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The Impact On An Individual Of A Conflict Between The Structures Of The Mind Identified By Freud

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Discuss the impact on an individual of a conflict between the structures of the mind identified by Freud.

Some well-known psychologists such as Sigmund Freud, Jean Piaget, carl rogers, and Ivan Pavlov made major contributions in the field of psychology in the understanding of the human mind and behaviour, some of these psychologists were major thinkers and others caused controversy, however, all of them have a major impact on the psychology field, Sigmund Freud's famous theory was the id, ego and superego, there are however thought to be five major theories on psychology these are biological, psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive and humanistic. Today I will be discussing the id, ego and superego conflicts.

Sigmund Freud theory on the id ego and superego states that each part is responsible for different behaviors, the id, in particular, is responsible for the moral conscience and instinct it mediates between the id and superego it also contains inherited genes we have at birth from our parents, the ego is responsible for working by reason it is able to mediate between the unrealistic and the outer real world, it seeks pleasure yet avoids pain yet it has no concept of what is right or wrong, the ego is also problem-solving so it will always run through a plan until it finds a solution, the superego learns values of morals in society, it contains two components the conscience and the ideal self it can punish the ego by feelings of guilt yet it can also reward us by feeling proud.

When all three go into conflict a multitude of problems can arise mainly anxiety, low self-esteem, disruptive behaviour, Sigmund Freud believed that psychological disorders and particularly the experience of anxiety occur when there is an imbalance or conflict in the id, ego and superego, when the ego finds that the id is pressing too hard for immediate pleasure, it attempts to correct this by using a defence mechanism unconscious psychological strategies used to maintain a positive self-image, an example of the id and superego in conflict could be that similar to a stay home and study or go out and party situation, the conscience of superego would urge us to stay home and study whereas the pleasure seeking id would urge us to go out and enjoy the party, Freud believed that defense mechanisms were essential for coping with everyday life, but any of them could be overused thus leading to conflict, (table 11.4 “the major Freudian defense mechanisms”) examples of the table and the conflicts that can arise are displacements diverting a threatening impulse away from the source of anxiety to a more acceptable source projection disguising threatening impulses by directing them towards others, rationalization generating self-justifying explanations for our negative behaviour, reaction formation making unacceptable motives appear as the exact opposite, regression retreating to a child-like state and safer stage of development, repression or denial pushing anxiety arousing thoughts into the unconscious, sublimination channeling unacceptable sexual or aggressive thoughts into acceptable desires (table 11.4 “the major Freudian defense mechanisms”).

When the three go into conflict it can also cause behaviour that’s neither lawful or legal with no moral consequences Sigmund Freud contends that crime is is the substitute of symbolic behaviour in a human being, theft would be committed out of financial insecurities and would rid any feelings of spite and dependence a child who had not yet developed the superego could be prone to acts of delinquincy.

According to Sigmund Freud, anxiety is caused by the conflict of the mind between the id and its powerful impulses and the modifying forces of the ego and superego, the more the id-driven urges are stifled through physical reality or societal norms then the greater the level of anxiety will be. people express their anxiety in many different ways these can include nervousness,panic attacks, misplaced aggression and serious anxiety disorders, healthy personalities are those that have learned balance between the id, ego and superego.

Serious anxiety disorders that can occur when the three forces go in to conflict can range from social anxiety, panic disorder, specific phobias, generalized anxiety, displaced aggression is aggression that cannot be expressed to the source of the anger, Its usually displaced on to someone who had nothing to do with the anger, nervousness differentiates from anxiety people with nervousness display symptoms such as depression, suicidal thoughts or self-harm, both anxiety due to unrestrained feelings and nervousness can cause insomnia and general malaise. alongside hallucinations, extreme mood swings or unexplained outbursts. panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected panic attacks that can be recurring, social anxiety is an intense fear of being judged negatively in society, or rejected in a social situation, specific phobias are phobias that are often irrational yet they attribute to the fear of anxiety.

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With so many competing forces it is very easy to see how they can go into conflict Sigmund Freud used the term ego strength to refer to the egos ability to work despite the dueling forces of the id and superego, a person with good ego strength is able to effectively manage the other two forces without becoming too disruptive.

Freud thought that the key to a healthy personality is the ability to handle all three forces, if the ego can maintain a healthy balance between the demands of reality, a well-adjusted personality will appear and maintain, a person with an overly dominant id could become impulsive or un controllable, regardless of whether the behaviour is moral legal or acceptable, an overly dominant superego however may lead onto a personality that is moralistic or judgmental, the kind of person who is right even when they are wrong , and unable to accept anyone they see as bad however wrong that judgement may be, an excessively dominant ego can result in to the creation of a personality that’s tied to morals, reality or rules, an almost rigid individual that will not accept wrongness within themselves or admit to right or wrong, paving way for a very self-obsessed egotistical person.

