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Introduction to Freud. Psychoanalysis Id, Ego, Superego Development of the Individual Society as a Self-Governing Organism. Part I: Biography. Sigmund Freud Born May 6, 1856 One of 8 children, Jewish family Age 4, Freud’s father moved family to Vienna, Austria

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Introduction to Freud


Id, Ego, Superego

Development of the Individual

Society as a Self-Governing Organism

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Part I: Biography

  • Sigmund Freud Born May 6, 1856

  • One of 8 children, Jewish family

  • Age 4, Freud’s father moved family to Vienna, Austria

  • In the last years of his life to London (to avoid Nazi persecution)

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Famous for Psychoanalysis

  • Psychoanalysis: “The Talking Cure” therapy that investigates the workings and interactions between conscious and unconscious mind.

  • Think of: “revealing,” “unearthing” what we have hidden, repressed, in order to become healthy.

  • The image of the therapist’s couch is from Freud’s practice where patients would lie as Freud interrogated them

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The Self: Id, Ego, Superego

  • Freud: We have a tri-partite (three-part) self

    • Id – That most infantile and demanding part of the self that is insatiable; ruled by the “Pleasure Principle” that aims to find pleasure and avoid pain

    • Ego – The part of the self that battles against the Id and Superego with reason, logic, and rationale; ruled by the “Reality Principle”: You can’t always get what you want; helps the Id make it until urges/desires can be satisfied

    • Superego – Unreasonably abuses you for shirking your responsibilities and not living up to your potential; contains rules concerning what constitutes good or appropriate behavior as well as standards concerning what constitutes bad, immoral, or embarrassing behavior

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Conflict: Id, Ego, Superego

  • Conflict Model: The self is NOT UNIFIED; it is not a coherent, singular entity. We’re not entirely rational, not entirely in control

  • There are competing elements within ourselves.

  • No way to resolve competing elements; the only way to stay healthy is to not let any one of them “get the upper hand” or sickness (i.e. neurosis or psychosis) can occur.

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Unbalanced Id, Ego, Superego

  • If, as an adult, your Id is too dominant? (very self-absorbed, don’t care about others, only out for yourself)

  • If, as an adult, your Ego is too dominant?(distant, rational, efficient, unemotional, cold)

  • If, as an adult, your Superego is too dominant? (guilt-ridden or sanctimonious).

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Freud vs. Ancient Philosophy

  • Freud’s viewpoint is that reason can never control the passions

  • We are driven by unconscious instincts we can never possibly know

  • Knowledge of the self is beyond reason

  • Plato saw the self as tri-partite (three components)

    • Reason (>> ego)

    • Spirit/conscience (>> superego)

    • Desire (>> id)

  • Plato believed reason could and should rule the personality

  • REASON keeps desires in check and uses them to motivate

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Freud vs. Marx

  • Freud says Marx is idealistic and utopian

  • “Our basic needs are not benign needs”

  • Our deepest needs are aggression, the willful desire to hurt, and seek domination, and ultimately our own self-destruction

  • Thus war, cheating businessmen, mercenaries, etc.

  • Marx = father of the communist revolution

  • Historical evolution, Marx believed, would usher in communism – we would create a rational, just system (as opposed to the unjust system of capitalism)

  • Therefore, logic and rational thinking will overcome the illogic of capitalism

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Individual’s Development

  • Three stages of development early in life, all centered around seeking pleasure

    • Oral

    • Anal

    • Phallic

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Oral Stage

  • Mouth, lips, and tongue are primary erogenous zones.

  • When feeding, the child experiences pleasure; when the mother takes away the breast/bottle, child experiences displeasure

  • If one develops an oral personality:

    • Can be dependent/needy as adults.

    • If fixation on oral satisfaction occurs after the child has teeth this may result in excessive aggression as an adult.

    • Adults who smoke or drink excessively, or who constantly put their hands over their mouths may have oral personalities

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Anal Stage

  • Child becomes interested in cleanliness; experiences pleasure and displeasure through exerting self-control and control over the parent.

