Freud’s two stages for the ego’s development are the internal and external ego. At first humans start off as the id. The id operates on what it wants and is not self-aware, so if it wants the breast, it will scream until it gets it. The first stage of the ego is self-awareness, but it only recognizes its own wants. The next stage of the ego is the separation between what is ours and what is not, and develops in the toddler years. At first the toddler operates on the pleasure principle, and the ego allows the child to obtain anything that gives him pleasure. The reality principle, however, interferes with the pleasure principle because it makes the ego realize that he cannot always get what pleasures him all the time. The ego tries to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, so it finds a way to fulfill the ids wants but with a realistic plan.
“Civilization…obtains mastery over the individuals’ dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting up an agency within him to watch over it…’ (114). This agency is the superego, the next step in a human’s development. The superego comes into existence because of guilt. When we do something that our authority figure has deemed bad we feel guilt for one of three reasons during our superego’s first stage. First, because we fear the loss of our loved ones if we do something naughty. Secondly, because we fear the loss of the protection our authority figures offer us, and lastly, because we fear punishment.
The second stage of our superego is when the authority comes from within yourself. “Nothing can be hidden from the super-ego” (Freud, 117). This is why we feel guilt for simply thinking about doing bad things. The superego develops...
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... in the enjoyment of it, ill-will and hostility would disappear among men” (Freud, 97). Freud thinks a great deal of unhappiness and hostility comes from private property and the rights to ones possessions. Unfortunately, the flaw in his theory is that there has to be some sort of distribution process, and human beings strive for power, property, and prestige. So human beings would have to evolve past the instinct to claim things as one’s own.
Another reason we can be happy for short periods of time in society is because we have art. It gives us a purpose and internally appeases us. Freud would say art makes us happy because it distracts us from the suffering of ignoring our instincts and, “…it [art] can compensate for a great deal” (Freud, 53). Unfortunately, one cannot make or stare at art every day, so it can only make us happy for short periods of time.
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