What is the psyche?

The psyche is a Greek termψυχή, psyché, “human soul”, considered as the set of human capacities that encompasses conscious and unconscious processes and capable of operating according to their own principles.

This concept proceeds from the way in which ancient Greece perceives the world, and designates in it the vital force of man, united to the body in life and separated after his death.

ForCarl Jung, it is the totality of the psychological structure of the person, it is his basic unit of study. It consists of an area or space where psychic phenomena take place and where psychic energy or libido circulates, which causes psychic processes.

The psyche has three layers: consciousness, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. Consciousness contains the attitudes with which the individual faces the immediate environment.

The personal unconscious encompasses the psychic contents repressed by consciousness, plus those impulses and desires not yet entered into consciousness.

The collective unconscious, Jung considers that it comprises the largest and deepest layer of the psyche, its contents being of an archetypalnature, being able to manifest itself in the most superficial levels of the psyche.

On the other hand, for the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) the term psyche refers to the human soul.

In a philosophical sense, the definition of psyche is identified with the concepts of consciousness, thought, knowledge, reason, spirit and is considered by dialectical materialism as highly organized matter, which consists of the reflection of objective reality in the form of ideal images.

Pragmatically, the psyche is the result of all the experiences that individuals have of relationships with ourselves, with the rest of the community, and with the environment.

Its basic function is the adaptation to the constant variations of living for our survival and also develops the creative capacity to build the individual experience from the rest.

Another function is the orientation, in relation to how we locate ourselves with the rest of the world and it is also balancing, that is, weighing the negative and positive experiences so as not to incline our behavior towards only one side.

structure of the psyche

The psyche or mind is structured as it has been proposed by the current of psychoanalysis , in the following way:

The “I” is one of the three components of thepersonality of Sigmund Freud‘s theory of psychoanalysis. It is the executive part of the personality, the most conscious, which mediates between the demands of the id, the superego and reality.

It comprises perhaps the most important part, and there the behavior is configured since it begins to interact with people, with their environment and the rest of the components of the personality.

That is why the learning process from childhood is of decisive importance, because from that very moment the other two components of the personality are molded, such as the “id” and the “superego”, which together with the ” I” define the behavior of a human being for the rest of his life.

It is the primary psychic instance. Here are the sexual drives, the aggressive drives governed by the “pleasure principle.” The “IT ” is the source of all psychic energy.

The purpose of this instance is to satisfy the basic needs of the subject manifesting through pleasure. If these needs are not met immediately, the result is a state of anxiety and tension in the individual.

The “id” is the first component of the human personality according to Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. It works from the unconscious and is the warehouse of the individual’s basic drives and instincts. Its main function is to release the tension caused by the drives.

This process is done through the pleasure principle. As the conscious acquires new experiences, the “it” receives from that conscious all those experiences that it does not want to remember.

Super Me

The ” superego” is part of the personality of the individual. It is based on the principle of duty. It forms the strict ethical and moral behavior of the individual. The imbalance in the “superego” can cause serious personality disorders. It is the antonymous component of “it”.

It is the moral instance, judges the activity of the “I”, and at the same time acts as a counselor. It represents the moral and ethical thoughts received from the culture. Of the “it” it represents the controlling part of the impulses, of the instincts, of the manifestation of crude pleasure.

Features of the psyche

Some of the most important characteristics of the psyche are listed below:

Its conception comes from ancient Greece

It all starts with the so-called Presocratics , who began to approach knowledge from mythology, from the Rational , creators of realistic-scientific knowledge of nature.

Since Ancient Greece, thinkers began to study how to approach man. As has been reviewed, psychology comes from the Greek “psyque” which means soul and “logos” study or treaty.

In ancient times from 3000 BC – 400 BC, an attempt was made to study the soul of man through philosophy, which comes from the Greek “philos”, which means “treaty” or “love”, and “logos”. , “wisdom”. From this perspective it was tried to study through logic, ethics and morality.

It constitutes the processes of the human mind

The psyche or mind is a faculty of the brain that allows the human being to collect information, analyze it and draw conclusions.

It is responsible for understanding, has the ability to create thoughts, creativity, learning, reasoning, perception, emotion, memory, imagination, will, and many other cognitive abilities.

The brain is the organ of the psyche.

