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Essay/Term paper: Sigumand freud and nietzsche: personalities and the mind

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Philosophy

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Sigumand 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). "...that what we call our ego behaves essentially
passively in life, and that, as he expresses it, we are 'lived' by unknown and
uncontrollable 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,
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
projection 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
dealing 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
pleasurable 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
theories 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-
rather 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
exploits, 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, "...music 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. He is probably one of the most intelligent (and thus
Apollonian) thinkers


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