Structure of Personality

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Freud’s model of personality conceives of personality as composed of three separate but interacting components or abstractions: the id, the ego, and the superego.

The id is the unconscious, raw, unorganized, inborn and primitive part of personality which works on pleasure principle and seeks instant gratification and least frustration of desires. These impulses of hunger, sex, aggression and irrational impulses are fuelled by psychic or libidinal energy.

All desires, however, cannot be instantly gratified on account of personal safety and societal integration. Therefore, the ego, which develops soon after birth and has both conscious and unconscious components, strives to balance desires of the id and realities of the world based on reality principle. It executes functions, such as thinking and problem-solving, of a higher order than that of the id.

The superego is the last to develop in childhood, and represents the rights and wrongs of society as taught by significant others. It works on the morality principle, making behaviour less selfish and more virtuous, and includes conscience which makes us feel guilty when doing something wrong.

Only the ego and superego have both conscious and unconscious components. Both id and superego need to be restrained by the ego in order to prevent the creation of licentious and perfectionist individuals, respectively.