Beware of the Unaware

Lindsey Cohen, Associate Editor

Why do we sometimes “pretend” to like the new friend of a current best friend? Why some people may punch a wall when they get in trouble at home? Why an insecure girl may convince herself that everyone is constantly gawking at her because they are “so jealous” of her? Why does a 16 year old girl throw a tantrum when she doesn’t get the car she wants? And why am writing this article instead of studying for my chemistry test?

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) creator of the psychoanalysis theory has all of the answers. He is able to justify those moments that we aren’t even aware of. Freud’s theory suggests that our personality is derived in the unconscious mind; in other words, we cannot control how we act.

Though his theory is one of many credible ones, Freud hones in on how and why we act in certain ways to other people. The id, ego, and superego are all components defined in his theory. According to Freud, we are born functioning on our id, or our pleasure principle. The id doesn’t care how about reality or the effects of its actions, kind of like a really really rebellious teen (don’t get any ideas kids). A Freudian Slip is essentially a slip of the tongue…your unconscious tongue. Have you ever said something that you really didn’t mean to? A severe case of word vomit perhaps? Thank your id for that. To control the rambunctious, sexually, fearfully or anxiety driven id, is your ego. The ego is based on the reality principle; the ego is able to do the job of the id but in a more socially acceptable manner. The superego is the Christopher Reeve of the unconscious mind. The superego satisfies the id with a moralistic approach.

“Stop being so defensive” is amongst the top sentences that irk me the most. Sometimes one may not even realize that he or she is acting in a defensive manner. Fortunately, we are not insane. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory gives an explanation for why we pretend to like the new friend because unconsciously we dislike the newbie so strongly that our ego reacts appropriately with befriending him or her, this mechanism is called reaction formation. The anger and frustration mustered up in the id would cause one to punch a wall or an intimate object, projecting the anger towards one source unto another. The defense mechanism known as displacement is triggered from one’s own insecurities and “placed” onto someone else. Regression is when one unconsciously reverts back to an earlier stage of development, thus acting like a bratty 2 year old. As for why I’m not studying for my test, I am making a rational excuse; I HAD to write this article, The Loch Ness Monster is forcing me against my will. I want to study, but I just can’t! Rationalization is creating a plausible excuse, usually a bit more believable than my justification.

Consciously, Freud’s theory says we are not aware of any of this, and we place our anxiety onto other sources that are easier to cope with.