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What is Ego?

Updated on June 26, 2017


The ego is basically our identity, as a person we have many different identities in this world. Our identity as a father, mother, son, daughter, employee, employer, etc. The ego is needed for us to function on a daily basis in this society.

It functions as the parent to our natural instincts we got when we were born, natural instincts that is closely related to instant gratification. As a baby the moment we became hungry we cried and screamed until we got what we wanted. Of course such behaviors are not tolerated when we have become an adult and a responsible citizen of the society. The ego helps us in dealing and taking care of our urges to make sure that they are acceptable to society. For example, you have the urge to pee, but the ego will make sure that you do not pee in your pants and do it in an acceptable manner in an acceptable place. Although the experience of peeing can be rather gratifying, the ego delays our gratification for a moment until the situation is acceptable for us to pee.

The ego is one of the three components that is contained in Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality. The Ego is the second component and is between The id, which is the first component and the Superego which is the third component. Those three components has to be in order to make sense.


The id

The id is present from the day we are born. It also forms the base of our personality. It is made up of our urges, instincts, desires. If you see a newborn baby, they do not have ego yet, they simply have what Freud called the id. The moment they have an urge of hunger or thirst they will instantly cry, they will be in a state of tension until their needs are met and they calm down. We can safely assume that the id seem to want instant gratification aside from anything else. They do not want delay, they want to get whatever they want, immediately. This maybe possible as long as you are a baby. Such things cannot be always possible when you are an adult. This is where the ego plays a very important role.


The Ego

As I have explained earlier, the ego acts as the parent of the id, always striving to make sure that we behave in a socially acceptable manner in society. If we didn't have ego, and only rely on id, we would be like animals, the moment we become hungry we will just grab whatever food there is on another person's hand and eat it, which is not acceptable (although I have never tried to pull such a stunt in public I am pretty sure, from the way things seem to stand in society, that such behavior is not acceptable).

The ego is very reality based and reacts accordingly to the reality of the given situation, and will guide the id to express its urges in a suitable manner and a suitable time according to the given situation. The ego will eventually give the id a chance to express it's a urges (and thank god for that otherwise I don't know how we can possibly fulfill our sexual urges), and if it comes to a situation where the urges is too strong and an acceptable situation has not yet presented itself it will allow the id to express it some other slightly subtler way (masturbation comes to right back).

The Superego

The superego is part of the personality that stores our moral standards, beliefs and ideals that we get as we are growing up in this society, it can be from our parents, teachers, priests, etc . The superego is the part of personality that gives us a guide to make judgment to any given situation based on our moral ideals, beliefs and facts that has come from our parents, teachers, etc. It is divided into two parts:

the ego ideal, which is made up of rules and manners for good behavior. Good behavior is of course a relative term, since the good behavior are simply those behavior that was approved by your parents, teachers, etc. So if your parents were a bunch of robbers and they approve you doing the same as them, you might store this criminal personality in your ego ideal and will rob with no guilt.

The conscience is made up of information about behaviors that is not acceptable in society, and forbidden and can lead to guilt and punishments.

The Dilemma

Considering the fact that our personality is governed by these three strong factors, it is easy to understand how and why a person can go through stress and why we all have different sorts of personality. We have different personality because we all have different balances of id, ego and superego and how these three factors interact with one another. Some people have personality that has a strong id, some a strong ego and some a strong super ego According to this, an ideal person is one who can maintain a balance in all the three factor of his/her personality. A person whose personality has a stronger id will yield easily to a chance of instant gratification. Whereas a person who has a strong super ego will be to rigid and not flexible at all (the 40 year old virgin comes to mind).

People are different from one another because their egos have different way of dealing with the pressure it gets from the id and from the superego. Its somehow pretty similar like having a small devil standing on our left shoulder and whispering things to your left ear and having an angel on your right shoulder and whispering things to your right, and you, the middle, the ego, the one dealing with the reality is the one who has to find a way to entertain both of them, to be equally acceptable in the society as well as be able to fulfill your personal needs and urges.


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    • profile image

      Reeya 5 years ago

      Very interesting. . . .

    • suraj punjabi profile image

      suraj punjabi 5 years ago from jakarta

      You need love to have a balanced mind. And you need to have a balanced mind to give it as well. It's interrelated I suppose.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I like your thinking, but here is a fun one -- perhaps all that is needed is love to balance the mind.

