Toddler standing in grass with mother in backgroundThe ego is one-third of Sigmund Freud’s Structural Model of psychology. Freud argued that the ego is the portion of a person’s psychology that handles the demands of the external world. The ego is rational and engages in problem-solving functions. It must also negotiate the demands of the id and superego.

Id, Ego, and Superego
In psychoanalytic theory, the id represents base desires and instincts, while the superego serves as a perfectionist conscience. The ego is the part of the self that mediates between these two influences and the ego is perceived by the external world as the individual’s personality. The ego, according to Freud, develops as a child becomes aware of her individuality and separates from her parents. Ego anxiety occurs when the id and superego place conflicting demands on the central personality or ego.

Ego Psychology
Ego psychology draws on the teachings of Freud but focuses primarily on the ego’s role in dealing with the conflicting demands of the id, superego, and external world. Ego psychologists argue that the ego seeks to eliminate these conflicts and can function autonomously.

Ego in Contemporary Psychology
Contemporary psychologists do not typically use Freud’s Structural Model to understand human behavior, and Freud’s theory has never been scientifically demonstrated. However, the importance of an integrated, coherent self is an important aspect of many therapeutic modalities, and in this regard, contemporary psychologists do draw from Freud’s ideas.

The Term Ego in Popular Usage
In colloquial language and pop psychology, the term ego may be used to refer to self-esteem and self-concept. In this scheme, people with big egos think highly of themselves, while people with bruised or poor egos may suffer from shame and insecurity. This usage is unrelated to Freud’s theory, but the understanding of the ego as part of personality still clearly originates with Freud.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.

Last Updated: 08-6-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Jason

    December 17th, 2019 at 12:17 PM

    Some advice

  • margaux

    September 7th, 2021 at 2:23 AM

    The person is a whole. a whole healthy child has own identity a fragmented child is pulled into sick parents who influcnce tehsmefl on them. the strong child resist and iftrauma is present the infestating of parental disease takes place . the child can either overcome or becoem sick like parents. the healthy kid is then deem the scapegoat and abuse until they are damage like the others. if they escape its a jelousy game and threat . the healthy kid has none of the sick atributes of the damage fragmented. but to struggle with to grow into themself and keep it. outside persnos of sick nature set on the happy person child to damage them and pack in with others to do same.

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