Freud’s personality theory (1923) is divided into three areas, the id, the ego and the super ego which develop at different periods in our lives.
“These three areas of personality constantly interact with one another as a means of regulating an individual’s behaviour”. (Hough, Pg.79, 2014)
According to Freud (1923) the id which is present from when a child is born, is the irresponsible and unconscious part of our mind and is continually demanding attention. It is the central of all our impulses, especially those relating to aggression and sex and has no limitations. The id demands that every impulse should be satisfied straightaway irrespective of what the consequences are. When the id accomplishes its demands, we feel satisfaction and pleasure but when it’s denied its demands, we feel tension and upset.
Therefore, to amend the id, the second part of Freud’s system comes into place. The ego, responsible for dealing with reality tries to satisfy the id in realistic and socially acceptable ways, leading to compromises to avoid harmful consequences. This is the healthiest of the human personality and develops around the age of one or two when we learn that we must wait for certain things and is rational and logical.
Sometimes the id is too strong for the ego to control and this is where the super ego, the third psychological process comes into place. This part of the personality is concerned with what is right or wrong and can look or strive for perfection which can sometimes lead to anxiety, feeling depression and guilty. The superego can have an imaginary picture of how we ought to be and lives up to the ideal self. This is largely determined in childhood from our main care giver and how we are brought up. The job of the ego therefore is to keep a balance between the id and superego and our behaviour is depended on this balance and an accurate insight of the real world.
Understanding and gaining the knowledge of this theory has benefited me as I have become more aware of myself and when working with clients. I realise now through this module, as a single parent I would have altered between the ego and superego. I’m aware I felt that I sometimes lived my life with guilt and regret and wanted to strive to be the best parent I could be. I felt guilty and depressed when I thought this wasn’t achieved. Alternatively, my ego would have come into play as I had to be logical and turn to more realistic aims that exist in the real world.
“Superego can develop as excessively punishing so that attitudes of perfectionism are fostered, which can, in turn lead to depression and other psychological problems”. (Hough, Pg.80.2014)
This knowledge has given me the skills to indentify the three areas of personality and decide what action and behaviour are proper at the given time. It has also given me the knowledge to indentify in the counselling room with the client their structure of personality and to help them understand and give them awareness of the internal process at work so can begin to unravel the destructed patterns that they have become inter-twinned in.
Sinead Mc Gaughey