Tuesday, January 30, 2007

survival of the Iddist

Chani asked me to further expand on the post I wrote last week - how I viewed the role of ego in our culture and in my own life.

I had to take a few days to think about it, because, well, ahem...... It Had To Be Good. Enough said about my own ego.

While I used the word ego in my earlier post to describe what we commonly think of as ego; I have always gravitated more to the concept of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. Freud theorized that the Ego is the balance of the other two polar opposites, the one that is supposed to keep us in check while occasionally setting us free and yet still getting kicked in the head. While I can't say I subscribe to Freudian thought, I have always thought that this concept does a terrific job at characterizing our ongoing struggle for balance. And for me, visualizing it as three distinct yet intertwined (body, mind, spirit) beings with our choices and actions and motivators in play makes sense, Freudian theory or not.

Id is that carnal nasty dude, the one who jacks off all day and eats 4 pizzas in one sitting. He chainsmokes, Id, and swears like a truck driver. He needs a bath. And you don't want Id going out with your daughter.

Superego is another story. This cat is so tightly wound that he even pisses in a straight line. While holding a Bible in one hand and the other cast in a military salute. His room is clean. And you don't want him going out with your daughter, either. Unless you are a fundamentalist. But if that was the case you are probably not reading this, so let's move along.

And then there's our friend Ego. She is the sweet balance. She cleans up the pizza boxes and unclenches the fist. But she gets the most face time, and therefore is open to more criticism. When in reality, all she's doing is a mad dash between the basement (Id) and the loft (SE), barely pausing to catch her breath in between.

So when I ponder what role the ego plays in our culture, I am more aptly thinking of how our culture relentlessly pursues Id in the hopes of getting him really riled up and going hog wild. Consume. More. Now. Consequences be damned. And other parts of our culture really pander to the Superego, forcing their stick even further up his backside. You MUST live like this if you are to live a moral life. You must. This Way.

But who, if anyone, is really pursuing the ego? In my opinion, she's exhausted. Struggling to resist the temptations while simultaneously deflecting the guilt she feels for not being perfect. But the Id, well, that dude is the one we should worry about. He's bound to embarrass us - if the ego takes a rest the door is wide open and Id is always raring to go. To the next feel good thing. No matter if it steps on the backs of someone else. Power, greed, glory, gluttony. Id loves that shit. And don't get me wrong - Id's not all bad - he's a good time joe as well - some pleasure seeking is of course, merely that. Enough said.

To say that the Id is stimulated any more or less in this culture than others - I suppose I'd say yes, when it comes down to choice. To over consume rather than to simply survive. But that is another whole post in itself, as well as how organized religion feeds these concepts, both and all.

So, dear Chani, I don't think this is really answering what you asked me, but I am high on green tea and this is my late night .02.

I think, once again, it goes back to mindfulness. That our culture benefits from feeding our Id, and unchecked, Id will act like the lone male in a hot tub at the playboy mansion (not that there's anything wrong with that). And our Superego, well, left to his own devices, he'll have everyone subscribing to his own version of what is right, no ifs ands or buts. And no compassion, either.

But that's why our girl Ego is here. She's the one we need to make friends with. She's the one who helps us find the balance.

It's up to us to make sure she's not too exhausted to keep up.

*And please note - the obvious gender-izing of the concepts in question was just that. No offense to our brothers intended.


Anonymous said...

Man, it's crowded in here. No wonder I keep eating - they want a bigger house.

Andrea said...

That's interesting. I'm familiar w/ Freud's typology but I've never really felt it, if that makes sense--I don't have the sense of three warring folks living in my head.

Not that that's what you meant, but that's always what Freud's ideas made me think of.

I might write about the wiccan typology, just because I've never really thought about it in terms of how well it doesn't fit with the founder of Western psychology.

crazymumma said...

I loved how you personilized ID, cracked me right up. I still remember learning about Freud in high school and being FASCINATED with the concept of these LAYERS!

Ego sounds like a parent...she just does, an eye rolling I have two teenage sons (or daughters) parent. Shit. bigirl is superego and littlegirl is id. shit.

My head hurts. I need a drink and its only 10 am. ;)

great post by the way. I don't know if it was supposed to make me laugh but it did.

NotSoSage said...

And I'd definitely let Ego go out with my daughter.

NotSoSage said...

...when she (my daughter) is old enough, of course, and only once that chick gets both of her scummy houseguests out of the house.

Julie Pippert said...

I did laugh at the gender distribution. :)

Very interesting post! Much to ponder...

urban-urchin said...

I'm trying to think of something witty to say but ID is in charge right now so it's all belching and scratching privates here right now.

Thailand Gal said...

I replied to this on my site. It got too long for the comments box. :)



Tabba said...

You've been keeping me on the edge - keeping me thinking.

And believe me, I need it.

QT said...

I love the characterizations. I think the older one gets, the better we get at deciding who gets to come out to play.

Lucia said...

Your characterizations are SO wonderful, that by the end I just wanted to see, "Come over here Ego. Sit on my lap. Let me get to know you."

Her Bad Mother said...

The ancient Greeks (who Freud borrowed from) understood it terms of the soul, which was (they argued) made up of three interactive parts - reason, spirit and appetite. Ideally, these don't war - they work in harmony. The trick is in the balance.

Aaah, balance.

(great post!)

Laurie said...

Great post! I would love to add something profound to this discussion but my mind is rather blank tonight (like that's something new).

flutter said...

HA! Id made me laugh, I must say. Isn't it such a delicate thing, balance?

kristen said...

You are such a wise woman Jen, truly. And I loved your spot-on descriptions of Id, Ego and Super Ego.

carrie said...

I love the way you explained this! Way better than those stuffy, old college profs I had way back when (no offense to any out there, I'm sure you weren't as bland as Dr. I'mgonnaboreyoutodeath).

I love that girl Ego, I try to give her a pat on the back whenever I can!


Mrs. Chicky said...

Good post! I liked your take on it. But, um, can I still feed my Id Oreos? It keeps him quiet.

J Fife said...

Remind me to get you some more green tea. This is a fabulous post.

wordgirl said...

None of this would make sense to me if I hadn't helped my oldest son research a 14-page research paper on Freud.