The Ego Vs. Itself

Posted on by Brucenstein and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

A woman gets into a bad accident, suffers trauma-induced depression et. al., and copes with it by playing a game she created.

I’ve been curious about how to use the ego against itself. It hates (e.g.) the success of others, so how do you structure an environment to take advantage of that. Can you?

One thing my ego hates is effort. This is because effort reveals the limitations of my current status whereas, in fantasy magic brain land, I’m the best ever. Although I do think legitimate laziness has a great part in this, I consider that a behavior learned from ego, not vise versa.

Which is why “Super Better” appeals to me. It’s a challenge, a silly challenge, but one with real results regardless. Perhaps more importantly it has a goal, an actual admission that you’re broken and you’re working on it.

It forces you to do the one thing the (my) ego hates the most – accessing reality. And it does it in a manner that circumvents the roadblock of apathy/assumed greatness. I’m not sure how, but that’s a different matter entirely.

So while may not be using the ego against itself, per se, it’s a good tool to flank it. And a great start 

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6 Responses to The Ego Vs. Itself

  1. thestage says:

    If something refers to reality at least twice in its attempts to convince you of its legitimacy, you can be damn sure there’s nothing real about it.

    This is the trend of ‘gamification,’ and it became A Thing To Talk About roughly two or three years ago. The premise of gamification is that farmville made literally billions of dollars on facebook by convincing people that they had to spend money on nothing in order to feel better about themselves. Which is to say gamification is a thing because it directly monetizes narcissism. Draping the zeitgeist in self-help terms doesn’t change its nature. Clicking the link is “an admission that you’re broken” in the same way that buying a lottery ticket is an admission that you’re poor. The goal isn’t to “get better,” the goal is to convince yourself that you’re the kind of person that works to get better. If you actually were that person, you wouldn’t need a TED talk to convince you of your own reality.

  2. Guy Fox says:

    Yeah, so your ego resists change, but you have the presence of mind to notice that and to recognize how it’s making you unhappy (and presumably others in your blast radius too). Don’t panic, that’s standard-issue liberal neuroticism. Superbetter does have some aspects that seem to lend themselves to narcissism, like the bit about inviting ‘allies’ from Facebook to help you on your quests. It’s a prosthetic superego to compensate for an atrophied one, and it also has some superego crowdsourcing aspects to it as well.
    As to how pernicious it is, why not look at it pragmatically? If that’s what you need to help you spend more time with your kids, lay off the junk food/booze, get your blood pressure down, it isn’t inherently a bad thing. If, however, you start externalizing your problems so that your friends become progressively more responsible for making sure that you stay on the straight and narrow, eating into their time with their kids and blood pressure, it might actually do more harm than good.
    Ani Difranco has this great quip that “Any tool is a weapon if you hold it right”, which is true, but so is the converse “Any weapon is a tool if you use it right.” Make sure you can recognize the difference and apply it.

    • thestage says:

      “As to how pernicious it is, why not look at it pragmatically?”

      Because pragmatics are symptomatically oriented. You can ease the pain of a cancer, but it’s still going to kill you if no one is rooting around your insides. It’s not even about externalization, it’s about the justification and even outright promotion of the kind of behavior and worldview that created problems to begin with. Piecemeal striving for trinkets, a devotion to framework rather than content (for lack of a better term), a dash of techno-legitimacy and dependency, banal social branding. The same traps will find their way back into your brain. Any weapon is a tool, yeah, but why use a knife when the fucking screwdriver is right there?

      Though, hell, AA does the same shit and they’re not hurting for gold stars and advocates.

      • Brucenstein says:

        I’ll admit I haven’t delved into SupperBetter past the first couple of “challenges”, which is perhaps an admission that I don’t really WANT to change. But I digress….

        I’d like you to expand on what, exactly, you mean in regard to “symptomatically oriented”, especially in reference to “a pragmatic” not seeking medical attention. To take on the role of our hypothetical pragmatic, I certainly wouldn’t eschew proven medical techniques in favor of witch doctors. I would recognize that certain things have certain probabilities, and calculate my potential quality of life accordingly. But I don’t quite follow how being pragmatic in a cancer situation equals you not seeking medical help.

        I also think you’re looking at the “devotion to framework” etc. in a similar vein. That complaint can be levied against anything – against education, against driving, against reading, against psychology, against training for the Olympics, against taking a crap. Perhaps I’m unclear in what you mean by that, because everything has a framework, and creating a framework is a practical approach to solving myriad problems. So when you say “devotion to framework”, it’s unclear what you’re actually referring to.

        Anything can be spun to be pro-narcissist, anything. But that doesn’t mean it actually is. Like all things narcissism it depends on the person – their internal motives.. Two exactly similar actions can be taken by two separate people, and only one’s doing it for narcissistic tendencies (patterns of behavior and response to specific stimuli I will grant as easier to determine). This is all to say I think you’re seeing demons where there’s only potential for such – and there’s potential everywhere.

        For example, the woman in the talk used SupperBetter, before it was even “SupperBetter” to improve her quality of life after a brain injury event and ostensibly to prevent her own suicide. I didn’t gather that she was looking to merely excuse herself or explain away how the world was wrong, but rather a legitimate sense of desire to improve. Maybe you got the completely opposite impression – and definitely let me know if that’s what you got out of it – but if this woman was sincere then that’s a power counter-point to your entire dismissal.

        Can this be used to fabricate change? Of course. Anything can. Fad diets work the same way. Tons of people own gym memberships without ever being to the gym. Tons of people will go jogging “when it’s not so hot outside” or what have you. As Guy Fox said, any tool can be made a weapon. But remember that the diet that works best is the one you stick to.

        My main point which was perhaps lost in the original post was that this type of “gamification” can be used to circumvent blocks we have put in place that we might not even be aware of. In fact I had a friend many years back who started weightlifting (and still is) and described exercise as an RPG for real life (+1 STR!).

        Maybe someone needs a larger community to see that they’re doing it, maybe someone wants their Facebook friends to know that they snapped their finger 50 times. Assuming they’re actually self-improving (one could debate whether this is legitimate self-improvement) then that really makes my point – it’s using the ego (need to be seen as improving) to beat itself up (actual self improvement). With luck, the new habits and such formed will go on to let a person know they don’t need the training wheels anymore.

        Whether this particular instance works or not I don’t know – should I participate in any meaningful sense I’ll let you know. But I’d caution a curt dismissal.

  3. DGS says:

    Sometimes I use ego to push myself beyond self doubt. For example, basketball.

    If I think I can ball, may be I try more difficult shots and play harder. It would work.

    I could also note that others are good, and I am worse, and hopefully admit this, and still play hard.

    Unfortunately I think people like TLP would smack me down, may be citing that realistically judging your abilities at all times is the healthiest thing.

    To which I pose this question – “How is a man suppose to bat outside his league?”

  4. Marner says:

    You are mistaken Ego does not hate effort. Ego does not hate accessing reality. This is Id

    Redefining ego as id, and then attributing learned behavior to this now unitary structure= defense.

    BTW: percival defined self as the ego experiencing itself.