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The Id and the Ego

A look into Freud's theory and how it relates to Bleach




Now, before I really get into any of this, let me just state-I am not a psychology major, nor do I dabble heavily in Freud's works. But, I thought all this up during a particularly boring weekend, and even having a layman's knowledge of the theory helps; it is what Kubo himself was referencing, after all, in a shonen comic meant for japanese teenagers. All things stated here are purely my own speculation and interpretations, and not intended to be taken as canon. If you find yourself getting offended by my own point of view, then sit back, take a deep breath, and say 'It's just the internet, I really should relax.' Got that? Good.

Prepare for over-analysis!

Also, my apologies for such bad scans. If anyone can provide me with higher quality ones, I'd appreciate it.

Right. So why are you writing this in the first place?

Well, as I mentioned above, I had a particularly boring weekend, and I just happened to have a book about Freud's theories that I'd borrowed from my local library. Flipping through the pages, a certain passage caught my eye:

The Ego is like a rider who is attempting to rein in the greater strength of the powerful horse (the Id) while using the strength of the horse itself (in part) to do it. The rider cannot be separated from his horse, yet is impelled to lead the horse to where it wants to go. So the Ego must translate the will of the Id into action as if that action were its own.

And I thought "Hmm, where have I heard this befor-"



"....oh yeah...."

At first, I was impressed by that reference. I thought it was quite neat that Kubo would put that into his comic, and thought nothing of it.

But then, I really started to think about it, and I suddenly realized that it had a deeper meaning than just a simple throwaway reference.

Also, I will be talking primarily about normal hollows and Ichigo. Arrancar are a little difficult to explain, and my reasons with them...I haven't been able to put them down into words correctly just yet. Maybe when I have, I'll tack it on here as an addendum.

Alright then. Where do we start?

First, let's talk about the Id itself. Freud has this to say about it:

The Id is the core portion of the tripartite model of the human psyche; Id, Ego and Superego. The Id lives in the utter darkness of the unconscious; above it, and in part born from it, is the Ego, the partially conscious realm, which we recognize as our own identity...

The Id is unseen, hidden, indwelling, shapeless and contains all passions and instinctual energy. It is that which is pulsating at birth and houses all innate needs and bodily demands. It is from the Id that the Ego takes its shape and parts of its "horse power" or energy...


So, plainly speaking, the Id is the subconscious, born of the desires and instincts of the Ego, the conscious, the self. Simple enough, right?

So how does that relate to Bleach? Glad you asked.

Let's think back to the very beginning of the manga, particularly the Don Kanonji chapters. When the taping of the show is taking place, Ichigo is worried about the ghost who is attached to the adandoned hotel going Hollow. Rukia tells him what hollows are before reassuring him that the ghost won't turn hollow in the space of an hour.

But what she says is very interesting. Let's take a look, shall we?



In the Viz translation of the manga, her line is a little different-and it was also what made me realize the theme that is ongoing with hollows.

"And so, the white mask that imitates a skull shields the naked Id from the outside world."

Both versions of the line say the same thing, really:

Hollows are the Id of the person they came from.

Okay, but that still doesn't tell me anything. Can you give me some examples?

Why, certainly! Let's look at one of the best cases, shall we?



...No, not him. We're not talking about him just yet.



There we go.

Yes, Inoue Sora. Orihime's older brother, who was killed three years prior to the storyline's events.

When he's a hollow, he's very focused in on one thing-Orihime seemingly not paying attention to him when she prayed for him everyday. He wanted to only have Orihime for himself, as family, and didn't want anyone to take her away from him-especially not Ichigo.

But why would his hollow be so focused in on that?

For a good reason-he basically raised Orihime himself. He took his little sister away from abusive parents, people who 'would hit a child until it stopped crying.' He saw her almost like a daughter, and protected her. Thus, his subconscious would have that written into itself-to protect her, to keep her around-just the two of them. After his death, when he lost his chain of fate, he obsessed about it to the point of attacking the one person most dear to him, in the hopes of either ending the pain of that obsession, or having her focus solely on him once more.

