3. The Ego and The Super-Ego (Ego Ideal)

Further to the ego and the id, Freud proposed the existence of a grade in the ego - the 'ego- ideal' or 'super-ego' - which is less firmly connected to consciousness. He discusses the development of the super-ego, as following that of the ego/id division. He proposes that originally the object-cathexis and identification are no doubt indistinguishable from each other, but later the object-cathexes proceed from the id, which feels erotic trends as needs. Whereas the ego, which to begin with is still feeble, becomes aware of the object-cathexes, and either acquiesces in them or tries to fend them off by the process of repression. This transformation of an erotic object-choice into an alteration of the ego is also a method by which the ego can obtain control over the id and deepen its relations with it. The transformation of object-libido into narcissistic libido that takes place implies an abandonment of sexual aims - sublimation. However this whole subject becomes very complicated due to two factors - the triangular character of the Oedipus situation and the constitutional bisexuality of each individual. The general outcome of the sexual phase dominated by the Oedipus complex may, therefore, be taken to be the forming of a precipitate in the ego, consisting of these two identifications in some way united with each other. This modification of the ego retains its special position; it confronts the other contents of the ego as an ego ideal or super- ego. This super-ego is, however, not simply a residue of the earliest object choices of the id, but it also represents an energetic reaction-formation against those choices.

The super-ego is the outcome of two highly important factors - one biological and one historical, so the differentiation of the super-ego from the ego, is no matter of chance; it represents the most important characteristics of the development both of the individual and of the species. The super-ego is the heir of the Oedipus complex and the expression of the most powerful impulses and most important libidinal vicissitudes of the id. The conflicts between the ego and the super-ego, reflect the contrast between what is real and what is psychical between the external and internal worlds. The super-ego serves to the higher nature of man - helping religions to evolve, the super-ego, according to Freud originated from the experiences that led to totemism, whether it was the ego or the id that experienced and acquired these things though is futile. Since according to Freud external vicissitudes can only be experienced by the ego and not the id, but ego cannot be inherited, (so, with the id containing residues of existences of countless egos), when the ego forms its super-ego, it may be only reviving shapes of former egos.

The super-ego, in sum then, explains how the conflicts between the ego and id may persist as the abundant communication between the super-ego and the Ucs. instinctual impulses (of the id) explains how it can remain to some extent unconscious and inaccessible to the ego.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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