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In Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, ego strength is the ability of the ego to effectively deal with the demands of the id, the superego and reality. Those with little ego strength may feel torn between these competing demands, while those with too much ego strength can become too unyielding and rigid. Ego strength helps us maintain emotional stability and cope with internal and external stress.

According to Sigmund Freud, personality is composed of three elements: the id, the ego and the super-ego. The id is composed of all the primal urges and desires and is the only part of personality present at birth. The super-ego is the part of personality that is composed of the internalized standards and rules that we acquire from our parents and from society. The ego is the part of personality that mediates between the demands of reality, the urges of the id and the idealistic standards of the super-ego.

In situations involving psychological disorders, ego strength is often used to described a patients ability to maintain their identity and sense of self in the face of pain, distress and conflict. Researchers have also suggested that acquiring new defenses and coping mechanisms is an important component of ego strength.

High Ego Strength

An individual with strong ego-strength approaches challenges with a sense that he or she can overcome the problem and even grow as a result. By having strong ego-strength, the individual feels that he or she can cope with the problem and find new ways of dealing with struggles. These people can handle whatever life throws at them without losing their sense of self.

Low Ego Strength

On the other hand, those with weak ego-strength view challenges as something to avoid. In many cases, reality can seem too overwhelming to deal with. These individuals struggle to cope in the face of problems, and may try to avoid reality through wishful thinking, substance use and fantasies.

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Hall, L. Michael (1999). The Secrets of Personal Mastery. Wales, UK: Crown House Publications.

Freud, S. (1923). The Ego and the Id. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIX (1923-1925): The Ego and the Id and Other Works, 1-66

Kendra Cherry

Kendra Cherry
Psychology Guide

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