Education of Ego

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Ego,  in psychoanalytic theory, that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “I” and is in contact with the external world through perception. It is said to be the part that remembers, evaluates, plans, and in other ways is responsive to and acts in the surrounding physical and social world. 

Sigmund Freud would have been a great Hollywood screenwriter. His “story” of personality is one of desire, power, control, and freedom. The plot is complex and the characters compete. Our personalities represent a drama of sorts, acted out in our minds. “You” are a product of how competing mental forces and structures interact. The ancient Greeks thought that all people were actors in the drama of the gods above. For Freud, we are simply actors in the drama of our minds, pushed by desire, pulled by conscience. Underneath the surface, our personalities represent the power struggles going on deep within us.

Three main players carry all of this drama out:

  • Id: The seat of our impulses
  • Ego: Negotiates with the id, pleases the superego
  • Superego: Keeps us on the straight and narrow

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get everything you wanted, whenever and however you wanted it? Unfortunately, most of us know otherwise. We all know how frustrating it can be when a desire goes unmet. Well, you can blame your ego for that. The ego’s main function is to mediate between the id’s demands and the external world around us — reality in other words. Does the Rolling Stones’ song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” come to mind?

So far, it seems that, if it wasn’t for reality, we would be a lot more satisfied. Even though the ego finds itself in conflict with the id, satisfaction is not abandoned. The ego is like a sports agent for a really talented athlete. Even though the athlete may demand a multimillion-dollar contract, the agent reminds him that he could price himself out of a job. So the ego negotiates with the id in order to get it what it wants without costing it too much in the long run. The ego accomplishes this important task by converting, diverting, and transforming the powerful forces of the id into more useful and realistic modes of satisfaction. It attempts to harness the id’s power, regulating it in order to achieve satisfaction despite the limits of reality.

-Ego and Love

“The Ego is fortified by love (Ishq). This word is used in a very wide sense and means the desire to assimilate, to absorb. Its highest form is the creation of values and ideals and the endeavor to realize them. Love individualizes the lover as well as the beloved. The effort to realize the most unique individuality individualizes the seeker and implies the individuality of the sought, for nothing else would satisfy the nature of the seeker. As love fortifies the Ego, asking  weakens it.” All that is achieved without personal effort comes under asking. The son of a rich man who inherits his father’s wealth is an ‘asker’ (beggar); so is every one who thinks the thoughts of others. Thus, in order to fortify the Ego we should cultivate love, i.e. the power of assimilative action, and avoid all forms of ‘asking. 

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4 thoughts on “Education of Ego

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