english

THE EGO

 

Ghiath el-Marzouk

 

1   Preliminary

This article will consider Freudís conception of the ego as a psychical entity which encircles two further psychical entities, viz. the id at a lower level and the super-ego at a higher level, a three-dimensional representation of the psyche which is founded on the (previous) tripartite system of unconsciousness, preconsciousness, and consciousness. With the doomed conflictual interrelation between identification and the Oedipus complex in mind, the article will, thence, underline the developmental aspects of the ego in respect of the other two entities (the id and the super-ego) by touching on the (possible) parallelism between libidinal development and ego development, and on the psychical Ďrepercussionsí of this parallelism. Accordingly, the interdependence of the three psychical entities will be addressed from the standpoint of the magnitude of consciousness and the containment of instinctual drives,[1] thereby tracing the contents of the ego from the Ďpre-stateí of the psyche (i.e. what lurks in the Ďdarknessí of the id) to its Ďpost-stateí, which does include the Ďcensorshipí of the super-ego. Then, the seemingly immanent conflict between the ego and the id in the (ensuing) presence of the super-ego will be explained in terms of the inherent struggle between the reality principle (the principle which regulates the ego) and the pleasure principle (the principle which controls the id), with the super-ego being governed by what may be termed, the morality principle. Finally, the so-called false judgements which are Ďconsciouslyí made by the ego (from the viewpoint of what Lacan calls, mťconnaissance Ďmisrecognitioní) will, thus, be contrasted with the true judgements which appear to be unconsciously made by the id upon the egoís mediation (or rather negotiation) between the inner world (the id) and the outer world. This polarity of false judgements and true judgements will also be illustrated with reference to the case history of the so-called ĎRat Maní, so as to highlight the corresponding distinction between what may be called, the objective counterpart of the conscious ego and the subjective counterpart of the unconscious ego, with the latter psychical counterpart, in turn, throwing light on what is generally referred to in the Lacanian formulation as the subject.

 

2   Exposition

As discussed in a previous article (cf. el-Marzouk, 2007), identification may well instigate the inversion of the Oedipus complex, an inversion which embodies the psychical transformation whereby the identifier tends to develop a true object-cathexis towards the identified. In this case, the perceived distinction between the identifierís idealization and objectivization of the identified corresponds to the perceivable distinction between being and having (cf. el-Marzouk, 2007, note 4). This distinction would be contingent upon whether or not the resultant emotional affiliation (or libidinal tie) attempts to construct the ego of the identifier in accordance with the psychical make-up of the identified, an attempt which may take place in normal as well as in abnormal (or pathogenic) cases. With the ineluctable destruction of the Oedipus complex and its ensuing submission to primary repression, the initial apparition of (primitive) instinctual drives would be suppressed in the a priori existence of the id, and would become Ďsexuallyí dormant during the latency period  (which ends roughly at the age of puberty). Thus, in the subsequent history of the relationship between the identifier and the identified, the enervated object-cathexes are replaced by the more invigorated introjections of identification, with the (prohibitive) authority of the identified being introjected into the intermediary existence of the identifierís ego and, then, forming the nucleus of the latterís super-ego, which has an a posteriori existence. As a result, the super-ego would entail its unconscious tendency to appropriate, and thence to perpetuate, the undesirable sternness of the (prohibitive) authority being talked about, so as to inhibit the ego from redeveloping the same (enervated) object-cathexes or, alternatively, to permit it (the ego) to reconstruct them under desexualization (cf. Freud, 1924a:319) or libidinal normalization (cf. Lacan, 1966a:2; 1966b:76). Given the ambivalent nature of identification which is presupposed by the positive and negative (or pathological) imports on the one hand, and its analogously duplicate function which is reflected in the direct constitution of primitive types of object-cathexes and the indirect contribution towards the desexualization (or libidinal normalization) of these primitive types on the other hand, the earliest establishment of (primitive) identification indicates, therefore, the earliest manifestation of the (primitive) ego, an underdeveloped manifestation that is pre-ordained to pass through certain phases of ego development in (presumable) synchronicity with parallel phases of libidinal development. Accordingly, particular psychical Ďrepercussionsí of this parallel seem to be in order.

