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The Id: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of the Id
  • 1:03 Characteristics of the Id
  • 2:07 Relationship of the…
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

The id is one of the three components of personality in Freud's psychoanalytic theory. Learn the characteristics of the id in this lesson, and discover how it interacts with the other components of personality.

Definition of the Id

Let's imagine that you are an infant. At this point, all of your awareness is centered on satisfying basic needs. You feel hungry and you demand food. You want to be touched, so you demand to be held. Since you have no understanding of right or wrong and are not aware of the needs of others, all that exists for you is your desire for what you need or want at any given moment. Most of these desires are based on pure, uncontrolled instinct.

In this example, your actions are controlled by the id. According to Freud, the id is the biological component of our personality which is present at birth and is based on instinct.

In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic view, the personality consists of three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the biological component (instinct), the ego is the psychological component (conscious decision), and the superego is the social component (conscience). These three components function together to determine behavior.

Characteristics of the Id

The id exists in your unconscious, or outside of your awareness. Since the id is not part of your awareness, the desires of the id are not manipulated by experience or thought. The other personality components develop with age and experience, but the id never matures and continues to be driven by desire alone. The id does not think but only wants or acts.

Characteristics of the id include:

  • unorganized
  • demanding and insistent
  • illogical
  • lacks morals
  • instinctual
  • selfish
  • unconscious

The id is driven by what is called the pleasure principle, the idea that your needs should be met immediately. When you are hungry, the pleasure principle directs you to eat. When you are thirsty, it motivates you to drink. Tension results when you do not receive instant gratification of all your needs or wants. The id cannot tolerate this tension and puts more pressure on you to satisfy your desire and relieve the tension. This is when other components of your personality come into play.

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