The Ego is the final part of the tripartite structural model consisting of three components, the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego. The well-functioning Ego works on the reality principle, meaning that it attempts to please the Id’s drive while balancing it with the Super Ego’s expectations. The Ego helps delay gratification until a time when it is appropriate to get the individual’s needs met. The Super Ego and Id function primarily in the unconscious, the Ego is where the organized and conscious awareness resides. The Ego is where the following resides:
- Reality Testing
- Synthesis of Information
- Intellectual Functioning
The Ego helps the individual evaluate what is real and is where the individual makes sense of the world around them.
The Ego also serves to moderate between the instinctual drives of the Id, the chastising voice of the Super Ego, and the realities of the external world. The disconnect between these three forces and having to moderate between them can raise anxiety in the individual, manifested in realistic anxiety from the external world (e.g., I can’t afford food for this week), moralistic anxiety from the Super Ego (e.g., I can’t steal so that I can eat because that would be wrong/someone else would suffer), and passion/emotional based anxiety of the Id (Freud called in neurotic anxiety) (e.g., who cares if it harms others, I need to eat and this is all that matters).
To help resolve all of these conflicts, the Ego is identified as being more loyal to the Id. The Ego is more willing to listen to a person’s passions and needs than the external pressures of reality or the moral imperatives of the Super Ego. To manage this the Ego employees defense mechanisms, two of which I’ve talked about in the blog, here and here. The defense mechanisms allow the Ego to tune out reality and the Super Ego to indulge the Id.