  

It follows that the psychical Ďrepercussionsí of the parallel between ego development and libidinal development may bring to light the infantís rather successive embodiments of particular libidinal qualities that are so characteristic of the phases of the latter development, and may subsequently lead to the possible formation of ego qualities, such as, the Ďoral egoí, the Ďanal egoí, the Ďphallic egoí, etc., qualities or criteria which may have been the initial incentive to what Erikson calls, the Ďstages of maní (cf. Erikson, 1950). Hence, in the pre-Oedipal period, which would typify the predominance of the three corresponding phases (that is, the oral, the anal, and the phallic), the essential differentiation between the id and the ego may suggest, roughly speaking, that the lower mutations of libidinal development (e.g. instinctual drives)[2] are stimulated in the former entity (the id), while the higher mutations of ego development (e.g. thought-processes) are motivated in the latter entity (the ego). As such, the lower mutations of libidinal development appear to be unconsciously guided by the (internally generated) Ďconativeí energies that are associated with the instinctual drives in question at the one extreme, and the higher mutations of ego development seem, in effect, to be either consciously or unconsciously regulated by the (externally animated) Ďnon-conativeí forces which would enable the infant to master these instinctual drives at the other extreme. Furthermore, with the inescapable interaction between these conative energies and non-conative forces, the (later) associative power of the same conative energies may also result in the association of a given libidinal manifestation with a given ego manifestation, thereby giving rise to the prime formation of ego-libido which is immediately derived from its antithetical object-libido, especially when the association of the libidinal manifestation in question extends further to Ďobject-representationí (that is, the psychical representation of the outer world) (cf. Freud, 1914:68f., 94f.; 1923:368f., 386f.; etc.; cf. also el-Marzouk, 2007, note 3). From this standpoint, therefore, the mere transformation of object-libido into ego-libido (which, like the case with identification, occurs narcissistically and implies desexualization or libidinal normalization of the former libido) would permit the ego to obtain controlled access to the id, and would subsequently deepen its relationship with it. It follows that the basic differentiation between the ego and the super-ego would also be lightened in turn, since desexualization or libidinal normalization is the task of the super-ego, a task which is originally instigated by the (prohibitive) authority of the identified, as mentioned above. In consequence, with this lightening of the basic differentiation between the ego and the super-ego, the mere transformation of object-libido into ego-libido would allow the ego to gain similar controlled access to the super-ego in addition to its controlled access to the id.

 

Clearly, therefore, any quantum of libido that is associated with a person or a thing (object-libido) would eventually become associated with the ego (ego-libido), with the result that the ego-libido tends to increase the infantís self-awareness (which may even culminate in self-love) at the one end, and seeks to decrease his/her Ďemotional affiliationí (or Ďlibidinal tieí) with the parent at the other end. Hence, libidinal development would refer to the affective alteration of attitudinal goals towards pleasurable satisfaction, while ego development may suggest the progressive realization of the discrepancy between the a priori existence of the id and the intermediary existence of the ego, a discrepancy which manifests itself more and more Ďvisiblyí to the a posteriori existence of the super-ego. This now brings to light what may be called, the three-dimensional representation of the psychical apparatus (or mental life), a highly abstract representation that has already been subjected to two distinct, but related, topographical structures (or schemata) within an extremely intricate Ďmetapsychologicalí framework. On the face of it, the intermediary existence of the ego, as a psychical entity, is postulated to embrace the seemingly Ďsymmetricalí existence of the two further psychical entities: firstly, the a priori existence of the id on the egoís Ďlowerí level; and secondly, the a posteriori existence of the super-ego on the egoís Ďhigherí level this time. These three psychical entities (or agencies) are considered to found the three fundamental components which demarcate what is collectively known as, the second topographical structure of the entire psychical apparatus. The second topographical structure is, in fact, nothing more than a theoretic outgrowth of what is commonly called, the first topographical structure of the same apparatus, whose three essential components are proposed, instead, in terms of the three interrelated systems of the unconscious (Ucs.), the preconscious (Pcs.), and the conscious (Cs.), even though these        two designated topographical structures do not seem to exhibit one-to-one relationships between their three components. The content of the id, so it appears, is categorically unconscious, whereas neither the content of the ego nor the content of the super-ego would be categorically conscious, since some part of their contents is inclined to remain unconscious, on the one hand, and another part enters into the preconscious in order to become conscious, on the other, meaning that both the ego and the super-ego would establish a relationship of some sort with the id. In this context, Freud argues that the relationship between the super-ego and the id is even closer than it is between the ego and the id (cf. Freud, 1923:389f.). Notwithstanding, of course, Freudís initial derivation of the term Ďthe idí from Groddeckís (1923) term das Es Ďthe ití, who, in turn, actually derived it from his own teacher Schweninger (1850-1924), who, in turn, may have ultimately borrowed the term from Nietzscheís (1844-1900) notion of Ďthe impersonalí that lurks in human nature (cf. Freud, 1923:345, 362, n.2). 

