Major Movements in Psychology

Psychoanalytic Theory

What is the structural model?

The structural model overshadowed the topological model’s focus on the conscious/unconscious division of the mind. While Freud still believed in unconscious processes, he became more and more interested in the compartmentalization of the mind into the id, ego, and superego. The id, translated literally as “the it”, contains the animalistic passions that must be subdued in order for civilization to function. The id works on the pleasure principle, where wish equals reality and desire is not subject to restraint. The ego, Latin for “the I,” mediates between the id and reality. The ego operates on the reality principle and recognizes that the world does not always obey our desires. The superego is the source of our morality. It is formed through our internalization of our parents’ rules and discipline. A strict superego results in inhibited, moralistic behavior. A weak superego results in self-indulgent, poorly disciplined, or immoral behavior.


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