In taming the impulses of the Id, the Ego replaces the pleasure principle, which was earlier the sole regulating factor, by the so-called reality principle, which indeed pursues the same ends but takes into account the conditions imposed by the outer world.
Under its influence, the search for pleasure ceases to be immediate as momentary and uncertain pleasures are renounced in order to gain a more assured pleasure at a later stage (deferred gratification).
The quest for pleasure is thus modified so as to make it conform to the conditions imposed by external realities. The religious doctrine which holds that those who renounce earthly pleasures can expect to be rewarded in the afterlife is viewed by [[Freud] as a projection of the reality principle.
Freud introduces the reality principle (principe de rèalitè), a new 'principle of mental functioning' which modifies the pleasure principle and forces the subject to take more circuitous routes to satisfaction.
"Reality isn't just there so that we bump our heads up against the false paths along which the functioning of the pleasure principle leads us. In truth, we make reality out of pleasure."
Respectively, the desire for immediate gratification vs. the deferral of that gratification. Quite simply, the pleasure principle drives one to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. However, as one grows up, one begins to learn the need sometimes to endure pain and to defer gratification because of the exigencies and obstacles of reality:
"An ego thus educated has become 'reasonable'; it no longer lets itself be governed by the pleasure principle, but obeys the reality principle, which also at bottom seeks to obtain pleasure, but pleasure which is assured through taking account of reality, even though it is pleasure postponed and diminished."
- Template:QLA Ch. 3
- Freud, 1911b: SE XII, 219
- 1951b: ll
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.60
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-60. Trans. Dennis Porter. London: Routledge, 1992. p.225
- Introductory Lectures 16.357