Id Ego Superego definition; It’s use and analogy to explain your ego

id ego superego definition ghost

Hello. I want to introduce to you a concept that Sigmund Freud used to explain among plenty of other things Narcissistic ideals. Here I aim to give you the id, ego, superego definition but also the premise to how useful it can be to help you achieve your autonomy.

First up let me say that some part of this concept are very detailed and I don’t claim to be an expert. I plan to limit the level to detail to that which is useful to someone reading about it for the first time and wanting to use it as a catalyst for internal growth. This is not intended to substitute for a psychology lecture.

Next I want to congratulate you for pursuing internal growth. We live in a culture that is extremely focused on creating distractions for you. Sometimes unplugging from the distractions and a few internal reflections work wonders. Unfortunately the older we get the harder it becomes. I have spoken previously about the devastating life changing moments that often bring people to paths of personal growth (moments along the lines of death, divorce or disease).

The Origin of the Id/Ego/SuperEgo concept

Sigmund Freud used this concept in this structural model of the psyche. They are purely psychological concepts and do not have any physical manifestations that you can pin down easily. It has been criticized and forgotten over the decades but I still find value in it, even if for nothing more than to open your mind to something new.


What is the meaning of the word: Id?

id ego superego definitionNo it is not the character from the comic Wizard of Id. 🙂

This is a reference to your primal (or animal) instinct that lies deep with you, cannot be removed and has no order and no structure beyond eat, mate and survive. Star wars fans may associate it with the dark side. Chemists or physicists may associate it with entropy. Mystics may associate it with the term “your inner shadow.”

For me I am more familiar with the metaphor of chaos. Your id is akin to a caged animal going postal but with no particular long term strategy beyond pure survival.

An overactive “id” within you psyche leads to personality disorders such as narcissism, solipsism, egomania, psychosis and pretty much any of those scenarios where the person thinks they personally hold more power or are more important than the surrounding people.

A key extension I want to add here is the idea that the id, your wild animal, has a good side as well as a bad side. The drive to kill prey is just as strong as the drive to protect the offspring.


What is the meaning of the word SuperEgo within this concept?

id ego superego definition balanceI am going to jump to superego now because it is easier to explain. The concept of the superego can be generalized as the external influences around you such as the community you life in, the family you live with, their expectations/rules/traditions/conventions/laws/morality/paradigms/history & their influence to collectively enforce it all on you.

Obviously if you grow up in a different part of the world this external influence or community influence will be a hell of a lot different (i.e. Zimbabwean values vs Californian values).

An overactive “negative” superego in this scenario will lead to communities like totalitarian regimes. Dictatorships and socialist cultures that pay no tribute to long term survival or individualism.

What is the meaning of the word Ego within this concept?

The ego, your ego, is what I want you to pay the most attention to. In this framework the ego is the means of balancing the id with the superego.

Think of a wild cat being tamed entertain the masses, or a wild elephant being tamed to help out around the village & lift heavy logs.

The ego (your action) is heavily influenced by the superego (your community’s values) but can only work within the framework of its id (your evolutionary biology and animal instincts).

The ego is the mask you wear to keep your parents off your back but still turn around and do what you want behind their back.


A Wild Cat Analogy for the id, ego, superego

id ego wild superego definition lionImagine for a minute you have a wild lion (id) in a circus environment being trained by a lion tamer (ego) to make a circus act for the pleasure of the crowd (superego).

The wild cat/lion (id) doesn’t want to be there and will do anything and everything to escape and get back to freedom.

The lion tamer(ego) surrenders his own ideas of what the show should entail to please the crowd but also has to work within the very dangerous and very strict constraints of the wild cats ability, motivation, biology and drive to kill.

At the end of the day the end result of this scenario is that plenty of wild cats get killed or made lame, a significant number of lion tamers become maimed or die and thousands of crowds get their two minutes of pleasure (with one or two crowds getting terrorized by a wild cat on the loose).

