Topographical model

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A topographical model uses imagined space to make a Freud's theory of the mind or psyche understandable, helps us to picture the structure of the mind or psyche.

Topographical Model

According to the Freud's first "topographical model", the mind or psyche is divided into three three separate component parts, systems or "psychical localities":


This simple model assumed that the unconscious was chiefly, if not entirely, derived from repression, and therefore consisted of impulses, thoughts, and feelings, which were unacceptable to the conscious ego.


Material in the unconscious could never become conscious, but material in the preconscious could occasionally become conscious.

The unconscious, Freud saw as containing material which had been repressed for some reason: because it was too traumatic or painful to reach consciousness.

This material might consist of memories, fantasies, wishes, dreams, etc.


During the first 20 years of the twentieth century, Freud came to realize that this model was inadequate.

Structural Model

The three structures of the id, ego, and superego Freud saw as mapping onto this model.

The ego he argued was not always conscious, or even preconscious.

The superego, he argued, spanned the unconscious and the preconscious, while the id was completely unconscious.