The id, the ego and… the iPhone?

By 30th October 2013Company Blog

As a psychology graduate, I remain intrigued by the complexities of the human mind, the need to know what drives us and where nature starts and nurture ends.


I have distinct memories of sitting in lectures during our module on Freud and feeling that – while granted, I didn’t buy into some of the sexual reasoning! – his overarching theories made sense.


To give a quick overview for those less geeky than I, Freud saw the psyche as tripartite:


  • The id – is entirely unconscious and includes instinctive and primitive behaviours and strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. For example, if you are hungry or thirsty you seek out food or drink
  • The ego – strives to satisfy the id’s desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways
  • The superego – the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalised moral standards and ideals that we acquire from both parents and society, our sense of right and wrong


Now what does this theory have to do with the iPhone I hear you ask? Well it got me thinking about how the modern dependence on technology fits in – after all, many see their life on their mobile device and customise its appearance to reflect them as an individual. Further, gadgets are no longer just for grown-ups. While the average person checks their phone 110 times a day70 per cent of children know how to use one before they start primary school and a quarter are using one to play games before they can even speak!


So how does the trusty mobile phone fit into human personality? Clearly it isn’t part of the id as we’re not born iPhone in hand. The superego? Highly unlikely. I think there are few who could argue that checking your mobile every six seconds is morally righteous. In company, it is in fact downright rude. Not to say that yours truly isn’t equally guilty of course…


So what does that leave? The ego – and here we may have an answer. Connected devices can certainly offer the tools to help satisfy basic needs and respond to some of life’s burning questions. Apple promised that there’s an app for that and no doubt, if you want to identify edible fruit and nuts Bear Grylls-style or cook them like Jamie Oliver, the promise will hold true.  They are also being used increasingly early in life – crucial to become an integral part of the ego.


But we are currently on the cusp of 2014. In 1984, this discussion would have been null and void as the iPhone was only a vague concept in the mind of Steve Jobs. It certainly couldn’t be given recognition for helping to structure ideas of shape personalities. In 2054, who knows? Perhaps technology will have permanently altered the synaptic structure in the brain and it may hold enough power to drive t

Pippa Ellis

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