest strain on, and the most important function of, the mind. The ego often utilizes defence mechanisms to achieve and aid this repression. Where the id may have an urge and form a picture, which satisfies this urge, the ego engages in a strategy to actually fulfil the urge.
The thirsty five-year-old now not only identifies water as the satisfaction of his urge, but also forms a plan to obtain water, perhaps by finding a drinking fountain. While the ego is still in the service of the id, it borrows some of its psychic energy in an effort to control the urge until it is feasibly satisfied. The ego’s effort at pragmatic satisfaction of urges eventually builds a great number of skills and memories and becomes aware of itself as an entity.
With the formation of the ego, the individual becomes a self, instead of an amalgamation of urges and needs. According to Freud, the ego operates under the Reality Principle, (Hayes. N 1994), trying to balance the demands of the unconscious mind with what is practical. It operates with the Secondary Process, the use of reason in an attempt to obtain pleasure. The ego, in conventional morality, is moral (like a good businessman, the ego performs cost-benefit analyses, and thereby profits in pleasures).
Freud argues that ‘as the child gets older, it comes into contact with authority’ (Malim. T & Birch. A 1998). Freud, it is important to remember, was developing his theories in Victorian times, when strict disciplines were enforced an virtually all middle-class children, and the father of the family was generally a remote, disciplinarian figure (the lack of a welfare state structure meant that working-class children grew up entirely differently, and their development was not was not really considered in this model).
The developing middle-class child’s life, then, became internalised into the personality: rather than the external one, the child developed a kind of internalised, unconscious ‘parent’ at the close of phallic stage, which contained strict ideas of duty, conscience, the sense of right and wrong and obligations. This was known as the superego. While the ego may temporarily repress certain urges of the id in fear of punishment, eventually these external sources of punishment are internalised, and the child will not steal the chocolate, even unwatched, because he has taken punishment, right, and wrong into himself.
The superego uses guilt and self-reproach as its primary means of enforcement for these rules. But if a person does something, which is acceptable to the superego, he experiences pride and self-satisfaction. I will now discuss the advantages and the disadvantages of his fame work. There are several weaknesses to psychoanalytic theory. The development of personality are not really susceptible to normal psychological evaluation, since what is considered to count as evidence is so very different from the normal empirical evidence required in psychology.
Freud also believed also believed that the different aspects of personality had distinct ‘biological origins’, and that it was only a matter of time before physiological research would reveal the physiological substrates of the id, ego and superego. One hundred years later this picture looks rather different While not biologically sound, Freud’s explanation of the workings of the mind is revolutionary. In one rather simplistic topographical model, he was able to develop a theoretical assumption of the intangible human mind.
Through his research, Freud concluded, “all psychological events are tied to energy, rive, and instincts based on biological characteristics” (Muss. R. 1996, P. 18). While I agree that unconscious thoughts do play a major role in decision-making process, I do not believe they are the sole source of motivation. Instinctual actions generally come to the forefront in a moment of crisis or emergency, when a quick, gut reaction is needed. In everyday decisions, however, I believe that an instinctual reaction is used as a decision-making tool to aid a person in logical reasoning. The average person takes into account a variety of issues prior to making a decision rather than simply relying on instinct.
While Freud’s tripartite models are intuitive constructs, I do not agree with his assumption that the unconscious is larger than the conscious. Most people function in the realm of awareness for the majority of each day; so much information must be accessible tofunction on a daily basis that it is difficult to fathom the unconscious contains more information than that which is accessible. Freud’s belief that every act has meaning that generally originates in the unconscious, relinquishes humans from any logical and intentional motivation.
Within this one theory, Freud denies the human race of their ability for deductive and critical analysis. Out of his Id-Ego-Superego theory, Freud developed his theory of psychosexual development, which envelops four stages: oral, anal, phallic, and genital. In each stage, he believes that a “child derives pleasure from different body parts” (Muss. R . P. 27). Freud’s theory of developmental stages focuses too much on the sexual aspect of development, which is painfully obvious in the names given to his developmental stages.
It seems that his own preoccupation with sexuality, perhaps as a result of his prudish surroundings, caused him to focus on and look for sexual connections within human development. It is undeniable that during the first year of life, infants tend to gain “pleasure” through oral activity. But rather than viewing their oral activity as erotic behavior, perhaps it is a result of emerging and developing physical senses (taste and touch) which become tools for them to use in discovering the outside world.
Because Freud recognized nature as the leading factor in cognitive development, his psychosexual theory tends to view human development outside of the societal context. He implies that a child, as if in a societal vacuum, views other humans simply as “objects of affection” (Malim. T & Birch . A 1998) A rather than contributors to their cognitive development. As a result, when a child moves from one psychosexual stage to another, his/her object of affection changes in order to satisfy a particular instinctual desire.
Freud’s omission of societal influences, as well as his preoccupation with auto erotica, causes me to disagree with his theory of development. While instinct and desire do motivate a person’s actions, one cannot deny that societal norms play a significant role in the cognitive development of children. Freud’s model of personality as an energy system totally propelled by instincts can also be seriously questioned. It certainly seems doubtful that all human behavior can be traced to sexual and aggressive drives that demand release in one form or another.
This tension-reduction view of human activity (that is, that all behavior stems from the needs to reduce inner tensions) is contradicted by research indicating that humans and lower animals often seek, rather than avoid, stimulation. Even casual observation at play seem to bear the idea that ‘curiosity’ is prevalent and that novel experiences are sought. The data from research and observations cannot be easily explained from the Freudian point of view, which stresses human strivings to achieve a state in which tension is absent.
It has also been frequently noted (by behaviorists, as well as others) that those who adopt Freud’s intrapsychic focus tend to pay insufficient attention to environmental factors as contributors to various disorders. Inadequate consideration of the role reinforces in maintaining behaviors, or of the roles of social conditions such as discrimination, disturbed family relationships and occupational stressors, may result in the inappropriate treatment of patients. According to Sandler.
J, the structural model of the third phase provided the basis for so-called classical psychoanalytic thinking for many years after Freud’ death in 1939, as reflected in the works ego psychologists Hartmann, Kris, and Lowenstein, and in the developmental psychoanalysis of Anna Freud. To a significant extent it is still a major influence on psychoanalytic conceptualizations, although there are indications that nowadays its suitability as the psychoanalytic theory of the mind is being increasingly questioned. The Ego and the Id has also served as an organizing model, which has advanced psychoanalysis as a science and as a therapy.
The paradigm offered by the structural formulations provided a framework for many developmental and clinical studies as well as an approach to a general psychology of human behaviour. Therapeutic advances have been made, but the art of therapy has not kept pace with the scientific advances. Theories have become too far removed from their clinical base; a changing sociologic climate that has reduced the impact of the rational attitude offered by psychoanalysis and the failure of psychoanalytic therapy to cure all ills have contributed to the dissatisfaction.
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