Friday, 25 March 2011

"NaRaN" and Freudian Ego

Originally published 3/25/11, 12:18 pm.
I recently saw in Orchot Tzaddikim that the n'shmanah is described like a kind of super-ego . See Feldheim Hebrew edition p. 294 paragraph "V'atah Odiacha hochmat hannefesh v'ruach unshamah.."

It seems the N'shamah functions as the wise soul that overrides the desires of the nefesh and ruach "Hanshamah hi va'alat hachochmah ... umo'esset b'ta'anugei v'nei Adam.."

Does this model resemble Freud's "id, ego, and superego" ? Do they map out at all with NaRaN - at least as the model described in Orchot Tzadikkim?


My current hypothesis:

Neshammah seems to match super-ego

Nefesh the id

And Ruach the ego EG
«al kein ga'avat haleiv nikrreis "gassut ru'ach

Here is wikipedia on Freud's
id, ego, and super-ego,_ego,_and_super-ego

Id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the ego is the organised, realistic part; and the super-ego plays the critical and moralising role.[1]

Even though the model is "structural" and makes reference to an "apparatus", the id, ego and super-ego are functions of the mind rather than parts of the brain and do not correspond one-to-one with actual somatic structures of the kind dealt with by neuroscience.

The concepts themselves arose at a late stage in the development of Freud's thought: the 'structural model' (which succeeded his 'economic model' and 'topographical model') was first discussed in his 1920 essay "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" and was formalised and elaborated upon three years later in his "The Ego and the Id". Freud's proposal was influenced by the ambiguity of the term "unconscious" and its many conflicting uses.


1 comment:

micha berger said...

R' Lord Sacks frequently writes about Western Civ as a dialog between Athens and Jerusalem. (I haven't heard RLJS relate it to RSRH's take on "Yaft E-lokim leYefes veyishkon bo'ahalei Sheim" -- but if he didn't he should!) In the CR's thought, Freud was a misstep -- he pulled in pagan mythos, Athens, for something that really required J-m. What reminded me of this

IMHO, Freud erred because he lacked religion. So, to him, the counterbalance to the Id would be a collection of externally imposed rules combined with a need to be accepted and to conform. I would agree that the Id pretty much captures the notion of nefesh, and Ego is somewhat like the ruach (although less closely so than Id), at least as the Gra defines these terms. But he had no room in his worldview for an aspect of man that lives within heaven, and who has a primary need or urge to live a meaningful and giving life. No less so than the nefesh/Id's desires for hedonism, epicurean delights and creature comforts. Thus, Freud's whole psychology of repression, suppression, and sublimation is a product of his overly physicalist world-view. Instead, Jewish sources portray the Ego as the product of trying to navigate conflicting sets of urges. (C.g. R Dessler's notion of nequdas habechirah -- consciousness comes into play where there is such a conflict to navigate.)

It may be useful to also explore Adler's Parent-Adult-Child, although it too places recordings of parental instructions as the counterbalance to the animal we are born as. More relevent might be Frankl's Search for Meaning, which acknowledges man as having innate spiritual drives, although I haven't encountered his "anatomy of the soul".

I find it interesting, BTW, that people speak of yeitzer hara vs yeitzer hatov -- a duality. But when a cartoon depicts a person making a moral decision by having a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, they draw his face THREE times -- once on each "advisor", and once on the person doing the deciding between them. Yeitzer hatov vs yeitzer hara must also include a ruach, a conscious decider. The third element in any psychological model.