Unveiling the Depths of the Mind: Freud’s Triadic Model of Personality and Its Impact on Our Lives

American psychologist Sui Hei asserted: “If an individual’s eminence is to be gauged by their impact on forthcoming generations, then Freud unequivocally stands as the preeminent psychologist.”

As the progenitor of the psychoanalytic school, Freud, Einstein, and Marx are hailed as “the triumvirate of Jewish luminaries who revolutionized modern thought.”

In his culminating opus, “The Self and the Id,” he expounded:

Human comprehension of consciousness merely skims the surface; the subconscious, submerged in the depths like an enigmatic sea, holds the key to truly shaping our psyche and emotions.

He postulated that human psychology can be delineated into three strata: id, ego, and superego.

The id epitomizes desire, adheres to the pleasure principle, and constitutes mankind’s primordial animalistic instinct;

The ego embodies rationality, adheres to the reality principle, and assumes responsibility for navigating life’s myriad affairs;

The superego embodies aspiration, adjudicates the ego’s myriad actions, and represents the idealized self.

The discord between ego and superego engenders feelings of inferiority.

Have you ever encountered individuals who indulge in “self-PUA”?

Despite excelling in myriad facets, they habitually critique themselves, perpetually perceiving themselves as inferior to others;

Despite dedicating themselves earnestly to their vocations, they lament their perceived inadequacies when confronted with setbacks;

Despite enjoying popularity, they harbor doubts about their worthiness of love, attributing any conflicts to flaws in their character.

They perpetually harbor a sense of inadequacy, diminishing the brilliance of their existence.

Freud astutely observes in “The Ego and the Id”:

“People experience joy when their ego aligns with their superego; otherwise, they experience feelings of inferiority or guilt.”

He posits that those accustomed to self-denial often harbor an idealized superego.

The superego, immaculate and infallible, fulfills all the id’s desires.

The more flawless the superego, the more disdain individuals harbor for their authentic selves, descending inexorably into a quagmire of self-reproach.

To transcend the shackles of inferiority, one must cultivate self-appreciation.

In the tome “The Courage to Be Disliked,” a philosopher, standing at a mere 155 centimeters, perpetually feels as though invisible fingers point accusatorily at him during his travels, work engagements, and social gatherings, breeding profound discomfort.

In a moment of vulnerability, he confides in friends: “If only I could add 20 centimeters to my stature, or even 10, my life would surely be happier.”

His confidants reassure him that the perceived criticisms aren’t about his height but rather extol his gentle demeanor, erudition, and inherent greatness.

Thus enlightened, the philosopher recognizes the uniqueness of his being despite physical imperfections.

Writer Bi Shumin remarked:

“Human beings possess approximately a dozen innate strengths. It is improbable for any one person to possess them all or none at all. Each individual typically possesses three or four.”

In this world, every individual harbors their own strengths and weaknesses, navigating the crests and troughs of fate.

Unwarranted self-deprecation merely incarcerates the soul, forfeiting opportunities for growth and metamorphosis.

Cast off the halo of the superego, embrace the true self, and unlock boundless potential within.

Falling into the throes of anxiety stems from the superego’s exorbitant demands upon the self.

In a televised discourse, host Xu Zhiyuan elucidated: The genesis of much of our anxiety lies in the magnification of self.

In “The Ego and the Id,” Freud delineates the roots of anxiety:

Some individuals possess modest superego expectations, facilitating harmonious coordination between ego and superego. In such harmony, restlessness finds no foothold.

Others impose lofty demands upon their superego, their self-regulatory faculties insufficient to quell the clamor of the id. This discord breeds anxiety and despondency.

In essence, excessive self-demands, unmet by reality, provide fertile ground for anxiety to proliferate.

Unchecked, anxiety metastasizes like a pernicious weed, usurping the mind and despoiling life.

Only by judiciously tempering superego expectations and fostering internal harmony among the triad of selves can anxiety find respite.

Zhang Chaoyang, a frequent guest on television, disclosed his five-year battle with anxiety.

Despite his company’s successful listing, accolades labeling him the patriarch of China’s internet industry only served to inflate his ego further, convincing him of his omnipotence.

Consequently, any deviation from desired outcomes precipitated emotional turmoil and ire.

Faced with the nadir of his anguish, he contemplated suicide, prompting him to seek solace from eminent psychologists across the globe.

He came to realize that anxiety emanates not from external circumstances but from an inflated sense of self.

Setting lofty goals devoid of pragmatic considerations only invites despair.

Throughout life, one encounters countless moments of powerlessness and circumstances beyond control.

The more one pushes and berates oneself, the deeper the descent into anxiety’s vortex.

The antidote lies in lowering expectations, allowing oneself grace amidst occasional fallibility, thereby dissolving anxiety and fear.

I am used to procrastinating because I cannot control myself.

Psychologist Pierce Steele conducted a study.

He surveyed 24,000 people around the world and found that about 25% of them suffered from chronic procrastination, and 95% admitted to procrastinating at least occasionally.

In life, we have also had such experiences:

The alarm clock has been ringing for a long time, but I still don’t want to get up; I plan to clean up the room on the weekend, but I haven’t started it all morning; the boss is eager to get the documents, but I have to stay up late to finish them until the deadline…

Freud used a vivid metaphor in the book to explain the reasons for procrastination:

The functional importance of the self is reflected in the fact that it usually controls a person’s agency. So its relationship with the ego is like a rider aiming to tame a horse, but the horse is actually much more powerful than the rider.

It is human nature to seek refuge in danger. Everyone’s true nature is often just to seek immediate comfort.

Once your ego succumbs to your ego, all your fighting spirit will be swallowed up by the desire for instant gratification.