How can this analogy help you gain independence from the constraints in your life? Your ego performs that delicate balancing act between turning you into a domesticated cat (completely useless in a survival sense) and a blood thirsting rampaging wild animal hell-bent on killing everyone and mounting your fair share of worthy women/men along the way. If you don’t pay attention there is one thing you can almost guarantee, the outcome will not be the balance you want, it will be the outcome to benefit someone else.

Far too often I see blue pill (mangina) soft type of men who have become domesticated to the point of being useless to those women who can a bit more than a walking wallet & trained set of hands. I also see the other extreme which is men still acting like they live in a cave but locate themselves inside of a civilized community.

Wouldn’t it be nice to understand the need and forge out that balance which will make you thrive; not for the sake of your relationship (or your trainer) but for the sake of your own autonomy.  CLICK HERE TO SEE MY BLUE PRINT AUTONOMY SERIES OF POSTS.




8 Replies to “Id Ego Superego definition; It’s use and analogy to explain your ego”

  1. This is interesting!

    I know that we have the 3 – id, ego, superego in each one of us. It now depends on us on how to use them. Of course, we have to take care of our ego so we will not be in trouble, it is the balancing force among the 3. 

    But we need all 3 to live a  balanced life.

    Thanks for sharing.


    1. Balance was the underlying concept I was trying to push more than anything Marita.

      Glad you picked up on it.

      cheers and thanks for stopping by.

  2. Remy,

    I’m sorry to hear you’re divorced. I’m still married after 32 years, so I cannot know how you feel or what all you’re going through. I have two sisters who went through a divorce and I saw what it did to them. Again, so sorry.

    Well, your article brought back memories of my college psychology courses. Everything you wrote here is exactly as I remember it. Back then I agreed with it all but now that I’m older I have a different perspective on it.

    It is not my intent to debate, argue, be critical, or anything like that. No, no, no! Rather, I just want to hear your thoughts on how body, soul and spirit would fit into all the Freudian stuff. I’m guessing, without having spent a great deal of time thinking on it before replying to you, that it all might tie in but just have different names. And, of course, different application.

    In case you’re wondering, I’m a born-again believer and I believe the Bible to be the true, holy, inerrant Word of God. Again, I’m not here to argue. You and I have better things to do than that, right?

    Eager to hear from you!

    Best Regards

    1. cheers for well wishes Rick.

      in regards to your question (which I thank you for) I really don’t think that this freudian structure accommodates the mind, body, soul concepts.  You could try (and I have seen people do so) but it is really trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  The later models by Carl Jung (Archetypal structures) do a bit better but really think the Buddhists or Taoists do a lot better job of merging spirituality with psychology.  

      I read a brilliant book on the topic called the “Tao of Physics,”  Well worth a read if you have the inclination, it covers western religions too from memory.

      There is always more to learn for the man with an open mind and open heart.

  3. Hi Remy,

    Great article! I really enjoyed the reading!

    When I was a child, my parents used to take me to the Zoo and circus for a fun day. When I was looking at the animals’ eyes, they always seemed to be very sad. When I grew up, I decided not to go to the circus and neither to the zoo. I also refused to bring my children to any of these places to see poor animals. Anyway, thank God, circuses with animals are forbidden today, well in most places. Do you know something about this?Ego is what leads to war and pain!

    Thank you for this excellent post! 

    1. an ego that can’t balance the inner worlds with the outer worlds will leave to devastation Daniella.  The ego tends to get a bad wrap, it plays a very important role in your happiness.  Perhaps we shouldn’t all be so quick to dismiss the concept. I struggle to be how self improvement can be done without seeking such balance.

  4. Hi Remy! Thank you very much for introducing these concepts in a way that everyone of us can understand. I had heard the terms and must confess I had an incorrect definition of all three. Your example of the lion in the circus with the lion tamer and the crowd has completely clarified the terms for me. Thank you very much!

    The next time I hear about the Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche I won’t feel they’re talking Chinese.

    1. this was a very simplified analogy of it all Henry.  Problem is that you will find once the “so called experts” get involved they relish in their ability to talk in a way that will sound like a foreign language to you.  It is important to try and make these lessons available to everyone.

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