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Psychic apparatus and structuring of the superego

Sigmund Freud in his theory of psychoanalysis describes the mind as a “psychic apparatus.” He argues that like the other devices in our body, the mind has a great capacity to transform energy, in this case we speak of psychic energy.
The father of psychoanalysis proposed three models that contain three theories about the human mind:  the topographic model, the structural model, and the economic model.

Theories of the psychic apparatus

Below we will detail the three models of the psychic apparatus and its components.

Topographic model of the psychic apparatus

The topographical model of the psyche is based on the relationship between three psychic qualities: conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

The conscious mind  is made up of  all the mental processes of which we are aware. This is located in the present time and is what allows the subject to communicate rationally and have a  perception of reality .

The preconscious mind is the one that contains the psychic processes that are not completely conscious but are not hidden in the unconscious either. In other words, in the preconscious mind are the memories, thoughts and knowledge, that although they are not conscious, we can bring them to consciousness when we need them.

The unconscious mind  is the one that understands the psychic processes that are inaccessible to consciousness. According to Freud, the information found in the unconscious is repressed through a defense mechanism: repression. This information is repressed, because repression prevents traumatic events or highly negative situations from coming to the fore and generating repercussions on the mental health of the subject.

Structural model of the psychic apparatus

The structural model of the psychic apparatus is comprised of three forces that continually struggle within the mind for control: the id, self, and superego . These forces are the basis of the subject’s personality .

The id  is the most primitive component of the personality. This is found from birth, as it is the one who allows us to be alert and satisfy our basic needs .

Freud refers to “the id” as the instinctive, irrational, and immoral part of the human being. It is activated by the pleasure principle and tends to be deactivated when the need is satisfied or when “the self” begins to take control, this occurs after 3 years.

The self  is the moral part of the personality. This begins to develop in the oral phase of sexual affective development (from the age of 3) and will accompany the subject throughout his life.

This component of the personality is based on the principle of reality, it  represents common sense, the ability to think, reason and be aware.  The ego will  try to mediate between the id and the superego. It will convert, deflect and transform the powerful impulses of the id into more useful modes of satisfaction, without neglecting reality.

The superego is the moral and rational part of the personality. This component of the psychic apparatus tries to attend the cultural limits and to reprimand what is considered a “bad conduct”.

Freud called the superego as the moral conscience, which will be under construction throughout life.

Economic model of the psychic apparatus

Freud postulated the theory of a “psychic economy”, which was based on the function of individuals and the world in which they lived. This theory attempts to quantify in an abstract way the power of instincts through the concept of «psychic energy». This is described through a system in which this energy is invested towards instinctual goals through cathexes (discharges of psychic energy), towards the maximization of pleasure for the individual.

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In the primary process we find the mechanisms of displacement and condensation. These mechanisms make  psychic energy flow freely,  passing unhindered from one representation to another.

In the secondary process the psychic energy is first bound before flowing in a controlled way. This process is controlled by “the self” and is governed by the reality principle. The ego is responsible for temporarily downloading the energy driven by the id, until it finds a way to correctly and safely satisfy its need.

For the author of this theory, bodily tensions only exist in a representational world in the form of affects, so, in his opinion, the economic point of view should be abandoned in favor of an affective one.

Structure of the superego

According to the theory of  sexual affective development, between the pre-genital and genital phases is the latency period (between 6 and 12 years approx. It is precisely in this period that the defense mechanism of sublimation is integrated and with it the figure of the super-ego appears.

According to the psychoanalytic theory of personality postulated by Freud, the superego is the component of the personality formed by our internalized ideals, which we have acquired from our parents and from society. 

l superego works to suppress the impulses of the id and try to make me behave morally rather than realistically.

The task of the superego is the integration of the individual in society. This will do so by repressing the psychic impulses that it considers to be unacceptable for the society in which the individual finds himself. The psychic impulses sanctioned by the superego are sent by the id (repressed unconscious part).

According to the second Freudian cliché, when the child is born only the id comes to light , while the ego is going to be built in the oral phase from the id.

The superego appears later, at the end of the phallic phase, and gives rise to the latency period, thus forming the psychic apparatus.

Until the libidinal period, the ego is very weak, because it is in the process of maturation, only when the super-ego appears – which would be the opposite of it – does the ego gain strength.

The superego will curb the impulses of the id, the ego will be the intermediary between the id, the superego and reality. 

The self is related to the reality principle and the secondary process and the superego helps to maintain the behaviors that result from these processes.

The Oedipus Complex is very important in development because it is a structuring of the psychic apparatus and therefore of the personality. Therefore, if you do not go through Oedipus, you are facing a pathological situation, for example we would be fixed in the oral stage following the development in an inappropriate way. An example is that if we stayed in the anal stage we could develop border states and perversions, then in the phallic stage all neuroses would be at stake.

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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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