Conscious expression of our protective mechanisms is here described as Ego. Ego supports our archetypal embodiments by maintaining vigilance for that which could potentially kill us. It therefore foundationally articulates Eros, or Life Force as presented in these Archetypes, but actualizes as vigilant, predictive attention for potential mortal threats1. Ego’s intrinsic, protective, “I” directed thought is separated and distinct from the innate flow of presence of Living Things. Its sole function is to predict future threats, referencing past experiences and the flow of non-conscious triggers constantly upwelling from our more ancient cognitive processes. The concept of “I Am” is a profound contradiction of terms, the “I” being a collection of constructs self-engineered to evade death, and the “Am” being the expression of Life Force actualizing in the present instant.
The ego is a conscious response mechanism to sensory inputs, formulating information from sensory data. It is therefore tightly coupled to the sensory stream, generating our experience of “reality” from what is being sensed. Ego is fully expressed in the Doing Archetype where we formulate actions based on what we think we should do, and the Social Archetype where it formulates the most effective way in which we should act, but is a barrier to experiencing the Intelligence Archetype where being “locked” to the sensory stream by vigilance for threat excludes experiencing the reservoir of Universal Knowledge of which that which we sense is a minuscule fraction, and which can only be experienced once all of the layers of protection articulated in this section on protection are muted. A basic example of this is the tension between our National Defense and Science budgets. Another example is the mutually exclusive qualities of Love and Fear.
/Predictive use of time – regret.
A detailed discussion of this perspective on the nature of Ego as an intrinsically protective mechanism is beyond the scope of this website and this writer’s competency. However, a comprehensive elucidation of this material can be found in:
THE COURSE IN MIRACLES
as well as at the root of many philosophical and religious practices. In Monotheistic Religions, these views are more apparent in the Mystic Traditions, for example, the Sufism branch of Islamic thought. The premise underlying these models is that because the Ego’s sole function is to predict future threats all it can do is to create and evaluate manufactured illusions. In the Course, the primary illusion is the experience that we are our bodies. While this is hard to grapple with, the more comfortable one becomes with this concept, the more easily this “truth” is realized.
1 This is opposed to Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Stekel’s view of Thanatos, or the Death Drive, in which the Ego willfully seeks death. The Ego’s vigilance for threat as discussed here can express in self-destructive behavior, but rather does so in the context of “That which one resists, persists”.
Ego is one layer of many that describe the evolutionary progression of protective responses. There is a discussion of this progression here:
MEANS AND METHODS
An overview of protective mechanisms as expressed in our species:
An overview of the archetypes for which protection serves as a special case:
An overview of all of the models dissecting the human experience presented on this website: