Id Ego and Superego Components of Freud structure of personality

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 01:47 -- Umar Farooq

To describe the structure of personality, Freud developed a comprehensive theory known as psycho analytic theory. According to Freud’s theory human mind (psyche) is composed of three parts, each with different functions, properties, components, operating principles, dynamics and mechanics. Freud considered human personality as composed of an id, ego and superego.

The Id

Id is the basic drives and motives with which we are born. Freud termed it as “Psycho Energy” he believed that personality of an infant consisted of only Id.

  1. True Psychic Reality. Freud called the id as true psychic reality because it represents the inner world of subjective experience and has no knowledge of the objective experience.
  2. Pleasure Principle. The principle of tension reduction by which the id operates is called the pleasure principle. Freud says that id is primitive, illogical, and irrational is governed by pleasure principle.

Two Process of the Id

In order to accomplish its aim of avoiding pain and obtaining pleasure, the id has two process at its command.

Primary Process

The primary process involves somewhat more complicated psychological reactions. It attempts to discharge tension by forming an image of an object (that will remove the tension) e.g. the mental picture of food.

Wish Fulfillment. This hallucinatory experience in which the desired object is presented in the form of a memory image is called wish fulfillment

Secondary Process

The primary process is not capable of reducing tension. A hungry person can not eat mental images of food. Consequently a new or second psychological process develops and when this occurs, the structure of the second system of personality “the ego” begins to take form.

The Ego

The ego is the executive of personality. It makes decisions, control actions and allows thinking and solving problems. It is that part of human personality which is civilized. It distinguishes between things in the mind and things in the external world. Ego is the rational part of personality which uses memory, reason, judgment, etc.

Freud Structure of Personality

Functions of Ego

The main function of ego is to meet the demand of reality. The ego comes into being because the needs of organisms require appropriate transaction with the objective world of reality. By virtue of ego, he, for example, can distinguish between a memory image of food and an actual perception of food as it exists in the real world.

Reality Testing

By means of secondary process, the ego formulate a plan for the satisfaction of the need and then tests this plan, usually by some kind of action in other to see whether or not it will work. This is called reality testing. Example

The hungry person thinks where he may find food and then proceeds to took in that place.

The Ego as a Mediator between Id and Superego

Ego plats the role of mediator between the id and the superego. Failure of ego to keep the balance between id and superego produces personality maladjustment of various forms.

The Superego

It is the third part and is concerned with meeting the demands of morality, and social conviction. It is the internal representative of the traditional value and ideas of society. The superego is the moral arm of the personality. It represents the ideal rather that the real; and in contrast which demands gratification, the superego seeks perfection. By virtue of superego the individual must confirm to social rules that governs “good” and “bad” behavior.

Components of Superego

Superego has two components which are:

The Conscious. The conscious prevents us from doing morally bad things (because of the fear of punishment.)

The Ego Ideal. The ego ideal motivates us to do what is normally proper (because of reward)


There are three distinct aspects of personality which work together. The ego must find a way to satisfy the id which seeks pleasure without clashing with the superego which demand socially and morally acceptable behavior. This seen by Freud as the primary determinant of human behavior and personality; he called it “Psycho Dynamics”.