logically deciding part of us--our Mr. Spock or our computer which
helps us decide what is rational to do. (Actually, it was later
psychoanalysts who in the 1950-70's developed theories, called Ego
Psychology, which emphasize the normal, conscious, coping functions
of the ego.)
Neither the id nor superego is realistic. The id demands constant
gratification; the superego is impossibly idealistic. The ego or "adult"
has to deal with reality--and reality includes (1) the id's emotional
impulses, (2) the superego's moralistic demands and censure, and (3)
complex external reality, including understanding how things really
work in the outside world and how to get along with others. As Freud
said, "Life (for the ego) is not easy!" It has an enormous task and, as
we saw in chapter 5, when our ego becomes overwhelmed, we feel
anxious. The anxiety may come from the id (the urges are about to
break loose), the superego (the criticism is devastating), or reality
(things are falling apart in the external world).
Not all of the work of the ego is conscious, i.e. it does many things
without telling us. For instance, the ego represses some of the id's
desires because consciously thinking about these selfish or sexually
perverse or brutally hostile urges makes us anxious (the urges are still
there). The ego's defense mechanisms, as discussed in chapter 5,
operate unconsciously. In a similar way, our ego unconsciously devises
a variety of excuses which enable us to escape the critical wrath of our
superego (see chapters 3 & 7). The best solution is to acknowledge (as
we become able to do so) all parts of us, the good and the bad. That's
why this road map to your psyche should be helpful for self-
Your "adult" is probably in charge when you:
gather information for making a rational decision.
check out reality to see if certain beliefs are actually true.
weigh the pros and cons for several courses of action,
considering the long-term practical consequences, the moral
values, and the pleasure involved.
make decisions in a reasonable way and then assess the
effectiveness of those decisions.
Keeping the parts in balance
Ask yourself, "Is my adult free to make rational decisions or is it so
'contaminated' with emotions from the child or false beliefs from the
parent that it can't think logically?" Examples: Feeling others are
against us may come from a scared or frustrated "child." The angry
"child" may convince the "adult" that "no one likes me" or "they hate
me" (a projection). Our "adult" must learn to recognize the "child's"
unconscious attempts to influence our thinking. Prejudices are false
beliefs held by the "parent" part of the personality. If the "adult"
doesn't rationally check out these false beliefs, we may genuinely
believe that all Jews are shrewd, untrustworthy businessmen, all