Freud 's Structural Model Of The Psyche Essay

Freud 's Structural Model Of The Psyche Essay

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Freud’s Structural Model of the Psyche

Since their conception, Freud’s ideas about how our mental lives are organized were central to psychoanalysis until the mid 19th century. His thoughts about personality and development were the cornerstone of early psychoanalysis. However, Freud’s proposed structural model is not sufficiently robust to be consistent with Freud’s previous ideas about psychoanalysis. Specifically, if psychotherapy is a method to cure neuroses then the mental categories in the structural model are incompatible with classic psychoanalytic theory. Furthermore, the consequences regarding the very nature of human thinking and action arising from the structural model are inconsistent with observed human nature.

Freud’s conception of the structural model of the psyche divides our mental lives into three distinct concepts; the ego, superego and the id. Each structure develops at a different time in our lives, with the id being present from birth (Freud, 47). The unconscious id is the part of our psyche that contains within it our basic, raw desires and instincts. This primitive component of our mental personality does not care for social norms and makes no moral judgments as it strives for instant gratification. For this reason Freud states that the id is governed by the pleasure principle (Freud, 23). In consequence, the id seeks to satisfy its needs with no contemplation for social or moral consequences.
This is in stark contrast to the ego, which is governed by the reality principle. The ego’s actions are dictated by the demands of the external world. That is, while the id can be chaotic and unreasonable in its relentless pursuit to have its needs met, the ego must operate within the confines of reason and soci...


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...lained by considering the social environment that Freud led his practice in. Late 19th century Europe is not the best example of a sexually progressive environment, and having patients be almost exclusively upper class women does not make for a diverse clinical experience. This contextualization alone indicates that Freud’s theories are at the very least largely Eurocentric, while mostly likely being heavily biased towards class and gender. This is an obvious problem as Freud’s ideas about the structure of the psyche are proposed to be applicable to all man.

In conclusion, the structural model, which divides our psyche into three distinct parts, is problematic to the extent to that it fails to remain consistent with the aims of Freud’s own psychoanalytic method. In addition, the consequences of adopting Freud’s model are incompatible with observed human nature.

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