Mind Theory

…the desire to find there three psychic agencies had been sparked by a diagram Freud published in the course of summarizing his new structural theory of mind, which he developed in the decade 1923 to 1933. That new theory maintained his earlier distinction between conscious and unconscious mental functions, but it added three interacting psychic agencies: the ego, the id, and the superego. Freud saw consciousness as the surface of the mental apparatus. Much of our mental function is submerged below that surface, Freud argued, just as the bulk of an iceberg is submerged below the surface of the ocean. The deeper a mental function lies below the surface, the less accessible it is to consciousness. freudstructconsc-2 Psychoanalysis provided a way of digging down to the buried mental strata, the preconscious and the unconscious components of the personality. Picture of Freud’s structural theory


What gave Freud’s new model a dramatic turn was the three interacting psychic agencies. Freud did not define the ego, the id and the superego as either conscious or unconscious, but as differing in cognitive style, goal and function. According to Freud’s structural theory, the ego (the “I”, or autobiographical self) is the executive agency, and it has both a conscious and an unconscious component. The conscious component is in direct contact with the external world through the sensory apparatus for sight, sound, and touch; it is concerned with perception, reasoning, the planning of actions, and the experiencing of pleasure and pain. In their work, Hartmann, Kris, and Lowestein emphasized that this conflict-free component of the ego operates logically and is guided in its actions by the reality principle. The unconscious component of the ego is concerned with psycological defenses (repression, denial, sublimation), the mechanism whereby the ego inhibits, channels, and redirect both the sexual and the aggressive instinctual drives of the id, the second psychic agency. The id (the “it”), a term that Freud borrowed from Nietszche, is totally unconscious. It is not governed by the hedonistic principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. According to Freud, represents the primitive mind of the infants and is the only mental structure present at birth. The superego, the third governor, is the unconscious moral agency, the embodiment of our aspirations. Extracted from: In the Search of Memory, Eric Kandel


Eric R. Kandel



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