Saturday, January 14, 2006


Okie-doke. This is where my mind is at, this morning. Not exclusively, but this is where I think I should take my cue, and hopefully I will have something original and potentially insightful, by the time I finish typing.

Now for the obligatory copy/paste of the definitions:

The ego, superego, and id are the tripartite divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory compartmentalizing the sphere of mental activity into three energetic components:

1. the id being the source of psychological energy derived from instinctual needs and drives.

2. the ego being the organized conscious mediator between the internal person and the external reality.

3. the superego being the internalization of the conscious extenuated by rules, conflict, morals, guilt, etc.

Although psychoanalysis has a variety of views on when ego psychology began, most who identify with the ego psychological school place its beginnings with Sigmund Freud's 1923 book The ego and the id, in which Freud introduced what would later come to be called the structural theory of psychoanalysis. The structural theory divides the mind into three agencies or "structures": the id, the ego, and the superego.

* * * * * * (skip) * * * * * *


In Freud's view the ego mediates between the id, the superego, and the external world to balance our primitive drives, our moral ideals and taboos, and the limitations of reality (ego means I in Latin—the original German word Freud applied was "Ich".) Although in his early writings Freud equated the ego with our sense of self, he later began to portray it more as a set of psychic functions such as reality-testing, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, memory, and the like.

Hmmm. I sense some thoughts coming.

Ok. Now if the average-ish person thinks of the Ego as the self, they are not really far off the mark. However, I see a new way of describing the Ego; as the "Switcher." I wanted to say Switchman, like the term is used in the world of railroads; the guy who in the old days, literally pulled a lever to make sure the train took the south west spur of track instead of the due west track, but I did not want to be sexist. But perhaps not because of linguistic-gender issues, maybe switcher is better, as it is less of a personalized thing, and could just be a piece of machinery.

In any event, the idea I am leading to is this. In classic Freudian theory, there is no real 'firewall' between the Id and the Ego. Oh, and the Superego is the ultimate 24/7 - 365 creature. That bugger is always at work, even if you are not aware of it. So then what is the Ego, if it really is not a free-standing, independent part of the mind?

It is more of a lever or switch, perhaps. It is the little control room where the conscious part of our minds can ATTEMPT to regulate the rest of our unruly minds, those two other parts that are often at cross-purposes, and direct the mind, and after that, the body, to do our will.

Hard part is figuing out the motivation for any Ego-enabled decision. Mr. or Ms. Id does not sleep either, and we know that Superego is always trying to keep us under control, under the guidance of whatever prime and secondary directives it has loaded into its control center. When Id and Superego are at odds, and Ego is fully self-aware of the conflict, oftentimes Ego nearly-really is calling the shots, particularly if in a state of full self-awareness, Ego engages in the full evaluation of all relevant data, analysis, and projections. In other words, when Ego does all the math and arrives at the precise and correct solutions to all the equations, free will and deliberate choice is being exercised to its fullest.

But how many people are that self-aware all the time that every thing they do, they do with the precision of a scientific, and empirically tested and restested flow chart?

Not me, not not anyone I know!

What I think is more often the case, is one or the other of Id or Superego is dominant (at any point in time), and choices may seem to be deliberate. But they really are not. Choices are often the result of a greater amount of control or force being applied on the mind by either by Id or Superego, and Ego is merly functioning like some 4 cent simple electrical switch, that will either open or close the circut, when it recieves a sufficient level of electrical current to "force the action."

And what about the other scenario? I mean what about the times when both Id and Superego are in sync enough that Ego does not even engage in the minimal level of near conscious deliberation, and just throws the switch, as if on auto pilot?

That definitely happens.

So am I saying that free will and free choice are mere illusions? No. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that. However, I am saying that a lot of the time, what we may take for free will or free exercise of our will may be something much less than a true, deliberative act.

Just something that is on my mind now.


Blogger gdr said...

ego (after Freud)

4:59 AM  
Blogger gdr said...

ego (after Freud)

4:59 AM  
Blogger gdr said...

ego (after Freud)

4:59 AM  

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