 

Recall that the afore-said differentiation between the id and the ego is ascribable to what seems to be, the permanent conflict between the lower mutations of libidinal development (the mutations that are unconsciously guided by the conative energies in the id) and the higher mutations of ego development (the mutations which are either consciously or unconsciously regulated by the non-conative forces in the ego). As such, the differentiation in question would anticipate the classical antithesis between the primary physical processes from which instinctual drives tend to derive their conative energies (in the id) and the secondary psychical processes from which thought-processes tend to derive their non-conative forces (in the ego). Upon first impression, therefore, this seemingly clear-cut and straightforward differentiation may suggest that the ego, as for its present developmental make-up, has already undergone a particular phase (if not all phases) of libidinal and ego development, otherwise the similitude between the ego and the id would not be postulated in terms of the specific proportion of the unconscious referred to above. Recall, again, that there exist two contrasting classes of instinctual drive which derive their conative energies from the primary physical processes (in the id in most cases), viz. the life instinctual drive (or Eros) and the death instinctual drive (or Thanatos), with the former class including sexual instinctual drives and self-preservative instinctual drives and the latter class comprising sadistic instinctual drives and masochistic instinctual drives (see note 2). Given that self-preservative instinctual drives are apportioned to the ego specifically, the crucial similitude between it and the id appears to be pertinent to the unconscious counterparts of these instinctual drives, hence the injunction that the content of the ego (or that of the super-ego, for that matter) is not categorically conscious. This indicates that the most primitive form of the ego (a form which is initially instigated by (primitive) identification, as discussed earlier) would embrace the preconscious counterparts of all the instinctual drives that are assigned to the id unconsciously, for which reason Freud is, in this connection, liable to describe the ego and the id rather interchangeably as being the Ďgreat reservoirí of libido (cf. Freud, 1923:369, n.1, 387, 404f.). If this is indeed the case, then the ego and the id would be nothing else than two versions of one and the same primordial psychical entity, with the ego being a variable entity and the id being a constant entity in the natural course of libidinal and ego development.

 

With the perceived interdependence of the three psychical entities in respect of the magnitude of consciousness, the dual relationship of the id with the other two entities (the ego and the super-ego) can be understood from the mere transformation of object-libido into ego-libido referred to above, with the object-libido being activated in the id and the ego-libido being actuated in the ego under the Ďcensorshipí of the super-ego. The same transformation would also illuminate the dual relationship of the ego with the other two entities (the id and the super-ego), since it enables the ego to gain control over the id and the super-ego simultaneously, thereby deepening its adjacency to the id and lightening its remoteness from the super-ego. Accordingly, the dual relationship of the super-ego with the other two entities (the ego and the id) would now be contingent upon the gradual enlargement of the egoís awareness of its content, and the manner in which it (the ego) represents itself vis-ŗ-vis the id. It is evident that, with the afore-said gradual enlargement of the egoís awareness of its content (which is proportionate with its awareness of the idís content), the ego must harbour the potential for organizing its own content specifically, a potential that enables it (the ego) to handle with Ďharmonyí the origins of the chaos which is deep-seated in the idís content. It is also evident that the id, with its categorically unconscious content, tends to behave as the libidinal (or affective) representative of the conative trends (desires or wishes) in the inner world in order to accomplish uncontrolled satisfaction, whereas the ego, with its not categorically conscious content, tends to act as the cogitative (or perceptual) representative of the non-conative trends (images or ideas) in the outer world, so as to achieve controlled adaptation instead. Therefore, the super-ego, which is more aware of the idís content than the ego is, would, in turn, characterize itself as the social (or ethical) representative of the conative trends in the inner world (the id), for which reason the super-ego is often employed synonymously with the ego-ideal, as will be seen presently (see note 4 below). Consequently, the super-ego would appear, as it stands, to be an acquired entity whose principal function is, so to speak, to Ďaptlyí enjoin the ego (as being a connate-acquired entity) to master the instinctual drives which are already suppressed in the id (as being a connate entity), thereby enjoining it (the ego) to maintain the Ďdesirableí equilibrium between the inner world (the id) and the outer world (cf. Freud, 1923:367).

