References to Psychology in Neon Genesis Evangelion

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This article bears the unpleasant designation of "Stub." This is a Bad Thing. Provide a great service to NGE fan-geeks everywhere by making it awesomer!

To be paired with Religious References in Neon Genesis Evangelion (and perhaps with Sexual Imagery in Neon Genesis Evangelion?). Guidelines for expansion: The top part is only for concrete and confirmed references. The bottom part, which bears the T&A label, allows some theorization, thematic analysis etc. But please be concise and try to avoid that type of kitchen sink philosophy found on trillion dubious fan-sites.

Confirmed References


English language title for Episode 18. A psychoanalysis term coined by Swiss psychoanalyst Paul Eugen Bleuler in 1911. It is a state of having simultaneous, conflicting feelings toward a person or thing. More specifically for psychoanalysis it refers to an underlying emotional attitude in which the co-existing contradictory impulses derive from a common source and are thus held to be interdependent. It would not usually be expected that the person embodying ambivalence would actually feel both of the two contradictory emotions as such. One emotion is usually very open and expressed while the contradictory emotion is repressed and can only come to light through analysis. In the episode this term is referring to Shinji's thoughts about fighting Evangelion Unit-03. The two conflicting emotions are his duty to Nerv to kill the Angels and his reluctance of killing an Eva with a human pilot inside.


Destrudo is a term coined by Italian psychoanalyst Edoardo Weiss in 1935. It describes a psychic energy that arises from the Death Drive (Thanatos). It is basically the mechanism that is involved in the destruction of a living being, essentially returning that living being back to "nothing" in extreme cases. It is implied that the effects of destrudo manifest in a living being's A.T. Field. The term is loosely taken from Freudian Psychology and is an opposing energy to Libido as seen in the Psychographs of Episode 20. Destrudo is also mentioned in the 'End of Evangelion when Shinji is crucified and Giant Naked Rei appears. In The End of Evangelion, while the Destrudo reference is cryptic and unelaborated, it actually goes far to explain the driving force behind the Third Impact, as well as Shinji Ikari's desire for everyone, including himself; to die. It is in fact Shinji's Destrudo that is manifested at the Third Impact, and is the trigger for Lilith's cataclysmic Anti-AT Field.


A OST III title that's a reference to the mental disorder. To read more in detail about the disorder, the wikipedia article on it is quite broad in scope.

Hedgehog's Dilemma

The English title for Episode 04 and a OST I song. This is a concept created by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. [Source needed] The analogy describes a situation of hedgehogs having to hurt one another with their quills if they wish to be close to each other for warmth during cold weather. It is a statement on how human beings cannot become intimate with others without sustaining the unavoidable mutual harm that comes with it. The dilemma is then simply trading pain for a deeper connection and interaction with others. As such, it is an explanation to why people sometimes avoid contact, even to the point of complete isolation. Although the analogy is flawed in that hedgehogs don't actually hurt each other in close proximity, the idea behind this attribute of human interaction has been adopted by others, notably Freud.

Infantile Dependence

Part of a OST III title. Infantile dependence is the subjugating of a person to their parental figures, usually his or her mother. This usually occurs during the early states of life when a child is totally dependent on their parents.


English language title for Episode 19 as well as a song in OST III. It is the incorporation of characteristics of a person or object into one's own psyche unconsciously. According to Freud, the ego and the superego are constructed by introjecting external behavior into the subject's own persona. This can be a defense mechanism where one takes on attributes of a strong other person who is able to cope with the current threat. In the episode Evangelion Unit-01/Yui "incorporates" Shinji, similar to introjection except in a physical sense.


Libido describes a psychic energy that arises from the Life Drive (Eros). It is basically the mechanism that is involved in the creation of a living being, essentially forming a living being out of "nothing" in extreme cases. It is implied that the effects of libido manifest in a living being's A.T. Field. The term is loosely taken from Freudian Psychology and is an opposing energy to Destrudo also as seen in the Psychographs of Episode 20.

Oral Stage

The English title for Episode 20, Weaving a Story part two: Oral Stage. In psychoanalysis, the oral stage is the first stage of Freud's psychosexual stages about child development. An infant derives pleasure from having things in their mouth at this stage.

