Id Ego and Superego

According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, personality consists of 3 system. They are id, ego and superego. These systems work together and they form human’s complicated behaviors. Each of them appear in different situations.


  • The primitive and instinctive component of human psyche and personality.
  • The only personality structure that presents at birth.
  • This structure of personality is completely subconscious and primitive. Sometimes it consists of irrational and imaginary behaviors.
  • According to Freud, id is the source of mental energy and this feature makes id is the most basic component of personality.
  • Id is directed by pleasure principle. Pleasure principle strives to satisfy some drives, needs and wishes. For example if a person feels hungry or thirst, s/he tries to satisfy it.
  • Id is so important in early years of life because it helps to meet the needs of baby. For example, a baby cries when s/he gets hungry and continues to cry until his/her needs are satisfied. Babies behave completly according to pleasure principle rules. For exaple, you can not persuade the baby to wait for lunch. Because id wants to satify hungry instantly and the other parts of personality (ego and superego) can not suppress this drive of id. Because ego and superego has not yet developed.
  • It may not be possible and realistic to satisfy need’s of id immediately every time. Because behaving according to id’s drive causes social chaos and this is unacceptable for society.
  • People learn to control id together with development of ego and superego. In this process, ego and superego control the drives of id in both realistic and socially acceptable ways and try to satisfy them at the appropriate place and time.


  • Ego deals with reality.
  • Ego express the impulses of id in an acceptabe way in real world.
  • Ego performs both conscious, subconscious and preconscious.
  • Ego works based on reality principle. According to reality principle, positive and negative results of a behavior or impulse are weighed and ego decides to do or not this behavior or impulse  with regard to results. But most of the time, ego allows to satisfy impulses of id in an appropriate time and place.
  • Freud liken id to horse and ego to driver of horse. While horse supplies essential power and movement, driver of horse directs and guides to horse. In this definition, horse seems to more powerful because it supplies all energy and eventhough driver tries to control the horse, sometimes horse can go to wherever it wants.
  • Ego relieves stress that is created by unsatisfied impulses, through secondary process. For example, you feel hungry in the middle of the long lasting meeting. In this situation, while id wants to satisfy hungry and go to eat someting; ego wants you to wait the end of the meeting and in this duration ego makes you imagine a big hamburger. In the end of the meeting, ego provides you to eat this hamburger in the real world. In other words, ego relieves id’s impulse through secondary process, then it satisfies them in the correct time and place.


  • The final component of personality.
  • Superego is the part of personality that the person internalizes moral standarts and thoughts that is learned from parents and society.
  • Superego guides the person when deciding something.
  • According to Freud, superego appears at the age of 5.
  • Superego consists of 2 parts: Ego ideal and conscience. Ego ideal includes rules and standarts for good and nice behavior. This behaviors and rules are accepted by parents and authority figures. Obeying this rules and behaviors makes the person to feel successful, proud and valuable. Conscience includes behaviors that seems bad by society and parents. Generally, this behaviors have bad results and makes the person to feel guilty and remorse.
  • Superego tries to perfect and civilize our behavior. In addition that, it tries to suppress the unacceptable impulses of id.
  • Superego tries to behave according to ideal standarts instead of reality principle of ego.
  • Superego performs both conscious, subconscious and preconscious.

Interaction of Id, Ego and Superego

According to Freud, the key of a healthy personality includes balance between id, ego and superego. If ego can strike a balance between reality, id and superego; healthy and compatible personality appears. The imbalance between this component causes unbalanced and incompatible personality. For example, a person whose id is dominant, behaves impulsive and uncontrolled, even s/he can commit an illegal act. In addition that this person tries to satify the most basic impulses at the wrong time and place. S/he doesn’t care the moral way of these behaviors and s/he doesn’t matter other’s right and s/he cares to meet the requests of herself or himself.

On the other hand, people whose superego are more dominant, behave extremely moral. Generally they are perfectionist and failure is fatal for them. In addition that, they do not accept some behaviors that are acceptable for others. They have so strict rules and they are overbearing.

People whose ego are more dominant, are realistic. They try to satisfy their impulse in a suitable way for society. They are balanced people.

Finally, structures of personality (id, ego, superego) work together and the balance between of these structures creates a compatible person.


* Carducci, B. The psychology of personality: Viewpoints, research, and applications. John Wiley & Sons; 2009.
Engler, B. Personality theories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing; 2009.

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