Beginner’s guide to understanding the ego


I have always wondered what role the ego plays in shaping our personality. Ego has such a negative connotation that I went about in search of why humans are bestowed with an ego if it has such a bad rap. One can always argue that it is like the appendix, its just there, no one knows why. But then, what is the fun in that?

After reading much about it I have come to the conclusion that ego is the middle man that gets crushed between the ID and Superego. It is not all that bad. My job today is to debunk this myth that ego is evil. It is actually your best friend and acts in your best interest.

Per Freud, ID is what defines who we are. What we like and dislike – the shades of color that define us and are unique to us. Think – I like mint chocolate chip ice cream, the color beige and instrumental music etc.

Superego is the part of us that helps discern right from wrong. It keeps us on the moral high ground. Think – I cannot cut in line but need to stand in Q to get to the counter, let me give my seat to the old lady on the bus etc.

Enter Ego – it balances the demands of the ID and Superego and keeps a human balanced. If either ID or Superego increases, there is an imbalance.

Give you an example?

My ID – I love peace and quiet especially around dinner time.

My superego – I get angry when neighbors do not follow rules and make loud noises during dinner time. I am thinking that they need to be socially responsible and do the right thing.

As a result, every day I get more and more frustrated around dinner time. (My superego is having a field day going above and beyond and growing in size). There is shock and awe and a complete imbalance!

The curtain raises and my ego makes a grand entry.

My Ego – my best friend wants to keep me in balance and does not want me to get riled up every day during dinner time. It comes up with a defense strategy, suppression in my case. Every time anger rises in me, my ego helps tuck that feeling away with suppression (a coping mechanism).

There are many other defense mechanisms that the ego has up its sleeve and will unleash them based on the need.

So, you see, ego is not all that bad. Now, let me go enjoy my dinner.

Reference –

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