Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (2022)

By Saul McLeod, updated 2021

Id, Ego and Superego

Id, Ego and Superego

Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (1)

Perhaps Freud's single most enduring and important idea was that the human psyche (personality) has more than one aspect.

Freud's personality theory (1923) saw the psyche structured into three parts (i.e., tripartite), the id, ego andsuperego, all developing at different stages in our lives. These are systems, not parts of the brain, or in any way physical.

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The Id The Ego The Superego

(Video) Sigmund Freud: Id, Ego & Superego (Examples)

According to Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.

Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (2)

Although each part of the personality comprises unique features, they interact to form a whole, and each part makes a relative contribution to an individual's behavior.

What is the id?

The id is the primitive and instinctive component of personality. The id is a part of the unconscious that contains all the urges and impulses, including what is called the libido, a kind of generalized sexual energy that is used for everything from survival instincts to appreciation of art. The id is also kind of stubborn, for it responds only to what Freud called the pleasure principle (if it feels good, do it), and nothing else.

It consists of all the inherited (i.e., biological) components of personality present at birth, including the sex (life) instinct – Eros (which contains the libido), and the aggressive (death) instinct - Thanatos.

The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to basic urges, needs, and desires. The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later does it develop an ego and super-ego.

The id remains infantile in its function throughout a person's life and does not change with time or experience, as it is not in touch with the external world. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world, as it operates within the unconscious part of the mind.

Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (3)

The id operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920) which is the idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of the consequences.When the id achieves its demands, we experience pleasure when it is denied we experience ‘unpleasure’ or tension.

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.

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What is the Ego?

The ego is 'that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.'

(Video) id, ego, & superego

(Freud, 1923, p. 25)

The ego is the only part of the conscious personality. It's what the person is aware of when they think about themselves, and is what they usually try to project toward others.

The ego develops to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world. It is the decision-making component of personality. Ideally, the ego works by reason, whereas the id is chaotic and unreasonable.

The ego operates according to the reality principle, working out realistic ways of satisfying the id’s demands, often compromising or postponing satisfaction to avoid negative consequences of society. The ego considers social realities and norms, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave.

Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (4)

Like the id, the ego seeks pleasure (i.e., tension reduction) and avoids pain, but unlike the id, the ego is concerned with devising a realistic strategy to obtain pleasure. The ego has no concept of right or wrong; something is good simply if it achieves its end of satisfying without causing harm to itself or the id.

Often the ego is weak relative to the headstrong id, and the best the ego can do is stay on, pointing the id in the right direction and claiming some credit at the end as if the action were its own.

Freud made the analogy of the id being a horse while the ego is the rider. The ego is 'like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superiour strength of the horse.'

(Freud, 1923, p. 15)

If the ego fails in its attempt to use the reality principle, and anxiety is experienced, unconscious defense mechanisms are employed, to help ward off unpleasant feelings (i.e., anxiety) or make good things feel better for the individual.

The ego engages in secondary process thinking, which is rational, realistic, and orientated towards problem-solving. If a plan of action does not work, then it is thought through again until a solution is found. This is known as reality testing and enables the person to control their impulses and demonstrate self-control, via mastery of the ego.

An important feature of clinical and social work is to enhance ego functioning and help the client test reality through assisting the client to think through their options.

According to the Freudians, some types ofabnormal upbringing (particularly if there is a cold, rejecting ‘schizogenic’ mother) can result in aweak and fragile ego, whose ability to contain the id’s desires is limited. This can lead to the egobeing ‘broken apart’ by its attempt to contain the id, leaving the id in overall control of the psyche.

What is the superego?

The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one's parents and others. It develops around the age of 3 – 5 years during the phallic stage of psychosexual development. The superego is seen as the purveyor or rewards (feelings of pride and satisfaction) and punishments (feelings of shame and guilt) depending on which part (the ego-deal or conscious) is activated.

The superego is a part of the unconscious that is the voice of conscience (doing what is right) and the source of self-criticism. It reflects society's moral values to some degree, and a person is sometimes aware of their own morality and ethics, but the superego contains a vast number of codes, or prohibitions, that are issued mostly unconsciously in the form of commands or "don't" statements.

The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression. It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection.

Id, Ego, & Superego | Freud & Examples (5)

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The superego consists of two systems: The conscience and the ideal self.

The conscience is our 'inner voice' that tells us when we have done something wrong.The conscience can punish the ego through causing feelings of guilt. For example, if the ego gives in to the id's demands, the superego may make the person feel bad through guilt.

The superego is also somewhat tricky, in that it will try to portray what it wants the person to do in grandiose, glowing terms, what Freud called the ego-ideal, which arises out of the person's first great love attachment (usually a parent).

The ideal self (or ego-ideal) is an imaginary picture of how you ought to be, and represents career aspirations, how to treat other people, and how to behave as a member of society.

The assumption is that children raised by parents experience love conditionally (when they do something right), and the child internalizes these experiences as a series of real or imagined judgmental statements.

