3 Ego Facts You Should Know
Ego, egoist, egocentric… When you hear these ego-words, you rarely conjure an image of a person who represents logic, balance, and rationale. Instead you may picture someone you loathe because they’ve slighted you and hurt you in the past. That picture is not wrong because semantically the word ‘ego’ is synonymous with pride, conceit, vanity, and other pejorative feelings.
However, in psychology and especially from the psychoanalysis perspective, ego is a mere component of an individual’s personality. Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche defines ‘ego’ as one of the three interacting agents in the psychic apparatus – id and superego being the other two. When you go by this definition, ego is not as notorious as its linguistic definition.
So, today let us understand the ego from a psychological dimension as a tribute to Ego Awareness Day.
Table of Contents
Fact #1: Id and Superego vs Ego
Ego and id dwell in conflict. According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the ego runs on the reality principle and id on the pleasure principle. Thus, it is ego’s job to ensure that we do not always give in to our impulses, that we stay away from drugs or alcohol, that we hold ourselves from strangulating our archenemies.
Then there is the superego – the supreme wise one! Superego, which runs on the morality or the conscience principle, is the reason why we resort to self-reproach, self-loathing, and guilt-tripping for things that go wrong in our life. And if it were solely up to the superego, we would all be drowning in the abysmal self-hatred.
So,ego i s always busy advocating logic and rationale to id and superego to maintain peace and harmony in our minds. Ego keeps us sane and safe.
Fact #2: The center of the field of consciousness
According to Carl Jung the ego represents the conscious mind and hence it is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness like thoughts, memories, and emotions. Ego, through the process of individuation, carves out the unique being who is able to fulfill the peculiarity of his / her nature. Jung believes that individuation is giving birth to who we really are and thus the process of individuation is the process of becoming our true self. Ego creates our self.
Fact #3: “The ego is not master in its own house.”
Using Freud’s quote, we can safely assume that even though Ego may be the center of the field of consciousness, it falls short in the vast realm of the unconscious. Freud considers the unconscious the real master, and ego a mere cog in the wheel that serves not one not two but three masters. “The poor ego has a still harder time of it; it has to serve three harsh masters, and it has to do its best to reconcile the claims and demands of all three… The three tyrants are the external world, the superego, and the id. – Freud
Ego, in dictionary terms or in terms of human values, certainly has a negative connotation but there is more to the ego than meets the semantic eyes. Ego – the Greek word for ‘I’, is the subject of many researchers and psychologists alike, and limiting it to mere dictionary meaning seems unfair. So, keeping in mind Robert A. Heinlein’s quote, “Man is not a rational animal he is a rationalizing animal.”, let us be our rationalizing being and be more aware of the ego – good, bad or ugly!
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.”–John Lennon