What is the Superego?

   In psychoanalytic theory, superego is one of the three basic constituents of the mind, the others being the id and ego. As postulated by the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, the term designates the element of the mind which, in normal personalities, automatically modifies and inhibits those instinctual impulses or drives of the id which tend to produce antisocial actions and thoughts. In a socially adjusted personality the opposing influences of the id and superego are in balance, allowing the individual to fulfill his instinctual needs to the extent that they do not destructively violate the environmental social and moral codes by which he has been conditioned. When the inhibitory functions of the superego are excessive, this balance is disrupted and normal impulses may be repressed, i.e., forced into the subconscious, thereby resulting in neurotic or psychotic symptoms.
   According to psychoanalytic theory, the superego develops as the child gradually and unconsciously adopts the values and standards, first of his parents, and later of his social environment. According to modern Freudian psychoanalysts, the superego includes the positive ego image, or "ego ideal", which an individual has of himself.