 

It follows from the above that the crucial differentiation between the ego (as an organized entity) and the id (as an unorganized entity) can now be discerned, especially with reference to the kind of principle which tends to guide either entity. This crucial differentiation points to the seemingly permanent conflict between the inner world (the id) and the outer world, a conflict which may be deeply ingrained in the polarization between the Ďrationalityí of reason and the Ďirrationalityí of passion. As such, the ego endeavours to utilize the reality principle in virtue of its representation of reason and all that is to do with it, whereas the id would be dominated unrestrictedly by the pleasure principle instead by dint of its representation of passion and all that relates to it. On the face of it, the reality principle seems to be acquired in nature (as is the case with the Ďdevelopedí entity of the ego), while the pleasure principle appears to be connate in nature (as is the case with the Ďundevelopedí entity of the id).[3] Therefore, ďin its relation to the idĒ, to use Freudís oft-quoted analogy, the ego ďis like a [rider] on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horseĒ (Freud, 1923:364). If, however, the rider in question is not willing to be separated, as it were, from the horse, then the rider would be under an obligation to Ďshepherdí the same horse in accordance with its desirable and wanted destination not his/her own destination, meaning that the ego, under similar compulsion, is inclined to Ďrationallyí transform the Ďirrationalí will of the id into a differentiated form of activity as though it were its own activity (cf. Freud, 1933:109f.). It is, therefore, tempting to argue that the super-ego (as the organizing entity) may be governed by what may be called, the morality principle, owing to its representation of the social (or ethical) demands that emanate by ruling Ďnecessityí (such as, tribes, families, governments, etc.). Freud himself appears to implicitly corroborate this principle within his explicit conception of the quantitative and qualitative attribution that is assigned to each of the three psychical entities so far as morality (or what he calls, Ďinstinctual controlí) is concerned: the id, primarily, is considered to be Ďtotally non-moralí; the super-ego, secondarily, is regarded to be Ďsuper-moralí; and the ego, in between, is viewed as Ďstriving to be moralí (Freud, 1923:395). In consequence, the super-ego may be as severe and austere as only the id would desire to be, given the egoís relative attitude towards the morality which is ultimately determined by the social structure.

 

Clearly, therefore, the crucial differentiation between the ego and the id can now be translated into the seemingly enduring antagonism between the reality principle and the pleasure principle, respectively, an antagonism whose exacerbation is commensurate with the magnitude of severity and austerity that is promulgated by the morality principle (the principle which is now perceived to administer the super-ego). This enduring antagonism is undeniably deep-seated in the general proclivity of the psychical apparatus towards the tenacious clutching at pleasurable sources at the one extreme, and its uttermost difficulty with the renunciation of these sources at the other. Thus, in the normal course of events, the reality principle tends to bifurcate the thinking process into two cogitative segments which are not necessarily symmetrical: one cogitative segment does not pass through the empirical mechanism of what is known as, reality-testing (or RealitätsprŁfung), for which reason it becomes associated with, and thence subordinated to, the pleasure principle alone. If the morality principle does not inject its influence into the resultant state of affairs, then the instinctual drives that are aroused by the pleasure principle would seek Ďfulfillmentí, thereby becoming attached to their real objects in the form of phantasizing at an early stage (as is the case with infantile play). If, however, the morality principle does inject its influence into the resultant state of affairs, then the instinctual drives which are aroused by the pleasure principle would be doomed to Ďrepressioní instead, thereby becoming detached from their real objects in the disguise of day-dreaming at a later stage, a form of diurnal imagination which may culminate in creative writing, depending on the intensity and the amplitude of the imaginative power. In the abnormal course of events, on the other hand, the afore-said antagonism between the reality principle and the pleasure principle would not be in a position to exert its normal expressions in phantasizing and day-dreaming as psychical satisfactions of the (aroused) instinctual drives, in which case the effect of the morality principle would be debilitated in either principle. Thus, neither the reality principle would lead to the sort of conative equilibrium which is necessary for the egoís self-gratification, nor the pleasure principle would be quantitatively or qualitatively Ďcensoredí by the morality principle, but rather the involuntary irruptions of phantasizing and day-dreaming may well point to abnormal (or pathogenic) expressions of hallucinatory symptoms or even hysterical attacks (cf. Freud, 1908a:87f.; 1908b:129; 1911:39).

