Before we identify what the ego is, and why it’s a big problem, let’s look at what I consider to be diseases of the ego:
– Insecurity around groups of strangers.
– Hesitation to assert oneself to a superior.
– Modifying one’s behavior to act very “nice”.
– Modifying one’s behavior to act very “hard”.
– Mentally rehearsing what you’re going to say, before you say it.
– Feeling uncertain before expressing personality traits.
– Feeling unsure about your own self-worth in the eyes of others.
– Feeling unsure about your own personality or identity, and trying to mimic other people’s identities.
Anybody who is severely affected by one or more of these tendencies cannot accurately call him or herself an alpha. These habits are the bane of proper confidence.
Many of these traits may fall under the umbrella of certain psychological problems, but for this program we’re going to look at them as being squarely the result of damaged ego problems, so we can try to develop a new (and admittedly experimental) model.
To first understand the origin of these behavioral issues, let’s examine…
The Nature of the Ego
I used to be uncertain about the term “ego”. It’s very hard to define it. From an early age, I’d hear people who are loud, boisterous or who express over-compensatory behavior as having “big egos”.
But this pop-psychological response is overused, and ill-defined. The ego is part of a three-tier mental theory defined by Freud as the id, ego, and super-ego, which together is known as Freud’s structural model of the psyche.
The first is the id, our pleasure-seeking, carnal desires, described by Freud as a force that “knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality. … Instinctual cathexes seeking discharge” (Freud, New Introductory Lectures, P. 107).
The id, which is the realm of things like hunger and sex, is our impulsive response to instinctual desires. Fortunately, it’s tempered by the ego, which helps us to organize reality. Instead of acting impulsively or blindly, the ego is our sense of self layered over the id to create rational, long-term beneficial decisions to help to acquire what the id desires.
For instance, the cognitive thoughts of the ego rationalize how to best obtain food; stealing it would endanger us, but asking nicely and paying for it is more likely to satisfy our hunger and keep us safe and healthy.
The next is the super ego which works in contrast to the id, and composes socially constructed laws to enable a person to function in a society of peers. The super ego may be a person’s sense of shame or guilt about certain desires of the id. It may also define a person’s sense of moral boundaries.
To be specific and Freudian, when dealing with natural feelings of self-consciousness or an excessive awareness of your actions in the eyes of others, we’re dealing with a dysfunctional super ego.
However, for simplification’s sake, the ego as it’s commonly defined can also be used. The ego has, since Freud’s time, changed meaning. It’s now a term applied to an assortment of behaviors, including an over-exalted sense of self-worth, or deep-seeded but obvious insecurities.
Freud, in writing about the super ego / ego, seemed to come close to a proper definition, that there are parts of our personalities that are really just our reflections in the eyes of others, but he perhaps fell short of recognizing precisely how it manifests and the dangers when a person has a limited sense of self, but an expanded sense of social consciousness.
From here on out, when I use the term “ego” what I am really describing is “an artificially constructed personality used to please others and reduce feelings of pain”. So, you may see me use a more specific definition: the ego-construct.
This definition works for me. When you see a guy bragging loudly about his fast car, and you say “Man, that guy has a big ego”, what you mean is that he’s using an artificial personality to try and prop up his social value to maintain status and mask insecurities.
Ultimately, the construct-ego is a fake personality created because of the illusionary belief that the real self, or core-personality, is not enough.