John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche

- The Id -

the id

According to Freud, the Id is the core of the human psyche. Influenced by the newly emerging evolutionary biology of his time, he believed that humans, like animals, are born with sexual and aggressive drives that determine all of our behaviors. However, to live in an orderly fashion within a community, and to build civilization, we had to learn how to control and redirect these primitive drives of the Id.

In this fun and intriguing transplantation image, the ram's head comes from a display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The body is from a Duane Hansen sculpture of a weight lifter on exhibit at the Michener Museum in my hometown of Doylestown, PA. Because the lighting was similar in both museums, the shadows and colors of the head and body were close enough to make a realistic composite. My shooting position relative to the subjects also involved a similar perspective.

A ram's head on a weight-lifters body seemed to illustrate well the idea of the primitive nature of the id that resides in all humans, according to Freud. Although not nearly as popular a sport in his time as in ours, I'm sure Freud would consider weight-lifting to be a controlled redirecting ("sublimation") of the id's sexual and aggressive impulses. The ram-man sitting in a relaxed posture, but facing us head on with direct eye-to-eye contact, presents an interesting blend of the casual with the intense, as if he wants to quietly confront us with the fact that animalistic drives lie right below the surface of our everyday activities.

Beings who are part human, part animal have long been an important feature of classic mythology, literature, and film. Recognizing, perhaps unconsciously, our evolutionary heritage, we humans are captivated by this idea that our intrinsic nature stems from the qualities and motivations of our fellow creatures.


Would you like to read or participate in a discussion about this image in flickr?

Here are some other articles in Photographic Psychology that are related to this discussion:

Inside the Psyche
Head Transplants
Symbolism: What does it mean?


elementary textbook of psychoanalysis brenner

An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis - Charles Brenner

The standard introduction to traditional psychoanalytic theory. Brenner explanations are concise, lucid, and captivating. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the essential elements of one of the most powerful theories in the history of psychology.

Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche