nature vs nurture

When reading through chapter 1, the argument of nature vs. nurture appeared. Freud defines the id as everything that is innate, the nurture part. What is interesting is the addition of the ego in this argument. Freud believes that the ego is everything done to satisfy the id, or everything done to satiate innate needs. Freud’s definition of the super-ego is the most interesting. He states “The long period of childhood, during which the growing human being lives in dependence on his parents, leaves behind it as a precipitate the formation in his ego of a special agency in which this parental influence is prolonged. It has received the name of super-ego. In so far as this super-ego is differentiated from the ego or is opposed to it, it constitutes a third power which the ego must take into account.” The way I interpret this statement is that the personality of the child transitions from actions due to nature, to actions due to nurture, which I have never really thought about.

Many arguments on this topic are for the support of one or the other. Seldom do we see this tradition, but it seems to make sense. As we develop we learn what is moral and good. Some things in our nature may not be deemed as appropriate, such as the inclination to become angry, thus we attempt to suppress it. We start to learn what parts of our natures we allow to show and what parts we try to conceal, until, eventually, our actions are mainly based off the nurture aspect.

Although this interpretation may be wrong, another way to look at it is that nurture only starts to take effect after childhood, and the two coexist. Some actions stem from nature and the others nurture. However, in both interpretations, there are aspects of both nature and nurture. Therefore, the arguments is not either or, it is which one dominates which. Also, isn’t it possible to be nurtured in a way that can change our very nature?


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