SUPEREGO & CONSCIENCE
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
August 24, 2022
Sometimes, I sit down to write my weekly blog post and have no idea what to write about. Other times, I know what I’ll write about before I even sit down because the universe seems to throw a particular topic at me from several directions no matter how I try to turn away. Well, this week was the latter. And today’s post is brought to you by one element of Freud’s theory of personality: The Superego. As Kendra Cherry wrote in an article on the topic, ”According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the superego is the component of personality composed of the internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and society.”
Two of my superego themes are It’s all my fault. and I’m not wanted or good enough as I am. I could go into where these came from, but I’ve covered that in some of my personal CBT therapy sessions. I’ve processed the reasons and realized how inaccurate those statements are. But that doesn’t mean they don’t pop up from time to time, forcing me to find appropriate coping mechanisms to move past the visceral feelings of yesteryear.
Superego vs. Conscious
I’ve also been reading Martha Stout, Ph.D.’s The Sociopath Next Door, in which she discusses at length the difference between superego and conscience. I never pondered the difference between the two, so following along with Dr. Stout’s thought process on the differentiation was perspective-altering for me. She insists that the superego is rooted in fear-based learning, while our conscience is rooted in love. It’s no wonder our superego seems to hold onto root issues we likely held onto in our more fearful moments. Once we were able to believe they were true, we were able to accept our reality.
Then finally, this morning, I was listening to a live meditation from my beautiful friend Ipek Williamson. She was focusing on ways to calm the judge in your head. It was such a beautiful bow on the superego package I was slowly unwrapping. Despite the messages we cling to in childhood, there are ways to calm and cope. The quote Ipek ended the meditation with was from Caroline Caldwell. She said, “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
Comfort the Superego with Self-Love
And I must admit, I do like myself. Am I perfect? No. Do I want to be perfect? Also, no. But I have realized everything is not my fault. I have realized I am a good person with a healthy conscience. And on top of that, I am wanted in the lives of many people that surround me day in and day out. I’m an important piece of many puzzles. And I belong exactly where I am.
Sure, I’ll falter, but I’ll also remain rebellious because not only do I like myself, but I also love myself.
And I hope you feel the same way about the person you look at in the mirror. If you have the capacity to love, I hope you learn to love yourself.