Id est, ego impedirent. It’s a pun: (The id) is, (the ego) obstructs. Wicked little thing, the ego, isn’t it?
Well, no. According to Herr Doktor Freud, who made all this up, if it weren’t for the ego, we’d all be hellish little biennials in massive grown-up bodies. Of course, some of us are just that, but it’s from a lack of ego, not a surfeit. In any case, it’s a package deal, not sold separately.
It’s possible he was wrong. It’s possible it’s not a package at all, but a great, shining orb, uncleavable and protean, take it all or leave it all, no quantum bits involved. But we like to think he was right. It feels right. We want something, and the little voice inside the head schemes how to get it while not getting whacked for it. All the while some part of us debates if it’s worth it, all things and the gods of them considered. It just feels separate, doesn’t it? It’s id, ego, and superego, in that order.
The id just is, i. e, i. e. It operates on the pleasure principle, which should be familiar to most of us. Something inside doesn’t feel right. Homeostasis not achieved. Prepare to repair. Want THAT! Pure organic desire, switched on when something is lacking, and running until we get it. It’s why we don’t get absorbed in cloud watching and forget to eat, or why we don’t keep sitting on a hot stove, while discussing that odd smell. Survival is all for id, the original single-issue voter. Unfortunately, things can get testy when other people are involved.
Enter the ego. We are, after all, social animals. We literally (yes, I literally mean literally) cannot survive without each other. There are no known cases of genuinely feral humans; every wild child of lore at least began life in the bosom of family. What we do after we’re grown is another issue; we’ve already created ourselves by then. The ego mediates the demands of the id, and puts them in acceptable form to allow us to continue to live with people. How tedious! How antithetical to our extreme, no-limits values!
What oxymoronic rhetoric! Remember, those are our values; we collectively decided that’s how we want to live. Hidden in there is the implicit need to mitigate our effects on each other. That’s what the ego is for, keeping that self absorbed, childish, hedonistic jerk, the id, on a leash.
That’s the superego keeping the ego on a leash.