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Freud’s second topic: it, me and superego

Freud describes the human mind as a psychic apparatus, which – like any apparatus – is made up of different parts or organs. This apparatus works from  pleasures and displeasures or free energies and repressions.

For this author, the human being is simply an actor who is driven by desire, instinct, conscience and morality to dramatize a work where the main protagonist is the mind. Behind every individual, there are different powerful forces that continually fight for control, these forces are hidden within the mind and are what create the personality of each subject.

There are two theories or topics created by Freud that explain the structure of the human personality; the first Freudian topic refers to the conscious, pre-conscious and  unconscious and the second topic refers to the topic that we will detail below: it, I and superego.


According to Freud, the id forms an important part of our personality, since it is who is present when we are born and who allows us to keep our basic needs satisfied . This is the selfish part of the human mind, showing all the inherited components of the personality from the moment of birth, including the sexual instinct and the aggressive instinct.

The “it” is activated by the  pleasure principle ,  since it is related to the instinctual and the pleasant; He knows neither good, nor evil, nor ethics, nor morals, he only recognizes his own desires and needs, and in turn allows the subject’s psychic energy to flow freely.

The “it” tries to satisfy their needs regardless of the context that the subject is in, it only seeks its own satisfaction and tries to avoid displeasure. For example, if a baby is hungry or needs a diaper change, he is instinctively crying, driven by the “it” to satisfy that need. When the id is able to satisfy its demands, we experience pleasure, but when it refuses we experience unpleasure. The “it” is the part of the mind that forces the baby to cry when it needs something, which guarantees a healthy and happy evolution.

The id involves primitive and irrational thoughts, which we see in the primary process (mode of operation of the psychic apparatus), lives in the immediate present and cannot differ with pleasure. It is not regulated by the limitations of the outside world, since these limitations are found on another level of the mind.


The self is “the part of the id that has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.”

(Freud [1923], 1961, p. 25)

The “I”, for Freud, is the second part of the human preconscious or subconscious, and begins to develop from the age of 3, in the oral phase, when the child begins to participate with the environment, and develops in order to to mediate between the id and reality.

Unlike the “it” that represents primitive impulses, the “I” represents common sense, and is related to the secondary process  – the ability to think, reason, and connect with reality. The “I” is based on the reality principle.

When the “I” is produced, the energy is first bound before flowing in a controlled way,  unlike the id (where the energy flows freely).

Although the self also tries to satisfy the demands of the id, it is aware that there is a reality with people within it, for this reason sometimes it postpones its needs based on the conditions imposed by the outside world. This will try to harness the power of the “it”, and regulate it to achieve satisfaction despite the limits imposed by reality.

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The “me” takes care that our interactions and relationships with others flow in a healthy way. He also understands that other people are also driven by their own instincts (their own “they”), and that indulging in selfish urges leads nowhere, even most of the time it can be problematic. that there are people around you and that your decisions can directly influence them, therefore you should be more careful when meeting their needs.

This part of the mind will function as an intermediary between the id and the “super-ego.” The main function of the “I” is to convert, deflect, and transform the powerful forces of the “it” into more useful and realistic modes of satisfaction.

At the end of the phallic stage – the  stage of psychosexual development – the superego begins to develop.


The “superego” is the moral part of the human mind, it is the part that reflects cultural limits and rebukes what it considers to be “bad behavior.” The “superego” is not an innate part of the human being, it appears after 6 years (where the latency period begins) and with it the defense mechanism of sublimation appears.

For Freud, the “superego” is the moral conscience of an individual, that which comes from our parents. This seeks the integration of the individual in society , for this reason it develops according to the moral and ethical restrictions required by the society in which the subject is found.

As the individual grows and his cognitive development evolves, he begins to internalize certain standards offered by his parents and caregivers, for example: that lying is bad, that violence should not be used, that stealing is bad, that it should not be scream, etc; Those same standards are the ones that create guilt and generate repression in the subject, for example: feeling guilty when lying or.

The role of the “superego” is to restrain id impulses , and it will do so by repressing psychic impulses that it deems unacceptable to the society in which the subject finds himself. For example, if a child gets angry with a classmate, it will be the “superego” in charge of making him understand that violence is not the correct solution. According to the second Freudian cliché, the “superego” controls the sense of right and wrong, and helps the subject to insert himself into society, causing him to act in a socially acceptable way.

The “superego” is made up of two systems: consciousness and the ideal self  (mental image of what it should be). The conscience can punish the self by causing feelings of guilt. For example, if the ego gives in to the demands of the id, the superego will cause the subject to feel guilty.

The psychic impulses sanctioned by the superego will remain in the unconscious as repressed impulses.

According to Freud, with the appearance of the superego, the Oedipus complex also appears Freud emphasized the importance of the Oedipus complex for the psychosexual development of the individual, because for him if a person does not go through the Oedipus or does not solve it in the correct way, he would remain fixed in a stage of psychosexual development and could not move on to the next stage.
A poorly resolved oedipus complex could generate trauma and psychological disorders throughout a person’s life.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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