Behavior which falls short of the ideal self may be punished by the superego through guilt. The super-ego can also reward us through the ideal self when we behave ‘properly’ by making us feel proud.

Guilt is a very common problem because of all the urges and drives coming from the id and all the prohibitions and codes in the superego. There are a variety of ways an individual handles guilt, and these are called defense mechanisms.

If a person’s ideal self is too high a standard, then whatever the person does will represent failure. The ideal self and conscience are largely determined in childhood from parental values and how you were brought up.

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APA Style References

Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 1-64.

Freud, S. (1923). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 1-66.

(Video) Sigmund Freud | Structure of personality | id, Ego, Superego

Further Information

Sigmund FreudDefense Mechanisms Psychoanalysis Unconscious MindAre You Id, Ego, or Superego?

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How to reference this article:

How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 25). Id, ego and superego. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html

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FAQs

What are the examples of id ego and superego? ›

Let's go back to the example where your id takes over and you eat your roommate's cake and then your superego makes you feel really guilty about this. What's really causing you to apologize and to bake a new cake is your ego.

How do you explain the id ego and superego? ›

According to Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.

What is superego give example? ›

Examples of the Superego

For example, if you give in to the urges of the id, the superego is what will cause you to feel a sense of guilt or even shame about your actions. The superego may help you feel good about your behavior when you suppress your most primal urges.

What are examples of the ego? ›

The ego operates based on the reality principle, which works to satisfy the id's desires in a manner that is realistic and socially appropriate. 3 For example, if a person cuts you off in traffic, the ego prevents you from chasing down the car and physically attacking the offending driver.

What is id and its example? ›

The id is the most basic part of the personality. It also represents our most animalistic urges, like the desire for food and sex. The id seeks instant gratification for our wants and needs. If these needs or wants are not met, a person can become tense, anxious, or angry. Sally was thirsty.

What is your ego? ›

There are many definitions of the ego, but to put it simply, it's your sense of personal identity or feelings of self-importance. It helps you to identify your 'uniqueness', to stand up for yourself and to put plans into action.

What is the most important id ego or superego? ›

Answer and Explanation: Freud believed that a healthy person should have the ego as the strongest component of his or her mind. This is because the ego needs to moderate between the desires of the id and the superego, either of which can be destructive in the extreme.

What is id in personality? ›

According to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.

What is the role of the super ego? ›

According to Freud, the superego is the social component of our personality that is represented by our conscience and is based on our ideal of perfection. According to Sigmund Freud, personality consists of the id, ego, and superego. These three parts work together to create a complete personality.

What is superego in personality? ›

According to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the superego is the component of personality composed of the internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and society. The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally, rather than realistically.

What is the ego in Freud? ›

EGO: For Freud, the ego is "the representative of the outer world to the id" ("Ego and the Id" 708). In other words, the ego represents and enforces the reality-principle whereas the id is concerned only with the pleasure-principle.

What are the 3 structure of personality? ›

Id, Ego, and Superego. Freud proposed that the mind is divided into three components: id, ego, and superego, and that the interactions and conflicts among the components create personality (Freud, 1923/1949).

What are the 3 ego states? ›

The three ego states are called - Parent, Adult and Child ego states. These three ego states comprise individual personality. Each ego state is an entire system of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours from which we interact with one another.

What is the full form of ego? ›

The Full form of EGO is Exhaust Gas Oxygen, or EGO stands for Exhaust Gas Oxygen, or the full name of given abbreviation is Exhaust Gas Oxygen.

How many egos do we have? ›

There are seven different Ego States, and six of those ego states are unhealthy. The unhealthy Ego States are: Selfish, Pleaser, Rebellious, Master Manipulator, Critical, and Enabling. Selfish – In the Selfish ego state, people are reckless and demanding. They try to have fun without thinking of the consequences.

How do you use id in a sentence? ›

Id. sentence example
  1. Can you ID this guy? ...
  2. I'm not sure even his mother could ID him now. ...
  3. Now, the way I see it, there's three ways to prove Byrne's alive—fingerprints, positive ID, or handwriting. ...
  4. Could she at least ID him if she saw a picture?

How do you write id? ›

"ID" as a word is correct not because it has only two letters, it's correct because that's the accepted short form of "identification."
...
  1. That link suggests otherwise. ...
  2. They make a difference in abbreviations vs acronyms. ...
  3. They make a difference in abbreviations vs acronyms.
25 Jan 2014

What is the full meaning id? ›

'"ID" is a short form for "identity" or "identification": For legal immigrants, a primary ID includes a green card, authorization of employment from the Department of Justice or certificate of naturalization.

What is a good ego? ›

High Ego Strength

They tend to be confident in their ability to deal with challenges, and they are good at coming up with solutions to life's problems. They also tend to have high levels of emotional intelligence and are able to successfully regulate their emotions, even in tough situations.

