Freud: Ego, Id, and Superego

The Ego's defense Mechanisms

What are the Ego, Superego, and the Id?

The ego, superego, and the id are the three components Freud believed made our psyche (personality).

We can think of the id being the little devil on our shoulder. The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts. The id demands immediate satisfaction and when this happens we experience pleasure, when it is denied we experience ‘unpleasure’ or pain. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world.

We can think of the superego being the angle on our shoulder. The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from your parents and others that are around you. The superego's function is to control the id's impulses, especially those which society forbids, such as sex and aggression. It also has the function of persuading the ego to turn to moralistic goals rather than simply realistic ones and to strive for perfection.

We can think of the ego being the one to make a decision while "hearing" the perspectives of both the "angle" and the "devil" on your shoulders. The ego develops in order to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external real world. It is the decision making component of personality. Ideally the ego works by reason whereas the id is chaotic and totally unreasonable. The ego considers social realities and norms, etiquette and rules in deciding how to behave. Like the id, the ego seeks pleasure and avoids pain but unlike the id the ego is concerned with devising a realistic strategy to obtain pleasure.

Ego's Defense Mechanisms

As stated earlier that the ego's job was to satisfy the id's impulses, not offend the moralistic character of the superego, while still taking into consideration the reality of the situation.This is not an easy job to do. Now the ego has a difficult time satisfying both the id and the superego,however it has some tools to help. These tools are called defense mechanisms. When the ego has a difficult time making both the id and the superego happy, it will employ one or more of these defenses.

Some of the defense mechanismas are denial, displacement, intellectualization, suppression, and sublimation.


  • Id Ego Superego, Simply Psychology, December 06, 2014
  • Ego Defense Mechanisms in Psychology 101 at AllPsych Online, December 06, 2014