Even if things come to an end, they still put them off again and again, and in the end nothing gets done.

Hugo was also plagued by procrastination while writing Les Misérables.

When it was time to write, he couldn’t help but want to hang out outside or stay in the living room chatting with people.

In order to stop procrastinating, he simply took off all his clothes and locked himself naked in the study.

As a result, he did not dare to go out and could only sit at his desk and write a fixed number of words.

His method verifies a sentence in “Self and Id”:

“The rider must use his own power to try to control the horse, while the ego can use borrowed power.”

The ego is driven by limited willpower, but the id pursues endless desires.

There is a huge disparity in strength between the two. No matter how much they compete, it is difficult for themselves to defeat these instincts.

Instead of pushing yourself hard, stay away from temptation and let yourself calm down.

Try turning off the internet temporarily, setting deadlines, etc. to create a sense of urgency for yourself.

When we realize that we cannot delay, we will try our best to overcome all difficulties and act with a desperate attitude.

Being trapped in the past is because the self is unwilling to accept itself.

In “The Self and the Id”, Freud discovered a phenomenon from a 2-year-old child:

When mom walks away, the child repeatedly throws toys out of the crib and stumbles back to retrieve them.

The purpose of the child is to avoid the powerlessness of the self and to vent the pain caused by separation.

Freud called this phenomenon “compulsion to repeat.”

When a person is unwilling to accept the fragility of the self, he cannot get out of the prison of negative emotions and can only keep going in circles.

Psychologist Wu Zhihong shared a case of compulsive repetition.

When she was a child, her parents were busy with work and often fostered her with different relatives.

Fear of unfamiliar surroundings and a strong sense of abandonment made her reluctant to express her true emotions.

When she was young, she was unable to establish long-term friendships with anyone and was always rejected by her friends for being too cold.

For example, when going out to eat or play, she never reveals her preferences and only listens to the other party’s arrangements.

When she grew up, each of her relationships never lasted for half a year, because the other person felt that she was too distant.

For example, when she encounters difficulties, she never asks the other party for help, and only tells the other party after she has solved the problem.

She obviously longed for an intimate relationship, but she was worried that she would be abandoned again, so she subconsciously chose to isolate herself.

She thought that this would reduce the harm, but in fact, it also made her lose the possibility of being loved.

Wu Zhihong said: “If a person has experienced suffering, if he does not experience and feel it, the pain cannot be resolved, and it is easy to fall into compulsive repetition, repeated injuries, and repeated pain.”

When you are hurt, the instinctive pain, hesitation, and despair will be blocked in your subconscious like blood stasis.

Whether you are in total denial or on the defensive, they will mislead you into the same river again and again.

And the only way for you to come ashore is to face your own feelings honestly and release all negative emotions.

By confronting past trauma and opening up the channels to our subconscious, we can make space for a better future.

The reason why you can’t live the life you want is because your ego is questioning your superego.

French sociologist Le Pen proposed a theory of “group unconsciousness”:

People have different lifestyles, personalities, or intelligence. After entering a group, individuals will acquire a collective mentality and change their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors along with others.

When facing a group, we will more or less restrain our expression and suppress our feelings.

I bought a piece of clothing I like and wanted to post it on my friends circle to express my joy, but I was afraid that others would ridicule me for showing off, so I chose to delete it;

I finally passed the certificate and wanted to share this excitement, but I was afraid that others would think I was flamboyant, so I chose to remain silent;

During the meeting, I didn’t agree with my colleague’s point of view. I wanted to have an in-depth discussion with the other person, but I was afraid that others would ridicule me for being expressive, so I chose to agree with him.

In “The Ego and the Id”, Freud pointed out the reasons for these behaviors:

Being separated from the group means that when you are against the group and exist alone, the individual will feel that he is not perfect. Therefore, people will gradually give up their ideal self (i.e. superego) and switch to the ideal group symbolized by the leader.

The world is bustling with people, and it is inevitable that we will be overwhelmed by the noise from the outside world and swayed by the opinions of others.

But the sign of a person’s maturity is not to conform to other people’s standards, but to always stick to one’s own track.

Writer miya shared the experience of a friend.

This friend loved playing guitar and wanted to perform in front of people.

At a party, he plucked up the courage to propose a guitar performance.

But he had just learned it, his skills were unfamiliar, and his performance was stumbling.

Some people suggested that he go back to practice, while others ridiculed him for making noise.

But he was not interrupted by these comments and insisted on completing his performance.

Later, he sincerely said to everyone: “I know I don’t play very well, but whether everyone appreciates it or not, I enjoy the process of playing.”

The expectations of others will not shake his own wishes; the evaluations of others will not affect his own preferences.

I am reminded of a saying circulating on the Internet: “The voices from the outside world are just for reference. If you are unhappy, don’t refer to it.”

We come to this world not to seek approval from others, but to do what we like and live the life we ​​want.

What’s more, no matter how much you accommodate or accommodate, you can’t possibly satisfy everyone.

Rather than worrying about gains and losses in other people’s evaluations, it is better to focus on your inner desires and strive to live out your ideal self.

Freud said: “The root of a person’s pain lies in the incompatibility between subjective desires and objective reality.”

We always like to magnify the difficulty of objective reality, thinking that all pain comes from the ups and downs of life and the impermanence of circumstances.

But after reading “Self and Id”, I discovered that it is actually my own subjective wishes that play a decisive role in my destiny.

Don’t indulge in instinctive desires, don’t demand perfection excessively, and don’t get lost in irrelevant evaluations.

When you are calm, peaceful and rational enough, you can build an inner world as strong as a pyramid to withstand the overt and covert attacks of reality.

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