Understanding Freud’s Personality Theory (1923) in the light of Indian mythological character

Sigmund Freud

The Psyche is structured into three parts, The Id, ego, and super, ego. All develops at different stages of our lives. Let’s examine the striking similarities between the figures from Indian mythology and Freud’s Personality Theory. Explore the fascinating connections as historical accounts illuminate Freudian ideas, providing distinctive perspectives on human nature and conduct.


It is the most basic part of the personality and the source of all psychic energy. It is a subconscious aspect of the human’s mind and works on the pleasure principle. The major work of the id is to fulfil human’s basic needs (e.g. hunger, sex). When Id is unable to fulfill its desire, humans experience pain. For avoiding pain or meeting desire person can behave like a child or experience regression. It is present at birth. When a person grows with age, some part of the psychic energy of ID gets transformed into ego and then ego into super-ego. It does not bother about reality at all. Id dominance can lead to destruction in personality.

Representation of higher ID:

We can understand Id by referring to Ravana’s character. His personality had dominance of Sex (life) instinct – Eros and Aggression (death) instinct -Thanatos. His personality works on the pleasure principle. He wanted Sita regardless of her own consent (a sign of Eros) and kidnapped her (a sign of Thanatos). He Fights for her even when he knows he is wrong (denial of reality over pleasure). When Sita rejected him, he became unpleased. Due to Id dominance (no comprehension of objective reality, and wishful nature), he became a villain in the Story.

Also Read: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development


As discussed previously, the ego is the grown-up part of id. It works on the reality principle. The ego also wishes to fulfill its desire, but by considering outer reality. Unlike the id, the ego also experiences pain when unable to meet desire.

Representation of higher Ego:

We can understand ego by referring to Sita’s character. When Ram goes for exile, Sita accompanies him, she chooses to follow her husband in his bad days (social norm) over living in places in comfort (Id). When Hanuman comes to take her, she denies it. She says she will go with her husband, she chooses social norm (sun dynasty reputation) over Id (meeting the one she loves immediately). She rejects accompanying Ram at the end as she decides on subjective reality (self-respect) over Id (love).

Super-ego: it works on the reality principle. It can develop between 3 to 5 years. The Super-ego of the person is determined by parents, surroundings, and exposure to the child. A person who is surrounded by people whose basic needs are not met may lead to poor boundaries of social norms. Before taking any decision super-ego considers social norms.

Representation of higher Super Ego:

We can understand the superego by referring to the character of Rama. Rama accepts exile because he chooses the moral values of the Sun dynasty, which is to keep the promise of the right to be king of Ajodhya (ego-reality principle). Ram orders Lakshmana to leave Sita in the forest even when he loves her, he chooses superego over id (love) and ego (reality – even when he knows she is pure) only because he knows that the queen should be respected and she has lost respect in the eyes of his progeny.

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In short, these three characters represents the dominance of one out of three part of psyche. Dominance of any of them can lead us to trouble.
As ego connects Id and superego, sita connect Ravana and Ram.

Balance among them:

To be a healthy individual we must balance these three parts of the psyche. It’s good to seek pleasure, but not on the cost of another person’s pain (unlike Ravana). It’s good to seek social but not at the cost of personal loss (unlike Rama, the rest of his life was single and craving for Sita’s love). Rama and Sita suffered a lot, but their suffering made them God because whatever happened in their life they never blamed anyone. They choose to act in any given situation or suffering.

Why mythology was told or taught?

Ramayana is the story of keeping patience in the time of adversity. As humans whenever we are in trouble we must choose to act instead of react. People who remain calm and silent in adversity can store energy to overcome bad situations. Faith in God or Positive energy can help you to remain calm in such situation. As mentioned in Bible, The Lord God said, I will mistrust you and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with My eye (Psalm 32:8 page no. 585).

Also Read: The Psychology of Human Development

Some other Frauds concepts:

In the psychoanalysis theory of Freud, snake represent “sexual power”. If we have a close view of our trinity gods “Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh”, we can see snake as an important part of Vishnu’s and Mahesh’s picture as one is lying on a snake and another is holding onto the neck representing they have dominance over their sexual power. As they had good control over their sexual power, they were loyal to their partners in all the reincarnations that’s why Ram rejected the idea of remarrying and keep the gold statue of Sita with him for rest of his life. As in Lord Brahma’s picture, the snake is not the integral part indicating he has poor control over sexual power. He marries his own creation which is considered to be her daughter hence he is not worship even when he was believed to be the creator of this world. As Hinduism give preference to character over power, Vishnu and Mahesha are worshiped over Brahma (the creator).

Western and Indian Psychology:

Western psychology is somehow related to Indian mythology and if we teach psychology by relating certain ideas which are known to students it will become easier for them to understand the concept and retain the information.

Psychology is a subject to be practiced. When the concept is well understood by the people it becomes easier for them to make lesser mistakes while they practice. The practice of psychology is related to the lives of others, hence the more mistakes the higher the damage to the other’s psyche. So it becomes the responsibility of the educator to teach the concept of psychology more practically and familiarly.

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