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According to psychoanalytic theory personality is made up of 3 parts – the id, ego (self) and superego. The id is impulsive, self-centred and childlike. The superego knows what is either good or bad and it is the opposite of the id. It is controlling and it controls by punishing. The ego is the part of us which resolves the conflict between the id and the superego. The id just considers itself while the superego is either yes or no. The ego helps resolve this.

The id is the container of things that interest us. The superego and the ego steal this energy from the id. We experience psychological energy as an impulse (e.g. when you haven’t eaten for a while and you see food so you want to eat it).  Freud talks of two instincts which are both growth instincts and destructive instincts. Libido is the growth instinct (e.g. to eat, drink, have sex) and the mortido the destructive instinct (when we are cruel and aggressive). Babies don’t have an ego or superego, so to see the id at work look at a baby. The id always tries to satisfy its instincts. Once the id satisfies an instinct, it relieves tension and discomfort. The id has no rules. The id runs on maximise pleasure and reduce tension.


– Joshua Aquilina is a Counselling Psychologist working with Willingness. He specialises in psychotherapy, addiction and anxiety. He can be contacted on