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What is the superego? According to Freud, the superego is the part of the psyche which has the following characteristics:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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