 

From the above exposition of the mechanisms (or principles) which underlie the three psychical entities, a more comprehensive picture of the developmental aspects of the ego can now be formulated, especially in conjunction with the conflictual interrelation between identification and the Oedipus complex discussed at the outset (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2007). Hence, the earliest establishment of (primitive) identification may conduce towards the earliest manifestation of the (primitive) ego, where the ego is indistinguishable from the id, and thus both entities may be considered two versions of one and the same primordial entity which is connate in nature. In the (later) course of libidinal and ego development, the id remains constant (and therefore retains its connateness), whereas the ego, in turn, becomes variable (and thence begins to establish its acquiredness), meaning that the ego is both connate and acquired in the (incipient) presence of the super-ego, the entity that is acquired in nature. In other words, the connate id may initially harbour residues of an infinite number of Ďegosí, whereas the connate-acquired ego, upon its establishment of the acquired super-ego out of the id, may incessantly resurrect and reconstruct manifestations of these Ďegosí (Freud, 1923:378). The reverse of this reformulated picture would also be perceptible in the sense that the ego may originally include everything that belongs to the Ďpre-stateí of the psyche, even all that lurks in the Ďdarknessí of the id, the entity that does not include everything which belongs to the Ďpost-stateí of the psyche, but comprises the raw material which is needful for the egoís formation of the super-ego. When the connate ego begins to detach itself from the outer world (whose very initial encounter is realized in the motherís breast), its acquired counterpart begins to run the normal course of development by transcending beyond that very initial encounter, and thence widening the sphere of realization. This indicates that the current state of the ego (or its subsequent state, for that matter) is nothing else than a shrunken version of its foregoing state, with the latter state being far closer to the outer world and the former state (the current state) becoming more and more distant from this world (Freud, 1930:255). In a necessary state of flux, therefore, the egoís cognitive potential seems to derive a gradually increasing awareness of its (the egoís) contents from the Ďpost-stateí of the psyche, contents that are gradually decreasing in turn, for which reason the capacity of the ego for regulating those contents differentiates it more conspicuously from the Ďdarknessí of the id due to its (the idís) inevitable lack of that capacity.

 

Now if the id is that categorically unconscious entity where conative energies are derived to obtain uncontrolled satisfaction, and if the ego is that non-categorically conscious entity where non-conative forces are derived to achieve controlled adaptation, then the major task of the ego is to mediate (or to negotiate) between the id and the outer world. Given that controlled adaptation is achieved vis-ŗ-vis reality specifically, and that the Ďlightnessí of this reality would confront the Ďdarknessí of the id with all possible historical factors that are at loggerheads with it, the ego must have forcible recourse to what seems to be, ambiguous and illusory measures, thereby tending to distort the Ďlightnessí of reality itself. In this connection, Freud, in his attempt to demonstrate the view that knowledge, as a cognitive continuum, may originate from external perception, restates Groddeckís contention that ďour ego behaves essentially passively in lifeĒ and that ďwe are Ďlivedí by unknown and uncontrollable forcesĒ (Freud, 1915:180f.; 1923:361f.). Hence, the ego, as a mediator (or negotiator), ďyields to the temptation to become sycophantic, opportunist and lying, like a politician who sees the truth but wants to keep his/[her] place in popular favourĒ (Freud, 1923:398). This apparently passive and hypocritical behaviour of the ego appears, in effect, to be the motive for Freudís (later) contention that ďthe ego is the actual seat of anxietyĒ rather than that anxiety itself is a form of transformed libido (Freud, 1926:244). It is exactly the same passive and hypocritical behaviour of the ego which, according to Lacan, is imputable to its ďsystematic refusal to acknowledge reality (mťconnaissance systťmatique de la rťalitť)Ē, a systematically misleading ego-manifestation of Ďmisknowingí (or Ďmisrecognitioní), which is nothing more than a binary-oppositional amalgamation of ďgood intentions and bad faithĒ (Lacan, 1953:12f.). For precisely the same reason, also, Lacan declares his famous maxim that ďthe ego is the seat of illusionsĒ on the analogy of Freudís (later) contention (Lacan, 1953-4:62). As such, the Ďego-manifestationí in question may well explain the aetiology of psychosis in rather severe cases, since it has already been proved to account for the aetiology of paranoia in Ďmilderí cases, where the persecutor is identical with the image of the ego-ideal (which is often used interchangeably with the super-ego, as mentioned above).[4] Thus, the ego, with its forcible recourse to the ambiguous and illusory measures, tends to consciously make false judgements in order to conceal (or rather camouflage) the actual presence of the undesirable conflicts and contradictions that would emanate by ruled Ďnecessityí (such as, tantrums, rebellions, revolutions, etc.). This indicates that the id must, on the contrary, avail itself of unambiguous and non-illusory measures by seeking to unconsciously make true judgements instead, so as to abide slavishly by, and be in complete and Ďfaithfulí conformity with, the conative trends that are aroused within its realm. In consequence, the more unpleasurable discrepancies there exist between conative trends and social demands, the more false judgements does the ego tend to formulate Ďconsciouslyí, and the more abnormal (or pathogenic) would the ensuing symptom become.

