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R. Peters
Various Definitions
• =
– the human soul, spirit, or mind.
• =
– The mind functioning as the center of thought,
emotion, and behavior and consciously or
unconsciously mediating the body's
responses to the social and physical
– The mind, soul, or spirit, as opposed to the
body. In psychology, the psyche is the center
of thought, feeling, and motivation,
consciously and unconsciously directing the
body's reactions to its social and physical
Freud’s Take on the Psyche
– Sigmund Freud - the father of psychoanalysis
(treatment for mental illnesses)
– Believed that the psyche was composed of three
• The id, which represents the instinctual drives of
an individual and remains largely unconscious.
• The super-ego, which represents a person's
conscience and their internalization of societal
norms and morality.
• The ego, which is conscious and serves to
integrate the drives of the id with the prohibitions
of the super-ego. Freud believed this conflict to be
at the heart of neurosis (mental illness).
The Id or It
• Consists of all the inherited (i.e. biological) components of
personality, including the sex (life) instinct
• The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche
which responds directly and immediately to the instincts.
• The personality of the newborn child is all id and only later
does it develop ego and super-ego.
• The id demands immediate satisfaction and when this happens
we experience pleasure, when it is denied we experience
unpleasure or pain.
• The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world.
• It operates on the pleasure principle (Freud, 1920) which is the
idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied
immediately, regardless of the consequences.
The Ego or I
Part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the
external world (Freud 1923).
The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the
external real world.
Ideally the ego works by reason whereas the id is chaotic and totally
The ego operates according to the reality principle, working our realistic
ways of satisfying the id’s demands, often compromising or postponing
Like the id, the ego seeks pleasure and avoids pain but unlike the id the
ego is concerned with devising a realistic strategy to obtain pleasure.
Freud made the analogy of the id being the horse while the ego is the
Often the ego is weak relative to the head-strong 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.
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 to the
Superego or Above I
The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned
from one's parents and others.
It develops around the age of 4 or 5.
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.
The superego consists of two systems: The conscience and the ideal self.
The conscience can punish the ego through causing feelings of guilt. For example, if the
ego gives in to id demands, the superego may make the person feel bad though guilt.
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 behavior as a member of
society.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.
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 you were brought up.
Defense Mechanisms
• Identification with the Aggressor:A focus on negative or feared
– I.e. if you are afraid of someone, you can practically conquer
that fear by becoming more like them.
• Repression: unconscious mechanism employed by the ego to
keep disturbing or threatening thoughts from becoming
– Thoughts that are often repressed are those that would
result in feeling of guilt from the superego.
– This is not a very successful defense in the long term since
it involves forcing disturbing wishes, ideas or memories into
the unconscious, where, although hidden, they will create
Projection: This involves individuals attributing their own thoughts,
feeling and motives to another person.
– Thoughts most commonly projected onto another are ones that
would cause guilt such as aggressive and sexual fantasies or
Displacement: the redirection of an impulse (usually aggression)
onto a powerless substitute target. The target can be a person or an
object that can serve as a symbolic substitute.
Sublimation: similar to displacement, but takes place when we
manage to displace our emotions into a constructive rather than
destructive activity.
Denial: involves blocking external events from awareness.
– If some situation is just too much to handle, the person just
refuses to experience it.
– A primitive and dangerous defense - no one disregards reality
and gets away with it for long!
– It can operate by itself or, more commonly, in combination with
other, more subtle mechanisms that support it.
Regression: A movement back in psychological time when one is
faced with stress.
– When we are troubled or frightened, our behaviors often
become more childish or primitive.
Rationalization: cognitive distortion of "the facts" to make an
event or an impulse less threatening.
– We do it often enough on a fairly conscious level when we
provide ourselves with excuses.
– But for many people, with sensitive egos, making excuses
comes so easy that they never are truly aware of it.
Reaction formation:where a person goes beyond denial and
behaves in the opposite way to which he or she thinks or feels.
– By using the reaction formation the id is satisfied while
keeping the ego in ignorance of the true motives.
– Conscious feelings are the opposite of the unconscious. Love
- hate. Shame - disgust
– Usually a reaction formation is marked by showiness and