Freedom from the superego – Superego part 3
Although the super ego is usually described as a singular structure of mind resting above the ego and directing, judging and moralizing from there, we know from our last session that the superego is in fact more complex. It is not a single other but rather a series of split objects (for example, different parts of one’s mother) incorporated into our mind at the conscious level and the unconscious level. For example, the ideal we chase is usually conscious whereas the rejecting parent is usually unconscious. Both ideal and rejecting forces are central elements of the superego. Although the unconscious elements can become conscious, usually they simply affect the way we feel emotionally and physically from the unconscious. Our mood is affected.
Because certain elements of the super ego are unconscious and repressed they do not develop the way conscious elements of our mind do. They tend to remain as they were originally incorporated when we were children… monstrous… sadistic, etc. They are a child’s thoughts. And as we discussed last week, splitting the good from the bad is a common way that very young children view the world. The “bad” (rejecting, controlling, etc.) aspects of our parents get incorporated internally as judges and then repressed. They are repressed because they are painful and cause anxiety. They are defended against. Without the chance to develop in the light of consciousness they remain punitive, sadistic, controlling, and so on, as well as somewhat invisible. The “good” or ideal aspects of our incorporated parents are more conscious. We tend to be more aware of and have more say about how what we pursue, our ideals, because they are more conscious. They develop. Although more conscious and more developed chasing ideals is still chasing ideals, which tends not to be very gratifying. For example, people looking for their ideal partner tend never to be satisfied because the real person never lives up to the ideal.
So how do we disentangle ourselves from the grip of this complex super ego of split objects conscious and unconscious? The first step is to recognize superego activity. That’s why we have elaborated to such a degree today and over the last few weeks on the source and functioning of the superego. We can get the hang of detecting internal moral judgment, whether it’s chasing something good or a bad feeling we have about ourselves arising as a mood. The super ego always has this judging quality. When all is said and done, it’s a commentary against our inherent value. We know what this feels like. We can recognize this.
If it is arising from the unconscious we can detect the feeling and dig to the underlying belief and attack. If the self-attack is conscious or we are consciously pursuing some ideal then the superego activity is more obvious. When we are approving of ourselves it gets trickier because that approval can be from our deepest heart or it can be for more super ego rewarding us for sticking with its program. In the latter case the approval is actually a sort of twisted threat and asserts that we need to be someway or do something to simply have value as a human being. Regardless of the form, superego activity always has this moral judging quality and a familiar feeling sourced in our childhood.
Once we recognize an attack, distinguishing it makes an enormous difference. Writing it down helps. We gain some distance from it. We are able to think and be outside of this judging influence. The next step is to disengage from the superego. Engaging, whether it’s fighting with the super ego or giving-in to the superego or what have you, does not work. We’ve all tried that. Repressing it does not work. We tried that as well. Distinguishing superego activity and disengaging from it works.
Here are five ways I recommend disengaging:
1. Use Strength: forcefully separate yourself with a brief statement like “Fuck off” or “bug off”
2. Use Compassion: a compassionate statement like “This hurts and isn’t helping”
3. Use Intelligence and Curiosity: like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, when the Klingons are attacking the Enterprise he calmly says “Interesting… I suggest we warp drive out of this sector.”
4. Use humor: “Oh my god, I should be whipped because (fill in the blank). Quick get the noose and hangman.” Humor is an interesting combination of several qualities of Reality, like Truth, Compassion, Joy and Acceptance, where some charged item is contrasted with what is Real There is a release of charge, experienced as an emotional and physical release, hence, laughing, energetic shudder, etc. This diffuses the attack and unveils it for what it is.
5. Body practice: the Material quality of Reality is used to short circuit the corrupted brain. Like simply turning the computer off.
Notice that these all rely on qualities of Reality. We are returning to what is fundamentally true and leaving the domain of the relationship blueprint’s self-other template behind. The corrupted circuitry in the brain has been accessed, understood and unplugged. New neural pathways are created. The system is updating and aligning itself with what is Real. This is Corework.