Superego Is Not An Ethical Agency

Superego in my head: you didn’t do your work this morning, but if you start now it will only make you feel more guilty about it. Superego is not an ethical agency. It works by making you making you feel guilty for doing the right thing, namely recognizing your neglected desire and redeeming it.

2 thoughts on “Superego Is Not An Ethical Agency

  1. Nancy Annett, in her paper(on line), A Freudian Analysis of Kokoro, referencing Freud’s, “Civilization and Its Discontents” classically shows the conflict between the Ego and the Superego in curbing the instinctual aggression of the individual.

  2. Brilliant analysis, though I admit I thought you were contending my observation on superego with Annett’s.

    Sensei goes back and forth because he has strong, but divided commitments to his “instinctual” desire and his fidelity to social norms. This back and forth, however, is the ethical compromise of the superego, which has to steal from our instinctual aggression on behalf of “society” to have its effect on us.

    “Without Hindrance, There Is No Fear” – fear of what though? Not the superego as punisher, but as demanding the impossible, that we sustain a desire split against itself. It hurts, and we certainly recoil from that, but we are all the more guilty when we withdraw from, repress and concede our desire; our desire does not vanish but is re-directed through the superego, which accounts for the fury that our compromise generates. We think we can beat the superego by depriving ourselves, but that is exactly what the superego wants, and then it blames us for giving that to it.

    “Without Hindrance, There Is no Fear” means that we burst into full speed, like Lacan’s prisoners in “Logical Time,” no longer walking on libidinal eggshells.

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