Psychological Self-Help

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personality, a thinking, reasoning, perceiving, self-controlling part,
called the "ego". The ego devises many ways of coping, of meeting its
needs, of surviving. One means of coping could be to become
unusually close and dependent on one parent--a daddy's girl or a
mommy's boy. Or it might be to develop a fear of the dark that
justifies demanding that a parent put you to bed and stay there until
you are asleep. Or another way may be to become "sickly" to gain
attention and love. All these things help us feel less scared. As adults,
the ego is still handling "neurotic anxiety" by using "defense
mechanisms" and by developing fears and phobias (substitutes for the
real concerns), psychosomatic disorders, compulsions and excessive
orderliness, obsessions and excessive worries. All of these neurotic
symptoms help control or make up for the basic anxiety of not getting
the love, security, and sensual touching we want. That's not too weird
a notion, is it? 
Understanding how we handle neurotic anxiety was only part of
Freud's task. Freud treated patients with great guilt who had never
done anything wrong; he saw sexual-attention hungry children deny
their sexual interests (remember this was the Victorian era); he saw 5
and 6-year-olds who had a crush on one parent become more and
more like the other parent. So, he adopted the idea from ancient
Greek literature of "Oedipus and Electra Complexes:" we are in love
(whatever that means to a 3 or 4-year-old) with one parent but this is
real scary because the other parent might get jealous and hurt us,
including quit loving us or physically hurt us (castration anxiety!). How
do we handle this scary, threatening situation? With a clever stroke of
genius! We join forces with the competitor, we start using the same
sexed parent as a model. By joining the enemy we have avoided the
war; by identifying with the same sexed parent we have found a
means of controlling the dangerous (and thus scary and evil) impulses
(sexual attraction and hostility) within us. Soon, we no longer crave
physical contact with the parent of the opposite sex; boys of 8 or 10
want to be like their dads; girls like their moms. Young boys start to
think girls are yucky and a secret voice inside may be saying, "Whew!
Thank goodness I'm safe; I'm out of that scary triangle with mommy
and daddy." 
Part of the process of identifying with the same sexed parent is the
internalization of values, the development of a conscience which Freud
called the "superego". The superego, the part that makes us good
and considerate of others, is an outgrowth of the interactions that
many people consider so wicked--the Oedipus or Electra Complex.
Because we, as young children, have known birth trauma,
overwhelming fear and a sense of utter helplessness, and because we
so desperately want love, we handle our fears by developing at age 5
or 6 a set of rules to live by that will help us become a good boy or a
good girl. Rules such as: you should not get angry at your little
brother and try to kill him...or even think of it. You should not wish
you had mommy or daddy all to yourself because the other one would
have to die...and you can't think about that, it might come true. You
should not do sexual things, like try to suck mommy's breasts or feel
daddy's penis...and you shouldn't even think about dirty, nasty acts or
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