Mom to her three year old son: You look ugly when wiping chocolate on your face like that.
The three year old boy: I am not ugly, I am cute.
Mom to her teen age daughter: You cannot wear those tights for school. I don’t think you want your butt to be the first thing that capture others’ attention, do you?
Teenage girl: Mom these tights are so comfortable and I can concentrate on learning instead of being distracted by feeling uncomfortable in jeans. Plus, big butts are on style now. You should try wearing tights too mom.
The husband comes home late at night and the frustrated wife could not wait to tell him how overwhelmed she felt doing everything around the house and taking care of the children all alone because he rarely is around the house lately.
Husband: I can’t say no to these meetings at church or at work just because my wife feels frustrated, can I? Yes, some of those meetings may take all day, and some continue until late at night. But, they expect me to be there.
Wife: Until 3 am in the morning?
And then the wife pointed out (at her own risk) that if he was trying to feel important, she could probably help him figure out if there was anything that was bugging him, which triggered the need for him to feel important. Well then, she just asked for it. Now she had to hear all about how important he was, and that she may never understand that she had very little values compared to him. But, he was nice like that and he did not mind reminding her that he was the one bringing more money in the household, exactly because of his connections and his values. She had to hear it again, in case she had forgotten that one hour of his work was worth much more than one hour of her work teaching math at a high school.
In all the three case scenarios above that quite often occur in our daily lives, we can notice the exhibitions of narcissistic traits, because according to diagnostic criteria, listed in DSM-5, a narcissist shows a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, the need for admiration, and lack of empathy for others. Therefore, it is not hard to conclude that almost everyone we meet may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). On the other hand we can also argue that in some cases there is nothing wrong with people because all it comes down to the context and circumstances that lead to that typical “narcissistic” reaction, while in other cases narcissism is so obvious but they are so good at hiding that behind the arguments that they use to make the opponent feel guilty for the attack. This ambiguity in defining what a narcissistic personality is derives exactly because we are still not sure what a personality is.
The same concern was raised by editors Alan L. Grey and John Fiscalini from the very first page of their book Narcissism, the Self, and Interpersonal Psychoanalysis, in which they offered a collection of essays on narcissism. They pointed out that even though they offered this collection of papers on narcissism with all good intentions, they were concerned that diagnosis of narcissism is threatening to absorb all patients, by labeling almost everyone as a narcissist. Has anything changed since last Fiscalini and Grey raised their concern about four decades ago? Nothing has changed. In fact, the confusion about the nature of narcissism and how to treat narcissism is increasing, and more new models and methods are being offered trying to resolve this issue. Meissner that has given a great contribution on the topic of narcissism, points out that the confusion about the nature of narcissism derives from the confusion about the definition of The Self (personality).
If the therapist would examine narcissism from Kohut’s point of view by using Kohut’s self-personality model, then narcissism will be described as a mask that covers a very fragile self-esteem. Kohut concluded that such fragile self-esteem is as a result of a parenting style that causes these individuals to become very egocentric, by expressing this way the need for a little bit more affection and attention than other people would normally do. Morf and Rhodewalt on the other hand concluded that even though narcissistic personalities may be very egocentric, yet interpersonal interactions with other people are very important to them, but not because they want to gain closeness in interaction with others but because they want to maintain that constant admiration and attention from them. From the interpersonalist’s point of view it would be argued that parenting style is not the only interaction that affects someone in life. Individuals are constantly affected by the environment and other interpersonal relationships, starting from school years, then at work, partnerships, friendships and marriages. Parent-child relationship according to Khohut and Freud are very important but Sullivan emphasized that interactions with others never stop affecting one’s personality throughout their life. Therefore, if the therapist would decide to examine narcissism from Sullivan’s point of view that emphasized the importance of interpersonal relationships in shaping one’s personality then therapist can say that narcissism is as a result of failed communication between the child and parent, or between two partners, or between colleagues, and so on. A therapist that follows Jung’s perspective on the Self would argue that narcissism is as a result of hidden scripts and conflicts inside the person, which occur between the individual’s ego and the archetype, sometimes without the individual being aware of such conflict. In this list of different perspectives about the narcissism and its causes we can also add the effect of the education system in schools and the effect of media, social media, culture and even genes and other biological factors. However, the chase can be cut by offering an integrated model of Freud-Jung-Sullivan of the Self.
