Recapping the Ego

Before we move on to the superego, we need to tidy up a few things about the ego…

In dealing with the concept of man’s ego, one finds many definitions of the word.  Philosophically, it is defined: The entire man considered as union of soul and body; the conscious and permanent subject of all experience.  Psychologically, the term is defined: The self, whether considered as an organization or system of mental states, or as the consciousness of the individual’s distinction from other selves.  In psychoanalysis, ego is seen as: The self-assertive and self-preserving tendency.  As regards ego, psychology speaks two commands: 1) lay down your ego, cast off your self-centeredness, you may identify yourself by becoming part of a group, by focusing your attention outside yourself – 2) build up your ego, be an entire man, fulfill yourself by knowing, being, expressing yourself, becoming an inner-directed and not an outer-directed person.

So, how do these definitions relate to the mission of Jesus?  Harold continues…

Jesus personified every aspect of ego, as the word is defined – and as it is defined, the two words, ego and life, are synonymous, so that ego must be seen as life to man.  Jesus used the word, life.  He said, simply, that man must lay down his life in order to pick it up again.  Conscious rebirth is implied, as well as rebirth into life.


Our esteemed author then goes on to tell us of the ego’s role in the unconscious.  If the ego = life, and Jesus = life, then ego = Jesus…

Freud admitted to a sort of continuation of life in the unconscious.  In it “are stored up vestiges of the existences led by countless former egos; and when the ego forms its superego out of the id, it may perhaps only be reviving images of egos that have passed away and be securing them a resurrection.” Image Freud saw this sort of immortality as a “cumulative effect in History which gradually penetrates to “those depths of the psyche far below the ego level that actually can transmit patterns of behavior whether ‘acquired’ or not.”  Jesus posed the concept that life continues in the inner realm of the unconscious.  He says, “I have other sheep, too, which do not belong to this fold…” – this fold of consciousness known to those He addressed – “My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life; they shall never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  A flock, not of the fold of consciousness, a flock to whom eternal life is given, must refer to that which is redeemed and immortal in man.  In this passage, Jesus indicates that man’s ego is not of the herd-instinct represented by the sheep.  Ego is not motivated by the impulse to belong and follow.  ImageEgo is shepherd: the sense of one being as self, and the differentiations of personality, the sheep, follow it – or, straying from this sense of certainty in being, are lost and must be found.

Man knows himself to be a flock of selves searching always to find the Self of selves to give direction to these composite lives.  Therefore, in this study the term, ego-group, will be used to designate the selves of the conscious domain and the term, Authority-Ego, will be used to designate the one governing factor of the ego-group, “I” in man which has its being in the unconscious.

I’ve never before entertained the idea or possibility that when Jesus is talking about His “sheep” He is discussing his own inner life!  Well I’ll be, huh?

As for the “resurrection…of countless former egos” and of man being “a flock of selves,” I will have much to say in the near future.  But for now we are ready to explore the superego and it’s role in our unconscious, which we will do in the next post.  Until then, peace…

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