Jack Wagons and your id:
Key Conclusions: “The Subordinate Relationships of the Ego”
In this final chapter, Freud calls the ego “the innocent ego.” If the ideas he posits here are accurate, then the ego, indeed, finds itself a victim to the stronger super-ego and id (which tend to work together.) “
The super-ego is always in close touch with the id and can act as its representative in relation to the ego”. Freud cites his experiences in psychoanalysis, in which people exhibit a sense of guilt that makes them resistant to conquering their pathology.
His explanation is that the super-ego condemns the ego—“displaying particular severity and raging against the ego with the utmost cruelty” and giving it a deep-seated, mysterious feeling of guilt.
This is what happens when the death instinct takes hold of the super-ego and turns on the ego. During the process of sublimation—the love-instinct and death-instinct (formerly fused) become separated; and the latter ends up in the super-ego causing it to “rage” against the ego. Sometimes the ego’s unfortunate position can result in obsessional neuroses, hysteria, and even suicide—depending on the ego’s reaction to the super-ego’s chastisement.
Sometimes (in the case of melancholia) the ego has identified with a forbidden love-object so strongly, that it can’t bear the super-ego’s criticism and gives up—with suicide. At other times (as in obsessional neuroses) the object is still external to the ego, but its feelings for it are repressed, resulting in acts of external aggression.
And finally (in cases of hysteria) both the object, the feelings for it, and resulting guilt (caused by the super-ego’s criticism) are repressed—causing hysteric reactions.
On the opposite front, the ego finds itself trying to both appease and mediate the desires of the id. It stands on a middle ground between the id and the outside world, trying to make the id conform to societal rules, while trying to make the world conform it the id’s innermost passions.
This task falls to the ego because it is the only part of the mind capable of exercising direct control over the actions of the body. The relationship of the ego to the id is, at the same time, a mutually beneficial one and a submissive one: “The ego is not only the ally of the id; it is also a submissive slave who courts the love of his master”.
Thus the ego finds itself the seat of anxiety, beset by potential dangers from three directions—by the super-ego, the id, and (not to mention) the external world.
The id is unconscious by definition:
“It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the dream-work and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations… It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organisation, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.”
The id is responsible for our basic drives, “knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality…Instinctual cathexes seeking discharge — that, in our view, is all there is in the id.” It is regarded as “the great reservoir of libido“, the instinctive drive to create — the life instincts that are crucial to pleasurable survival.
Alongside the life instincts came the death instincts the death drive which Freud articulated relatively late in his career in “the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state.”For Freud, “the death instinct would thus seem to express itself — though probably only in part — as an instinct of destruction directed against the external world and other organisms.”: through aggression. Freud considered that “the id, the whole person…originally includes all the instinctual impulses…the destructive instinct as well.”as Eros or the life instincts.
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