Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Id, the Ego, and the SuperEgo

Looking into Psychology again.

There is a theory proposed by Sigmund Freud about how a person's mind works. The "Id" is the subconscious, the "Ego" is the concious, and the "SuperEgo" is the "partly conscious" or in other words the "Master control". In his theory, our Id is the more primitive bodily side of us. The Ego is the rider, and the Id is the horse. The Ego is pretty much controlled by the SuperEgo which is our value system. The Ego is sandwiched, and balanced between the Id (which is controlled by pleasure and pain), and the SuperEgo (which demands higher behaviour).

Lately I've been looking at my Karate training, and keeping Freud's "structural theory" in mind, I've noticed something very interesting. I believe that one of the Goals of Karate stated in the Dojo Kun "To Seek Perfection of Character" is to build up the influence of the SuperEgo, and Ego over the Id.

I look at the whole concept in this manner. I equate the Id to the "body", the "Ego" to the mind, and the "SuperEgo" to the inner spirit.

When we are in hard training, our Body will complain to us.. putting it's messages into words, you'd be hearing "I'm tired, I have no energy, I don't want to do anymore, it hurts, let's stop.. I'm thirsty.. I can't do anymore.. let's stop now.."

Our mind assesses the whole situation "Well.. yes.. I have been training hard for awhile now... but I'm not really tired. Pain? Well.. it's supposed to happen, that is part of the training, as long as it's not joint pain, the muscles are actually getting stronger though this. Energy? come on.. I had plenty to eat today. Stop? Why should we? I paid good money for this class, and I just started.. but then.. maybe I'm overtraining.. maybe I should lower the amount of output for awhile and see what happens. Water sure sounds good at this point, I know that I'm not really thirsty, but it would be great to go get a drink of water."

Then the Spirit will announce "I CHOOSE to train! Tired, hurt, thirsty, it doesn't matter. I am NOT going to quit and go home. Body! Cope with it.. and join me in my goal. Afterwards you will be rested, and get water. Mind.. FOCUS on our goals!!! We are going to finish this..."

Then everything seems to unite into ONE Being. The mind, body, and spirit unite into that KIAI.. everything becomes still, and suspended in time and space and at that point there is no more chatter between the three parts. They all go in the same direction with the same intent. You feel almost a glow of power coming from your center as you perform.

Have any of you felt this sort of thing as you trained?


[Mat] said...

There is a good book on the Ego. By... ... .... ......... . . .

Eckhart Tolle?

"A new earth"

Very good read.

supergroup7 said...

I'll keep it on my "to do" list, Mat.

I've been really busy lately, but I will look up that book one day.

Steve said...

How interesting that you posted on this subject. I wrote on this on my blog last January, 20 lbs and a lot of conditioning ago. I was doing it in a much more smart alecky manner, but I think it's interesting to examine martial arts training in this way. (http://stevebjj.blogspot.com/2007/01/kneebah.html)

I would suggest that the Id isn't something to conquer, necessarily. The primitive side of us wants to be strong, and revels in the sense of aliveness that we feel when we're sore and bruised, knowing that we've tested ourselves on the mats or in the dojo. It drives us to compete, and to prepare ourselves for combat even as we recognize how unlikely it is that we'll need these skills.

Rather than working to minimize one's Id, I try to harness it. What I once thought was pleasurable, eating fried food, drinking beer... basically pleasure in the Dionysian sense, has been controlled by my superego and morphed into something more productive. Now, my Id enjoys feeling strong.

Because I'm a geek, I think in geek terms. So, in terms of Id, Ego and Superego, I've always thought of Id as being my inner Klingon. The warrior, feral and basic, ready to fight without rationale. This spirit is what drives a person to continue past the point of exhaustion.

I would imagine that the Ego is working with the superego to try and preserve us, to save us from our Id. Where our Id is what compels us to continue. The Ego says, "Hey, listen. We're a little nauseous and uncomfortable. We broke our little toe on the mat again, and we've been rolling for 2 hours. I'm running on fumes and ready for Miller time. Id... let's cool it. SuperEgo... can you talk to him?" And then the Superego, our civilized persona says, "Yeah, dude. Come on. What are you doing? There is absolutely no reason for you to push yourself like this. You've done plenty for today. Relax."

Or maybe it's just late and I'm rambling because I can't sleep. :)

supergroup7 said...

I read that posting that you had place last January, Steve. It brought a huge smile to my lips. You said something like "It's my Id that talking.. not me..". Ha ha ha.. I truly appreciated the whole section.

Your Id sounds far more formidable than mine.

My Id whines, complains, and seeks pleasure over pain. It avoids applying itself, and seeks to eat, sleep, and play rather than work. My Id will find any excuse to avoid doing hard work, such as sitting here typing comments on my weblog instead of doing the housework that I'm supposed to do.

I find that my Ego, and SuperEgo are constantly offering my Id some sort of positive motivation, or compromise like "O.K. We'll let ourselves rest, and have fun for a short time.. but then we get up, and get things done. FAIR?" or "If you finish all of this work, then you can sit down and have a nap."

Can't sleep? Hey! I've been there too.. Ha ha ha.. Too bad that we can't convince our Id to rest when it's supposed to at times.

Steve said...

I don't sleep well when my wife is traveling. That's my Id at work, too. :)