In the following is a picture that shows Freud’s model of The Self as it is explained in almost every psychology textbook in colleges. As you can see in this picture, according to Freud The Self is made of three main parts: Ego, Superego and ID. All these three parts make The Self. Ego is the one that makes decisions for the Self, therefore the Self and Ego are often used interchangeably by Freud and many others. Superego is the ideal image of the Self that Ego has created, often unconsciously, while using the infancy and childhood fantasies about the love-object one attaches to as a child. The ID is everything stored in the unconscious mind since the day the individual is born and had his/her first interactions with this reality.
In the second picture below you will see the theoretical model of the Self in which I integrated three previous definitions of The Self by Freud, Sullivan and Jung. Obviously this picture is my own creation.
Ego in this model is that part of the self that after collecting information from above and below, from superego and the ID, will derive conclusions about the reality, about individual’s positions in this reality and in relationship with others, conclusions about own self, how satisfied or unsatisfied this individual’s self is with different aspects of its own existence, and how to adjust its own behavior in order to be acceptable by others and to enter into relationship by belonging into a community. Ego needs to evaluate all this information in order to fulfill some of the basic psychological needs that all humans crave which is to be loved and to belong, as Maslow pointed out in his theory about human motivation and the hierarchy of needs.
Ego, as Freud also posited, is often preoccupied to make sense of information retrieved from outside the Self. I posit that Ego retrieve this information through two main sources: 1) the Superego that acts as a receiver and transmitter of the information from the environment to ego and vice versa, and 2) the ID that is constantly feeding extra information to the Ego in order to assist Ego in connecting the dots, and making sense of the gaps that already exists each time new information is received. In order to make sense of that information, ego searches the memory of the individual so it will use the previous schemas, templates or previous experiences stored in individual’s memory and draw a conclusion about this new information, using the old templates. These conclusions will assist the individual’s ego to take future actions and make decisions. ID is the source that provides schemas and templates that the individual had learned previously in life, by being part of human society, a community, family, and/or cultural group. These memories and schemas are saved in individual’s ID, in the permanent memory part of the brain. However, when schemas and pervious experiences are missing and/or are not sufficient to help the Ego to derive a logical conclusions about the information it recently received then Ego would make up stories that most likely make sense to connect those dots. It is a necessity for the Ego to make sense of every form of information that it receives, because that’s Ego’s job, that’s what Ego is supposed to do. That is the main reason why we keep making conversations after conversations in our heads about a situation that may bother us, knowing that these conversations may never happen in real life, with the person we have an unresolved matter. Again, these conversations that occur in our head with the person we have a conflict with are as a result of gaps in the information, which ego tries to fill in because it cannot stand the uncertainty. In one of my books I explain further that this phenomena occurs as a result of one of the laws of antimatter which is the law of Giving and Receiving. Every time a distraction or a gap in the information that we receive exists, our ego or the Self tries to make sense of it by driving the attention in the direction of the unresolved matter, which now forces our thinking and therefore our antimatter energy to leak in the direction of this unresolved issue. No one can escape this phenomena because it is one of the laws of antimatter. Once a problem is left unresolved the energy will flow in that direction. Therefore when a conflicts has occurred between two parties and certain facts are covered then the conflict will never be resolved without full disclosure, because ego will constantly make up new stories and energy will constantly flow in the direction of this unresolved issue, which brings more irritation between the two parties as a result of the waste of energy that both parties experience. One can use their own imagination to see why conflicts become harder and harder to resolve, especially when facts are covered and even lives are lost in such conflicts.
As you can now see, in the second figure, the Superego is that the part of the iceberg above the waters that collects information from interactions with others. Therefore, Superego’s function in this new integrated model of the Self is expanded more compared to Freud’s Superego. In this model, after the Superego has collected the information through interactions with others and through the observations of the reality, it then transmits this information to the Ego. Ego’s job is to adjust individual’s behavior in order to displays the best image of The Self that would be accepted by others. The component of Superego in this model then is the equivalent of Sullivan’s definition of the Self, which according to Sullivan, the Self must constantly adjust its behavior based on others’ appraisals. Yet, Superego in this integrated model is more than what Sullivan’s definition stated because it also includes that ideal image of the Self, which according to Freud the individual considers to be the best image of the Self that would please only the individual. Freud does not take in consideration the opinion of others on the ideal image of the Self (superego). For Freud the Self is all about the Self, not others. For Sullivan the Self is all about the others not the self.
