How do the Id, Ego, and Superego Interact?

Interaction of the Id and Ego

Interaction of the Id and Ego

In today’s video we’re going to go briefly, and touch lightly upon Freud’s, Dr. Freud’s, theory of personality as it relates to the id and the ego and the way they interact. If we want to look at this model, we’re talking about a psychological model of the structure of the mind. This does not correspond to places in the brain or do anything about us physiologically.

You can’t point to a part of the body or the brain and say that’s where id is, and that’s where the ego is, and that’s where the super ego is. This has to do with our mind, and Freud’s theory about how people live and interact with the world and he saw three different forces at work within people. He said that we are all born with this basic identity of pleasure seeking, or the id.

The id is entirely consumed with self-gratification. If I’m hungry, I want food now. If I am uncomfortable, I want to be made comfortable now. It just wants to meet its needs. It is heedless and regardless of reality going on around it, of other people’s needs, of other people’s wants, whether it hurts someone else. Freud would say this is seen most clearly in babies.

If they’re hungry they cry, if they get fed they stop crying. If they have a dirty diaper, they cry. If they get changed and are made physically comfortable, they stop crying. If they’re sleepy they cry, and when you put them to sleep they sleep they stop crying. It’s whatever they need immediately, that’s the id. This is the innate, born into us, selfish nature that says, “I want what I want, and I want it now.”

It’s the aggressive part of us, the pleasure-seeking part of us. It’s all of our basic drives: hunger, sex, aggression, whatever all of those basic drives come out and are part of id. This is from birth. Then Freud said, “Around about the age of 3, the ego starts to develop. It’s the ego’s job to satisfy as much as possible the desires of the id, while taking into account the reality around it.”

By 3 the child is starting to realize that there are other people who also have wants, desires, and needs. It is also starting to realize that if it immediately tries to gratify itself, sometimes that leads to pain. In order to maximize pain, the ego develops to satisfy the needs of the id while taking into account reality, other people’s, other needs, other wants.

The best way, given the current state of affairs the current reality, to prolong pleasure and to minimize pain. The ego develops to moderate the id, but also to more adequately and then over the long haul satisfy the id. The ego’s job, once again, is to meet the needs of the id. The id says, “I want, I want, I want.” The ego comes along and says, “okay, you want but here’s the reality the situation, in order for you get what you want, we’re going to have to withhold here, restrained here, pursue this that there, and that will lead to long term pleasure.”

Although it will sometimes hamper short term gain. We’re going to want to avoid the short-term pleasure seeking, as it may lead to more long-term pain later. Then around about the age 5, Freud said, “the super ego starts to develop.” This is the part that we would ordinarily call the conscience. It doesn’t deal with the real, but more the ideal. What ought to be, the way things should be.

Basically, there’s this conflict between the super ego, which says this is the way things ought to be based on the morality of society, and the id which says, “I want this now.” The ego stands between seeking to rationalize, harmonize, and satisfy both polls. Society says this is the way things ought to be, I want this. Here’s the way things are right now in reality.

How can I keep the super ego quiet, keep my conscience placated, and get what I want without long term hurt, based on the reality of the situation now? The ego is the one who interacts between these opposing forces, but its primary job is to meet the needs of the id -those primal drives of hunger, aggression, intimacy, things like this- to meet those needs, but in a way that deals with reality.

Remember the id is the basic drives. It’s based on pleasure, and it wants it now, pleasure and aggression, basic drives, born with it. The ego is based on the reality principle. This is the way things are really happening right now, this is the current circumstance. How am I going to meet the current circumstance, satisfy the needs of the id, but not produce prolong pain Satisfies the id based on reality.

A super ego as the conscience and deals not with the real but with the ideal, the way things ought to be, as it is informed by the current culture and society. Born with the id, age 3 the ego starts to develop, age 5 and super ego starts to develop unless there are hindrances to that development. This is Freud’s theory that of the interaction of the id and the ego.

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Last updated: 10/15/2018


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