An ego conflict can occur when someone is almost jockeying for the front position for example two people could be left in charge, and this is how conflict can erupt, as one will always want to be solely in charge, very similar to a stroppy pubescent teenager arguing with their parent, they may always assume they know better than the older much wiser parent and thus cause conflict and chaos as they will assume the role of the sole person in charge, however wrong that seems to someone who has control of this force thus leading to damaged relationships or friendships, almost like losing the conflict would be damaging to the person's self-esteem, the ego tends to develop out of growing awareness, its job is to achieve the id’s pleasure, it denies instant pleasure and it delays gratification, if the ego goes into conflict or it becomes too strong the results can be a cold, uncaring, distant person who appears overly rational and extremely efficient.

An id conflict can occur when basic needs are not met, as it works on an I want basis be that food, water, sleep, love or pleasure as it works really on a pleasure basis, it contains all the basic needs including libido when the needs of the ego are too strong it results in a person that is full of self-gratification and they can appear very uncaring towards other people almost cold-hearted and selfish. (“when the id is denied we experience tension, the ego is modified by direct influence of the external mind”) Sigmund Freud the ego and the id, se19;1 page 25

The superego is the last force to develop, often referred to as the moral part of the mind, it becomes the embodiment of parental and societal ruling, it strives for perfection however unrealistic the idea of perfection may appear, the power it has to enforce rules within the mind often leads to anxiety, it has two systems the ego ideal and the conscience, the ego ideal is rules for good behavior and excellent standards to make the ego thrive, the conscience has the rules for bad or disruptive behaviour, basically all the things that a parent would disapprove of or punish, when the superego is to strong it can lead to anxiety, it can make someone feel guilty constantly or have low self-belief or low self-esteem leading to social anxiety or perhaps feelings of low self-worth.

The conflict between the id and the superego is orchestrated by the ego, this psychological conflict is a very pervasive human experience, It is also the most fundamental battle within all humans, the way a person achieves either instant gratification or long-term reward fundamentally defines many ways to reflect on a person’s character.

Drug and alcohol addiction are often attributed to feelings of low self-worth, anxiety or low self-esteem, they are almost futile attempts to deal with the feelings of inner emptiness unfortunately this is very seldom successful, drug and alcohol use often gves the false feeling of acceptance and self-confidence however these are only temporary measures that often lead to crippling addictions, these individuals attempt to self-medicate and deal with anxiety through self-medication, very often to no success and relief is only ever a temporary measure, addiction is also what could potentially happen when the id ego and superego go into conflict.

My conclusion is that when the id, ego and supergo are in conflict the problems that can arise are anxiety, social anxiety, disruptive behaviour, feelings of guilt, low self-worth, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviour or even depression, the conclusions are derived are from my research into all of the above and the way that if the the ego in particular has its needs met then a well -adjusted personality should always develop, so if the id has its basic needs met within the pleasure principle as this is what it thrives on then a person will be socially acceptable and well adjusted, when we are born the id is present within basic needs such as the need for food, drink and comfort, this is present before any of the other personality develop with age, a Freud quote regarding the ego and id is “where id is there shall be ego (Sigmund freud 1933,”new introductory lectures on psychoanalysis”)Freud often compared the relationship between the id and ego to that of a horse and its rider, the horse gives the energy it needs to drive forward but the rider guides the horse to determine direction, however the rider may sometimes lose direction, so sometimes the ego may have to steer the id in the direction it wants to go in, (“people live with their id exposed, they’re not good at concealing what is going on inside”phillip seymour hoffman) people cannot hide feelings of self gratification,cold heartedness or selfishness, however a person with good ego strength has the ability to manage the id and superego effectively but if the ego is too strong it can lead to feelings of uncaring,cold,distant or even bored people,the id works on an I want basis and needs its basic needs to be met,when the basic needs are too strong the conflict that can occur is a person who us very cold hearted, uncaring towads others and full of self-gratification, an ego conflict can occur when somebody with a strong superego doesn’t achieve front runner in all aspects of life this leading to a person who can appear cold hearted and selfish, the superego is the last force to develop this strives for perfection and is often referred to as the moral part of the mind, a conflict within the superego would lead to anxiety disorders such as nervousness,social anxiety, feelings of guilt,it has two systems the ideal self and the conscience, whereas the ideal self strives for perfection, good behaviour and excellent standards, the conscience has the rules for bad or disruptive behaviour.

References used

  10. www.quizletcom/30196151/psychology-112-flash-cards/
  11. www.quizletcom/30193358/ch-11-flash-cards
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The Impact On An Individual Of A Conflict Between The Structures Of The Mind Identified By Freud. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
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