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Heath, A. (2016). Mind Your Mind, Episode 6: Ego-The It Factor. PEP Video Grants, 1(1):9.

(2016). PEP Video Grants, 1(1):9

Mind Your Mind, Episode 6: Ego-The It Factor

Author and Director
A. Chris Heath, M.D.

James Grant, Drew Mondrey, Julia Piccolo, Brad Trent, Johnny Bell, Greg Thrailkill and Michael Thrailkill

Human beings have a mysterious source of passion, unconscious from our everyday experience. Likewise, we have a guide within us, that helps us know what is good and right, as well as what not to do. In Ego: The It Factor, Dr Heath takes us on a journey within ourselves to discover these aspects, named by Sigmund Freud as the Id and Super-Ego.

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.
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DR. HEATH: Do you get an idea or an urge to do something that surprises you? It may be a good idea. It may be a really bad idea. But there's an excitement about it. I want to talk about the quality of surprise.


The surprise and the idea come from a part of you beyond your conscious mind. A lot of surprising things come to us way-- the appreciation and creation of art, falling in love, inventing new things. A guy named Sigmund Freud had a theory to understand this kind of thing. He called this hidden source of creativity, the It. Later we translated this into the Latin, Id.

But he said this came from the body and instincts. In fact, we can't even see the drops from the Id, only the way they manifest. Also, this part of us isn't dependent on external reality. It doesn't care about fears or limitations or even logic and time. Luckily for us, we don't usually just act on these impulses. If we did, or if the It could somehow act independently, it would get us into all kinds of trouble. Here, let's see some examples.

SPEAKER 2: Did-- did you just eat off my plate?

SPEAKER 3: Mm hm. Why?

SPEAKER 2: Well, I-- I can't believe you just did that. That's my--

SPEAKER 3: I was hungry.

SPEAKER 2: I-- ugh!

SPEAKER 3: Ooh, turkey.

SPEAKER 3: So, I think I'm about done for the day. I'm going to go home, get out of here.

SPEAKER 4: Are those reports in?

SPEAKER 3: This isn't about you.

SPEAKER 4: If you leave now you're fired!

DR. HEATH: Luckily there's another part of us that guides us. I mean, really, it saves us from all kinds of trouble. And this is the part of us that discerns how good of an idea that urge really is. Freud called this part of ourselves the Uber-I, Latinized as superego.

Like the Id, it comes from an unconscious part of ourselves and shows up as emotions like satisfaction or guilt. It has a structure. It develops during childhood. But it's not so dependent on the body and instincts. Where does it come from? Why do they have the form it does? Let's ask the superego.

SPEAKER 5: Yes, I'm Dr. Heath's superego. Why do I have to be the harsh one? His friend Joe's superego is much more ego-ideal. But oh no, I have to be like guilt trip this, and self-doubt that. He has me to make sure he feels awful if there are any mistakes.

SPEAKER 6: Well, here it is.

SPEAKER 4: This looks great.

SPEAKER 6: I know, but it's not perfect. I'll feel awful if there are any mistakes.

SPEAKER 5: I've been around for a long time.

DR. HEATH: My superego has been around for a long time, but how do we even end up with one of these superego things? We end up with a super ego during childhood by taking in aspects of the grownups around us. Here, watch this, and think about all the ways this grown-up could react.

SPEAKER 7: Dad, look! Look, I managed to good on my test.

SPEAKER 5: What does his dad say here? Chris doesn't remember the childhood criticisms in the way that we adults think of memory, like the way you remember what you had for lunch today. He remembers it in the way it feels. So how does he feel if his father disapproves of the grade that he's so excited about? Or worse, just ignores him? I, his superego would look very different if his childhood situation were more like this.

SPEAKER 8: That's so great, buddy. Tell me what you guys are learning in there.

DR. HEATH: Wow, so check it out, sure this dad gives praise, but that's the most important part. He's interested. He wants to know what it's like for his son. It's that emotional space that gets remembered so that when this child grows up he can accept his emotional experience and be curious about it. Now that's a healthy superego.

So this structural theory of Freud's helps us understand two really important parts of the mind. First there's the It, a mysterious, timeless source of drive and passion. Then there's the Uber-I. It's more individualized. For some people this superego is more or an ego ideal, encouraging us to strive to be good and wholesome. But a lot of people end up with a superego that's way too mean, always excited to look for ways we are messing up. They percolate up in ways that surprise us, in what seem to be random thoughts and feelings."

They percolate up in ways that surprise us, in what seem to be random thoughts and feelings.


SPEAKER 3: Ooh, turkey.

SPEAKER 2: Hey, that's-- no, that's my sandwich.

SPEAKER 3: Yeah, I know. I like turkey. Oh, it's got tomatoes on it. I don't like tomatoes.

SPEAKER 2: I just--

SPEAKER 3: Ugh. Need to wash that out or something. That's awful

SPEAKER 9: That's a great idea. I'm going to tweet that.

Article Citation

Heath, A. (2016). Mind Your Mind, Episode 6: Ego-The It Factor . PEP Video Grants, 1(1):9

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WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.