In this seminar on the 6th March we were introduced to a range of theories put forth by Freud, the first being the ideas of the Id, the Ego and the Super Ego. The Id is what i think the primitive part of the psyche, because it represents our instincts and basic human desires such as sexual desires, the desire to reproduce and the desire to show aggression. The Ego controls instincts and behavior, not morally but in a social manner, it determines socially appropriate ways to gain physical satisfaction and to show aggression, it works to resolve the clash between external reality and primitive instinct. The Super Ego is the Jimeney Cricket as it were, the conscience of a person, that determines a persons morals and ideas of right and wrong. This is not something a person is born with, it is determined by what the person learns growing up, from their parents or parent figures. People have struggles between these parts of the mind,everyone faces dilemmas between morals and basic desires, some people though have more trouble than others , which is when someone can become mentally unbalanced or have psychiatric problems. We also learnt about the Ice berg effect, which expresses the idea that a huge percentage of a persons thoughts and feelings are below the surface and not visible, hidden in our unconscious . These unconscious thoughts and feelings are what drive us, and we reveal alot of our innermost feelings and thoughts whilst in the unconscious state of sleep when we dream, most of what a person is is buried within their unconscious. Our conscious state represents everything that we are aware of, but it only makes up a small part of who we are, but this is where our personality is stored. There is another state i was not previously aware of called the subconscious or preconscious , this isnt in our active consciousness but it can be accessed, this is where childhood memories and experiences are stored.
These theories were not always well recieved, the theories were out in the open during Pre War Vienna in the 20th Century, this is where cafe culture was born and it was the centre of arts, literature and music, so quite an open minded society back then. Its population expanded from 400,000 to 2 million because of this cafe culture where women were also allowed, like men, to go to cafes and discuss theories and ideas openly whereas before it had been less accepted. Upright society thought Freud immoral, even though his theories went on to influence surrealist artwork that is still admired today, the work of Salvador Dali and Man ray was influenced by Freud. There are contemporary surrealists who are still influenced by his ideas today, Tim Burton creates surrealist works that i really like, but Brothers Quay also create surrealist work, which makes me uncomfortable, but perhaps that is the intention.
We also learnt about two more theories, the Oedipus complex, which i was shocked by at first but now i can see examples of it everywhere, especially in news stories. The oedipus complex explains the desire to posess the parent of the opposite sex and rivalry against the parent of the same sex, i see it in children sometimes when they are referred to as “mummy’s boys” or “daddy’s girls” and its very common, i dont think it relates to an unconscious desire to be sexual with that parent but in some extreme cases you hear of it happening. Feminists struggle with the concept of this and find other theories, its commonly called males castration anxiety or females penis envy. We also learnt about free association or Automatism, this brings the unconscious into the conscious and relates to anything which can come from the mind. You can experience memories you werent intending to think of, and they can be embarassing or even threatening, analyzing your dreams can bring this into the consciousness and surrealists use this in their work.
These theories all differ depending on culture and era differences, when Freud was young he was in an upper middle class family and lived in a male dominant world, he didnt see much of his parents so i think the oedipus complex related to him quite well because he was deprived of close contact with his mother because she was always at social functions with his father.