I, it, over-I


The following is side-margin comment on a student paper from a psych professor.

“You may often hear people credit Freud with naming the id, ego, superego, but keep in mind that he said none of those things. Much has been lost in translation, unfortunately. And through translating works of literature from one culture to the next, certain nuances are either untranslatable, or simply lost altogether. There is often not a one-for-one transliteration of a word or concept and the same can be said of Freud’s description of the das-Es (it), the das Ich (the ‘I’) and the Uber-Ich (the ‘over-I’).   Freud never identified these concepts as id, ego, and superego and we have the translators to thank for some of the confusion that has permeated our understanding of these concepts. Ego, after all, is simply the Latin word for I, or, more accurately, that which feels, acts, or thinks. I sometimes think had the Joan Riviere’s 1924 translation stuck with the German phrasing, people would not misuse the terms so thoroughly.   The direct translation of Freud’s “Das Ich und das Es” is “The I and the It”.”

–a side-margin comment from a professor to a student


In other words, for ‘ego’ say ‘I’, for ‘id’ say ‘it’, and for ‘superego’ say ‘over-I.’


About Lightning Heart (Vikara)

Nomad. Poet. Philosopher. Teacher. View all posts by Lightning Heart (Vikara)

2 responses to “I, it, over-I

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