The three parts of the mind—id, ego, and superego—are in constant interaction. They have different goals, provoking internal conflicts within an individual. Consequentl , one part of a person can want one thing, whereas another part wants something else. For example, imagine that a young woman is last in line at a fast-food counter . The man in front of her unknowingly drops a $20 bill from his wallet and does not notice. The woman sees the money on the floor in front of he . The situation sets of f a conflict between the three parts of her personalit . The id says, "T ake it and run! Just grab it; push the person out of the way if you have to." The superego says, "Thou shalt not steal." And the ego is confronted with the reality of the situation as well as the demands from the id and the superego, saying "Did the clerk see the $20 fall? Do any of the other customers see the $20 on the floor? Could I put my foot over i without being noticed? Maybe I should just pick it up and return it to the person; perhaps he will even give me a reward." The young woman in this situation is bound to experience some anxiety. Anxiety is an unpleasant state, which acts as a signal that things are not right and something must be done. It is a signal that the control of the ego is being threatened by reality , by impulses from the id, or by harsh controls exerted by the superego. Such anxiety might be expressed as physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, and irregular breathing. A person in this state might also feel herself on the ver ge of panic. Regardless of the symptoms displayed, a person whose desires are in conflict with reality or with internalized morals wil appear more anxious in such a situation.
A well-balanced mind, one that is free from anxiety , is achieved by having a strong ego. It is the ego that balances the competing forces of the id, on the one hand, and the super -ego on the other . If either of these two competing forces overwhelms the ego, then anxiety is the result.
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