The Development Of The Super Ego Essay

2027 words - 8 pages

This essay will describe and critically review Freud's theory of the development of the super-ego, drawing on the views of Klein, Jung and Winnicott.The super-ego is the part of the ego that 'functions as a judge or censor of the ego leading eventually to conscience, self-observation and the forming of ideals', (Samuels 1985, p.60). Although Freud (1923) first named the super-ego as a concept in, The Ego and the Id, he had previously explored the idea before naming it as the super-ego. For example, as Anderson (1997, p.152) pointed out, when he spoke of repression as being a force or a censor preventing unacceptable unconscious ideas from becoming conscious. In his paper, On Narcissism, Freud (1914) said that when a child becomes aware of his own critical judgement he seeks perfection from the outside world in the form of an ego ideal. Subsequently, Freud (1917, p.257) stated that in melancholia when the ego 'rages against itself' conflict takes place between one part of the ego and the critical part of the ego.Freud (1923) referred to the ego ideal as the super-ego in the presentation of his 'structural model', where he proposed that the mind is composed of the id, the ego and the super-ego. The id, being present from birth, is our unconscious drives, and is dominated by the 'pleasure principle.' Whilst the ego is concerned with reason and common sense, the 'reality principle,'(1923, pp. 363-364).As the infant develops, and interacts with the external world a portion of the id develops into the ego, (Freud 1923, p.363). The super-ego develops last and is 'a differentiation within the ego', (1923, p.367). Freud saw the super-ego (ego ideal) as being 'the heir of the Oedipus complex' (1923, p.376), as it develops when the child has unconsciously resolved his conflict and identifies with the parent of the same sex. The task of having to repress the Oedipus complex results in both demands of identification with the parent and prohibitions of certain kinds of similarities. Through parental injunctions such as 'you ought to' and 'you may not', the authority of the parents is introjected into the ego, forming the essential part of the super-ego, (Freud, 1923). The more powerful the Oedipus complex, the stricter will be the domination of the super-ego over the ego in the child as he develops. Freud acknowledged the influence of other adults of authority, religion, schooling etc in the formation of the super-ego, (1923, p.374). The super-ego can operate at either a conscious or an unconscious level, as conscience, or as 'unconscious sense of guilt' (1923, p.374). The conscious part of the ego seems to be represented in the form of standards and ideals. However it is the unconscious guilt feelings in particular that are thought to play a significant part in neurosis.The super-ego is constantly observing every move of the ego and punishes it with feelings of guilt and inferiority. The ego is the mediator between the id, the super-ego and the external world...

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