As I am reading this afternoon the original work (well translation from original) of Freud The Ego and the ID, I am just amazed how close Freud was to identifying Emotional Intelligence as the driver of our ego. But, yet can’t blame him for knowledge that was not known almost a century ago. Now despite of what Freud’s critics may say, Freud was right about some parts of Consciousness, Precociousness, Unconsciousness, Ego, ID and Superego. The only problem I find while reading his work now is that because of the lack of knowledge that was discovered years later, Freud tried to connect the dots by adding way too many new concepts to explain how our individual personalities work. On the other hand Dr. Jung emphasized more the role of Collective Consciousness (or Unconsciousness- both are affecting us), and this created a contradiction between two geniuses of their time. Indeed, I am looking at their work now as a third party and I admire both and I found out how they are both right and NO, they were not contradicting one another. If they would have looked at their argument and their theories from the point of view I am looking at, then they would have seen how silly their argument was and how close were they to the truth about human consciousness.
So let me explain what I have discovered and hope that makes sense to the reader, as I am trying to explain it as simple as possible. I will try to simplify Freud’s many concepts into just Ego, Superego, Unconsciousness, and Consciousness.
Imagine this iceberg in the middle of the ocean swimming peacefully or standing peacefully on its surrounding, that doesn’t matter. Now we know that one seventh of the entire iceberg is shown on the surface and six seventh of it is under the water. Now let’s label those parts. The tip of the iceberg, the one that shows above water is our consciousness that we see and we are aware of. We act certain ways and we know when we are angry or happy, and we know anything about ourselves that we are aware off, but we do not know things about ourselves that we cannot explain using logic. For example, I can say that after an intense work out I feel my heartbeat rate going up, I feel thirsty and want to drink liquids, I feel tired and muscle pain but I also feel happy. I can explain how I feel because they derived from an activity I am aware off. However, when I go to the ice scream store and choose let’s say vanilla ice scream not strawberry ice scream, my friend may be puzzled by this choice of mine and asks me, “Why vanilla? Why don’t you try strawberry flavor?” I may answer, “I did once and I did not like it.” The question is why? Why I did not like it? Other people like it, but I don’t. I have no explanation for that, because that type of liking or disliking is not an emotion derived by events that I am aware, I am conscious about. This liking or disliking derived by some unknown source to me, therefore it may be deep into my unconsciousness. Since this liking or disliking is not related to events or objects that I am aware off then these decisions are not based on emotions. Emotions are always related to events or objects or stories that we are conscious about, or we remember them from the past, or that we think will happen in the future. Whatever that story is, present, past or future, that story can generate emotions because we are aware of those stories. However, choices we make without being aware, we make them because of certain feelings, and feelings derive from our unconsciousness.
Our unconsciousness being six of the seven parts of our person, of who we are, then we can say that lots of grudges from the past that we are not aware of can indeed affect our behavior and our personality today. Hence Freud was right about using hypnoses, dreams and association to bring on the surface, to bring to our awareness whatever stories is being stored in our unconsciousness and that affects us today. However, believing in reincarnation, I can go beyond what Freud concluded, that not just stories of infancy or childhood, and stories that our ego represses, but also grudges from past lives accumulated in our unconsciousness (since we are not aware of why these feelings exist) can affect the person who we have become today.
This big massive weight under the surface of the iceberg can affect how iceberg moves and wiggles, and adjust itself to wind and sun and ocean currents, which represent the effect of our environment on us. Having a big weight under, being unconscious of so many feelings can indeed make our life harder and harder, and our movement toward success questionable. In such cases, not being aware of why our progress is hinder we may end up blaming outside circumstances, and other people. But, of course they too play their role on human-iceberg like behavior. Nevertheless, if we want a smoother sail into the ocean without clashing into other icebergs on the way we must work on reducing the amount of negative feelings in our unconsciousness. But how? That will be the topic for another post.
Right now I want to move to Ego. So what is ego about? Freud said that Ego is the entity we create that makes peace between what is unknown to us and what society wants from us. What part of iceberg is Ego? Ego is the center of gravity of the iceberg. If iceberg weights more on the left then iceberg will have a different look from another iceberg with the same mass but that has accumulated more weight on the right side instead. It’s all about physics and forces that create momentum and keep the equilibrium. However, we are not as frozen as an iceberg and we can adjust our beliefs and point of views in order to keep the balance between left and right, but only if we become aware that we are about to tip over if we do not change our standing and our point of view. Therefore, imagine the Ego as a little person right inside the iceberg that is located right where consciousness and unconsciousness separate. This little person can observe everything that is going on outside the iceberg by using senses and perception, and transforming these data into feelings, and emotions and decisions he makes during the day and in interaction with others. This person does not come out of his cabin though, he just observes, and makes decisions and in the best case scenarios makes adjustments to the course of iceberg. Kind of like Captain Nemo, mysterious but always there to help. So that is our Ego, adjusting the movements of the big iceberg to balance the big weight under the water with the circumstances of weather or of the environment around itself.
So where is Superego in all this? Superego, Freud said, is what we want others to think of us. Superego is an identity that if we wear it we will be acceptable to that community, culture or society. As so, our ego, our captain Nemo, the quite but wise entity knows that in order to be acceptable to the certain tribe, we must wear their colors. And so Ego turns on the lights that cover the iceberg with a gleam that is acceptable to that part of the world. Yes, our raw iceberg with polishing and fake colors, fake identities, fake hopes and aspirations is the Superego that we want others to see, and captain Nemo is always working nonstop to make sure that the mask does not come off.
Now where is the collective consciousness and unconsciousness that Dr. Jung talked about. The ocean around the iceberg my friend is this collective consciousness and unconsciousness. Things that occur at the surface of the ocean of this big body of water is conscious to us and to our community. For example if we belong to a community that celebrates let’s say winter solstice then we are affected by their stories, their celebration, myths, and all the culture of that community. The water around iceberg will move and we will move with it by adjusting our movements with the waves of the ocean. However, there are movements and currents that move waters deep inside and we are not aware of them on the surface, as nothing is showing on the surface of the ocean. Those invisible currents are the collective unconsciousness.
Hope I painted a vivid picture of our human personality and what affects us. And I hope you will stay tune for some other posts in the future where I will share how awareness helps us bringing to the surface some old grudges and how can those be healed in the process of awareness. All it takes to heal is awareness. And just as a prelude, I want to share that the stories we make up as we try to make sense of our explainable feelings may indeed be all made up, we may refer to myths and legends too, but they are all tools that will help us become aware of these feelings and explain why. That’s all. Just because we follow some stories, fairy tales, and other twisted stories we create, that does not mean they were all real, but they were real to our unconsciousness because it helped us produce emotions that make us aware of the grudge or unresolved business from the past.