Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ego and the Id

Hmmm, lets see, now:

Ego: Psychoanalysis: the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

Id: Psychoanalysis: the part of the mind in which innate instinctive impulses and primary processes are manifest.

All humans have both, though few...including me...know much about the id. I gather the id is pretty much on autopilot, not interfering too much--at least consciously--with day to day life. But ah, the ego! Again, we all have an ego, but while most normal people merely acknowledge the fact, the not-so-normal can be totally consumed by it. (The names of several politicians immediately spring to mind.) And while I hope I am not consumed by it, mine is large enough that I'm constantly tripping over it like a cat which insists on walking six inches in front of your feet when you're trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. (Nothing like a 48-word sentence to keep you on your toes!) And, like that cat, my ego can be truly annoying.

Do you, for example, think you're special? Well, of course you are special, but you probably don't have a shadow-self walking behind you constantly whispering it your ear. Unfortunately, I do hear the whispers. ("Wow! You're really special, Roger. Why isn't everyone falling all over themselves to buy your books? Boy, you're good! Nobody quite like you!") All well and good, I suppose, were each whisper not followed by a really sarcastic laugh.

Most people live outside themselves, in a world filled with jobs and spouses and children and obligations and activities of one sort and another. Therefore, they as a rule don't have any much if any time to think about their ego. One's ego is, in fact, generally more apparent to other people than to oneself. I, as I'm sure you've noticed--and it is a classic example of my ego to assume you would notice--am pretty much the opposite of most people. You might, if you are charitable, chalk it up to the fact that I have no "job," no spouse, no children, and relatively few social obligations or activities ("Oh, you poor, dear, noble soul!" the voice whispers.) But the fact is that nearly from the time I left my mother's womb, I have enveloped myself in a cocoon of ego. Very early on in life I became aware--correctly, I'm sure--of being of little importance to the world, and turned to my ego to provide me with the emotional nourishment theory the world did not.

Interestingly (to me, any way) my ego is largely introverted--and relatively limited to my writing. In most other areas of my life, ego plays a very small role. I have never directly told and, unlike most people with colossal egos, would never dream of telling anyone just how wonderful I think I am. And the scornful laughter that accompanies any act of hubris on my part keeps me pretty much in check. My ego-cocoon serves as a protective device, for if I didn't have it, my regrettable tendency to self-deprecation and at times self loathing would get totally out of hand.

And as with so many other things in life, I would truly like to know what other people's--what your-- inner ego is like. But, also as with everything else, I can only make assumptions based on myself and projected onto you. Hardly the most scientific of approaches.

And I do, as always, take some comfort in the fact that since you are reading these words, you might be finding something in them that you can relate to yourself...something that unites us. Cocoons and egos protect, but they also isolate, and I also have a strong need to know that I am not as isolated as I sometimes fear I am.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Kage Alan said...

Good lord... My ego was as ridiculous as any of my peers prior to turning 20. Once I made it past that, I don't think I ever had a chance to become egotistical about myself.

My guy grew up with a brother (I have no siblings), so he assumed a dictatorship over my ego and refused to let it come out to play. He acknowledged and continues to acknowledge that my writing skills are more developed than his, so I do serve a purpose.

My current job allows me to keep those skills healthy, but my friends and family around me are committed to keeping me grounded.

Do I think I'm special? I am, but only because those around me have made me special in their lives. Without them, I wouldn't really serve much purpose, so there would be nothing for my ego to do.

Katy said...

Any ego I might have had has taken a back seat since I've had 2 kids. Even if I thought the world revolved around moi, my kids bring me back to reality pretty quick. It now revolves around them (as well it should in my book), at least while they're young. Life is hard enough, so if I have to give up my ego to make their childhood magical for as long as possible, then so it should be. They think I'm something specialso that's enough of an ego boost for me.
As for you, you are someone special, so enjoy the ego boost. You've earned it by being an amazingly generous human being with your talent and your good soul. You've touched my life in positive ways and I've only had the fortune of knowing you through facebook. :)

Dorien/Roger said...

Thank you both for taking the time to comment, and a special thank you to you, Katy, for your very kind comments. I'm not sure if ego and a sense of validation are the same, but you have fed both.