Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, “Between stimulus and response is our greatest power- the freedom to choose”. Often, an individual’s reaction to a situation is automatic and intuitive. The ability to chose and modify ones behavior is not a common occurrence, as humans tend to take action subconsciously. Sigmund Freud developed a theory in order to explain this phenomenon, where he divides the human mind into three parts. The id is the impulsive portion of the psyche, based solely on the pleasure precept. The ego functions on reason, and operates based upon the reality principle.
Lastly, the superego incorporates and works upon the values and morals of society. Throughout Perks of Being a Wallflower, many characters can be seen conforming to Freud’s theory of the human psyche. Patrick can be seen as a representation of the id, Sam as a portrayal of the ego, and Charlie as a depiction of the superego. The main characters are visibly influenced by the power of the unconscious mind; their actions are an evident manifestation of inner desires. The id can be interpreted as being the most primitive part of the personality. It acts upon instinct and revolves around the notion o avoid pain, and seek pleasure.
This demand for immediate satisfaction is portrayed through Patrick, who consistently displays a self-gratifying attitude in order to fulfill his aspirations. Throughout the novel, it is clear that Patrick is consistently seeking a relationship in order to satisfy his sexual and emotional needs. However, he fails to acknowledge the consequences his behavior has on others, particularly Brad. Patrick and Brad have formed a relationship, which must be kept a secret due to the fact that Brad is uncomfortable coming out with his sexual orientation.
However, Patrick does not concede that the relationship is toxic, as his own needs are being met. This primitive conduct can be seen when Charlie states, “I asked Patrick if he felt sad that he had to keep it a secret, and Patrick just said that he wasn’t sad because at least now, Brad doesn’t have to get drunk or stoned to make love” (Chbosky 46). Patrick fails to emphasize with Brad, who is evidently having a hard time accepting and revealing his sexual preference. Unfortunately, Brad has felt the need to indulge in alcohol and drugs for self-confidence in the past.
Nonetheless, Patrick doesn’t mind that Brad is still extremely insecure to the point where he needs to keep their relationship a secret, due to the fact that Patrick still benefits sexually. Other than seeking pleasure despite the consequences, Patrick frequently avoids pain in any way possible, which is another component of the id. By indulging in drugs and alcohol, Patrick is finding an outlet to suppress the negative aspects in his life. The excessive drinking is delineated when Charlie explains, “Patrick and I have been spending a lot of time together.
We drink a lot. Actually, it’s ore like Patrick drinks, and I sip” (161). Patrick allows himself to drink immoderately in order to lessen the pain of his relationship with Brad. He is conforming to his id, which is only trying to seek pleasure, and block out his painful memories. However, his drinking is only a temporary method hide his troubles. Patrick’s id sets unrealistic expectations for him, and leaves the impression that despondency can be avoided. This behavior is displayed once again when Patrick views sex as an alternate escape from reality.
Charlie explains that, “After a while, the whole [hooking-up] thing just wasn’t interesting to Patrick] anymore, and he ran out of things to keep himself numb” (284). Patrick acclimated to his id by seeking meaningless sexual relations as a method to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Sadly, he disregards the emotions of the other individual whom is also engaged in the relationship, as his own needs are the priority. However, this practice failed to gratify him, as Patrick still suffers from heartache and misery.
Overall, Patrick epitomizes an individual who conforms to their id as an aperture for his inner desires. His actions all carry the motive of the pleasure-pain principle, despite the consequences on thers. The ego functions in a manner to achieve the ids desires, but with a reasonable approach. It is also responsible for recognizing the needs and wants of others, and no lor prioritizes the desires of itself. Sam depicts a character that obeys their ego. She consistently rationalizes her actions, and tries to meet the desires of her id in a manner that is socially acceptable.
Sam is portrayed as being conscientious of her approach to others, and she enjoys being perceived as a good friend. This is evident when she helps Charlie through his negative experience with psychedelics. Charlie recalls the experience by saying, “Sam went on to explain what she called “the trance. ” The trance happens when you don’t focus on anything, and the whole big picture swallows and moves around you” (139). While Sam is trying aid Charlie in calming down, she is also relating her explanation to Charlie’s life in general.
