Along with the “I” and the “superego“, the “it” is part of the components of the personality according to the current of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis.

These components, despite having a clear differentiation, do not work separately, but work in coordination maintaining a close relationship and thus define the personality of the individual.

In this sense, Freud calls “The It” as the most primitive region of the psychic apparatus, where the inherited, the innate, the instinctive or the constitutional are found and concerns psychic impulses.

The “it” together with the “I” and the “superego”, comprise the great metapsychological renewal that Freud introduced with the so-called second topic (structural model of the psychic apparatus).

Next, in this article we will give you an explanation of this instance of the human personality.

What is The It?

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 ofanxietyand tension in the individual.

To describe it in some way, it constitutes the black box of everything that the conscious does not want to make present or does not want to manifest.

“The it” works in the instance of the unconscious and is present from the moment of birth. For Freud, the “it” is born from the content of the unconscious (everything repressed) of the first topic plus a new aspect called “death drive”.

It is also constituted by the instincts acquired even from our genetics, such as survival, the “it” is the unconscious psychic rest. It should be noted that Freud took the term “it” from the doctor and writer considered the pioneer of psychosomatic medicine, Georg Groddeck.

On the other hand, Jacques Lacan , a follower of the current of psychoanalysis, calls Freud’s  it” as “it”, this to differentiate it from his own interpretive perspective in whose context it enters language.

Characteristics of the id

This component of the personality is built of very particular qualities that define it and delimit it from the others that structure the personalitytag. The characteristics indicated below describe the most distinctive features of this element of personality.

It is part of the human psyche

Considering the Psyche as the set of conscious and unconscious processes of the human mind, the “it” is according to Freud in the unconscious instance of the human mind.

It is present from birth

From the very moment of our birth, we already have a psychic genetic load that clings to life.

This genetic load constitutes the instinct to ask for food, to breathe, to eliminate metabolic waste such as urine, feces, sweat. In short, everything that in the first instance allows our survival.

Dominates in the first years of life

In relation to the previous text, from birth the “id” controls the satisfaction of our needs and primary instincts for survival.

It is considered the primitive part of the human being

At the beginning of our life, the “it” has not had any kind of contact, neither with people nor with the environment, so at first it is contained by the basic survival instincts.

Operates on the pleasure principle

The “it”seeks the satisfaction of the individual’s basic desires and does so by obtaining the sensation of pleasure. When a demand (drive) arises, it manifests itself through a tension. The“it” seeks to release that tension by seeking immediate gratification through the “pleasure principle.”

Express impulses and desires

The “it” is the mechanism by which the unconscious releases tension from the drives that the conscious does not want to manifest, but that at some point must externalize them, because otherwise a conflict would form in this instance.

The “it” is the unconscious psychic site that attempts to consciously express the desires and drives that have been contained or repressed by the “I”

Use condensation and displacement

Condensation and displacement are involuntary and unconscious defense mechanisms that prevent the impulses and instincts accumulated in the “it” from taking the conscious part of the individual to manifest itself.

They are characteristic mechanisms in the dream and occur through the representation of situations, repressed desires among others, in which the “I” does not allow their manifestation, but through the dream they are expressed and the tension accumulated in the “id” is released. “ .

Presents conflict with the ego and the superego

On the other hand, the superego that works through the “Principle of Duty” , places ethical and moral rules on the “it” and prevents it from expressing itself through the “I”

From this perspective, the “it”presents dualism of conflicts with these instances because it does not know or know of rules or norms. Its function is based on releasing tension, no matter how it is done.

No direct contact with the outside

The “it”lacks the ability to communicate directly with the outside, because it is immersed in the unconscious. The intermediary figure for this is the“I” , who channels the release of accumulated tension.

Does not know rules or laws

Being the primitive and basic instance of the personality, it knows no restrictions. The“it” exists only to store and satisfy drives through pleasure.

Manifests in dreams, delusions and hallucinations

The ways in which the unconscious manifests itself regularly is through dreams as a defense mechanism or release of accumulated tensions.

Dreams for Freud, “are an expression of the subconscious world and that the motivation of this dream activity is the fulfillment of instincts and desires that have not been satisfied during the day.”

When these tensions are manifested in delusions or hallucinations, they are symptoms that can indicate the presence of psychological pathologies due to an imbalance in the “id”

Functions of the id

Despite the fact that the function of the “it” is very well defined, there are other complementary ones that support its existence within the theory of psychoanalysis and that are mentioned below:

Store psychic energy

To enter into context, Freud defines mental energy as a transformation of physical energy.

In this sense, the psychoanalyst speaks of drives, being the psychic representation of an internal biological energy source.

The drive demands satisfaction, which manifests itself constantly. It is characteristic of the drive to submit the psychic apparatus to a tension that remains constant with the sole purpose of mitigating or suppressing that tension.

This energy is vital for the functioning of the psychic and biological processes of the organism.

Contain desires and fantasies

As previously mentioned, the “it” is the black box that stores everything that the “I”does not want to manifest through the conscious. Thanks to this mechanism our behavior is not primitive.

Release arousal through internal and external stimuli

One of the functions of the “it” is to take charge of the discharge of amounts of excitation (energy), called tension, which are released by internal or external stimuli.

This process is achieved through the “pleasure principle”, which aims to reduce tension to an acceptable level and keep it balanced as much as possible.

Maintain contact with bodily processes

The organism through the “it” , guarantees the functioning of its most basic processes, since it is considered as a reflex apparatus that discharges through motor pathways any sensory excitation that is perceived.

For example, when we unconsciously close the eyelids when receiving an excessive amount of light in order to protect the retina. This reflex act is stored in the unconscious and automatically manifests itself in a bodily process of protection.

To summarize, 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.

This component is going to have a duality of conflicts in front of the other elements of the personality.

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