 

To illustrate this polarity of true judgements and false judgements by way of exemplification, the initial fragment which marks the early case history of the so-called ĎRat Maní is a case in point, a case history that is regarded as the most substantial psychoanalytic study of obsessional neurosis. The initial fragment in question is concerned with the duration of the case history which ends with Aetiology 12 specifically, but which may extend to Aetiology 20 too, where the former aetiology invokes the prior occurrence of the Rat Manís obsession about his fatherís death and the latter aetiology (20) re-invokes the recurrence of the same obsession, as can be seen from the editorsí chronological data (cf. Freud, 1909:35). It is known that this person of the male sex was dominated, in his early childhood, by a persistent instinctual drive (or drives) which were sexually orientated in the form of what is known as, scopophilia (i.e. the maleís compulsive desire to see persons of the female sex stark naked, and vice versa (cf. voyeurism)). Plainly, the instinctual drive(s) of the compulsive desire would, in and of themselves, comply with the Ďtrue judgementsí that are unconsciously made by the id, simply because there exists no instantaneous mediation (or negotiation), on the part of the Ďconsciousí ego, between its called-for fulfillment and its uncalled-for consequences so far as reality is concerned. It is also known that the same compulsive desire corresponds to the obsession being talked about later on; otherwise the absence of the quality of the obsession from the compulsive desire would imply the absence of its complete opposition to the outer world and of its absolute foreignness to the social demands within it. For this reason, a sort of delusional conflict is apparently in progress in the childís mind already, a conflict between the compulsive desire itself and an obsessive fear which is intimately associated with it (namely, that his already dead father will be bound to die) (Freud, 1909:44). In consequence, the psychical delusions of this obsessive fear would, in contrast to the instinctual drive(s) of the compulsive desire, abide by the Ďfalse judgementsí that are Ďconsciouslyí made by the ego as a result of its instantaneous mediation (or negotiation) between the called-for fulfillment of the compulsive desire itself and its uncalled-for consequences in relation to reality.

 

It is, therefore, inviting to suggest that the explicit polarization between the Ďfalse judgementsí on the part of the conscious ego and the Ďtrue judgementsí on the part of the unconscious id may well coincide with an implicit antithesis between what appear to be, two psychical counterparts of the former entity in particular: firstly, the objective counterpart of the conscious ego (in the case of Ďfalse judgementsí); and secondly, the subjective counterpart of the unconscious ego (in the case of Ďtrue judgementsí), with this subjective counterpart pertaining to the crucial similitude between the ego and the id referred to earlier. Given that the phenomenon of identification discussed in a previous work (see el-Marzouk, 2007) may conduce towards the psychical progression or the psychical regression of the identity of the identifier, and that either psychical transformation is contingent for the most part upon the psychical  make-up of the identity of the identified, the subjective counterpart of the (unconscious) ego, so it seems at first sight, is perhaps synonymous with the (perceived) sense of that identity, a counterpart which tends to exhibit its objective implementation in psychoanalytic writings. Now if psychoanalysis, be it theoretical or practical, is a discipline that is ultimately concerned with one specific person, then the (perceived) sense of identity in question would, in turn, be synonymous with the sense of that one specific person as a generalization or an abstraction, collectively referred to in the Lacanian formulation as the subject.  

