jump to navigation

Carl Jung: The value of the ego, our inner voice May 16, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development, Ego Management.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

As we explore the concept of personal growth and development, we eventually will encounter discussion about the ego, and the role it plays (whether for good or bad) in our overall life situation.

The concept of the ego has been defined in various ways since the beginnings of modern psychiatry and psychology. In recent years many of us have become aware of a concept of the ego as expounded by Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle, in some of his writing, describes the ego, in part,  as a chattering voice within our heads that is hard to keep quiet and which constantly focuses on either the past or the future; thereby denying us peace in the now, peace in the present moment.

For Tolle, the ego can be a source of frustration and considerable emotional pain because of the turmoil it can produce in our thinking and in our actions. The ego`s tendency to dwell on grievance and perceived problems develops a “pain body” within us that produces a victim status. (1)

The psychiatrist Carl Jung, while recognizing that the ego is sort of a subconscious automatic thought-producer, nevertheless does not believe that the ego should be sublimated. Jung (who holds to the more historical or traditional concept of the ego) believes that the ego has value in defining our reality.

After battling a serious heart disease, which brought him close to death, Jung came to a number of conclusions as a result of considerable introspection during his grave health crisis. He wrote that the workings of the ego, and the resulting sense of who we, are can be a source of strength.

Jung writes:

“It was only after the illness that I understood how important it is to affirm one’s own destiny. In this way we forge an ego that does not break down when incomprehensible things happen; an ego that endures, that endures the truth, and that is capable of coping with the world and with fate. Then, to experience defeat is also to experience victory.”

Of the automatic chattering voice within our heads, Jung also sees value:

“I have also realized that one must accept the thoughts that go on within oneself of their own accord as part of one’s reality…The presence of thoughts is more important than our subjective judgement of them. But neither must these judgements be suppressed, for they also are existent thoughts which are part of our wholeness.” (2)

(1) Two of Eckhart Tolle’s most influential books are: A New Earth, and The Power of Now

(2) Jung quotations are from his book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections