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Essay about Freud’s Mind Structure Theory

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Freud’s Mind Structure Theory


Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was a famous neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. One of his theories was that the mind is made up of three parts: the id, the superego, and the ego. According to Freud, the id is the evil demon on your shoulder; it represents your most primitive impulses, such as hunger, sex, and violence. The superego, on the other hand, is the innocent angel on the other shoulder. It decides what is morally right and wrong according to what society has taught the individual. The ego basically serves as a regulator between the id’s primitive urges and the superego’s moral ideals. It assures that the id’s needs are met without over-angering the superego. Although this theory may appear reasonable, it is based on hopelessly improvable premises and is thus useless for any scientific purposes.

John D. Mayer, an expert on emotional intelligence, stated that Freud’s structure of the mind is potentially useful “to organize sub-parts of personality such as traits […] and to communicate generally about personality” (Mayer 461). However, less than a paragraph later, he asks the question, “In an age where we know more and more about brain function, could the idea of separable psychological units, free floating apart from the brain, be utterly retrograde?” He is questioning as to whether the structure of the mind can be considered scientific, or whether it is simply backwards thinking. If Mayer is uncertain about whether this structure can be scientifically proven, how can he see it as being useful? Facts need to be strongly established before an idea can even be considered for usefulness. Also, it must be taken into consideration that psychology is the science of d...


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... New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1960.

Izenberg, Gerald, N. The Existentialist Critique of Freud: The Crisis of Autonomy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Macmillan, Malcolm. Freud Evaluated: The Competed Arc. North-Holland: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1991.

Mayer, John D. “Primary Divisions of Personality and Their Scientific Contributions: From the Trilogy-of-Mind to the Systems Set.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 31 (2001): 449-478.

PsychINFO. EBSCOhost. University of South Alabama Digital Library. 14 Nov. 2005 < http://web5.epnet.com.libproxy2 .usouthal.edu>.

Nuttin, Joseph. Psychoanalysis and Personality: A Dynamic Theory of Normal Personality. Trans. George Lamb. New York: Sheed & Ward, Inc., 1962.

Webster, Richard. Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, and Psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books, 1995.


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