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