Because the superego is internalized in childhood, its moral injunctions are partially based on imagined rather than actual parental demands.
A common mistake among popular psychologists is to equate the superego with the conscience.
Although influencing moral attitudes, the superego differs from the conscience. Internal conflicts can arise between the superego and the conscience or between the superego and more recently acquired attitudes and beliefs.
Later in his career Freud talks about a “cultural superego,” as he becomes a budding sociologist. Wikipedia explains:
In Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), he also discusses the concept of a “cultural super-ego”. Freud suggested that the demands of the super-ego “coincide with the precepts of the prevailing cultural super-ego. At this point the two processes, that of the cultural development of the group and that of the cultural development of the individual, are, as it were, always interlocked.” Ethics are a central element in the demands of the cultural super-ego, but Freud (as analytic moralist) protested against what he called “the unpsychological proceedings of the cultural super-ego … the ethical demands of the cultural super-ego. It does not trouble itself enough about the facts of the mental constitution of human beings.”¹