Is ego positive or negative? ›

Although the word ego often carries a negative connotation - as in egocentric or egotistical -- in actuality, the ego has both positive and negative aspects. From the positive perspective, ego simply means a solid, healthy and strong sense of self. Ego in this regard is essential in business.

Do I have an ego? ›

You constantly compare yourself to other people who you feel are better than you (better looking, more intelligent, happier, more wealthy) You constantly compare yourself to people who you feel are not as good as you (less intelligent, lower status) You feel jealous when other people do well.

How does ego affect behavior? ›

Research has shown that the he ego can be held responsible for many negative human traits including but not limited to criticising and judging others,acting manipulative, being inflexible and rigid, having severe mood swings, possessing a constant need for praise and approval, need to feel superior to everyone around, ...

What is one way the ego is different from the id and superego? ›

1. What is one way the ego is different from the id and superego? The ego is fully conscious, while the id and superego are unconscious. Freud came up with the id and superego, but Carl Jung developed the idea of the ego.

Is the ego conscious or unconscious? ›

The ego operates mainly in conscious and preconscious levels, although it also contains unconscious elements because both the ego and the superego evolved from the id. Ruled by the reality principle, the ego takes care of the id urges as soon as the adequate circumstance is found.

How is ego formed? ›

The ego is born out of fear and isolation. It creates our identity and separates us from those around us when we were a child. The birth of ego, according to Chögyam Trungpa, is the process of identifying the self in term of opposing ourselves to others.

Is the id unconscious? ›

The earliest part of the personality to emerge is the id. The id is present at birth and runs on pure instinct, desire, and need. It is entirely unconscious and encompasses the most primitive part of the personality, including basic biological drives and reflexes.

How the superego is harmful? ›

They may feel isolated, experience depression, self-harm, or fantasize about hurting themselves or others. A harsh superego can lead people to push others away and can also cause a person to feel stagnant at work or in a relationship.

What are the 3 structures of personality? ›

Freud proposed that the mind is divided into three components: id, ego, and superego, and that the interactions and conflicts among the components create personality (Freud, 1923/1949). According to Freudian theory, the id is the component of personality that forms the basis of our most primitive impulses.

What is the difference between ego and super ego? ›

Ego is the common sense which is defined as an individual's reaction to his needs and consists of well-organized sections including reasoning, tolerance, memory, understanding, judgment and planning. Superego is defined as conscience, where an inner voice is constantly reminding the individual to be good.

What is id in personality? ›

According to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires.

What is superego in personality? ›

According to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the superego is the component of personality composed of the internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and society. The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally, rather than realistically.

What are the 3 ego states? ›

The three ego states are called - Parent, Adult and Child ego states. These three ego states comprise individual personality. Each ego state is an entire system of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours from which we interact with one another.

What are Freud's 3 theories? ›

Freudian theory postulates that adult personality is made up of three aspects: (1) the id, operating on the pleasure principle generally within the unconscious; (2) the ego, operating on the reality principle within the conscious realm; and (3) the superego, operating on the morality principle at all levels of ...

What is the 4 personality types? ›

The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.

Which is most important id ego or superego? ›

Answer and Explanation: Freud believed that a healthy person should have the ego as the strongest component of his or her mind. This is because the ego needs to moderate between the desires of the id and the superego, either of which can be destructive in the extreme.

What is super ego mean? ›

The superego is the ethical component of the personality and provides the moral standards by which the ego operates. The superego's criticisms, prohibitions, and inhibitions form a person's conscience, and its positive aspirations and ideals represent one's idealized self-image, or “ego ideal.”

What are the characteristics of ego? ›

Characteristics of Ego Strength
  • In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, ego strength is the ability of the ego to deal effectively with the demands of the id, the superego, and reality. ...
  • According to Sigmund Freud, personality is composed of three elements: the id, the ego, and the super-ego.
30 Apr 2020

What is id simple? ›

: a document (such as a card) bearing identifying information about and often a photograph of the individual whose name appears on it. — called also ID card, identification card, identity card. ID. verb. \ ˈī-ˈdē \

What is a healthy ego? ›

A healthy ego allows you to perceive people as being a rich combination of many values, attributes, strengths and challenges.

How does ego affect behavior? ›

Research has shown that the he ego can be held responsible for many negative human traits including but not limited to criticising and judging others,acting manipulative, being inflexible and rigid, having severe mood swings, possessing a constant need for praise and approval, need to feel superior to everyone around, ...

Why is the superego important *? ›

The superego is important because it controls people's impulses set forth by the id and encourages them to adhere to rules and standards.

Is the id unconscious? ›

The earliest part of the personality to emerge is the id. The id is present at birth and runs on pure instinct, desire, and need. It is entirely unconscious and encompasses the most primitive part of the personality, including basic biological drives and reflexes.

What are the functions of the ego? ›

in psychoanalytic theory, the various activities of the ego, including perception of the external world, self-awareness, problem solving, control of motor functions, adaptation to reality, memory, reconciliation of conflicting impulses and ideas, and regulation of affect.

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