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Freud and the Antisocial Self

who saw personality as shaped through our social interaction with others. Both assumed a basic harmony between self and society. To Cooley, the "separate individual" was an abstract idea which had no existence apart from society, just as "society" has no meaning apart from individuals. The "socialized self" is shaped by society, and society is an organization of the persons it socializes. Thus self and society were two aspects of the same thing

Freud saw self and society in basic conflict not harmony. He saw the self as a product of the ways in which basic human motives and impulses are denied and repressed by society. Freud believed that the rational portion of human motivation was like the visible part of an iceberg, with the larger part of human motivation resting in the unseen, unconscious forces which powerfully affect human conduct. He divided the self into three parts: the id, the superego, and the ego. The id is the pool of instinctive and un socialized desires and impulses, selfish and antisocial; the superego is the complex of social ideals and values which one has internalized and which form the conscience; the ego is the conscious and rational part of the self which oversees the superego's restraint of the id. Thus, the ego is the control center, the superego is' the police officer, and the id is the seething cauldron of selfish, destructive desires. Since society restricts the expression of aggression, sexual desire, and other impulses, the id is continually at war with the superego. The id is usually repressed, but at times it breaks through in open defiance of the superego  creating a burden of guilt that is difficult for the self to carry. At other times the forces of the id find expression in disguised forms which enable the ego to be unaware of the real underlying reasons for its actions, as when a parent relieves hostility by beating the child, believing that this is "for ts own good." Thus Freud finds that the self and society are often opponents and not merely different aspects of the same thing. Freud's theories have inspired bitter controversies  rival "schools," and numerous interpretations and revisions. His concepts represent ways of looking at personality rather than actual entities which can be verified through specific/ experiments. There is no simple empirical test which can be used to determine whether the superego, ego, and 0 id are the best possible concepts to use in describing the-component parts of the human personality. Attempts at empirical testing have failed to confirm many of Freud's theories, while offering some support for others [Fisher and Greenberg, 1977]. Most social scientists today agree that Freud was probably right in his claim that human motives are largely unconscious and beyond rational control and do not always harmonize with the needs of an orderly society.

Wail Cooley and Mead describe the development of the' self in somewhat different terms, their theories complement rather than oppose.each other. Both contradict Freud in that they see self and society as two aspects of the same reality, while Freud sees self and society in eternal conflict. But all see the self as a social product, shaped and molded by the society.

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