Ego, Id and Superego

...The id is the oldest of the psychical provinces or forces; it contains everything that is inherited, everything present at birth, everything constitutionally determined - above all, then, the drives originating from the bodily organization...

Under the influence of the objective world around us, part of the id has developed in a particular way. In its original capacity as a cortical layer it was equipped both with organs to receive stimuli and with apparatus to protect against them; but, since then, a particular form of organization has developed that mediates between the id and the external world. We have called this zone of our psyche the ego...

Sigmund Freud An Outline of Psychoanalysis

id is associated with our basic drives and has no morals.
ego is associated with reason. Without the ego's attempts to adapt to the demands of external reality, the id may pursue the gratification of its desires or drives to the detriment of the person as a whole. The ego represents our struggle to bring the id and superego into balance.
superego is a kind of unconscious conscience which is inherited from our ancestors (and teachers). Human children have an extended period of dependency upon parents which results in a lifelong influence on the ways in which they process the actions of others and themselves. The superego is a structural relationship and not a personification of conscience.

A 'strong' or 'healthy' ego is one which is able to effectively manage the demands of the id, superego and the external world.

The ego-ideal is what the ego measures itself against - it is what remains of the child's old image of the parents.

...The neuroses, as we know, are disorders of the ego, and... so long as it is weak, unformed, and incapable of resistance, fails to master tasks that it could deal with later on with its eyes shut... The helpless ego defends itself against them (drive-demands from within which act as 'traumas', like excitation from the outer world) by making attempts to flee, which later turn out to be inexpedient and mean permanent restrictions on its further development...

Sigmund Freud An Outline of Psychoanalysis

The ego's task involves becoming aware of the drives and bringing them into balance with the demands of the external world and the superego. The demands may be incompatible, which makes this task especially difficult.

...a drive differs from a stimulus in that it originates in the body, acts as a constant force, and the individual can't flee it the way he can an external stimulus...

Sigmund Freud An Outline of Psychoanalysis

Feelings of fear, inferiority and guilt may arise when the ego finds it difficult to satisfy conflicting demands. The superego may 'punish' the ego for its 'failure' without having any awareness of the degree of difficulty involved for the ego.

The ego, id and superego are not clearly and cleanly separated, and id and superego do not have conscious intent. We can become more consciously aware of our drives and the influence of our superego, which increases the consciousness of our ego, and possibly increases the strength of our ego.

It is important for the ego to achieve a degree of self-assertion and mastery over the environment. The ego's responsibilities include: control over voluntary movement; becoming familiar with the external environment, which includes storing information in memory; learning to assess risks to health, functioning, survival; and learning that the external environment can be changed through action.

In the internal sense, the ego's tasks include learning to assess the demands of the drives and to delay or suppress gratification, as well as the need to retreat from the outside world in order to regroup or recharge, and to pursue the pleasure principle while avoiding unnecessary danger.

It occurs to me that in my relationships/household setups, I most 'safely' satisfy the drive to eat, which is related to an infantile sexual drive which never progressed to full development - I am also kept 'alive' such that this 'pleasure' can go on and on. I do not seem to believe that I can change the external world through action, or that if I can, it is only in small ways that mainly affect me, but do not help me to connect to the world in a larger sense, such that I continue to experience a strong sense of isolation.

I have failed to master essential tasks such as delaying gratification consistently or at times when it is important to do so, but seem to exist in an almost permanent state of avoiding excessively strong stimuli, thereby preventing 'danger' (one of these dangers is probably my own death drive, although the state in which I exist probably also represents my own strong aggression turned inward, such that it is ineffectual in the outer world). I sometimes purposely seek out excessively strong stimuli, which afterward results in a retreat from the outside world into a dormant state in order to make changes to my inner organization - but this state has become my most permanent. The most pleasurable, least dangerous ways of satisfying the drives includes dependence on a partner who brings me a supply of food (and now drugs: alcohol and caffeine) and asks for relatively little in return. In this state my continued survival may be more 'sure' than if I was abandoned to my own devices. Also, I might in this state be effectively 'stabilized' or 'neutralized' such that I cannot have negative effects in the outer world, effects of which the superego would disapprove.

The superego seems to have a very strong influence regarding the basic drive to eat and what that represents. In a genetic sense, my body would naturally be larger and less attractive than it is possible for it to be through deprivation and effort. My guess is that in an evolutionary sense, I have a body type that is adaptable to harsh conditions in which there are occasional periods of famine or dearth, that my body in all conditions can undertake a considerable amount of physical work, that I have good endurance, but that it is especially made to adapt to changing circumstances, and that in those past circumstances, it was probably necessary that there be periods of weight gain in preparation for later times, that there also be periods of relative inactivity so as to 'rest' the body and not strain the joints and everything else unduly, such that the body could last for as long as possible, and do the most work in unfavourable conditions as needed.

The influence which is hard to shake off is that because it is 'possible' to change through effort, there should be no question about it, I should do it. Modern aesthetic requirements and my own 'adaptability' response tell me that in the current circumstances it is best to go to the lower end of my 'healthy' weight range, but I cannot adequately combat the external cues to eat: abundance and advertising. My ego is weak because I have failed in this task, which, according to my harsh and punitive superego means that I am weak, without discipline, greedy, lazy and ultimately an ugly person who does not deserve 'love'. Adaptations that perhaps would have served me well in another time period, and which would have helped me to be seen as a desirable (vigorous) mate, do not work in modern times to my benefit.















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