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Ego, Superego and Id

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For the game, see Igo
In his theory of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud sought to explain how the unconscious mind operates by proposing that it has a particular structure. He proposed that the unconscious was divided into three parts: the Ego, the Superego and the Id.

The general claim that the mind is not a monolithic or homogeneous thing continues to have an enormous influence on people outside of psychology. Many, however, have questioned or rejected the specific claim that the mind is divided into these three components.

The ancient Greeks divided the soul into three parts of their own, with only one part in common. The Greek parts were the desiring part (which is like what we call the id, but without so much implication of suppressed deviant sexuality), the spirited part, and the reasoning part. (See the article forms of state for m

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The Id

The Id (Latin, = "it" = "es" in the original German) represented primary process thinking -- our most primitive need gratification type thoughts. The Id, Freud stated, constitutes part of one's unconscious mind. It acts on primitive instinctual[?] urges (sex, hunger, anger etc).

The Superego

The Superego represented our conscience and counteracted the Id with moral and ethical thoughts. The Superego, Freud stated, is the moral agent that links both our conscious and unconscious minds. The Superego stands in opposition to the desires of the Id. The Superego is itself part of the unconscious mind; it is the internalization of the world view and norms and mores a child absorbs from parents and peers. As the conscience, it is knowledge of right and wrong; as world view it is knowledge of what is real.

The Ego

The Ego stands in between both to balance our primitive needs and our moral/ethical beliefs. ("Ego" means "I" in Latin). Freud stated that the Ego resides almost entirely in our conscious mind.

In Freud's view the Ego stands in between both to balance our primitive needs and our moral/ethical beliefs. Relying on experience, a healthy Ego provides the ability to adapt to reality and interact with the outside world in a way that accommodates both Id and Superego.

Carl Jung's views on the Ego

Interestingly, Carl Jung saw the Ego (which Freud wrote about in the literal German as "the I," that is, an one's conscious experience of the stuff one is) as a complex. If the "I" is a complex, what might be the archetype that structures it? Jung, and many Jungians, might say "the hero," that who separates from the community to some extent to ultimately carry the community further.

The "I" or Ego is tremendously important to Jung's clinical work. Jung's theory of etiology of psychopathology could almost be simplified to be stated as a too rigid conscious attitude towards the whole of the psyche.

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