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Unread January 1st, 2005, 04:18 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Elizabethtown, Ontario, Canada
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Question Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

What I am trying to address is the Freudian notion of the super ego as an introjection of the parent's moral code driven purely by the fear of punishment or rejection in the child. I do not understand Freud well enough to speak intelligently about the two philosophies but I do agree they are at polar opposite ends of the understanding of human behaviour. I just felt that Freud's notion of the Super ego might have a bit of a redeeming quality. Let me quote from a psychoanalytic text that I refer to from time to time. It is written by Otto Fenechel, M.D. and published by Norton in 1945. Here is a quote about the id, ego and super ego that may either clarify what I am saying or also may further muddy up the waters. Quote is from pages 18-19.



The mental apparatus, however, does not consist only of an ego and an id. Its further development brings a further complication. Previously it was stated that the question as to the nature of the forces blocking discharge was the basic one of all psychology. In the main, these forces were thrust upon the mind by the environment. It is the consideration of reality that keeps the ego from immediately complying with the discharge drive of the impulses. However, such inhibiting tendencies, which according to the definition are derived from the ego, are not in all respects the opposite of "instinctual drives." Often, for example in ascetics or moral masochists, the anti-instinctual behavior betrays all the characteristics of an instinct. This contradiction can be explained genetically. The energy with which the ego carries out its instinct-inhibiting activities is drawn from the instinctual reservoir of the id. A portion of the instinctual energy is changed into counterinstinctual energy. A certain part of the ego which inhibits instinctual activity develops on the one hand closer to the instincts and on the other hand is in conflict with other parts of the ego that are hungry for pleasure. This part, which has the function (among others) of deciding which impulses are acceptable and which are not, is called the superego. While the ego is also a representative of the outside world, here again we have a special representative of the outside world within the first representative.

I wish a Freudian would engage in this discussion because although I agree that Freud saw mankind as utterly dark and he lived a life of misery because of this idea at least in part, but he did have a notion of morality resident in the person. He felt this moral notion is acquired and learned but Fenichel if he represents Freud correctly, refers to that which is "acceptable and unacceptable" as determined by the super ego.
Adler, on the other side of the coin, refers to the direction of a life as toward humanity or away. He does not suggest, if I am correct, that a human's first and normative movement will be toward mankind, but rather that "social interest" must be taught and learned.

I would appreciate any furhter comments in this regard. The basis of human right behaviour is of current and real interest in this post modernist society where the gold standard is "If it feels good, do it!" That sure is not social interest and also must fly in the face of the prompting of the super ego to the delight of the Id, in Freud's view.
George Neeson M.D.
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