Is our ego real? Or simply a mental construct?
We’ve all heard of the ego before: both Freud and Jung gave us a comprehensive introduction. However we do not need to study psychology in detail to recognise the ego - we can see it in ourselves or in others if we observe.
The co-worker flashing his around the office, or the rich and famous flaunting their possessions are often criticised for having big egos, however the truth is that all of us have one.
Aside from the latter- the guy who we say is 'full of himself' - the ego is often referred to as the conscious mind, the part of our identities which we consider to be the “self”. The part that in Freud’s theory mediates between the desired of the id and the super-ego. One thing we do know for sure, is that what we believe to be our real selves or “the self” ultimately dictates our whole lives.
So, one question remains. Is this all just a mental construct, or is the ego a real thing? Neuroscience is starting to provide some answers, and they’re fascinating.
It turns out that there are in fact several brain areas that gives us the features of the ego. These areas are known as the Anterior Cingulate and the Insula.
These areas are involved with consciousness of feelings for the body, as well as the integration of mind and emotions.
These fascinating findings also have implications for relaxation, something we all try to do after work in one form or another. If the ego is real and not just a mental construct, regular meditative practice could support the “aware ego process” and reduce the effects of stress.
Meditation involves acknowledging we are having thoughts and setting them aside, rather than stopping thoughts altogether. It also involves bringing unconscious material to the surface to then work with it consciously – something therapy can help with too.
Thus, these findings seem to suggest that by introducing regular meditation into our lives, we could improve our wellbeing by working on our ego. By working on our brains.
One more thing you should know, is that neuroscience research - which looks at the effects of meditation on the brain – has also consistently found these benefits in regular meditators. With improvements in wellbeing, attention, creativity, mood, and resilience just to name a few.
We can’t think of a reason not to get started!
Want to talk to us about relaxation, meditation or therapy? Give us a call on 01270 764003.