A2 Religious Ethics Revision Conscience 4
Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939)
He believed that the key to human behaviour was in people’s instincts and desires
Behaving instinctively is often contrary to the interests of the community.
Freud Because of this, people disapprove of certain types of behaviour
Freud Remember the young child playing in the bath and his mother’s disapproval?
Consequently, instinctive desires and behaviour are suppressed from an early age
At the same time society’s disapproval of ‘inappropriate’ behaviour is internalised by the SUPER-EGO
Super-Ego? This internalisation deals with the ego’s suppressed anger and bewilderment at the requirements of society
Super-Ego? This internal suppression leads to the development of a guilty conscience
Super-Ego? Freud also suggested that a child identifies closely with its parent
Super-Ego? The ‘super-ego’ becomes an ‘inner parent’
Super-Ego? rewarding the good behaviour and punishing the bad
Super-Ego? Remember Hitchcock’s film, ‘Psycho’?
Super-Ego? “Yes, mother. . .” (even though she was no more than a mummified corpse!)
The Super-Ego divides into the Ego-Ideal and Conscience
Ego-Ideal represents the ‘rewarding’ parent leading to feelings of pride and satisfaction
Conscience represents the ‘punishing’ parent’ causes feelings of guilt and discomfort for immoral acts
Freud’s analysis of human behaviour is often seen to be discredited by his elaborate account of the effects of sexuality on the psychological development of human beings
They argue that conscience develops through past experiences, especially those of childhood
The admonishments can be displays of anger, disappointment or even controlled violence (i.e. a smack)
The child becomes anxious as it tries to avoid the displeasure of the adult
Eventually this anxiety is felt when the child even thinks about an immoral act
This - for Freudians and some modern psychologists - is the conscience