• IPA: /supɛɹiɡoʊ/

superego (plural superegos)

  1. (psychoanalysis) The part of the mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards that have been learnt.
    • Still, it would be an error to believe that psychoanalytic
      theory makes no contribution to describing and assessing
      different types of ethical conduct. The crucial notion in this
      connection is the relative rigidity or flexibility of the superego.
      The childish, immature, or neurotic superego is rigid; it is
      characterized by slavish adherence to rules which, moreover,
      may not be clearly understood. The mature or normal super-
      , on the other hand, is flexible; it can evaluate the situation
      at hand and modify the rules accordingly. Thus, in an early,
      classic paper, Strachey suggested that the basic aim of psycho-
      analytic treatment is to make such "mutative interpretations"
      as would help to render the patient's "rigid superego" more
      "flexible".8 Like the psychoanalytic theory of the superego, on
      which it is based, this view suffers from the limitation of being
      silent on what sort of rigidity is considered bad or undesirable
      and what sort of flexibility is considered good or desirable. In
      short, Freud and other psychoanalysts have persistently
      dallied with normative systems without ever committing them-
      selves on normative standards.

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