The superego is one of those psychoanalytic concepts that has been assimilated into ordinary language, like repression, the unconscious and the Oedipus complex. Because it has become such a familiar notion, its complexity may not always be appreciated, nor the controversy that it can inspire. Its origins, for example, its timing in the course of development, whether and how it is influenced by gender all these questions and others have been the source of lively disagreement. For psychoanalysts it is a fundamental concept of their discipline, but it belongs to a meta psychology whose value is often questioned, and opinions might vary on whether it remains truly alive as a generative, energising idea in contemporary psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalytic Ideas is a series which bring together the best of Public Lectures and other writings given by analysts of the British Psycho-Analytical Society on important psychoanalytical subjects. The focus of this series is to communicate some of the intellectual excitement about the past, present, and future of psychoanalytic ideas. The series aims to help make these ideas accessible to an even larger group of students, scholars, and practitioners worldwide.