Lord of the Flies Meets Sigmund Freud

Have you ever been watching a television show and the character onscreen is trying to make a decision when a small angel and a small devilpop up on his shoulders. The angel says what should be done and the devilsays what it wanted to be done. This can be connected to Freud’s theory ofpersonality. Freud suggested that each personality has a large unconsciouscomponent. He believed that many of our pleasurable and painfulexperiences are forgotten or buried in the unconscious. We may notconsciously recall these experiences but they may continue to influence ourbehavior.

He came up with what is now known as the structural concepts ofthe mind: id, ego and superego. They tell you how the mind functions andhow the instinctual energies are regulated. You can find evidence of thestructural concepts of the mind in many things from television shows tobooks to movies, like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. But do the boysin Lord of the Flies display being driven by the three states of minds anddo they use the seven defense mechanisms to avoid anxiety?In the book Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a school of Britishboys are on a flight during the war. Their plane gets shot down, and itlands on an island in the middle of the ocean. There are no adults aliveso the boys must fend for themselves and work as a team in order tosurvive.

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At least one of the characters displays being driven by id, egoor superego. Most of the defense mechanisms are used in order to avoid thepressure of living on an island, with no one to help you.At one time or another in the book, each of the boys displays beingdriven constantly by id, even Ralph.

However, Jack shows that he isconstantly being driven by id. Id is the part of your mind that desiresinstant pleasure and immediate gratification. It is concerned with whatyou want versus what you need. The first sign of id in Lord of the Fliesis when Jack, Ralph and Simon are going to the highest point of land, tosee if it is in fact an island. On their way up they find a boulder andpush it over. Jack was the first one to notice it and start pushing.

Thisshows id because had someone been in the way, the rock could have causedserious injury or even death. They pushed the rock merely to have fun andprove to themselves their own strength. They didn’t think of any of thepossible consequences. Another example of Jack being driven by id is whenhe and his hunters go to kill the pig instead of keeping the fire going.

While the choir was off hunting, the fire went out and a plane overhead.Since the fire went out, their chances of being seen and rescued weredecreased. The hunters desired the meat. They didn’t need the meatbecause they had only been on the island a short period of time and couldhave survived longer without it. Instead of being rescued, id took overtheir minds and they went to kill the pig for food.The boy who seems to be constantly driven by ego is Ralph. This iswhy he was chosen to be their leader instead of Jack. Ego is the realityprinciple.

It is the most conscious part of the three parts of mind.Itconsiders the external consequences of direct actions and behaviors,whether they be good or bad. Ego makes the final decision of what is goingto be done. Ralph shows this when he decides to light a fire in case aplan flies over the island. The outcome of being seen by a plane could begetting rescued.

He also shows it when he decides whoever has the conch ingroup discussions is the only person allowed to talk. This shows egobecause Ralph is considering the consequences of group conversations. Heknows that without this rule, everyone would talk at once. With it,everything is more organized, and everybody who wants to speak has theirchance.

The character in Lord of the Flies who best displays being constantlydriven by superego is Piggy. Superego is the moral principle of mind. Itisn’t concerned with what is wanted or needed, but is concerned with whatshould be done. It is the source of conscience which operates in terms ofa moral principle.

The superego can cause problems as well. It is alsothe source of guilt feelings which come from small to serious deviationsfrom what defines as “right”. He first shows this right at the beginningof the movie when he says to Ralph: we ought to go find the others. Theydon’t necessarily need to find the other boys and he isn’t worrying aboutwhether he wants to go find them or not.The ego’s job is so hard that unconsciously all people resort topsychological defenses. Instead of facing extreme anxiety, people makethemselves believe that nothing is wrong. If the demands of the id and egocan’t be solved, people may distort reality. If this is done, a defensemechanism is being used.

There are seven different types of defencemechanisms all of which are used to avoid anxiety.Repression is ignoring or pushing away a thought, memory or feelingthat causes pressure or anxiety out of the conscious mind and into theunconcious. When one of the boys is trying to remember his phone number,but can’t do so, he is unconsciously using repression. This showsrepression because he may have not had a good home life. Perhaps he wasabused as a child, and this w as painful for him so he pushed it away outof his conscious mind.Projection occurs when inner feelings are thrown away from the egotowards another object or organism in order to avoid anxiety.

I don’tbelieve that there was any projection in Lord of the Flies. None of thecharacters used this defense mechanism.Reaction formation involves replacing an unacceptable feeling or urgewith its opposite. Jack shows this when he loses the vote to see who willbe chief of the island. When he loses, he says fine.

