Sigmund Freud used to be a medical doctor who specialized in neurology; his ideas of the psychoanalytic theory emanated from his work with patients suffering from mental disorders. According to Freud, personality consists of three structures, which include the Id, ego, and the superego. The Id refers to the structure of personality that comprises of instincts, which act as a source of energy for an individual. Freud stated that the Id can be regarded as unconscious since it does not have any contact with reality. According to Freud, the constraints as well as the demands of reality drive the emergence of the ego as new personality structure. Freud held that the ego is the structure of personality which settles the demands of reality. Unlike the Id, the ego is reasonable while making decisions (Burger 43-46).
The Id and the ego can be considered to have no morality since they do not consider whether something is wrong or right. Freud stated that the Id operates with regard to the pleasure principle while the ego operates with regard to the reality principle. While the Id demands instant gratification, the ego works by delaying the gratification. The ego assists the individual in delaying some and desires, which would become appropriate at a later date. The ego operates at three levels, which include the unconscious, pre-conscious, and the conscious level. It is through the ego that a person realizes that he cannot have everything he or she wants just because they want it. As a result of the ego, a person develops social relations and sharing with other people. Through the ego, a person is also able to realize that he or she should consider the needs of other persons and not just their own needs (Burger 43-46).
Freud stated that the ego is part of personality responsible for how people feel about themselves and self esteem. People with a positive ego develop positive feelings about themselves; therefore, a damaged or a negative ego leads to the development of negative feelings.† The other structure of personality that Freud described is the superego, which can be regarded as the moral branch in the structure of personality. The superego plays a†significant role in the development of morals. The superego emanates from the interactions a person has with family members and members of society. This component of personality gives people a sense of what is either desirable or undesirable (Burger 43-46).
The superego consists of two components, which include the ego ideal and conscience. The ego ideal can be regarded as desirable behaviors proposed by members of society and parents. These include helping others when they need something, as well as giving to the poor who do not have. Conscience refers to the rules that children copy from parents and significant others. They entail rules such as one should not steal, kill, or rape (Burger 43-46).
Freudís theory of personality can be applicable to human beings in a number of ways. I will apply this theory to my cousin Janet, whom I watched grow during her childhood. When she was an infant, the component of personality known as Id was dominant. Whenever she got hungry, she could cry because the Id wanted food. In addition, she wanted attention whenever she wanted to be changed, felt cold, hot, or when she was in pain. As she turned three years of age, the ego component of personality began to develop. She began to appreciate the fact that other people had desires and that it can be hurting to be selfish. She developed the superego at the age of five years. By the time the phallic stage ended, she could differentiate between right and wrong. This was an indication that the superego had already developed.