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In psychoanalytic theory, the portion of the psyche experienced as the self or I. It is the part that remembers, evaluates, plans, and in other ways is responsive to and acts in the surrounding physical and social world. According to Sigmund Freud, it coexists with the id (the unconscious, instinctual portion of the psyche) and the superego (the portion representing the conscience, or the internalization of societal norms). The ego is not coextensive with either the personality or the body; rather, it serves to integrate these and other aspects of the person, such as memory, imagination, and behaviour. It mediates between the id and the superego by building up various defense mechanisms.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ego, visit Britannica.com.