International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss


Assessing the Superego and Spirit: Common Characteristics of the Self in Kierkegaard and Freud
René Larsson

The paper will examine and compare features of the self within  writings of Kierkegaard and Freud. Granted their objectives cover different perspectives, i.e. man’s spiritual qualities vis-à-vis his natural qualities; qualities that indeed call attention to their dissimilarities, I shall nevertheless make an effort to point out similarities. I believe that what would seem as “irreconcilable differences” actually proves to bear overlapping aspects and I will attempt to illustrate them. First and foremost Freud’s and Kierkegaard’s notions of the superego and spirit respectively, including their emergence within the self. This will be evaluated in regards to the dynamics of the self’s identification mechanism in the synthesis of the ego and superego in Freud and the conditions of self-relation in Kierkegaard: possibility, necessity, finitude, infinitude. Furthermore, I shall evaluate the role of anxiety in regards to neurosis and despair and assess how guilt can be interpreted as the focal point in both dialectics of selfhood. Finally as a point of perspective I shall briefly consider some of these factors with respect to the present discussion of disorder classifications.

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