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West, M. (2008). The Narrow use of the Term Ego in Analytical Psychology: The ‘Not-I’ is Also who I am. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(3):367-388.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(3):367-388

The Narrow use of the Term Ego in Analytical Psychology: The ‘Not-I’ is Also who I am

Marcus West

This paper explores some aspects of the narrowness of Jung's usage of the term ego and the consequences which are understood to follow there from. Jung is understood to see the ego as a surface phenomenon and, essentially, as the focal point of consciousness, not recognizing its potential to function more broadly, deeply, and unconsciously. Furthermore, although he does recognize the ego as ‘the total conscious personality’ his use of the term frequently does not reflect that definition. Whilst Jung's analysis of the narrowly functioning ego is enlightening and groundbreaking, he treats this narrow functioning as if it is characteristic of the ego itself, ascribing any ‘broad functioning’ primarily to the Self. This narrow use of the term ego, and the corresponding use of the term Self, are understood to have significant consequences for clinical practice, including leading the analyst into an over-identification with the patient and a loss of the analyst's sense of self. It is also understood to lead to difficulties dealing with more disturbed individuals, to stuck and broken down analyses, to wear and tear on the analyst and, potentially, splits between the different schools of analytical psychology. These concerns all represent difficulties with working in the transference, and Jung's own experience of this is briefly explored.

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