The idea of a personality “type” is fairly understood.
Many people associate a “Type A” personality with a more organized, rigid, competitive, and anxious person, while a “Type B” personality signals flexibility, creativity, and relaxation. Yet there’s little empirical support for the idea. In fact, it didn’t even emerge from psychology—two cardiologists created the concept as a way to understand the connection between stressed patients and the likelihood of developing heart disease and high blood pressure.
Psychologists who study personality believe such typologies generally are too simplistic to account for the many ways people differ in personality. Instead, there is broad scientific consensus around the Big Five. Each of these key traits contributes to one’s personality and is independent of the others.
In addition to generally remaining stable across one’s lifetime, they can also predict behavior in certain situations or correlate with life outcomes. High conscientiousness, for example, is associated with higher lifetime earnings.
The dominant paradigm in the study of personality today is the five-factor model.
Openness is the desire to seek out new and unfamiliar experiences. Conscientiousness represents the tendency toward self-discipline and planning over impulsivity. Extroversion refers to whether one draws energy from time spent with others or time spent alone.
Agreeableness is how cooperative, polite, and kind one tends to be, while neuroticism encompasses emotional stability and one’s tendency toward anxiety and self-doubt.
The field has yet to settle, however, on a single test or model that is able to capture the full range of human personality.
According to Sigmund Freud, human personality is complex and has more than a single component. In his famous psychoanalytic theory of personality, personality is composed of three elements. These three elements of personality—known as the id, the ego, and the superego—work together to create complex human behaviors.
Each component not only adds its own unique contribution to personality, but all three elements interact in ways that have a powerful influence on each individual. Each of these three elements of personality emerges at different points in life.
- The id is the only component of personality that is present from birth.
- This aspect of personality is entirely unconscious and includes the instinctive and primitive behaviors.
According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality. The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state anxiety or tension. For example, an increase in hunger or thirst should produce an immediate attempt to eat or drink. The id is very important early in life because it ensures that an infant’s needs are met. If the infant is hungry or uncomfortable, he or she will cry until the demands of the id are satisfied.
Because young infants are ruled entirely by the id, there is no reasoning with them when these needs demand satisfaction. Imagine trying to convince a baby to wait until lunchtime to eat his meal. Instead, the id requires immediate satisfaction, and because the other components of personality are not yet present, the infant will cry until these needs are fulfilled.
- The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality.
- According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world.
- The ego functions in both the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind.
The ego operates based on the reality principle, which strives to satisfy the id’s desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses. In many cases, the id’s impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification—the ego will eventually allow the behavior, but only in the appropriate time and place.
The last component of personality to develop is the superego.
- The superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society—our sense of right and wrong.
- The superego provides guidelines for making judgments.
- According to Freud, the superego begins to emerge at around age five.
There are two parts of the superego. The ideal ego includes the rules and standards for behaviors that the ego aspires to, and the conscience includes information about things that are viewed as bad by parents and society. These behaviors are often forbidden and lead to bad consequences, punishments, or feelings of guilt and remorse.
When talking about the id, the ego, and the superego, it is important to remember that these are not three totally separate entities with clearly defined boundaries. These aspects of personality are dynamic and are always interacting with a person to influence an individual’s overall personality and behavior.
With so many competing forces, it is easy to see how conflict might arise between the id, ego, and superego. Freud used the term ego strength to refer to the ego’s ability to function despite these dueling forces. A person with good ego strength is able to effectively manage these pressures, while those with too much or too little ego strength can become too unyielding or too disrupting.
Freud’s theory provides one conceptualization of how personality is structured and how these different elements of personality function. In Freud’s view, a healthy personality results from a balance in the dynamic interaction of the id, ego, and superego.
While the ego has a tough job to do, it does not have to act alone. Anxiety also plays a role in helping the ego mediate between the demands of the basic urges, moral values, and the real world. When you experience different types of anxiety, defense mechanisms may kick in to help defend the ego and reduce the anxiety you are feeling.
Rest assured; your ego is at work.
The term ego is as confusing as any in psychology. Not only is the word itself used to refer to several distinct psychological constructs and processes, but the psychological landscape is littered with concepts that include “ego” in one way or another—egotism, ego-defense, egocentrism, superego, ego-involved, and so on.
But what does ego actually mean? What are we talking about when we refer to the ego? And what is the difference among all of the terms in which the term ego is embedded? Put simply, the English word “ego” is the Latin word for “I.” Literally translated, ego means “I.”
Note that egoic has nothing to do with being egotistical. Egotistical people may certainly be egoic, but highly self-critical people may be egoic as well. People who view themselves very negatively, as highly depressed people often do, are often highly focused on themselves and, thus, quite egoic. Most definitely, we need our ego to guide us through troubling times. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. But it’s the difficult times where we need a little more support and guidance.
When you can improve your ability to navigate the difficult times, you not only live a happier life, but you also grow as a person. When you stay positive, you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to not only make it through those bad times, but become a better person in the process.
You can do one of two things when life takes a turn for the worst. You can remain positive and remind yourself that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’ll make it through, or you can curl up in the fetal position and relegate yourself to being nothing more than a victim of circumstance.
- Adult Mental Focus – (Designed to support a normal, healthy adult brain, hormones – this is short-term stress that goes away quickly).
- Emotional Rescue – (Provides essential bio-frequencies that help to address the emotional and phycological stress).
- FEM, Female Hormone – (Designed to support female issues and assistance to balance female hormones).
- Male, Testosterone – (Testosterone Enhancer for additional male support).
- MLE, Sexual Response – (Designed to stimulate sexual response in the male or female libido).
- Mood Boost – (Supports the way the brain and body handle mood swings in women).
- Motion Sickness – (Balances the inner ear that signals the brain to lessen motion sickness).
- Relax – (Encourage the body to reach a state of maximum relaxation).
- Stress & Anxiety – (Addresses restless symptoms caused by acute stress and anxiety).
- Stress Freeze – (Supports the way the brain and body handle stress, anxiety, and depression. Especially good for PTSD problems).
- Well Being – (Made to support the body & mind from chaotic conditions and times).