The Self. What is the Self? What makes me, me? What is this thing called personality? Many times we identify all these concepts in one word known as Ego. However, that is not the case. For Freud the Self and Ego often were exchangeable, but for Jung, Ego was not the Self. According to Jung Ego and the Self may even fight with one another causing this way mental breakdowns and neuroses for the individual. For Carl Jung, the Self had access to the knowledge that individual’s ego was not aware of, and often directed the ego of that individual in taking actions that would lead the individual into the right path of fulfilling his or her destiny. In the theoretical model I am using, where I adapted Freud’s previous model by adding Sullivan’s definition of the Self as part of the Superego and the Archetype to the unconscious mind the ID, I agree with Freud that Ego and the Self are interchangeable. Therefore, when we say “me, or myself, or I,” we are not talking about a higher self or another being, we truly are talking about our own self, known as the Self. Ego however, is not the Self, Ego is a manifestation of the Self. Ego is the awareness that the Self exists.
ID, the unconscious mind according to Freud, is not the Self either, because ID is only an accumulation of memories and lessons from the past, and the Self is more than just memories of the past. Memories play an important role because these memories, beliefs, and norms, and morals, and all other sets of rules that one learns and follows through experiencing this life, will affect the way the individual evaluates a certain situation by comparing the present with the past in order to predict the end result of his actions or decisions or other people’s actions and decisions. Therefore ID is part of the Self but is not the Self, because the Self can always change perspective each time it gains new information and therefore may decide, at some point, to throw away any previous belief or norms that no longer serve the Self to succeed and move forward to a higher level of awareness.
Archetype is not the Self either because archetype’s duty is not to force the ego into taking certain actions so that the individual will fulfill his or her destiny. If the individual is not ready to fulfill his or her destiny then any manipulation to individual’s decisions will backfire later, and, as Jung emphasized, compelling the individual to make certain decisions and take certain actions while he or she is not aware of the importance of those actions, will cause inner struggles and conflicts. These inner conflicts are the main causes of mental breakdowns and neuroses and of some other mental disorders that Freud and Jung discussed.
The mask that one puts on when interacting with others we can call it Superego. Superego can be considered as a mask in most of the cases; however, there are individuals that are comfortable of showing their true self when communicating with others. The reason why many people prefer to put a mask on while communicating and interacting with others, especially when meeting others for the first time, is because others do not know us as deeply as we know ourselves and therefore, we are afraid of making the wrong impression and then being judged wrongly by others. This is quite a normal reaction, a self-defense that ego uses to protect itself. However, if this mask is overly decorated by misleading others on what the true person behind the mask is about, then ego with its self-defense mechanism is causing more harm to the person who now has to keep up with lies and more lies in order to keep up with the image that the mask, the Superego created.
So then, if ID is the reservoir that holds all the memories of the Self from the past, including life lessons and belief systems, and ego is just the awareness of the existence of the Self, a mechanism that works only temporary during the time the Self is awake, then what is the need for Archetypes and the Collective unconsciousness? The need for the cooperation with archetypes I believe is essential because it is due to the existence of collective unconsciousness that humans exist. Each individual born seems to have a duty of playing a little but important part on the big play of healing Earth’s collective unconsciousness from the previous memories of pervious experiences, of previous stories of humanity that were once lived by our ancestors. However, each time the story will be relived and replayed a bit more friendly than the last time, as we keep learning from our previous mistakes, by making this way possible to achieve worldwide peace. Archetype’s job then, is like the one of the play’s director that has to make sure that each human individual does not become too discouraged in life, due to life circumstances, duties, and responsibilities. However, archetype’s job is not to change the script the individual is supposed to play in the game of life, while healing Earth’s collective unconsciousness from the memories of wars and bloodshed of the past. Archetypes are supposed to be gentle and encouraging while their energy directs human individuals unconsciously, so that the individuals will become aware of the better choices that they have to make, this time around. However, archetypes need to stay covert so that they would not affect the free decisions that the individual needs to make by exerting his or her own free will, which it is granted to them. Communication with individuals is often achieved through signs, dreams, feelings, urges, and emotions. Mistakenly in the past, religions were also used to give some prophetic predictions, which then ended up manipulating and restricting the use of free will by humans. Therefore, such spiritual guidance these archetypes are supposed to offer must come in the same way as the guidance that individuals receive through reading books, and movies and experiencing other events. All these information must be available to the individual, so that the individual will be educated about the true facts about life, science and history too, but in the end is the individual that makes a decision, and the role is played by the individual, not the archetype. Hence, the archetype has the noblest task to guide, but not to force such decisions. Often happens that the individual does not follow their destiny and does not make the right decisions, and that does not necessary mean that the archetype failed to provide the right guidance. In many cases, the individual is not ready to make certain decisions, or to understand and follow such guidance. That means that the person must learn some more, and the archetype is obligated to help the human individual to find the missing piece but not be responsible for finding it. Many different religions know these archetypes as unseen spiritual teacher and master of knowledge. They may also be known as gods. They indeed are part of our existence and their guidance is a must, but not their manipulations. Through the practice of Free will, that is the only way that the destiny will be fulfilled. I often discuss this matter of destiny and how free will is a must for fulfillment of destiny, in my posts and my books, because a change of perspectives made me realize that destiny and free will were not the opposites of one another as we often wrongly assumed in the past, which then led to opposite opinions and conflicts in the matter.