You see, the Id is selfish. It only wants to fulfill its desires, nothing else. It cares nothing for morals; that is the Ego and Superego's job. It runs and craves and wants according to it's instincts-nothing more, nothing less. In this case, Sora's hollow wanted the pain of thinking his little sister was forgetting about him to stop by any means necessary.

Sora's Ego-the man he was in life-was not so obsessed over his place in his little sister's heart, of course. The Ego is different from the Id, but at the same time, it is what causes the Id into being.

Although sometimes, that's not always the case. Take Shrieker, the hollow that imprisoned a young boy's soul into a parakeet. Shrieker was about the same as he was in real life-a murderous, sadistic son of a bitch serial killer that enjoyed killing people and watching them suffer. In his case, his Ego was malfunctioning in life, thus his Id was the driving force-and, unfortunately, one of the base instincts is the instinct to kill.

Okay, Fine. So what about Ichigo?

Ah, yes. Ichigo, Ichigo, Ichigo. He's the one who's hollow we know the most about, that creepy white bastard with the strange voice in his sideways realm. He's the one that gave us a better look into what exactly hollows were, and there's two pages I absolutely love in the manga simply because it flat out tells what Ichigo's hollow really is:





This, right here, is the hollow basically putting up a flashing sign above his head saying SUP, I'M THE ID. His maniacally gleeful manner while shouting out all these disturbing things only adds to the impact of his little speech. He's so happy because what he is saying is what he truly is; he is the instincts, the desires of Ichigo given form.

Now, this is all well and good, but what about the King and Horse the hollow spouted out before he started talking about what he was?

Well, that quote I used at the very beginning of this essay is what the hollow was referring to. The Ego is the Rider, the King, the Id the Horse. The Ego knows about morals and the outside world, the Id does not and does not care about either one.

Now, what makes Ichigo's dynamic with his hollow so interesting is that it has actual real-world consequences in the manga. Before Ichigo confronted his hollow, it interfered with his fights (which makes sense, since one of the main instincts that Ichigo has is the instinct to fight) and tormented him, since he was afraid of what the hollow would do. When he faces his hollow down, he gains control and is able to use the horse's power for his own ends, like what Freud says about the Id and Ego.

But there's another problem-It's obviously apparent that Ichigo does not accept his hollow as a part of himself. And when the Ego denies its Id, bad things happen. One could say that Ichigo's outright repression of this darker part of himself has hampered his fighting ability, and for good reason-the Ego needs a reason to fight, but the part of the psyche that does the actual fighting is the Id, which contains the instinct to fight and kill.

...Okay, but if we're talking about that, then we need to talk about That Arc.

Ah yes, That Arc. Specifically, the Lust arc. I originally wanted to skip over this part in my first thinking out of this fan essay (although I hate to call this an essay, it sounds so...stuck-up), since it's a hot topic of debate in Bleach fandom. But then I realized two things: One, that arc heavily involves Ichigo's hollow, and since this essay is basically all about him, I couldn't simply ignore it; and Two, if I am really that much of a wimp to chicken out because of what people on the internet might have to say about me, then I shouldn't even be using the internet in the first place.

Also, I'm not going to be claiming I'm unbiased, since no one can be truly unbiased about something they love enough to write something about, and if they say they are, then they are a hypocrite. Even critics have a bias before they critique something. However, I can make an effort to detach my own biases long enough to talk about the events rationally.

Anyway, enough simpering and apologizing. Let's discuss the Lust arc, but first, we need to understand why the events in the Lust arc occurred. Knowing what we do about Ichigo and his Hollow, it's logical to assume that when he defeated his hollow in battle, he offically became the 'Rider' while the hollow became the 'Horse.' But, right before the hollow accepts Ichigo, he says this:



Now, while this may seem like just a loser's last threat before slinking off in a corner, it's actually foreshadowing for a certain event.

