Freud postulated three levels of mind: the conscious mind, the preconscious mind, and the unconscious mind. He felt that our conscious mind only accounted for a small portion of the totality of the self, and the vast unconscious mind accounted for the rest (Bethel, 2004).
Freud believed that much of the unconscious content that affects humans is made up of inherited primal fantasies based on phylogenic experiences, that is fantasies that are species based, not individual based. Freud's main interests lay in understanding how personal experience shaped and formed the unconscious mind. It was his assertion that this formative pressure occurred through a process known as repression. Freud's "hedonic hypothesis" stipulated that people seek pleasure and avoid pain. It was also Freud who initiated the concepts of the id, ego, and the super-ego (Bethel, 2004).
The id is primarily concerned with biological drives and survival and is nearly always unconscious. It operates by the pleasure principle and is hedonistic, that is, it seeks to satisfy urges and reduce tensions. Freud theorized that the id is the structure of the mind that is responsible for the psychic sexual energy known as libido (Bethel, 2004).
The ego is the structure of the personality that brings about a sense of unity of person. It is the part of the mind that is in contact with the objective world. It operates by the "reality principle"; it understands the real world and uses logic and reasoning to operate within it. The ego is adaptive and able to learn quickly to the changing circumstances outside the personality. It is able to delay self-gratification, which is termed "secondary process". A strong ego is essential for survival, and to stave off the onslaught of unconscious negative emotions that would be paralyzing otherwise. Therefore, contrary to much esoteric literature, a strong healthy ego is a must for inner exploration (Bethel, 2004).
Super-ego is the structure of the mind that is the representative for the rules and ideals of family and society. It generates feelings of guilt when we act in a way not in accordance with our higher ideals. Due to the fact that the super-ego forms in childhood, it is a very juvenile and rigid moral system. Freud believed mature ethics are not derived from the super-ego, but the ego. Due to the fact that these three structures do not normally exist peacefully, much psychic energy is used by the ego to keep the unconscious repressions at bay (Bethel, 2004).
Although Freud's psychoanalytical theory is by no means the only model of the personality, it is a model that we still use when considering the psyche. Through this model, we can understand the dynamics of our unconsciousness and the repressed content and conflicts contained within. It gives us a clear lens with which to peer into the caverns of our mind, uncovering the past hurts and conflicts that take away from an authentic and integrated life. As these conflicts and repressions are uncovered, and the latent energies within them unleashed, the higher self can absorb this stolen and locked away energy, turning it into useful ambition and willpower. When the bottled up pressure of the unconscious mind is released in a constructive way, the personality