Freudian Psychology Theory

Model of the Human PsycheThe Freudian Psychology Theory (part of the ego-psychology school of psychoanalysis) is a model of the human psyche advocated by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). It describes the human psyche in three distinct divisions: the Id, the Super-Ego, and the Ego.

The Id

The Id is a reservoir of need-gratification impulses such as primitive instinctual drives of sexuality, aggression, and hunger. Freud believed the Id to be inborn, operating on the dynamics of the pleasure principle, requiring immediate gratification or release without concern for external exigencies. For example, the crying of a hungry infant is an instinctive attempt to communicate that need to a caregiver, without concern for place or time.

In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka Langley Sohryu, the Second Child and pilot of Evangelion Unit-02, is often believed to represent the Id.

The Super-Ego

The Super-Ego is a symbolic internalization of the father figure, and acts as a sort of conscience, maintaining a sense of morality and behavior inline with social norms. It is the aspect of the psyche that prohibits violation of socially-imposed taboos, often standing in opposition to the desires of the Id.

'The Super-Ego retains the character of the father, while the more powerful the Oedipus complex was and the more rapidly it succumbed to repression (under the influence of authority, religious teaching, schooling and reading), the stricter will be the domination of the Super-Ego over the ego later on—in the form of conscience or perhaps of an unconscious sense of guilt' (The Ego and the Id, 1923). The concept of Super-Ego has been subject to criticism for its sexism. Women, who are considered to be already castrated, do not identify with the father, and therefore form a weak Super-Ego, apparently leaving them susceptible to immorality and sexual identity complications. In Freud's work 'Civilization and Its Discontents' (1930) he also discusses the concept of a cultural Super-Ego.

In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei Ayanami, the First Child and pilot of Evangelion Unit-00, is often believed to represent the Super-Ego.

The Ego

The Ego mediates between the Id, the Super-Ego and the external world. It is tasked with finding a balance between primitive drives, morals and reality. Although in his early writings Freud equated the Ego with the sense of self, he later began to portray it more as a set of psychic functions such as reality-testing, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory. The word Ego is taken directly from Latin where it is the nominative of the first person singular personal pronoun and is translated as 'I myself' to express emphasis.

In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji Ikari, the Third Child and pilot of Evangelion Unit-01, is often believed to represent the Ego.

Collaboration and Coordination

The Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego collaborate to serve the needs of the body and to control and normalize the conduct of an individual. For example, an infant will cry when hungry because that is an inborn evolutionary form of communication designed to attract or compel the attention of a suitably coevolved caregiver. An adult however will not normally cry when hungry, because the more experienced Ego has learned that the same recourse is no longer available, and because the now mature Super-Ego realizes that crying is not a socially acceptable reaction to being hungry.

Innate Drives: Eros, Libido, Thanatos, Destrudo

Until 1920, the Freudian Psychology Theory was based primarily on the pleasure principle (the drive of an individual to maximize his or her pleasure). After World War I however, Freud began to study trauma (particularly trauma experienced by soldiers during the war). The most curious aspect of highly unpleasant or traumatic experiences was that individuals were prone to repeat or re-enact them, which appeared to violate the pleasure principle. After hypothesizing several causes (particularly the idea that individuals repeat traumatic events in order to master or overcome them), Freud considered the existence of a fundamental death wish or death instinct, referring to an innate desire to die. According to the hypothesis, all living organisms are driven to return to a pre-organic, inanimate state.

'Beyond the Pleasure Principle' was an essay published by Freud in 1920 in which he introduced the idea of innate drives or impulses. These instinctual drives included the already established Eros (the love impulse), and the Libido (the sexual impulse), as well as the Thanatos (the death impulse opposing the Eros), and the Destrudo (the destruction impulse opposing the Libido).

Individuals suffering from personality disorders were believed to have these innate drives out of balance. For example, an individual exhibiting suicidal tendencies would likely have dominant Thanatos or Destrudo impulses. Causes of such imbalances would vary, but would typically involve trauma.

In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Destrudo and Libido are mentioned several times in reference to the Evangelion Units and their pilots.

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This section may contain plot and/or ending details.
Last Updated
July 11, 2014
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