Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


see psychoanalysispsychoanalysis,
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.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


one of the three elements of the PERSONALITY in FREUD's theory. The superego is that part of the personality that operates as the conscience, aiming for perfection, controlling the function of the EGO by placing moral constraints on it.

Like the ego, the superego is said by Freud to develop from the ID in the first few years of life. He proposed that it was formed by the child internalizing the parent's perceived standards, and indirectly, therefore, society s standards. This came about through identification with the same-sex parent as resolution of the OEDIPUS COMPLEX. Freud's theory thus explained the development of a conscience in boys much better than in girls and he has been much criticized for the implied inferiority of women as a result. Feminist theorists such as Juliet Mitchell (1974) have explored this aspect of his theory

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000



The superego is to one of the three essential components of Sigmund Freud‘s theory of the human personality. The superego represents the internalized mores of society and tells us what is right and wrong. Because our parents are our primary source of socialization, it might be said that the superego is the internalized voice of our parents. According to Freud, the superego is frequently in conflict with the id, which represents such primitive, animal drives as sex and aggression. The need to control these urges leads to inner conflicts—conflicts of which we are often largely unconscious and which are frequently expressed in our dreams. Repressed sexual and violent urges may, for example, lead to sexual and violent dreams. In Freud’s view, the superego’s drive to repress the id extends even into our dreams, so that socially unacceptable urges are expressed indirectly in dream symbols. A person may, for example, have a dream in which a sudden downpour drenches someone who is the object of sexual desire.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


The subdivision of the psyche that acts as the conscience of the unconscious; the components, derived from both the id and the ego, are associated with standards of behavior and self-criticism.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Psychoanal that part of the unconscious mind that acts as a conscience for the ego, developing mainly from the relationship between a child and his parents
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The Interaction Order establishes the dynamic through which behaviour is regulated by larger social-normative forces external to us, and thus it mirrors the Freudian superego as an internalized manifestation of these forces.
However, seven years later, in 1930, in a book entitled Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud revised his early views on the superego. In this later work, Freud reported that he had discovered that morality contained a large component of destructiveness and irrational sadism.
The disturbing object is also the basis for the archaic superego that continues to play a directive role in the psychic economy of the pervert's mind.
But he is caught in a certain "abandon" before an arbitrary law that binds the subject to its sadistic superego or, more specifically, to its obscene (or prelinguistic) "beyond" or "other" (Lacan speaks of an "Other of the Other" here [66]) in the will not to be anything more than a role.
Rieff's Triumph of the Therapeutic is a strenuous call to reassert authority, law, and the cultural superego. I want to object that our wild, infantile passions and fantasies are precisely what fuel creativity, art, and culture itself, and they are significant not only in our need to repress them.
Yet the character of jouissance which truly unites the many elements discussed thus far is its relationship to the third of Freud's concepts alongside the id and ego that topographically marks the individual's psychic space: the superego. Fundamentally, jouissance can be understood as an unbridled sense of pleasure ready to run rampant and ultimately overwhelm the subject if left unchecked.
He examines the elements of bizarreness and wish-fulfillment in children's dreams and how they relate to the development of superego functions.
In what follows I will develop the idea of the ideological status of Kurtz's spectre by first locating the exact point of Marlow's encounter with the real and reviewing Lacanian approaches to the novella; second, examining the particular aural nature of spectrality (voice as objet a) and its link to the obscene superego underside of the Law, and finally concluding that Marlow's failure to exorcise Kurtz's spectre is the last resort to reproduce imperialist ideology in the novella despite his own exposure of its evils.
Violation of laws and prohibitions does not in his case bring a sense of guilt which the traditional version of the superego in psychoanalysis inflicts on the subject to rectify behaviour and police thoughts and unlawful desires.