Unconsciously Immoral?

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In Chapter 14 there is a section about Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality. I found the concept of what he called Id extremely interesting. According to Freud, we all really do have an unconscious part of us that tells us to make “bad” decisions, or a devil on our shoulder. It’s true that what our Id wants us to do, or our urges and desires, may not always be “bad decisions” depending on what our superego tells us in moral or not. This made me think about the differences of “what is moral” among different cultures and people. I have seen the metaphor with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other many times in the media, but when I read this chapter I was really able to understand how it related to the actual battle inside our brain. There has been more than one time I have wanted to do something crazy - like that urge in the back of your mind to strangle somebody who’s really annoying you - but my ego tells me to hold that thought and filter out my aggression in a way that makes the superego more happy. I wonder how many times I’ve had this battle in my head - but I’m pretty sure something like it happens everyday.


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I agree, this is a very striking concept. The metaphor of right and wrong is an incredibly over-simplified perspective through which to address everyday occurences. Were there only one feasable solution to the conflicts we face everyday, there would be no place for the Ego or Superego in Freud's psychological take on dilemmas and ethics. It is interesting that Id thoughts are in a way filtered by the Superego and Ego. Freud's metaphor does leave much up to the imagination as to what are truest thoughts are.

According to the textbook, "Much of the time, id, ego, and superego interact harmoniously, much like a chamber music trio playing in perfect synchrony." Therefore, I think that there is probably less collision between the id, ego, and superego than you suspect. Also, the reality principle (the tendency of the ego to postpone gratification until it can find an appropriate outlet) which governs the ego probably helps you decided that you can still fulfill that "devil" sitting on your shoulder, just at another time.

I also find this topic to be very interesting and I would like to dive into a little more research on Freud's concept of the id, ego and superego and their effect on people with psychotic tendencies. It seems that Freud could easily explain why a psychotic criminal whom has committed several murders would seem to have no remorse. Freud would probably say that their ego and superego were acting at lower levels than the average person causing them to not be able to restrict their primal urges.

I think that the angel and devil analogy is really great for displaying this relationship. Often our wants and needs that seem urgent to us aren't appropriate at the time. These urges are like the devil and being patient or suppressing these urges is like the angel. I agree with you that this is something that comes up often in everyday life. We often have these inner battles with ourselves.

I think you are misinterpreting what Freud is saying. The ID is simply a part of the brain that is our instinctive and natural urges. If we were more uncivilized, these urges would come out. I think to say that our ID is completely immoral and evil is completely wrong. I believe people are born with certain natural morals. Even though you say you would like to strangle someone, I doubt you would ever be able to do that even if your superego didn't say it was wrong. There are evil people put there, don't get me wrong, but they have other things wrong with them. People, in general, are not born evil, they learn it.

I agree with the last comment we all are born with certain morals that stop us from doing things like killing everyone around us. However much of what we consider immoral and moral are learned traits. There is a internal battle going on in most of us that says what we should and should not do but it is something we have learned. For some violent criminals such as serial killers however I believe they have learned that if they ignore what they have been inherently taught morality is nothing but a societal creation. By creating morality we set ourselves apart from other animals.

I definitely go through this process more than once a day, and I wish there were a way to track it. My roommate always sets his alarm for 8 AM class, and when it goes off, he turns it off and goes back to bed. I don't have a problem with him skipping class, but when he wakes me up two hours before I need to wake up, and then I can't get back to sleep, I get angry with him. My Id always tells me that I should just throw something at him, but my Superego always holds me back and tells me that I still have to live with him. It is a good thing that we have that balance, or my roommate wouldn't be very happy with me.

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This page contains a single entry by corni049 published on April 14, 2012 12:17 PM.

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