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The Egg and the Eggo

Recently a group of trainers met as part of our on-going Psychosynthesis Study Forum. The purpose was to start to discuss theory - yes, theory - what we each understand about the models we teach, and some of the philosophical underpinnings.

As you might expect, there were some widely differing views about such things as the nature of the self and what exactly the differences are between the higher and lower unconscious.

I had agreed to kick off the process and circulated a few questions to think about beforehand. This is not a report of that event, although a recording was made, but I do want to highlight one particular area of discussion which got quite animated. It's about our old friend the 'ego'.

For some the ego is just the behaviour of particular subpersonalities at any one time - what is often called the 'persona'. It's not a separate thing. For me, the ego describes the interface between self and the world, me and other.

To use an analogy. If the 'self' is a car driver, then the 'ego' is the vehicle, which could be either roadworthy or not. But the vehicle is not the driver, and the vehicle isn't the thing that decides where the car is going - the driver does that. The ego cannot tell us who we are.

So, we could have a situation where there is a very good driver, but a poorly-maintained vehicle - the consequence being that the driver is frustrated in not being able to get to the destination.

Alternatively, we could have a state-of-the-art vehicle, but a poor driver who has no sense of where to take the car.

People - clients - can be like either of these, but the distinction is important.

Just because somebody's ego boundaries are in a mess, or their childhood trauma is causing distress, we should never miss the 'self'. Likewise, we should not assume that simply because someone is well balanced and 'on the level' that they know who they are.

Of course, none of this is necessarily to be taken as 'truth', as it's simply a model and a possible way of looking at things. So, to start the ball rolling, how do you look at people?

Keith Silvester

Keith is a trainer and supervisor at the Trust.

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