 

3   Summary

In conclusion, the ego is a psychical entity (or agency) which embraces two further psychical entities (or agencies), viz. the id at a lower level and the super-ego at a higher level, a three-dimensional representation of the psyche which is originally based on the (previous) tripartite system of unconsciousness, preconsciousness, and consciousness. The a priori id, so it appears, is categorically unconscious and is in charge of passion (within its conative energies), whereas neither the intermediary ego nor the a posteriori super-ego is categorically conscious, meaning that both entities would actuate a relationship with the id. The ego, therefore, is in control of reason (within its non-conative forces) and the super-ego is in authority of censorship (within its social demands). Given the earliest establishment of (primitive) identification which does point to the earliest manifestation of the (primitive) ego, the conflictual interrelation between the former phenomenon and the Oedipus complex illuminates, in turn, the developmental aspects of the ego, where the incipience of a possible parallelism between ego development and libidinal development is in order. Under this parallelism, the ego and the id are nothing more than two versions of one and the same primordial psychical entity, with the id being constant in its connateness and the ego being variable in its connateness-acquiredness under the authority of the super-ego in its acquiredness. This interdependence of the three entities may be interpreted in terms of two perceptible alternatives: primarily, the id initially contains residues of an infinite number of Ďegosí (which the ego resurrects and reconstructs incessantly); and secondarily, the ego originally includes everything that belongs to the Ďpre-stateí of the psyche (i.e. what lurks in the Ďdarknessí of the id). In either alternative, the ego subsequently extends its contents to the Ďpost-stateí of the psyche, so as to acquire (and thence authenticate) the raw material which is necessary for the formation of the super-ego. Thus, the permanent struggle between the ego and the id in the (early) presence of the super-ego is, in effect, ascribable to the enduring antagonism between the reality principle (the regulator of the ego) and the pleasure principle (the controller of the id), even upon the (later) implementation or application of the morality principle (the governor of the super-ego). In consequence of this permanent struggle (or enduring antagonism), the ego, through its role as a mediator (or, rather, a negotiator), tends to consciously make false judgements (which reflect ego-manifestations of mťconnaissance Ďmisknowingí/Ďmisrecognitioní) for gaining controlled adaptation, whereas the id seeks to unconsciously make true judgements for attaining uncontrolled satisfaction instead. Finally, this polarity of false judgements and true judgements highlights, in turn, the antithesis between the two psychical counterparts of the ego, respectively: the objective counterpart of its conscious representation and the subjective counterpart of its unconscious representation, with this latter counterpart of the ego being synonymous with what is called, the subject as a generalization or an abstraction.

 

 

 

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Freud, S. (1933): New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 2. 

Freud, S. (1938): An Outline of Psychoanalysis. Penguin Freud Library, vol. 15.

Groddeck, G. (1923): Das Buch vom Es. Vienna. [The Book of the It. New York (1950)].

Lacan, J. (1938): Les Complexes Familiaux dans la Formation de líIndividu. Paris: Navarin.

Lacan, J. (1953): Some reflections on the ego. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34:11-17.

Lacan, J. (1953-4): The Seminar. Book I. Freudís Papers on Technique. Trans./Ed. J. Forrester.

Cambridge: C.U.P. (1988).

Lacan, J. (1960-1): Le Sťminaire. Livre VIII. Le Transfert. Paris: Seuil.

Lacan, J. (1966a): Écrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan. Routledge (1997).

Lacan, J. (1966b): Écrits. Trans. B. Fink. Norton (2006).

el-Marzouk, Gh. (2007): «Š‹‹ŌÝů„ķŐ / Identification. Damascus: Maaber. (In Arabic and English).