The most interesting part of this integrated model of the Self is that part of ID that unconsciously feed information to the Ego without using any previous information from the previous experiences saved in individual’s permanent memory, but by using a specific script that a certain archetype attached to that specific individual holds for that individual in particular. The water around the iceberg represents the collective unconsciousness that unconsciously affect the individual’s state of mind and individual’s emotional state. The question remains about archetype though. Is archetype part of individual’s ID, which used to be part of the collective unconsciousness and which froze in time and space (became part of the iceberg) while the individual’s self was created or is this archetype a separate entity that affects individual’s decisions with a specific script that archetype holds for this individual? Jung worked hard and dedicated all his life’s work on trying to figure out the nature of archetypes and their roles. Jung considered archetypes responsible for neurosis and other mental disorders, and even described in his work that archetype drive the individual’s ego to certain conflicts that causes the individual to break down, experiencing neuroses, anxiety, or depression. In cases when the individual’s ego refuses to follow the script that archetype dictates through urges and emotional stimulation then archetype may even reach the point of assuming a new individuality within the individual’s personality. This is how Jung could explain the cases of patients with multi-personality disorders or schizophrenia, yet, this does not explain whether archetype is part of the Self as part of the individual’s ID or is archetype an entity separated from the individual’s self that decides to live in symbiotic relationship with the individual until the individual becomes aware of this connection and tries to oppose the script that archetype wants this individual to play.
In my Master thesis I continued to support Jung’s idea that archetype is somehow related to the Self for whatever reasons, considering archetype as part of earth’s collective unconsciousness. However, from reading some of the recent studies and discoveries that I came across to, in the last month, it became hard for me to believe that archetypes are part of this collective unconsciousness. I am still reading the Red Book of Jung which contains the secret writings and discoveries of Jung in regards to archetypes during an experiment that he carried on, that only some of his closed associates and his wife were aware of it. This findings were kept secret until this book was found and published in the recent years. I must say that it is painful to see how people can be played by archetypes, as Jung describes is, by making people believe in all sorts of twisted stories, based on mythology and fairy tales. These archetypes seem to enjoy twisting these stories somehow, which are part of the collective unconsciousness of earth, by creating this way new stories. Once new stories are played by human individuals chosen to play these roles, these new stories and emotions that were derived during their play will now become part of the collective unconsciousness of earth too. Archetypes, these entities play the role of gods by creating new scripts based on the old stories but always with a new twist. From that point on, archetype’ aim is to inspire human individuals to play these roles of heroes, super-heroes, evil geniuses and villains. Becoming aware of all the new information, more and more I am now convinced that archetypes are not part of earth’s collective unconsciousness. What makes matters worse is that archetypes could have used their talents and their existence for good purposes, by helping human kind and save them from often self-destructive decisions, so that humans would follow the new scripts and at the same time will fulfill their own destinies in order to recover Earth’s collective unconsciousness from the previously collected negative emotions. But instead, unfortunately, some of these archetypes caused lots of grief for humans and many great minds, philosophers and scientists who became aware of these entities’ existence and their twisted maneuvers. Instead of choosing to cooperate they chose to hide the facts.
It was kind of a shock for me to find out, while reading Jung’s memoir, that Freud himself was aware of the existence of archetypes and he accepted their existence in a private conversation with Jung. However, Freud emphasized, and rightly so, that accepting the existence of archetypes publicly, would risk opening the door of all kinds of esoteric ideas and black magic, which could be quite dangerous for an average human mind to comprehend and to mingle with. Therefore, Freud suggested to Jung that it would be better to stick with sexual stigma and infancy’s fantasies. This fact was basically the main contradiction that drove these two great minds of psychology apart from one another. Freud decided not to speak openly about archetypes and as a result he used hypnotherapy and psychoanalytical therapy to withdraw information about patient’s psyche, while Jung decided to speak openly about archetypes and even using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to converse with archetype of the patient directly rather than through hypnosis. Jung was convinced that it was archetype’s fault for the unusual behavior that patients manifested. Therefore and open conversation face to face with the patient and this invisible entity, the archetype, made Jung’s patients aware of the negative influences and negative ideas that patients were fed by their archetype’s connections. However, reading Jung’s work more carefully, I realize now that Jung believed that these entities were not of symbiotic nature. He believed that archetypes were part of human consciousness. I am afraid, I have to oppose Jung on this, and it seems that Freud had a point on deciding not to open Pandora’s box for the public. Yet, even though we keep hiding these facts, the truth is that the box is now open and there is no point of trying to hide that fact anymore, because the more we lie about the facts the worse it will get for human kind and all others involved. It is sad to see that Jung was very close to a great discovery, but this discovery was also dangerous for masses that could not quite understand the purpose of such symbiotic existence. In my part three of this essay I would like to discuss the positive role that archetypes could played in human life. They indeed could be very useful if they stop using manipulations that could affect Earth’s collective consciousness in a negative way. These archetypes can truly be the golden gift for human existence, and their help is definitely needed, but only if manipulation stops now, and full disclosure is offered to the right people.