So much depends on what you mean by the term “ego” in psychology that a whole discipline of psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy, is called ego psychology.
So, what is ego and what is ego psychology definition?
The ego has become such an overused word that it has lost most of its significance in our day-to-day conversations. As a result, some of us do not have a clear perception of the magnitude of what they are referring to.
But interestingly, most of the success on the path to personal growth depends on how you perceive and deal with your ego to transcend its limits.
Hence, to make it easier for your self-development endeavors, we will be diving deep into all the aspects of ego and ego psychology.
What Does “Ego” Mean In Psychology?
Ego is the holy grail in psychology. It is the stuff that psychologists try to fix whenever they are treating a patient. And almost all the psychological disorders are due to the faults in our egos.
It is ego that all the self-help experts are also trying to come to terms with in order to transcend its limits
So, can you guess now, how important the ego is?
Basically, ego is the center of our awareness. It is the form of our personality and the structure of our conscious existence.
Crudely, it can be said that ego is formed of our perceptions, thoughts, ideas, and memories.
In more academic terms, ego is a personality formation that deals with the external environment and the internal forces of one’s psyche.
What Is Ego Psychology Definition?
So, what is the ego psychology definition?
The psychological discipline that makes ego the center of analysis as the main element of one’s being and the bedrock of all psychological ailments, is ego psychology.
Ego psychology is rooted in the theories of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. However, some later psychologists like Anna Freud and Heinz Hartmann also contributed heavily into the development of it as an academic field.
The ego psychology definition mostly focuses on the process of ego formation and the consequences of it.
What Does the Ego Do?
In ego psychology, ego formation starts from the very early childhood.
According to Freud, there are three parts in one’s psyche or personality: the Id, ego, and superego.
It is essential to know each of these to fully understand the concept of the ego psychology definition.
The Id is the part of the personality that we are born with.
It is unbridled biological instincts and is driven solely on the “pleasure principle” (the being’s unabashed impulse to fulfill every wish and desire without any effect from logic, sense or reality).
Id remains forever unchanged in our unconscious throughout our lives.
Now, to manage, control, and make sense out of this primitive impulse-driven Id, in contrast with the external, the Ego emerges.
As an infant, we start to realize that every drive, desire, or impulse is not there to be fulfilled immediately and there are methods (and consequences) to getting what you want — there starts to form the very first strands of ego.
So, Ego is the part of our personality that functions as a mediator of the internal Id and the external environment.
The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions.— Sigmund Freud
Later on, it keeps developing throughout the lifetime based on external situations and various internal impulses.
The Superego starts to develop a bit later in the process of personality development and it represents the moral, or ethical, part of the personality.
As we grow up, we learn the moral and ethical codes of conduct and behavior from our parents, family, and society. We start to get a sense of what is good and bad. And a part of us forms that says that you shall not sin. This is the superego.
So, we can say that ego is realistic whereas the superego is moralistic.
What Is the Ego Good For?
Now, as we have seen that ego forms as a mediator of the external and the internal, it performs the most significant tasks of our daily lives.
- It perceives the reality.
- Finds out ways to meet our inner demands.
- Regulates our emotions.
- Judges, thinks, and establishes relationships with the objects and people in our world.
- Performs some important defense mechanisms like repression and regression to protect our personality.
- And above all, it synthesizes all that is happening in our inner and outer worlds.
So, ego is good for some serious stuff in our life. But there is much more to it than just that.
Ego is also the part of our being that gives rise to higher human aspirations like self-realization, achieving higher levels of consciousness, serving humanity, working egolessly, and going beyond the ego, itself.
However, as ego is formed based on our contact with the society, it is often stuffed with all the faulty rules, ideas, and beliefs of our society.
So, it is imperative that we understand our ego constructs to get rid of these Brules or “Bullshit Rules” as Vishen Lakhiani (the founder of Mindvalley) calls them.
On the other hand, a weak or distorted ego formation causes the most number of psychological impairments.