The structural theory of mind (Pleasure, Reality and Morality principles)

The journey of human beings began with a struggle for basic survival in the landscapes, jungles, caves, etc., to the current scenario of a better quality of life, age of machines, and artificial intelligence. Since the human race has evolved beyond the survival instinct in the current era, the reality and morality principles are the elements of power play. Sigmund Freud explained these elements as “the way the human mind works or the human psyche/personality aspects.” The concepts of Id, Ego, and Superego can be understood in their active form as elucidated below:-

“Id” – pleasure principle

The first to develop is the “Id”; it works as a primary process for survival and is functional mainly at unconscious levels of an individual’s mind. It fuels the urge for immediate need gratification and avoids pain which can create issues later in life. Further, it doesn’t get impacted by the trouble it causes to self or others in the process of immediate gratification of its needs.

“Ego” – realistic or practical principle

As an individual steps forward in the life cycle, they develop a sense of self, practicality, and realities of life. “Ego” is vital as it mediates between the “Id” and the “Superego.” It defines the individual’s view about themselves and plays the role of self-preservation, intellectual and defensive functioning. Moreover, it operates predominantly on conscious levels except for ego defense mechanisms.

“Superego”– morality principle

The last stage to develop is “Superego” that evolves based on the learning, experiences, and needs from the “Id” and “Ego” instinct. Hence, it is the moral compass based on values, principles, and the conscience, acting as a guiding light. Moreover, the projective aspects of the conscience can be seen in cognition, behavior as criticism, prohibition, guilt arousing statements, etc.

These instincts play an essential role in how an individual responds or reacts to internal and external stimuli. Thus being aware, understanding the nature of these instincts and the act of balancing them is mastery or skill that is required for optimal level of functioning on varied levels.