This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 11 table of contents.

Freud's Divisions of The Psyche

Sigmund Freud

In the 1890s, Freud proposed a theory that distinguished between three different levels of consciousness. Conscious thoughts are mental products currently in awareness. Preconscious thoughts are memories not currently in awareness but easily retrieved. Unconscious thoughts are things a person cannot voluntarily bring to awareness. This was Freud's first theory about how the personality was put together.

What were the three levels of consciousness, in Freud's theory of the 1890s?

In 1923, Freud came out with a new book, The Ego and the Id, describing a new, comprehensive theory of personality organization. Most people think of this as "Freud's personality theory." However, he came out with it after practicing for 40 years, so it was a relatively late development in Freud's career.

What new theory did Freud propose in the 1920s?

The ideas of id, ego, and super-ego were an attempt to describe important components of the psyche (overall mental contents). Freud called them functions. He cautioned his readers to remember that id, ego, and super-ego were not "persons in their own right." They were just concepts-handy words for describing patterns of human behavior.

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