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Sigmund Freud and Nietzsche: Personalities and The Mind

There were two great minds in this century. One such mind was that of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). In the year 1923 he created a new view of the mind. That view encompassed the idea we have split personalities and that each one have their own realm, their own tastes, their own principles upon which they are guided. He called these different personalities the id, ego, and super ego. Each of them are alive and well inside each of our unconscious minds, separate but yet inside the mind inhabiting one equal plane. Then there was Nietzsche (1844-1900) who formulated his own theories about the sub-conscious.

His ideas were based on the fact that inside each and every one of us is a raging battle going on. This battle involves the two most basic parts of society, the artistic Dionysian and the intelligent Apollonian. Sometimes one being becomes more dominant than the other or they both share the same plane. Even though individually created, these theories could be intertwined, even used together. Thus it is the object of this paper to prove that the Freudian theory about the unconscious id, and ego are analogous to the idea on the Apollonian and Dionysian duality’s presented by Nietzsche.

The division of the psychical into what is conscious and what is unconscious is the fundamental premise of psycho-analysis; and it alone makes it possible for psycho-analysis to understand the pathological processes in mental life… ” (Freud, The Ego and the Id, 3). To say it another way, psycho-analysis cannot situate the essence of the psychial in consciousness, but is mandated to comply consciousness as a quality of the pyschial, which may be present (Freud, The Ego and the ID, 3). “… hat what we call our ego behaves essentially passively in life, and that, as he expresses it, we are ‘lived’ by unknown and ncontrollable forces,” (Groddeck, quoted from Gay, 635). Many, if not all of us have had impressions of the same, even though they may not have overwhelmed us to the isolation of all others, and we need to feel no hesitation in finding a place for Groddeck’s discovery in the field of science. To take it into account by naming the entity which begins in the perception system.

And then begins by being the ‘ego,’ and by following his [Groddeck’s] system in identifying the other half of the mind, into which this extends itself and acts as if it were unconscious, namely the id. It could then be said that the id represents the primitive, unconscious basis of the psyche dominated by primary urges. The psyche of a newly-born child, for instance, is made up of primarily the id. But then contact with that child and the outside world modifies the id.

This modification then creates the next part of the psyche, the ego, which begins to differentiate itself from the id and the rest of the psyche (Dilman, 163). The ego should be seen primarily as Freud puts it is, “… first and foremost a bodily ego; it is not merely a surface entity, but is itself the rojection of a surface,” (Freud, The Ego and the Id, 20). An analogy that could help with this definition could be one that states the following.

If we were to identify it with the, “cortical homunculus,” (Freud, TEI, 20) of the anatomists, “which stands on its head in the cortex, sticks up its heels, faces backwards and, as we know, has its speech area on the left side,” (Freud, TEI, 20). Ego, the Latin word for “I,” is a person’s conception of himself or herself. The term has taken on various shades of meaning in psychology and philosophy. In psychoanalysis, the ego is a set of personality functions for ealing with reality, which maintains a certain unity throughout an individual’s life.

Freud, with whom the concept is closely associated, redefined it several times. In 1923, Freud used the term to refer to the conscious, rational agency in his famous structural model of the mind; powered by the instinctual drives of the id, the ego imposed moral restraints derived from the superego. After Freud’s death, several of his associates, including Anna Freud and Erik Erikson, extended the concept of ego to include such functions as memory, sensory abilities, and motor skills. It could also be said that there are other important functions to the ego.

It is the reality guide for one, and conscious perceptions also belong to it. During the height of the phallic phase, about ages three to six, these libidinous drives focus on the parent of the opposite sex and lend an erotic cast to the relation between mother and son or between father and daughter, the so-called Oedipus complex. However, most societies strongly disapprove of these sexual interests of children. A taboo on incest rules universally. Parents, therefore, influence children to push such leasurable sensations and thoughts out of their conscious minds into the unconscious by a process called repression.

In this way the mind comes to consist of three parts: (1) an executive part, the ego, mostly conscious and comprising all the ordinary thoughts and functions needed to direct a person in his or her daily behavior; (2) the id, mostly unconscious and containing all the instincts and everything that was repressed into it; and (3) the superego, the conscious that harbors the values, ideals, and prohibitions that set the guidelines for the ego and that punishes through the imposition of guilt feelings.