Sam wants to help Charlie because they are closely acquainted, but she also wants to give him advice on anxiety as well. This shows her conformation to her ego as she is rationalizing her actions and ensuring that they are socially applicable for Charlie while imultaneously fulfilling her desire of being a good friend. Sam’s commendable behavior and rationalization of her id is portrayed consistently throughout the novel through her attitude towards Charlie. Sam fails to acknowledge or give any significance to the notion that Charlie is different from his peers.
Her accepting mindset is portrayed when Charlie explains, “The great thing about Sam is she doesn’t think I’m crazy for pretending to do things” (29). Sam is an influential figure in Charlie’s life and recognizes this. She does not condemn his behavior, nor does she isolate herself from him. Sam is able to realize that Charlie is different, but accepts him for who he is. The morals Sam possesses develops her ego as she is satisfying her needs while ensuring her choices are socially adequate. Her compassionate attitude is presented when she attempts to prevent Charlie from any future harm.
Sam wants to make it axiomatic that Charlie has a positive initial experience with relationships, and states “I want to make sure that the first person you kiss loves you, okay? ” (70). After Sam’s traumatic experience with her first kiss, she wants to ensure that Charlie’s is different. By offering such a selfless act, it shows that Sam is able to rationalize situations to avoid possible issues for Charlie, and put his needs and wants before her own. Through her ability to prioritize Charlie’s needs above her own and analyze situations thoroughly before making a decision, Sam acts in a manner that epitomizes the behavior of the ego.
Her inner desire of being a devoted friend to Charlie is depicted through her actions, but in a manner that is accepted by society. Finally, through Charlie a depiction of the superego is presented. The superego is responsible for taking account morals and thics when making a decision, and concerns itself with differentiating right from wrong. Charlie is seen to manifest this ideology in his actions, as his desire to be morally right often prevails. When describing women, Charlie is seen to become defensive over their objectification.
Charlie states, “Every time I see this one particular movie star on a magazine, I cant help but feel terribly sorry for her because nobody respects her at all, and yet they keep interviewing her” (9). Charlie is able to realize that women in society are commonly devalued. By relating this unjust discrimination to a particular movie star who is onsistently disrespected, Charlie is able to come to the realization that this is not how people should be treated. This is a display of his ego as he is able to practice his morals, and attempting to fulfill his desire of righteousness.
Charlie’s repulsion towards the degradation of women can be seen most commonly with Sam. Due to their close friendship, Charlie becomes protective over her relationship with Craig. Charlie proclaims, “I just think its bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. ” (48) Charlie is unhappy with the way Craig treats Sam, as he eels she isn’t being appreciated to her full potential. This displays his conformity to his superego as he cannot look past this unethical relationship because he feels that injustice is occurring.
Being righteous and just is not a quality many possess, because often it is easier to bypass morals and take action that results in instant gratification. However, this mindset is not only axiomatic towards women. Charlie acquires the ability to be moral towards everyone, despite gender, age and social status. He does not judge other, as Patrick states “You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand” (37). Charlie is able to come to the realization that not every situation needs to have a reaction.
This maturity shows his intense level of critical thinking, and ability to think with his superego when analyzing his surroundings. The ability to come to a decision because it is the right thing to do and not what everyone expects of him is a skill many fail to acquire. The pressures of society often manipulate the perspective of an individual and sway their decisions, but Charlie is able to avoid these biases. Through remaining understanding and compassionate, it is evident that Charlie’s superego dictates his actions by revealing is desire of ethical justice and equality.
All individuals possess unique characteristics that differentiate them from one another. These traits are commonly revealed through ones actions and mindset; however, the subconscious mind is responsible for influencing the behavior. Often, individuals are actions are associated with their id, ego, and superego, as these subsystems have a significant impact on decision-making. Through Freud’s theory, it is noted that the id is responsible for primitive instincts, the ego for socially acceptable actions, and superego for moral righteousness.
In Perks of Being a Wallflower, Patrick, Sam, and Charlie are seen to epitomize this theory. These main characters are depicted to be heavily influenced by their unconscious mind, as their actions are an expression of their inner desires. In society, it is necessary to acknowledge that the perspective and judgment one has towards others is not an accurate representation of an individual’s character. One’s behavior is often influenced, and there are many factors that could alter their decisions. Remaining understanding and accepting of others is a key component to positive relationships.