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For us the ego is a built-up structure and has its evolution from the diffuse state of early infancy to the intense,
well-defined state of maturity; it is elaborated by a process that is in part due to the environment, in part to the
inherent structure of man. We may postulate a continuous excitement of nerve centers as its basis, and this
excitement cognizes other excitement in some mysterious manner, but no more mysterious than life, instinct
or intelligence are. These excitements struggle for the possession of an outlet in action, and this is what we
call competing desires, struggle against temptation, etc.
Sometimes one desire is identified with the ego as part of itself, sometimes the desire is contrasted with the
ego and we say, "I struggled with the desire but it overcame me." Common language plainly shows the
plurality of the personality, even though the man on the street thinks of himself as a united "I," even an
One of the fundamental desires, nay the fundamental desire, is the expansion of the self, i. e., increased
self-esteem. When the infant sprawls in his basket after his arrival in this world, it is doubtful if he has a "me"
which he separates from the "non-me." Yet that same infant, a few years later, and through the rest of his life,
believes that in his personality resides something immortal, and has as his prime pleasure the feeling of worth
and growth of that personality, and as his worst hurt the feeling of decay and inferiority of that personality.
Let us watch that infant as it sprawls in its little bed, the darling of a pair of worshiping parents. In that
relationship the child is no solitary individual; society is there already, watching him, nourishing and teaching
him. Already he is in the, hands of his group who, though seeking his happiness, are nevertheless determined
that he shall obtain it their way. And from then to the end of his life that group will in large measure offer him
the criteria of values, and his self-esteem will, in the majority of cases, rest upon his...
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This note was uploaded on 09/26/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 110 taught by Professor Kannan during the Spring '11 term at Anna University Chennai - Regional Office, Coimbatore.
- Spring '11