The ego

The ego is the percipient aspect of the mind, that portion which produces the assimilation to outer, on the surface realities. It lives by thinking incessantly of all sorts of things and is really no more than the thought of those things. Ego strives to maintain a continuity of integrated experience and mediates responses to stimuli. Through ego a man attempts to change his position from one of insignificance to one of absolute control and mastery of nature. In order to stand out as a hero, a man develops a craving for power to transcend the limitations of the human condition and achieve victory over impotence and finitude. He is drawn to images of power, the possibility of invincibility over his ultimate helplessness. Going beyond the realm of the limited entails an expansion of the ego, and it is this psychological element that lies at the root of all forms of evil. Temptation to evil is motivated by selfishness, greed, envy and power - forms of neediness grounded in the enlargement of the ego and the attempt to feel big, important and powerful. The masculine denial of shame is for the sake of the ego because only the affect of shame can be as intolerable and devastating as to bring about its complete collapse (the same reason for the creation of the image of the succubus as a repository for masculine shame).

In our patriarchal world, perverse mental operations are rewarded to maintain the ego in order to prove oneself a man. Repression splits the psyche. In a man’s identification with cultural masculine gender ideas, the ego expands with his own idea of invincibility. This egocentricity is a puffed up ego that bars forgiveness, a kind of indifference to others to be people in their own right. It can deprive an individual of good feelings towards others: he may hate the other when they cross him, or stand in his way. He may feel like the other asked for it, deserves it, needs to be taught a lesson, and therefore his selfish actions are justified. He may think he is defending his honor, and yet what is really driving him is his inflated ego that pre-existed the insult that deflated him. Such inflation is what makes a person enjoy destroying another, from which he derives a distorted sense of power. Ego expansion is the root of the deepest distortion of mankind which says that it is a source of pride and honor to be the one who dispenses violence to others. This perception not only precludes the possibility of seeing the other as an object for compassion, but self disappears through atrophy, a mental division where humane response falls away.

When the ego dominates all aspects of his being, a man stops being a self. When his shame is petrified and self is lost, life becomes a script. A man begins to act, and the acting is a form of self-plagiarism, a staged drama of significance. Evil becomes a false means of self-affirmation. The individual does not know how to get himself out of his own way, trapped by the prop he has settled for in life. The more petrified a man is, the harder it is to get things moving. Also, the greater the difficulties he will have to face, and the more daunting the task of coming to terms with his shame.

When the destructive forces of evil intersect with the narcissism in developmental regression, history is re-written. The mind is evacuated of all humane thoughts. This serves to restrict feelings, which are remolded in accordance with evil. In this dissociated state, the person does not know what he is doing, “but returns contaminated and contaminating in a vicious self-poisoning process time and time again” (Grand, 2000). When the masculine ego takes the position of power over and presumes to heroically conquer the succubus, he rides sin proudly and is taken over by all he does not see. When weakness is repudiated, when a man avoids facing his humanity with its limitations and conditions of time and fragmentation, evil in some form is committed.

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