Some more needs to be said about ego. The ego reveals itself in ways that suggest the nature of its core. Let me preface this by saying that the ego is a part of us, but represents the baser desires, and if one listens solely to ego, then that person will never gain control over oneself, and thus is denied access to higher levels of consciousness. And so, it’s important to understand what ego is all about.
Perhaps Freud said it best.
Freud’s Description of Ego
“One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go.”
~ Sigmund Freud
So, as you can see, Freud alludes to control. And that’s what the superego (or uberego/overlord) part of our psyches have different goals. In life, we make sacrifices, for example, in order to achieve the greater good, which everyone defines in their own terms. But perhaps the best example is the family unit. Parents make sacrifices so that their children will have a good life. Now, their egos can certainly be proud of the children’s achievements, but there certainly have been public examples of parents demanding that their children do certain things, follow certain career paths, go to a particular school, etc, etc, but the point is, for these parents, the important thing is for the child to conform to a particular image in the parent’s mind, not the well-being of the child, being flexible by taking into account the interests and skills of the child.
I yam what I yam.
Okay, so I don’t know if younger generations recognize references to Popeye the Sailor. It was a popular comic strip as well as a cartoon series. Popeye would get into bad situations, open a can of spinach, eat it and gain super strength. Popeye could gain super human strength, but he was a simple sailor man, and when his critics would point out his faults, Popeye would answer, “I yam what I yam.” (Translation: I am what I am.)
The Key: Alignment
So, when the ego goes off on a journey of self-aggrandizement, self-gratification, self-anointing, self-pleasuring, be aware that the journey may be accompanied by elements of self-delusion. In my next few blog posts, I’m going to write about the superego (uberego/overlord) and try to settle on a nomenclature for this term. It really stinks that the original translation was so horrible. Uberego in German was translated into superego for most of Jung’s translations. And the term stuck. So, I’ll be moving from the topic of ego to “superego” shortly, but in the meantime, let’s wrap up today’s discussion of ego.
Remember: the ego has its own agenda, and the illusions that ego can spin are truly amazing. Hasn’t everyone at some point in life had an experience when up seemed like it became down, and forward became back. And on and on. The point is, this is when the “reality construct” that ego spins gets revealed, and the true reality comes tumbling down. It’s like when a lewd husband has an affair and tells himself that it’s not a big deal and he loves his wife and this is just a bit of taking care of his needs. And then the affair is revealed. And the husband learns that the affair means quite a bit more to his wife than he had foreseen. Really? Did he think this was something that could be glossed over?
Next thing you know, O.J. will be pronounced innocent, and his own mind, it will be a just judgment. Wow. How’s that for an example of the way the ego can twist and warp one’s perspective and construct a reality that doesn’t jibe with the facts. But what the hell do I know? Except …, someone just reported a knife was found on the O.J. property 20 years ago (or so). And the discovery was reported. And the police said, the case was closed, so never mind. DOH! The case was never closed.