Many people I work with ask me to explain exactly what the ego is and how it ends up becoming such a disruptive aspect of our personality. Here are some excerpts, straight from my class on THE SELF, with several descriptions of the ego from sources that I consider to be reputable and enlightened. If you have any questions, feel free...


Psychiatric Dictionary - that part of the psychic apparatus that is the mediator between the person and reality. Its prime function is the perception of reality and adaptation to it. The various tasks of the ego include perception, self-perception and self-awareness, motor control, memory, thinking, reconciling conflicting ideas and the demands of internal and external elements.

Freud - The ego is the executive of the personality, controlling and governing the id and the superego and maintaining commerce with the external world in the interest of the total personality and its needs. Instead of the pleasure principle, the ego is governed by the reality principle, the aim of which is to postpone the discharge of energy until the actual object that will satisfy the need has been discovered or produced. This secondary process does not make the mistake, as the primary process does, of regarding the image of an object as though it were the object itself.
The ego appears as something autonomous and unitary, marked off distinctively from everything else. There is only one unusual state that is not pathological in which this is not so. At the height of being in love, the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of the senses, someone in love declares that “I” and “you” are one and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.

Pierrakos - The ego stands guard at the intersection of human consciousness between inner and outer reality. A healthy ego is flexible and permeable. It can drop its mask and yield to the spontaneity of the Higher Self. It sees itself in perspective in the three dimensional setting of earth time, space and movement. It gives proportion to the expressions of inner reality and seeks avenues for those expressions in outer reality, and it takes direction from outer reality and seeks its meaning for inner reality.
The abuse of the ego is the major way that people cut themselves off from their core and create and perpetuate illness. Aligned with the character structure, the ego battles to stifle the mutual exchange of energy between the core and outer reality. From a cosmic point of view, the ego is the primary faculty with which human beings fragment their unity with themselves and the rest of existence. The purpose of Core Energetics is to align the ego with the core rather than adjust to the environment, restoring the ego to its proper function of discriminating rather than ruling. The ego cannot enter the core by force of will or by rational thought. (...just as no one can force oneself to experience love, which is the outreaching movement of the soul. Love emerges spontaneously as the person removes the obstacles of misappropriated energy that stand in the way.) Opening the ego to the core gives us joy, which is the sensation of free inner activity.

Lowen - The ego is the mediator between the inner and outer world, between the self and the other. This function derives from its position at the surface of the body and the surface of the mind. It forms a picture of the external world to which every organism must conform, and in doing so, it shapes the individual’s self-image. In turn, this self-image dictates what feelings and impulses are to be allowed expression. Within the personality, the ego is the representative of reality. The ego shapes the body through the control of the voluntary musculature.

Roberts (“Seth”) - The ego, while a portion of the whole self, can be defined as a psychological structure, composed of characteristics belonging to the personality as a whole, organized together to form a surface identity. It is the portion of the mind that looks out upon physical reality and surveys it in relation to those characteristics of which it is composed at any given time. It makes judgments according to its own idea of itself. It is important to realize the ego’s position as the most “exterior” portion of the inner self, not alienated from it, but looking outward toward physical reality. The ego tries to organize all material coming into the conscious mind. The ego cannot keep information out of the conscious mind, but it can refuse to focus directly upon it. The ego is an offshoot of the conscious mind. The conscious mind is like a gigantic camera with the ego directing the view and the focus.
The ego is your idea of your physical image in relation to the world. Your self-image is not unconscious, then. You are quite aware of it, though you often reject certain thoughts about it in favor of others. False beliefs can result in a rigid ego that insists upon using the unconscious mind in one direction only, further distorting its perceptions.
The ego, while appearing to be permanent, forever changes as it adapts to new characteristics from the whole self. The consciousness of your usual daylight hours, the ego consciousness, rises up like a flower from the ground of the unconscious bed of your own reality. The ego emerges, then falls back again into the unconscious, from which another ego then arise like a new bloom from the springtime earth. You do not have the same ego now that you had five years ago, but you are not aware of the change. The ego rises out of what you are, but as the eye cannot see its own shifting expressions, as it is not aware that it lives and dies constantly as its atomic structure changes, so you are not aware that the ego continually changes, dies and is reborn. Left alone, various portions of the identity rise and form the ego, degroup and reform, all the while maintaining a marvelous spontaneity and yet a sense of oneness. The ego cannot be annihilated. “Kill” one and another will, and must, emerge from the inner self, which is its source. Under enforced annihilation (i.e.-from drugs), there is a frantic attempt at reorganization as the inner self tries to “send up” alternate egos to handle the situation - and in those terms, the more egos you kill, the more will emerge.

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