The psychology of conscience: Freud

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The human psche is inspired by powerful instinctive desires that demand satisfaction.

These desires surface at our birth and are critical to our behaviour up to the age of three. These overriding desires and their satisfaction drive the ID

The ID develops two broad categories of desire: Eros - life-instinct, gives us the desire for food, self-preservation and sex. Thanatos - death-instinct, drives desires for domination, aggression, violence and self-destruction. These two instincts are at war with the ID and need to be tempered by ego constraints and conscience.

Children learn that authorities in the world restrict the extent to which these desires are satisfied. Consequently, humans create the ego which takes account the realities of the world and society. Freud referred to the ego as the reality principle, because our awareness of the self and of others is crucial to our interaction with…


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