Pleasure Principle

A OST II title. It is a principle that simply states that people seek pleasure and avoid pain. According to Freud, the part of the psyche that acts according to this principle is the id. You can find the Wikipedia entry here

Separation Anxiety

A OST III title that's a reference to the psychological condition where people feel extremely anxious with being away from home or people they're emotionally attached to. Separation Anxiety can become a disorder depending on the severity of it.

The Sickness Unto Death

The first title of Episode 16, Sickness unto death, and..., is a reference to a book by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. The novel says physical death is nothing to fear but mental death is. The "Sickness unto Death" is the mental death, called despair. Despair is a misrelation between the physical and mental elements of humans. In the episode when Shinji is talking with Leliel about his own despair. Shinji runs away from things he does not like and clings to the praises he receives. All of the forms of despair, according to Kierkegaard, involve a failure to be a human being in the fullest possible sense. Shinji does not believe himself to be worth anything except for his Eva pilot status. According to some, Kierkegaard's main message is that we cannot rely on other people on the world to provide us with answers to the most basic moral and philosophical questions. We as individuals are the ones who will have to live with our personal decisions so we must act according to our own personal convictions. In the end of the show Shinji has to make his own choice and he realizes he can be a valuable person without piloting an Eva and rejects Instrumentality.


This is the Death Drive, somewhat like an "instinct/wish" to die. It was originally proposed by Freud in in 1920 in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Freud says this on the Death Drive: "an urge inherent in all organic life to restore an earlier state of things". This may be related to tanging. It is also the title of a OST II song as an instrumental and a separate song for the End of Evangelion. The song Thanatos used during the anime is usually related to Rei. She possesses the death drive because she knows she can be replaced if she dies.

Theory & Analysis

Freudian Applications


Asuka/Rei/Shinji as Id/Super-Ego/Ego

A theory that has been tossed around quite a bit, and holds some superficial merit, this theory postulates that the three main pilots of Evangelion represent the different regions of the Freudian mind.


In this theory, Asuka would represent the Id, the aspect of the Freudian mind that is the storehouse of unconscious desires such as hunger and lust. Her actions in parts of the series often represent this aspect of the mind, most often in a sexual sense, but it Asuka is far too deep a character to just simply dismiss her as "lustful". But in this respect, her influences are what bring Shinji (ego) to a point in which he must determine the course of his sexual development, so in a sense, this aspect checks out.


In the theory, Rei would represent the Super-Ego, the part of the mind in which societal post-Oedipal expectations input on the functions of the Ego. Rei's apparent coldness and devotion to Shinji father (Oedipal much?) also seem to evidence this theory, and her cold relationship with Asuka (Id and Super-ego being diametrically opposed) also further this theory.


Finally, in this context, Shinji would represent the Ego, the mediator between the Id and Super-Ego, which process the demands of both and makes informed decisions. This is where comparison begins to get a bit shaky. Though Shinji processes the influences of both Asuka and Rei, he is often too weak to make any informed decision at all. This may be evidence of a weakened ego, but for now, it will be left at that.


Toji/Hikari/Kensuke as Id/Super-Ego/Ego

This theory by Shin-seiki has Shinji's three schoolmates representing the three regions of the Freudian mind.


Toji is defined by his emotions and appetites. He is violent to Shinji in the beginning of the show and loves to eat large amounts of food at lunch.


Hikari is pre-eminently concerned with what is morally right, thus she represents the Super-ego. We see her function as a sort of moral arbiter or conscience to the other children. She doesn't just simply remind Kensuke to deliver the print-outs to Toji and leave it at that; she has to lay a whole guilt trip on him.


Kensuke tends to think things through more sensibly and logically. Kensuke is occasionally carried away by fits of enthusiasm. On the other hand, Kensuke is sensible and level-headed in comparison with Toji.

Jungian Applications

See this thread for a more complete (though questionably endorsed) analysis of Carl Jung's theories that may have influenced Evangelion.

Major Propositions:

1. The Evangelions represent the unconscious, LCL represents the Libido, the soul inside EVA-01 represents part of Shinji's anima, the soul inside EVA-02 represents Asuka's anima, Rei is part of Shinji's anima, Eva-00 has no resident soul and AT Field represents barrier between consciousness and unconscious.

2. Evangelion is the myth of Anno in anime form.