Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Super-Ego and the Id

Scientists today are interested in "altruism". How do humans who are made to "survive" based on their personal interests to take interests in others? Religion and tribal/cultural understandings of formation of the Super-Ego have been understood to help along the "ultimate good", "pubic good", or "moral imperative". But, is societal "good", the "collective" the greatest value one is to value? This is the question posed to moral philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, diplomats, and theologians.

Freud made popular the terms Id and Super-Ego. These terms are used to identify how individuals naturally are pre-disposed and how they become due to societal/cultural impact. Whenever there is a coflict between the Id and Super-Ego, the Ego uses defense mechanisms to "cope" with anxiety.

The child needs a nuturing environment to survive. And as Western society has lost its sense of responsiblity and obligation to its young, Western culture has suffered the dire consequences. The family is the first formative community that the child encounters to teach and train. As the child grows and experiences his teachers, and others that impact the child, the child learns to trust or mistrust "life". Is life to be embraced, explored and trusted, or is life to be a challenge to life itself due to impoverishment, whether physical or social? These are the social problems that face the West. And it becomes the question of the developing Id and Super-Ego.

I think that whenever the individual, whether a child or adult, is undermined through subversive means, then it is an undermining of the stability that will bring about "altruistic concern". How can one who has not recieved the proper nourishment from society, be or become what society needs to further the goals of human flourishing?

Human flourishing has to begin at the individual level for the individual to "give back" and bring about human flourishing for another. The "super-ego" can be a gift or a curse depending on how that has been formed in early childhood. Has the environment been nurturing or punitive? And how has the parent handled the child's innate desires? Have they been affirmed as far as possible, without subverting the child's "good"?

Parenting the child's "Id', his innate desires is an important part of developing the child's gifts. If the parent is too afraid of the desires of the child because of some punitive understanding of religious doctrine, then the child becomes malformed and may sabatoge his own happiness later in life.

I think that religion can be prohibitive to healthy development due to a "fear of God". If one has certain natural desires, then one is "doomed to be punished". Happiness is not to be sought in the development of what one desires, because one must sacrifice for 'God. This is seen as the ultimate in service to God. But, sacrifice and subservience is an unhealthy understanding of faith. The fundamentalist appraoch to faith demeans the "human".

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