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name given by Sigmund Freud to a system of interpretation and therapeutic treatment of psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis began after Freud studied (1885–86) with the French neurologist J. M.
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egoone of the three elements of the personality in FREUD's theory. The ego is that part of the personality which operates in direct contact with reality, attempting to control the demands of the ID according to the strictures of the SUPEREGO and with awareness of the real world. It therefore operates under the reality principle’, in contrast to the id, which operates under the ‘pleasure principle’. The id demands immediate gratification by direct means, so the ego's role is to assess whether these demands are realistically possible, and if not, to enforce delay of gratification until expression can be had in a socially appropriate form. see also DEFENCE MECHANISM.
In traditional psychology and psychoanalysis, ego refers to one’s sense of individual selfhood. This meaning of the term is neutral or even positive and should not be burdened with the negative associations embodied in such expressions as “has a big ego.” Particularly important for dream theory, the term ego was used to designate one of the three essential components of Sigmund Freud‘s theory of the human personality. Freud referred to the ego as the “reality principle,” meaning that it is the rational, reasoning part of the psyche that undertakes the task of adjusting our inner urges to the demands and restrictions of the surrounding environment.
The other two aspects of the self in Freud’s personality theory are the superego and the id. The superego represents the internalized mores of society and tells us what is right and wrong. The superego is frequently in conflict with the id, the primitive, animal part of the self expressed in sexual and aggressive drives. The demands of external reality also tend to conflict with certain id drives. Thus, energies of both the ego and the superego tend to repress our sexual and aggressive urges, although we are often largely unconscious of these inner conflicts. When we sleep, however, the ego allows id desires to be expressed in the form of dreams, albeit in an indirect, symbolic manner that does not disturb our sleep. Someone with a strong desire to murder his father may have, for example, a dream about the accidental death (making the killing passive rather than active) of some other authority figure (a father figure).
Another major school of psychological dream interpretation was initiated by Freud’s student Carl Jung. Jung’s analysis of the psyche is related to, yet significantly different from, Freud’s. In Jung’s personality theory, the ego represents the individual’s sense of personal self. This sense of personal identity, however is purchased at the expense of certain tendencies (for instance, socially undesirable traits) that are rejected as “not-self.” According to Jung, these rejected traits come together as a kind of unconscious “counter-ego,’ which he termed the shadow. This shadow self is often experienced in dreams as another person.