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What is the superego? According to Freud, the superego is the part of the psyche which has the following characteristics:
- The superego contains our values, our sense of morality, and our conscience. These ideas are the ones which we adopted from society, primarily from our parents. Thus, the superego is a re-enactment of a parent within our psyche; we created the superego by identifying with the same-sex parent in our early childhood (around the age of 5 or 6). This internalized parent judges our psychological activity (i.e., our thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions) according to its standards. When we comply with those standards, we feel good about ourselves; when we fail to comply, we feel anxiety and guilt. As we mature into adulthood, we can replace our parents' standards with our own.
- The superego contains our "ego ideal." The ego ideal is the collection of standards to which we aspire. Those standards were acquired from society, primarily from our parents.
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