Strong boundaries between the three parts keep the ego fairly free from disturbing thoughts and wishes in the id, thereby guaranteeing efficient functioning and socially acceptable behavior. During sleep the boundaries weaken; disturbing wishes may slip into the ego from the id, and warnings may come over from the superego (Dilman, 170). It could thus be seen that the id and the ego, are two separate identities upon which our whole psyche is dependent upon, one side is the pleasure side (id) and the other is the reality- based side (ego).

Then, however, Nietzsche came along and stated that he had his own heories on the unconscious mind. In his first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1872, Eng. trans, 1968), Nietzsche presented a theory of Greek drama and of the foundations of art that has had profound effects on both literary theory and philosophy. In this book he introduced his famous distinction between the Apollonian, or rational, element in human nature and the Dionysian, or passionate, element, as exemplified in the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus.

When the two principles are blended, either in art or in life, humanity achieves a momentary harmony with the Primordial Mystery. This work, like his later ones, shows the strong influence of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, as well as Nietzsche’s affinity for the music of his close friend Richard Wagner. What Nietzsche presented in this work was a pagan mythology for those who could accept neither the traditional values of Christianity nor those of Social Darwinism (Salter, 41-42).

It can be visibly ascertained that by binary opposition, Nietzsche, as well as Freud, can thus now reveal to us our split personalities. “Much will have been gained for esthetics once we have succeeded in apprehending directly- ather than merely ascertaining- that art owes its continuous evolution to the Apollonian-Dionysiac duality,” proposes Nietzsche, “even as the propagation of the species depends on the duality of the sexes, their constant conflicts and periodic acts of reconciliation,” (AD in Jacobus, 550).

It is by these two, “art-sponsoring deities,” (AD, in Jacobus, 550), Apollo and his brethren Dionysos, the we come to grasp the idea of that splinter between the, “plastic Apollonian arts and the non-visual art of music inspired by Dionysos,” (AD, in Jacobus, 550). The art impulse which has been described he [Nietzsche] designates as the Apollinic impulse,” (Salter, 40). We thus recall that Apollo is the god of dreams, “… and according to Lucretius the Gods first appeared to men in dreams,” (Salter, 40-41).

He [Nietzsche] then regarded the residing family of deities on Mount Olympus as a removed and exalted conception of the, “commanding, powerful, and splendid elements in Greek life,” (Salter, 41). The experience of the Dionysiac is compartiavly different from that of the Apollonian. The [Dionysiac] experience is element for art. It is a subject that may be virtuously treated, for, “out of the Dionysiac festival grew that supreme form of Greek art, the tragic drama; this may briefly characterized as an Apollinic treatment of the Dionysiac experience- a marriage of the two,” (Salter 43).

By creating the art-loving Dionysian, he [Nietzsche] has also created the equal but opposite Apollonian. It would appear to be necessary to then understand Apollo in order to understand Dionysos, and vice-versa. “At first the eye is struck by the marvelous shapes of the Olympian gods who stand upon its pediments, and whose xploits, in shining bas-relief, adorn its friezes,” (AD, in Jacobus, 557). The mere conclusion that he is one god amongst many should not throw us into a fit of misguided questions.

But instead it should represent that the same motive that created Apollo created Olympus (AD, in Jacobus, 557). The Dionysian, the opposite of the Apollonian would then be considered his twin brother, cut from the same womb, but yet different in personality and equally independent. Nietzsche and Freud both had similar views on the subject of the unconscious. Nietzsche’s though were directed primarily to the arts and the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysos for whom his dichotomy of the personality were named. The Apollonian, “… usic had long been familiar to the Greeks as an Apollonian art , as a regular beat like that of waves lapping the shore, a plastic rhythm expressly developed for the portrayal of Apollonian conditions,” (AD, in Jacobus, 556). That “plastic rhythm” described by Nietzsche is the cardinal groundwork for the theory of the Apollonian. Apollonian people are those who are totally based in the scientific world. They have no real imagination, no abstractness to their thinking. Whereas people who are wholly Dionysian are the opposite.

These folk have no real basis in the real world. They are completely out of synch with reality because they think only in hypothetical thoughts. Hence the fact the most, if not all humans have a little of both in them. Most great scientists for instance are both Apollonian and Dionysian. They are mainly Apollinistic, due to the fact that they are clearly intelligent, which according to Nietzsche is the foundation for Apollonian thought, but they are also Dionysian. This can be said if you take Albert Einstein for an example.

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