    • suraj punjabi profile image

      suraj punjabi 5 years ago from jakarta

      very well said. i would also like to add that to be able to love and be loved and be an expression of love, we need to have inner peace and harmony. and this will be attained when we have a balanced mind.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent. What would happed if the IT were a agape kind of Love? Could it be that this is right? 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

      4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

    • suraj punjabi profile image

      suraj punjabi 5 years ago from jakarta

      Thank you for your reply.

      You bring up some very good points.Seemingly it may seem that the ego is manipulating us but the ego is simply a part of the personality tht is projecting our urges, desires, beliefs and moral in a socially acceptable way. So the ego, by itself (without the presence of the id and the superego) is only projection. It is, by itself, objective and deals with second to second reality.

      So if we follow Sigmund Freud's theory this IT that you speak of is a state of mind where thr is a balance in the id, the super ego and the ego itself. To be in a state where these three forces of our personality is in harmony, where we do not deny our urges and desires but accept them, and not overindulge and to not be too attached, and we know that what we believe to be right or wrong is merely subjective and that our truth is ours and not anyone else's and it would be wrong to be fanatic over it and force it on other people.

      So yes i do agree with you tht we can replace the attitude of our imbalanced personality by making our mind and personality more disciplined through meditation and perhaps by getting to know ourselves. And we will be more wise and capable in dealing with the three factors that govern our personality: the id, the ego and the superego.

      Problem seem to occur when our ego gets over powered by our id which is our desires and urges, especially if we keep denying it the chance to express itself, which is why we see cases of priests sexually abusing people, etc. When you deny your desires and urges eventually it becomes a time bomb and we end up expressing it in a manner that is socially unacceptable. And it takes a lot more to be in control and desires than reading holy scriptures day in day out while wearing a robe or and orange cloth. If you want to live a life of celibacy have to first be in control of your desires and urges, and celibacy has to come as a natural habit to you, not forced. Forced celibacy and forxed vegatarianism is to simply dress an ape in a suit and call it human being.

      Problem can also occur if it is over powered by our super ego which is our beliefs of right and wrong. We have seen many cases of people being told as to what they should believe and what they should not, some even resort terrorizing a group of people into following his her belief system. Threatening them with nonsense and such.aa Making them feel guilty and sinful if they question.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The ego paradigm is that we are controlled and manipulated by the ego. Much like, as if it were a separate entity apart from our self. I believe this is the theme of your hub. I agree with it.

      Now believe or do not believe this: I will not label It so as to not make kneejerk auto faith haters, attack. Just call it It. It can fill that spot where the ego resides. Meditation, prayer, devotion and much learning are the paths to replacing ego with the It. Once the spot is filled with It there is no room for ego. At the very least it takes a position of unwanted visitor.

      Now I have not reached that place on a permanent basis, but I have experienced it from time to time.

    • suraj punjabi profile image

      suraj punjabi 5 years ago from jakarta

      You say that with hard work and desire you can free yourself of the ego paradigm, please explain how? I will not accept this statement without any objective explanation as to how this can be achieved.

      While you are at it please also shed some light as to what do you mean by the ego paradigm that you speak of?

      To rid yourself of the ego (which according to this theory is part of your personality that deals with reality) you would theoretically have to be dead. Because it is only in death that you are not present in reality anymore. For as long as you live in reality you will always have desire and you will always have a belief of what is right and wrong in your life.

      You say that this is just a theory and not necessarily a cage that we are bound by. Ok. This theory says that your personality is created by the interaction of your urges and desires (the id) and your beliefs on what is right and wrong (the super ego) and how we project it into our reality (the ego). So if you are not bound by this theory you are basically telling me that it is possible for a man to live in a society without desires and without any notion of what he believes to be right and wrong while he is still alive?

      I will not accept any of your claims without any object explanations and valid proof.

      So if you can, please explain

      How can a LIVING AND BREATHING person operate in this society without any desires and no notion of what he believes to be right and wrong.

      What is this ego (which is a part of your personality that deals with reality btw) paradigm you speak of? And how do you propose we be free of it?

      Thank you for your comment, I am a new hubber and you are the first person to comment on any of my hubs.

      I was also checking out your hubs and you are a very good writer.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I take issue friend. With hard work and desire we can free ourselves of the Ego paradigm. In fact some folks just do it naturally. What you state as fact and scientific law is theory and not a cage that we are bound by.

      But as for your hub -- interesting and up.