To him, it wasprobably not fine because he wanted to be chief and Ralph beat him. Hereplaced his upset emotions by saying fine. This is the complete oppositeof the true way that he felt.Regression means to go back to an earlier and less mature pattern ofbehavior to escape anxiety. When a person is under severe pressure andtheir other defenses are not working, they may start acting in ways thathave helped them in the past.

Ralph shows this towards the end of thebook. When he finds out the others are going to try and kill him, he runsaway and hides. This does not seem like something Ralph would do.

Usuallyhe would try to talk to them instead of running away from them. In thepast, he may have run away from his problems.Displacement occurs when the object of an unconscious wish provokesanxiety. The anxiety is reduced when the ego unconsciously shifts the wishto another object.

Whenever anxiety is upon Piggy or he is in anuncomfortable situation, he takes off his glasses and cleans them. Hisanxiety is reduced from being extremely uncomfortable, to merely worryingabout his glasses. Another example is when Jack lets the fire go out, heis most likely angry at himself. He projects his anger at Piggy bypunching him though he may not have deserved it.Denial means one refuses to believe that an event ever happened.

Itis basically a severe repression. The boys use denial when they are toldthat there is a monster on the island. They say that there is no monster,but they do not know this for a fact. Therefore, they are using denial.

Rationalization means to create a false but plausible excuse to avoidanxiety. One situation in Lord of the Flies shows two different uses ofrationalization. When Simon is murdered, Piggy uses rationalization whiletalking to Ralph. Ralph says that they murdered him, and Piggy says thatit wasn’t murder because they didn’t know that it was him, they thought itwas the beast. Jack also shows rationalization in this situation.

He toldhis tribe that it wasn’t Simon they killed, but simply the beast indisguise.Sigmund Freud did not come up with the only theory of personality.Another one is a hierarchy of needs which was set up by Abraham Maslow.

Hebelieved that you have to satisfy the lower needs before you can get to thehigher ones. The levels (starting from lowest to highest) are basic needs,safety and security, love and belongingness, self esteem and selfactualization. Basic needs include hunger, thirst, warmth, shelter and sexdrives. The boys show basic needs when they agree that they are going toneed to build shelters. They know that there is plenty of fruit on theisland so they won’t get hungry and they also found a stream which they canuse to bathe in and drink from. When the choir goes hunting for pigs, theycome back and say that they needed meat. This could also fall under basicneeds.

The boys are far too young to be worried about their sex drive,therefore, it does not need to be satisfied in order to get to the nextlevel. Safety and security is the need to feel secure, safe and out ofdanger. The only reason that the boys follow Jack and join his tribe isbecause they don’t believe that Ralph will keep them safe enough.Therefore, the only way for Jack to keep power is to keep them at safetyand security. In order to do so, he has to make them keep on believingthat there is a monster on the island. If the boys feel safe without Jack,then they would go back to Ralph as Jack shows them no love and they wouldfeel that he is doing nothing to get them off the island. This would bringthem up to Love and belongingness. This means to affiliate with others andto be accepted and belong.

Self esteem needs include the need to achieve,be competent and to gain approval and recognition. Piggy is very worriedabout his self esteem. He tells Ralph that his nickname used to be Piggyand asks him not to tell the others as it bothers him.

This would be aself esteem issue for him. To be seslf actualized means to fulfill yourown unique potential. A self actualizated person is realistic,spontaneous, independent, they identify with humanity, they have aphilosophical sense of humor, and they are creative. These are only a fewof the characteristics of a self actualized person. There is only one boyon the island that reaches self actualization. The boy is Simon. Many ofthe times he is shown, he is off by himself.

This shows his detachment andhis need of privacy. He also identifies with humanity. He appears to lovenature, and enjoys its company.

I learned that all the little errors that people say are errors arenot errors at all. That they are saying these things unconsciously, evenif they apologize for it afterwards.In the future, I think that Ralphwould become very withdrawn and keep to himself mostly. Jack would mostlikely deny that any of the boys died. I think he would pretend that noneof it ever happened. He may also become overwhelmed with power and try tobe the “chief” of everything.

Also, most of the times that people arebeing cruel to others, or say things like “that person is sad”; it could bebecause that person is angry at themselves, or that person is truly the onethat is sad. People would do almost anything to avoid the anxieties oflife, but they will always be there and everyone uses different ways toescape them.picpic Psychology 20 Rewrite May 10, 2004