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Date posted: November 30, 2011

Dr  Smita Deb Krori (Maity)
B. Sc. (Hons) [NEHU] BHMS (Hons) [Calcutta] MD (Hom. Organon) [Pune]
Associate Professor,Teaching Psychology, Organon & Repertory
Lal Bahadur Shastri Homoeopathic Medical College, Bhopal – 26 (MP)

This article is the continuation of my previous article entitled ‘A Concise Study of Fundamentals of Psychology’ in www.similima.com

Sigmund Freud formulated the theory & technique of Psycho-analysis. The theory explains

Dynamic Conception of Mind: Freud conceives the mind as dynamic. The real function of the mind is not intellectual or cognitive; but impulsive or co-native. The mind strives both in the conscious & in the unconscious levels. The older psychologists laid undue stress on the rational and conscious aspects of the human mind. Freud regards the unconscious and irrational part of it as more important.

Polarity of the Conscious & the Unconscious: Freud believes in conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious. The mind follows the social code of morality in the waking & conscious life and represses the natural desires; e.g. Sex (Libido) – which come into conflict with it. The desires that are repressed become unconscious wishes. There is an antagonism between the conscious & unconscious. The pre-conscious is what can be readily recalled what has not been repressed. The repressed unconscious desires cannot be directly brought back to consciousness.

Polarity of the Reality Principle and the Pleasure Principle: The mind or ego, in the conscious level, follows the reality principle. It follows the code of morality prevalent in the social environment. The social code prevents it from following the pleasure principle and seeking for immediate gratification of its desires. But the ego, in the unconscious level, follows the pleasure principle. The repressed desires – which are unconscious – seek for their fulfillment and follow the pleasure principle. By nature man seeks for direct & immediate satisfaction of the desires. But in his conscious life his mental desires for immediate gratification are repressed and direct satisfaction by the social code of morality is not allowed. They are repressed and become unconscious. They are manifested in dreams, day-dreams, fantasies, and the like. But in the conscious-waking-condition man follows the reality principle or the code of morality prevalent in the society. Thus there is an antagonism between the pleasure principle and reality principle.

Polarity of the Ego-instinct and Libido: In his earlier works, Freud did not give a name to the pole opposed to sex or libido. But he spoke of repression, censorship, conflict and compromise – which imply some opposing force that repressed the libido; sometimes he spoke of it as the ego or the ego tendency. Thus the original urges were brought under two-heads —– Ego-instinct and Libido.

Libido and its stage of Growth: Freud has a strict-board conception of the libido. It means sexuality. It means also love — partial love, filial [≡ relating to son or daughter] love, sexual love, love for friends, love for animals and love for inanimate objects. It also means all kinds of bodily pleasure. It includes the pleasure of thumb-sucking, biting, being rubbed & gently stroked and the pleasures of urination, defecation etc. Freud often uses the word ‘Libido’ in the sense of love in the broadest sense. And yet he vehemently protests against any attempt to desexualize his libido. He insists that his conception of libido is strict as well as broad.

According to Freud, the infant is auto-sexual and auto-erotic [erotic ≡ pertaining to sex-love]; he loves his own body; and desires pleasures from the satisfaction of his hunger & thirst, urination & defecation. This stage is narcissim [≡ plant bearing fragrant flowers]. As he grows older – he becomes homo-sexual – a boy loves another boy with warmth & ardour [≡ warmth of feeling & zeal]; he transfers love from himself to another boy. Similarly, a girl loves another girl fervently. As the boy grows into an adult – he becomes hetero-sexual – a young man loves a young woman; he transfer love from his friend of the same sex to one of the opposite sex. And same with a girl. Thus, there are different stages of libido or sexuality — narcissim, or auto-sexuality, homo-sexuality and hetero-sexuality.

Freud speaks of another manifestation of libido in the form of Œdipus Complex and Electra Complex. Œdipus Complex is the sexual attraction of a male child to his mother and his hatred for his father. Electra Complex is the sexual attraction of the female child to her father and her hatred for her mother. These complexes are formed long before puberty or adolescence – when the true genital sexuality appears with the advent of hetero-sexuality. As the child grows his sexual longing for his mother is repressed by social pleasure and becomes an unconscious wish. This repressed and the unconscious wish called the Œdipus Complex – which gives rise to many mental adjustments.

Sigmund Freud speaks of 02 other manifestations of the libido – viz. Masochism and Sadism. Masochism is the tendency to self-torture & self-persecution. The Sadism is a tendency to torment & persecute the objects of love.Freud includes all other kinds of cruelty & destructiveness under sadism.

 Polarity of Eros or Life-instinct and Death-instinct: Freud widens the concept of libido or sex-urge by including the self-preserving instincts in it; and called it Eros or Life-instinct. This life urge is opposed by Death-instinct. There are suicidal tendencies in some individuals. The longing for eternal rest or Nirvana is an expression of the death-instinct.  Death is the goal of some urge within the individual. Even masochism & sadism are, regarded by Freud, as the joint effects of the sex-instinct & death-instinct. Thus, Freud recognizes the polarity or antagonism of the Eros or the Life-instinct & the Death-instinct.

Id, Ego and Super-ego: Freud originally divided the mind into the Ego and the Unconscious. He conceived the Ego as Conscious – which repressed desire (libido) – that were unacceptable to it and kept them unconscious by resistance. But resistances were found to be unconscious in many patients. Hence the original, repression also must have been unconscious.

In about 1920, Sigmund Freud constructed a theory – which recognized 03 layers of mind – viz. Id,

Ego & Super-ego. His revised theory makes the Ego partly conscious & partly unconscious. As conscious, it is in contact with the social environment and follows the reality principle. As unconscious, it is emerged in the unconscious interior, or the Id; and follows the pleasure –principle. The Id remains ever unconscious & unorganized. It is the most primitive part to the psyche. The Id is dominated by the pleasure-principle – while the Ego is dominated by the reality-principle. The Ego develops out of the Id; and serves as a connecting link between the Id & the Super-ego. It unconsciously executes the commands of the Id; and consciously acts as a controlling force over the Id.

The conflict between Id and Ego is further complicated by a 3RD principle – the Super-ego. It is the ego-ideal, corresponding to what is called Conscience. Thus, Super-ego corresponds to conscience, the Ego corresponds to prudence. The Id is the primitive rebellious instincts. The Super-ego is peculiar to man; and is said to originate in the thwarted sex-urge or libido of the little child. It is said to owe its origin to the Œdipus Complex. The Super-ego is the introjected parent who restricts & regulates the expression of the basic needs. The super-ego punishes the Ego for the transgression of the basic needs and is the sources of the injunctions and prohibitions – which it imposes upon the Ego. These are the categorical imperatives derived from the internal conflicts of the Id.

Repressed Infantile Sexuality: Freud’s theory of Psycho-analysis is based upon 03 pillarsLibido / Sexuality, Repression & Infantile Period. The libido of a child cannot often be fulfilled owing to the ban of the society during the period of infancy. So it is repressed and becomes an unconscious wish. It forms persistent complexes. They are groups of ideas tinged with a feeling of pain. These emotionally toned groups of ideas or unconscious complexes are manifested in consciousness as dreams, day-dreams, worry, slips of the pen, slip of the tongue, art & religion – which are not accidental, but motivated and sometimes manifested.

Sources: -

  • 1. Hurlock, Elizabeth B. – Developmental Psychology: A Life-Span Approach.
  • 2. Sinha, Dr. Jadunath – A Manual of Psychology [Part I & II].

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