The brain is the organ of thought, of consciousness; It is located in the upper section of the nervous system of animals, which reaches its maximum development and perfection in man.

It controls thought, memory, emotions , touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, appetite and every process that regulates our body.

In it converge the intellect, the emotion and the will

The human psyche is the mental order based on the functioning of the intellect, emotion and will, which are the three basic aspects of our mind.

The intellect is known as the faculty of the mind that allows learning, understanding, reasoning, making decisions and forming a certain idea of reality, a process that takes place in the mind.

It is structured in different degrees of complexity.

The psyche, like the brain, has been built in stages, through the ontogenetic development of man, covering a wide spectrum, until the structures that facilitate the existence of thoughts, feelings, among others, are created.

Connects to the biology of the brain

The human psyche is intimately structured and connected to the biology of the brain, on which it depends to exist.

It is not a purely biological property, because it is ignoring the transition of what has been learned in experiences. Enjoys cognitive, affective, conditioned and unconditioned reflexes

Likewise, the human psyche has response mechanisms such as reflexes that allow it to react to different stimuli, guaranteeing adaptability.

Has defense mechanisms

As human beings, we are always exposed to eventualities and complications in our daily lives. Some of these events are beyond our ability to resolve and force us to adapt.

Our mind uses different defense mechanisms, which allow us to adapt to these contingencies and make it possible to recover towards our daily lives.

Freud told us that we are constantly influenced by our social and biological reality. When conflicts arise with society and the environment, we are threatened.

To avoid situations of anxiety , neurosis and borderline emotions, the mind resorts to defense mechanisms in order to stabilize both the body and the mind itself.

Functions of the psyche

The psyche has two basic functions that allow it, on the one hand, to maintain updated contact with the environment and, on the other, to guarantee its survival in the face of its continuous changes. They are:

reflex function

This activity allows the psyche and the organism to orient itself in the world through sensations, perceptions, thoughts, emotions or feelings. Maintains a constant reality with the environment.

Homeostatic function

Thehomeostaticfunction of the psyche is what allows the organism to assume an active and independent position before the environment, make decisions and adapt to different situations, allowing its survival depending on the development of its intelligence.

processes of the psyche

None of the processes to be described below act independently, they all interact and influence each other.


Faculty of the mind to learn, understand, reason, make decisions to form a certain idea of reality. For psychology, intelligence is the set of cognitive functions such as memory, association and reason.

This mental process helps us associate with reality, discern about it, draw conclusions, and adopt adaptive behaviors.


For psychology, learning is the individual’s ability to acquire a new behavior or modify those already learned to add it to the repertoire of behaviors. Contributes to the formation of experience and adapt it for future occasions.

The psyche, in this sense, allows the human being to adapt to the environment through a learning process. If the individual does not have a healthy psyche, consequently said adaptation will be defective.


It is the process through which the brain processes and builds reality, from the physical stimuli it receives through the senses. This perception process is performed by the psyche. It is considered that the mind uses a series of rules to perceive objects.


Memory is the ability to acquire, store, and retrieve information, be it past experiences, data received in advance, specific sensations, or even movements.

Memory is very selective in terms of the search for information, being one of the most important processes to understand our identity.


The psyche has the ability to set goals about those things or issues that interest us. It can be taken as a filter that selects those stimuli that are relevant to us to be processed, or also as a model of limited resources that determines the amount of information that we can process without collapsing.


For psychology, sensation is the basic experience of stimulation from the senses. It is a psychic process through which phenomena are discovered through the senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) and the internal sensation receptors (movement, balance, discomfort, pain), without yet having a meaning.


It is a reaction of the organism and implies a somatic or physiological, behavioral and experiential response. Feeling is the elaborate expression of emotion. It corresponds to a very primary process of the psyche, with the aim of ensuring our survival.


It is the human ability to communicate orally or in writing. According to psychology, language is the set of phonetic, visual or other signs that serve to communicate thought or indicate behavior.


It is an innate quality that is born and develops in the mind. It allows us to recognize reality and place ourselves within it. It is a subjective, unified and continuous state of mind. It is located mainly in posterior areas of the cerebral cortex.

In summary, the psyche is the center where all our experiences converge to be analyzed, processed, interpreted and from there to obtain conclusions that allow us adaptability and survival.

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