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The Concept of Ego Ideal Within Superego

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This week’s reading task focused on the structural model of Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. He argus in this theory that human behaviour is the result of the interaction between the three components of the mind: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. Freud’s theory highly emphasizes on the conflict between these three elements and how they shape personality and behaviour. These conflicts, as Freud says, are unconscious. Conflicts in the human mind are fundamental, as psychoanalysis claims. This assignment will attempt to identify and explain the social role of the superego (or a ego ideal) and how it helps (or not) in social situations.

On the first hand, the id is described as the ‘most primitive’ part of the human mind that represents our instincts, impulses, and physical needs. It is completely unconscious and makes us behave in ways we do not necessarily want to, and it is driven by satisfaction regardless of the outcome. The ego is an element of the human mind experienced as ‘I’ or ‘self’. This part needs to find a steadiness between the id and the superego (ego ideal), instinct and law. It is the rational part that has to make a compromise between the other two parts. The super-ego is what Freud called the ethical element of the mind and the part that determines the moral degree by which the ego behaves. The prohibition and criticism of the super-ego shape a person’s conscience and personality. The super-ego is the part that deals with morality and social order, and many call this part of the mind the ‘moral compass.’ Positive thoughts, ideals, and aspirations represent someone’s idealized self or ‘ego-ideal.’ However, the super-ego can become overly critical and perfectionist, and can be quite harsh in character.

On the other hand, the social role of the super-ego is the clear feature of morality. We could say that the super-ego is the opposite of the id and can balance the situation. If the id is the part that takes what it wants, when it wants, the morality of the super-ego prevents us from making impulsive decisions that we may later feel sorry for. The super-ego works by suppressing the id’s impulses and inducing them to behave morally. It can be further divided into two other parts: the conscience and the ego ideal. The ego ideal is the part that sets the standards and rules for good and acceptable behaviour. These socially accepted behaviours usually come from authoritative, parental figures, or potentially respected people. Therefore, following these rules can make us feel value, pride, and achievement, as opposed to breaking rules that can make us feel guilty. Ego ideal represents the image that we created for the ideal self we want to be. This image is often modelled after the people who are the norm for the people we want to become. The conscience is the set of socially accepted rules in which a particular behaviour is considered bad. Thus, the super-ego helps us achieve our socially desirable status, supress the ‘childish’ desires and urges that can lead us to act in a socially undesirable way, and helps us adapt in a social environment.

However, the super-ego is a very harsh and critical entity. When this part becomes dominating of the mind, one can be too judgemental, negative, and critical of oneself and others. Failure to meet the predominant super-ego’s standards and desires, it can affect the mind and cause psychological problems such as depression, being tormented by this negative ‘voice’ that tells us that nothing we do is good enough.

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