Mr. Carl Jung, famed psychoanalyst, who came up with the term ‘collective unconscious’ and helped everyone understand what the id is, was recently interviewed by D.A. Hewitt regarding motivations; that is, what is it that motivates people to do the things they do, even in many cases in self-defeating ways.
D.A. Hewitt: Welcome, Mr. Jung. While you’re here, perhaps you could explain what you view as the biggest motivators in human behavior.
Carl Jung: Sigh. Sometimes it seems like the biggest motivator is acting inhumane. Remember, I lived in Europe prior to the outbreak of World War Two, and the many stories I’ve heard, the atrocities I’ve seen, certainly enlightens me to the evil that can be cast upon our fellow humans.
D.A. Hewitt: Sure, but what about here in the United States? What about the average Joe in the year 2016? This person has a job, is law-abiding except for a bit of speeding now and then, and has some average hobbies and interests?
Carl Jung (breaks out an elegantly carved mahogany pipe, lights it, and takes a puff): Ah yes. Well, as you know Mr. Hewitt, thanks to your process map of consciousness, that the human psyche can be divided into 3 parts, the ego, superego, and the id. Think of the superego as your conscience, that ethereal coach figure or father figure or mother figure that is guilting you into doing the “right thing.” The id is pure instinct. It’s primal. It is a kind of murky wellspring from which archetypal figures (think stereotypes, or maybe Roman gods) spring forth. According to Wikipedia, it is “the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives. The id contains the libido, which is the primary source of instinctual force that is unresponsive to the demands of reality.” The id works on the “pleasure principle.”
D.A. Hewitt: What about the ego? What’s that all about?
Carl Jung: I’ll admit that Freud had the ego pegged fairly well. Freud concedes that as the ego “attempts to mediate between id and reality, it is often obliged to cloak the [unconscious] commands of the id with its own rationalizations, to conceal the id’s conflicts with reality, … to be taking notice of reality even when the id has remained rigid and unyielding.” In other words, ego is a regulating mechanism that enables the individual to delay gratifying immediate needs and function effectively in the real world. An example would be to resist the urge to grab other people’s belongings and buy them instead buy them.
D.A. Hewitt: So, we’re motivated by the id?
Carl Jung: Absolutely. And the scary part is, a lot of what goes on in the id is below our radar. Have you ever felt an urge to lash out at times when you’re extremely frustrated?
D.A. Hewitt: I suppose so. I think it’s a fairly common urge. What separates adults from children is that adults can recognize those urges that are totally or perhaps even partially inappropriate and not act on them.
Carl Jung: Yes! It’s through the process of individuation. That’s what growing up is all about. And it’s about becoming more aware as part of the individuation process. For example, we might later in life appreciate the beauty of a sunset whereas earlier in life we might be wondering where the next party is.
D.A. Hewitt: You make it sound like we’re subject to the whims of the id.
Carl Jung: Doesn’t that explain why we often behave in behaviors that are often self-defeating?
D.A. Hewitt: Yes, I suppose it does. Any last words?
Carl Jung: Only this. I wish the concept that an appreciation of the depth of self-awareness is sorely lacking in your U.S. society would be more fully delved into in the public eye. Perhaps a steal-this-thesis blog?
D.A. Hewitt (laughs): Perhaps.