The question that the reader may want to ask at this point is that if there is a script and those previous conflicts are supposed to be replayed but in a more gentle way each time they are replayed, until the peace is finally reached, then who will play the villain’s part, and why is that human individual destined to play the villain? The truth is that without conflict there is no solution and no moving forward. So yes, we must have two opposite sides to have a new development and new collective awareness. The problem is that we label the opposite sides as good or bad, one is the hero and the other one is the villain, one side is positive and the other side is negative. This has always been our biggest problem, because in realty there are no positive or negative sides, heroes or villains, there are only opposite sides, or different sides with different perspectives; sides that can see one part of the problem, and because of that, that side can offer valuable information into finding the solutions for our problems. It is like the story that I always tell to my students about the elephant and the six wise men in the desert. These six wise but blind men tried to draw conclusion about how an elephant must look like by touching different parts of the elephant. All six of them drew different conclusions based on their experiences. One concluded that elephant may resemble a big fat snake, the other one concluded that elephant must look like a giant pole, another one concluded that elephant must be a spear, another one thought elephant was a giant wall, one touching elephant’s ears thought elephant looks like two big fans, while the last one touching the elephant’s tail thought elephant looked like a rope. My students always laugh at hearing this story, and I love telling it each time at the beginning of a new semester, in my psychology classes, but not because I was to tell jokes (well, maybe a little bit of that too) but mostly because this story represents the foundation of all the information I will share with my students during the course of the semester. Since I have to teach about Freud’s ideas and New Freudian’s ideas, and about Humanistic perspectives and Existentialist’s perspectives, and the Positive Psychology’s perspectives, which these all seem to oppose one another, then my job is not to take any side and not to influence my students in picking a side, but rather discouraging them from doing so, and rushing into conclusions, based on little knowledge that they have at this point. My job is to let my students know that all these schools of thoughts are right about what the expertise and conclusions that they offer because they are all looking and examining a specific part of the matter, not the whole matter of human behavior that is the subject of Psychology. In fact, just yesterday I was explaining to my class how Psychology started as a branch of philosophy at first, and how two different schools of thought started in the ancient Greece from the discussions that was carried on between Plato and Aristotle, our most well-known ancient philosophers. It is from that point, and discussions that were not resolved between Plato and Aristotle, that all other “opposite” schools of thoughts derived later on and continued to derive until our days. I explained to my students that all these theories or schools of thoughts are like the branches of a tree. Some face left and some face right, some may face in the middle, but none of the branches has the full picture of where they are standing on and what is their role in the end. They forget that they all are connected to the same trunk of one tree and all these branches receive their knowledge from the same roots of the same big tree. Therefore, knowing this much, and holding this balanced opinion about the different philosophies of life, my job as a teacher is to make sure that my students are not encouraged to pick a side but are also free to pick a side. Yet, if they decide to do so, they must not force their opinion on others by turning every little discussion in class into an actual debate. It is hard indeed to keep this balance, sometimes, because these discussions are beautiful and passionate and can trigger many thoughts and emotions which urge them to share their opinions all at once in a one 3 hour class. I had to stop one of my students right before speaking, yesterday, knowing that the opinion he wanted to express yesterday would have started a huge debate, about whether God exists or not, and atheists or religion is right about it. In my opinion religions and atheist are both representing two extremes we do not need, if we really want to reach worldwide peace, but I decided to not even encourage any further debates on that matter by telling my student that from the time Aristotle and Plato started this debate on this matter in 500 BC, 2516 years passed and humans have not yet resolved this matter. Therefore I wasn’t expecting any resolution to be reached in one class just because he has an opinion on this matter. Nevertheless, I told this student and others that, they were entitled to their opinions and that is why essay writing was part of this course. In the meantime I encouraged my class to keep an open mind about the information they receive because nothing is written in stone and that information may indeed strike a chord for someone, someday and may cause a change of opinions on the matter. Just like a pendulum, I told to my students, they are allowed to swing from one side to another as their opinions and emotions on the matter may change as they become aware of more and more new facts. This movement will one day come to a stop when they obtain enough information to keep them grounded. I warned my students about the necessity to change perspectives, and to question their choices more often, because there exists the risk that by standing for too long on one side the energy accumulated during that time may cause their pendulum of emotions to come down too fast, acting like a racking ball. Of course, all my students laugh at case scenarios I depict for them, but I truly hope that they are also getting the idea that they are in my psychology class to learn about different theories and not to resolve the world’s issues, at least not until they have learned more and more and more, and have become experts in this field.