Let's skip ahead, shall we? To Chapter 350, 'The Lust 4.'

In the chapters before this, Ichigo was fighting an enemy named Ulquiorra-an enemy that had killed him once before. Right before 'The Lust 4', Ulquiorra blows a hole in Ichigo's chest in front of two of his nakama-Orihime and Ishida. This results in Ishida attempting to fight Ulquiorra and becoming injured while Orihime has a mental breakdown over seeing the person she loves die in front of her. In the depths of her despair hurr hurr see what I did there, she cries out for him to help her, and it triggers a transformation...



Into this.

Now, what makes the transformation interesting is the page right before he transforms, and is also a source of debate in the fandom.

In it, Ichigo says, in a very stream-of-consciousness sort of way these lines:

"She's calling me...I can hear her...stand...stand up...I...I will protect her."

While there is some debate over the pronoun usage, the message is still the same: He heard her, she is calling for his help. Thus, he will help her. Removing or adding pronouns doesn't change the sentence or the meaning.

Here's where it gets really interesting. Ichigo, obviously, wants to help, to protect. But in the state he is now, he cannot do it.

So his hollow does.

The threat his hollow made wasn't idle-in this state, The Ego has fallen off the Id, so the Id will run free and follow the desires it wishes to fufill. And since all the desires of the Id are the desires of the Ego, in this case the Ego's greatest desire was to help Orihime and protect her from the danger all of them were facing.

And there is evidence for this, as seen here:



From the very mouth of the Id-the uninhibited subconscious that lives only to fulfill its own desires and instincts and doesn't care about morals or rationality-comes what it desired at that moment, however selfish or wrong it may or may not have been.

Then, you say, what does that mean for the Ego?

Well, at the very least, it means that Ichigo obviously does care for Orihime-he responded to her cry for help, even though that meant his hollow would have to take the reins to help her. The scope of how much he cares is debatable, but there is no getting away from the simple fact that that he does care for her, be it as Nakama or otherwise. Because, as I have been saying through the entire essay, the Id is born of the Ego's desires and instincts, thus it is a part of the Ego.

But then what about Ishida? The Hollow stabbed him, didn't he?

The situation with Ishida is actually much more simple than you would think it is. When Ishida was not interfering with its goal-to protect Orihime and destroy the danger threatening to interfere with that goal-he was ignored. But as soon as he stopped the hollow from delivering the final blow on Ulquiorra, Ishida also became a threat to the fulfilling of the desires of the Id.

So he got stabbed and nearly cero'd. It's quite simple when you think about it in a way someone running on pure instinct that doesn't care about morals or right and wrong would.

Before I get down to the conclusion of this piece, let me say one last thing on the subject of Ishida-while it was a very brave and noble thing to do what he did, it was also very, very dumb. What he did was akin to trying to stop a lion from mauling a person while unarmed. It's the right thing to do, of course, but it'll just end up getting you mauled instead, which is what happened.

So are you gonna sum this up or what? I have things to do.

Alright, alright. If you've sat with me through my prattling on about psychology theories in a shonen manga this far, I applaud you. You obviously have a good stomach for listening to the inane babbling of a fan who really should do other more constructive things with her time, but...

...at any rate, my conclusion is this: the theory of the states of the psyche by Freud have obviously been put in this comic for a reason, and I believe it is to help explain the behaviors of not only hollows, but the protagonist's behavior as well. Hopefully, through this, I have helped you with your understanding of the manga and the main character, Ichigo.

Of course, this could all go to hell in a hand basket, since this comic is currently ongoing, but that's just the chance you take, I guess.



I'd love to hear from anyone who read this. Tell me if you liked it, hated it, remembered something I forgot, thought I have way too much time on my hands, ect....Just please try to remain civil in your comments, I don't want to suddenly have a bunch of wank here.

But if you did like it, feel free to share it with your friends or anyone you think would enjoy my babblings. And, of course, have a wonderful day.
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March 2011

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