The words “ego” and “id” are Greek, and we have carried them into the English language and then nominalized. By doing this our consciousness solidifies them as things within our brains. The word “ego” means “I” or “self”. The word “id” means “non-I” or “non-self”, or “it.” We dont say “the I” when we refer to ourselves. But so often we say “the ego” as if to refer to a specific part or thing of our minds.
The other confusion that adds to nominalization is then believing the rest of the book is about things in space. Yet, Freud specifically says, “The state of things which we have been describing can be represented diagrammatically, though it must be remarked that the form chosen has no pretensions to any special applicability, but is mere intended to serve for purposes of exposition (p. 18).” What Freud is saying is that in order to communicate clearly what is happening in ones psyche, or mind, there needs to be a working model of the psyche. That is to say, a model meaning a diagram with its parts that do not act as the psyche itself (or of reality), but shows what the psyche consists of. He does this by discerning that which is “descriptive,” and that which is “dynamic.” The descriptive only describes through language or imaginative use, while dynamic is more at the process that actually occurs.
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Now the model Freud eventually used as a diagram is not a very good model. In fact it is a bit unwieldy and clumsy and in the end served little purpose (later in he updated the model in ‘New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis’, 1933).
Because Freud is the first to devise the model, it is primitive and modifications would be neccessary. Actually Freud seemed to have modeled what looks to be an ill-defined organ giving way to the idea that it functions like a heart would. While reading the book, I chose not to use the model he drew, but rather found it useful to create my own based on his descriptions of where things are in relation to each other. This does not mean I believe the model is a literal drawing of my mind or anyone elses, but rather a means in which we understand how one part of the psyche works with another. Similarly is Neil Bohr’s model of the atom. He did not draw what he actually saw, he created a model only for communication purposes. When a group understands the parts, and the relationship of those parts, then you create a vernacular, or as Freud called it, a “shibboleth of psycho-analysis.” Then we can clearly understand what we are talking about when referring to these parts.
The book is only psychological in language, where Freud describes his theories of ego and id. He raises other aspects of the psyche that one may need to already understand, such as cathexis, the Oedipal complex, displacement, reaction formation and so forth. He sets out essentially how ego is created in relation to id, and by creating our ego we also create repression. It is sometimes misconstrued that ego is associated with egotistical, or egotism, or even conceit, however, Freud is aware that our ego is as much benevalent as malevalent.
“The Ego and the Id” was written in 1923, so the language is sometimes archaic, even in the translated form. Its more popular to be adverse with Freud, usually due to the claims Freud made regarding childhood sexuality, and that all of his theories are based upon sexual experiences in our youth. I believe if one set that opinion aside and read as if you never heard of Freud, you might think differently. I found it useful while reading not only to understand the times Freud wrote in, but to also update the language in more modern terms. If ego does not suit you, choose another word, as long as the relationships and understanding of their functions remain constant. But what you call them may reveal that Freud really hit the mark in describing the functions and processes of our minds. When you observe as he did, you will discover how memories are repressed, what your consciousness holds, what you observe in your consciousness and what you are holding out on in your unconscious. How our ego’s and super-ego’s (ego-ideal) serve and protect, yet hinder potential. For me, updating the language allowed me to understand Freuds work much better than if I kept his work in the past and attempted to apply it to today. I dont feel that works for any author. It would be like knowing how to fix an Apple IIe and expecting to be able to fix a Macintosh G3 computer.
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Freud’s “Ego and the Id” is a great book to begin to understand his theories. Its a small book (62 pages) and will create the foundation of understanding for any of his other works. Having a good working knowledge of this book will also aid you in reading other authors who discuss ego functions as well as your ability to discern how the word is used in relation to Freud’s understanding.
The ID strives for the needs, wants desires; as the ID strives for pleasure it encounters experiences of frustration. The desires and needs of the ID do not get responded to as soon as the individual would like; in essence the reality of life; this results in the development of personality that governs orientation to reality. During early development of a person there are other influences as moral and ethical expectations of family and society. As the ID strives for gratification it encounters these moral and ethical expectations that tend to frustrate the ID; as a result of this the SUPER-EGO develops which represents the individuals moral orientation. Also known as the conscience. Family and society play an important role in defining for a person what these moral and ethical expectations include. Unresolved conflicts between ID-EGO-SUPER EGO can lead to fixation or blockage in development and can result in excessive dependence in manipulation. The resolution of each crisis depends on the interaction of the individual’s characteristics and the support provided by the social environment.
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Quote from Dr Freud:
“…the ego seeks to bring the influence of the external world to bear upon the id and its tendencies, and endeavours to substitute the reality principle for the pleasure principle which reigns unrestrictedly in the id. For the ego, perception plays the part which in the id falls to instinct. The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions. “
As Freud illustrated in his extensive studies, the mind is always in conflict. This conflict results in happiness anThe id is the oldest of the psychical elements. It is everything that humans have inherited at birth. The id is the part of the mind that has to deal with our instincts. The id is the part of the mind that is responsible for sexual urges, and is often repressed.d unhappiness, and other moods
Interactions between Id and Ego – This occurs when one has a choice between small instant gratification or better future rewards.
The ego is the mediator between the outside world and the id. The ego was originally part of the id, and through the influence of the outer world, has formed into a separate psychical element. The principal task of the ego is self-preservation. The ego commands a wide variety of voluntary movements. It is the part that is responsible for our memory, and also the human self defense mechanisms (fight or flight).
The ego can adapt to new situations through adapting. The ego is also responsible for reducing the amount stress (displeasure).
The ego is also responsible for making the body rest through the process of sleep.