  • Most children are being toilet trained at this time.

  • Traumatic toilet training may result in fixation and an anal personality.

    • May be excessively orderly, stubborn or generous, depending on how their toilet training progressed.

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Phallic Stage

  • Occurs when the child is approximately 6 years old.

    • This stage is often labeled as “sexist” b/c of its focus on the male.

    • Freud claims females experience penis envy – feelings of jealousy and inferiority develop (Freud would have loved the feminist movement)

  • Oedipus Complex – occurs in the later part of the phallic stage; children at this age develop an attraction to their opposite-sex parent.

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    Resolution of the Oedipus Complex

    • Children repress their desire for their opposite-sex parent; they realize that they will never have them as long as the other parent is around.

    • Upon resolution the child begins to identify with the same-sex parent.

    • Desires replaced with “healthy” love for parent/family

    • Development of the superego.

      • Child adopts values and standards of the parents.

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    Suppression of Desires

    • REVIEW: Our base instincts are repressed as we deal with the Oedipal Complex

    • NOTICE: Life requires our base instincts be pushed down in order to become functioning members of society

    • QUESTION: If we’re all essentially violent, sexual beings, then why isn’t there anarchy?

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    Man’s Main Aim

    • For Freud, the Id desires pleasure through sexual satisfaction; therefore, we all desire to find acceptance from the opposite sex

    • In order to be accepted by another, we must act in a way to attract others; therefore, we must act desirably

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    How and Why Man’s Aims are Inhibited

    • We “behave” so we can attract others to satisfy us

    • If we do not behave, we are separated from society – something we cannot accept b/c we can’t find satisfaction when we’re put in jail (banished)

    • Our LAWS and societal rules help keep our instinctual desires in check

    • RELIGION keeps us in check through the threat of GUILT

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    Work and Hobbies Help Society

    • Some people throw their energies into work, others into hobbies

    • These distractions help us keep our desires in control and focus our energy that would otherwise seek an unacceptable outlet

    • These distractions help society evolve by developing technologies, for example

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    Review: Man and Society

    • Man can’t just go around doing whatever he wants all the time – he values acceptance in order to gain sexual gratification, and besides, his actions would destroy society

    • He gains acceptance by doing something “acceptable:” going to school, earning a degree, working hard

    • The individual may, by working and through hobbies, develop new techniques and technologies

    • Thus by sublimating his instincts, he helps society evolve

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    Freud’s Theories:Psychoanalytic Model of Identity

    Note that the Id exists exclusively in the unconscious. The Ego and Superego battle to keep the Id in check. Likewise, the Ego battles with reason against the unreasonable demands of both the Id and the Superego.

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    Conscious Mind

    • Top of the iceberg: Conscious mind (smallest part – say, 10%). We can access this, we are aware of this part of “us.” We understand it logically.

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    Preconscious Mind

    • Middle of iceberg: Preconscious (medium size, about 10-15%). Ordinary memory. You don’t keep a lot of information in your conscious mind all the time – why?

    • If you need to know something (where you parked your car, your sister’s birthday, your 7th grade Stardust Dance, etc.) you can bring it “up”) to your Conscious mind.

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    Unconscious Mind

    • Bottom of iceberg: Unconscious (huge – dwarfs the other two, 75-80% of our mind). “Underwater”

    • The unconscious: Plays a very large role in how we function as human beings. Most of the work among the Id, Ego, and Superego happens here.

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    The Unconscious Mind

    • A “dumping ground” for all of our desires, anxieties, urges, especially those which are painful – why?

    • Nothing in the unconscious goes away. Even if we aren’t aware of it, what is in the unconscious influences us every day in every way.

    • Can’t directly or easily access the unconscious with conscious mind. “Speaks” a different language (ex. Dreams).

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    Freud, Sigmund. A Note upon the “Mystic Writing-Pad,” General Psychological Theory. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1991.

    _______. The Ego and the Id. (Trans. Joan Riviere.) New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1960.

    Lecture Notes, Professor Debra Bergoffen, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, George Mason University, 1994.