 

 


 

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[1] In James Stracheyís editorialship of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, the German term Trieb is systematically rendered into the English term Ďinstinctí. However, most post-Strachey translators and commentators are inclined to substitute the English term Ďdriveí for Ďinstinctí in corroboration of their understanding of the Ďdecisiveí distinction between the two. At the one extreme, the term Ďinstinctí connotes the innate capacity in the living organism to respond to a certain stimulus (in which case the instinct is both pre-determined and predictable). At the other extreme, the term Ďdriveí denotes a motivated response which actuates the living organism to achieve a particular purpose (in which case the drive is both post-determined and unpredictable). Given that both extremes may well be associated with either of the two conflicting physiological processes of anabolism (i.e. the constructive part of metabolism whose psychological counterpart is called Eros Ďlife instinct/driveí) and catabolism (i.e. the destructive part of metabolism whose psychological counterpart is called Thanatos Ďdeath instinct/driveí), the term Ďinstinctual driveí will, therefore, be used as an all-inclusive term throughout.

 

[2] It is worth noting, in this context, that the term Ďinstinctual driveí (see note 1) refers to the two contrasting classes of instinctual drive that are put forward by Freud within his dualistic conception of nature. Firstly, the life instinctual drive (or Eros), whose purpose is to animate (or complicate) the organic world and to preserve it simultaneously. This class includes the two sub-classes of sexual instinctual drives (both uninhibited and aim-inhibited) and self-preservative instinctual drives, with the latter sub-class being assigned to the ego specifically. Secondly, the death instinctual drive (or Thanatos), which, on the other hand, tends to conduct the organic world back into the inanimate state. This class comprises the two sub-classes of sadistic instinctual drives and masochistic instinctual drives. Given that Eros and Thanatos are associated with the two conflicting physiological processes of anabolism and catabolism (mentioned in note 1), respectively, both classes of instinctual drive would be incommensurately activated in every cell of the living organism to activate their fusion and defusion (cf. Freud, 1920:275f.; 1923:380f.; 1924b:418; 1938:379f.).

 

[3] It is worthy of noting, here, that the pleasure principle, which seems to make its first appearance as a theoretic reformulation of what has previously been called, the unpleasure principle (cf. Freud, 1900:759; 1911:36), is in fact nothing else than an elaborated derivation from the classical notion of hedonism, the notion that has been familiar in the history of human thought for at least two and a half millennia. It has already been implemented by Hobbes (1588-1679) in his attempt to explain the workings of the mind in terms of pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, with the former goal referring to the positive aspects of the principle and the latter goal pointing to its negative aspects. Moreover, it even dates back to sources, such as Epicurus (341 B.C.-270 B.C.), of whom the third-century writer LaŽrtius said that ďas proof that pleasure is the end he [Epicurus] adduces the fact that living things [humans or animals], so soon as they are born, are well content with pleasure and are at enmity with painĒ (quoted in Edwards, 1972:433). The connate nature of hedonism (in Epicurus) or the pleasure principle (in Freud) can, therefore, be clearly understood from the phrase ďso soon as they are bornĒ in LaŽrtiusís statement.   

 

[4] As discussed at the outset, the inversion of the Oedipus complex underlines the distinction between the identifierís idealization and objectivization of the identified, with the former corresponding to being and the latter to having (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2007, note 4). Whereas the destruction of the same complex stresses the introjection of the identifiedís (prohibitive) authority into the identifierís ego (with its intermediary existence), an introjection which, later, forms the nucleus of the latterís super-ego (with its a posteriori existence). If the introjection in question is still Ďidentifiedí with idealization, as it were, then the super-ego (or Über-Ich) is synonymous with the ego-ideal (or Ich-ideal), even though a semi-antonymous sense is sometimes made in terms of guilt and shame, respectively. In this respect, Lacan seems to extend the antonymy even further: while the super-ego embodies the unconscious repression of object-cathexses, the ego-ideal incarnates the conscious desexualization (and therfore sublimation) of these object-cathexses (Lacan, 1938:59f.). Moreover, even within his Ďoptical modelí (which is originally derived from Freudís figurative use of the telescope (cf. Freud, 1900:685f.)), Lacan makes a still further distinction between the ego-ideal and the ideal ego (or Ideal Ich), with the former pointing to Ďsymbolic introjectioní and the latter to Ďimaginary projectioní (Lacan, 1960-1:414). Thus, like the case with the developmental difference between symbolic identification and imaginary identification referred to in the previous article (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2007, note 5), the ego-ideal (which acts as an ideal signifier) is more developed than the ideal ego (which acts as an ideal image).

 

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