Not having an ego in a culture where not having an ego is the norm works out fine. The trouble is for those of us born into ‘western’ civilization, those of us raised in such severely abusive homes of origin that robbed us of the development of an ego are thus at a severe disadvantage.
I cannot help at this moment (after writing my previous post) but come around in my thinking to a re-thinking of what Dr. Martin Teicher’s research group concludes in this article:
and with my comments:
It won’t be the researchers who all were no doubt raised within safe and secure early attachment environments who come to the conclusion I just have this morning. At the end of Teicher’s article it is mentioned that there is a MISMATCH between those who have suffered physiological developmental changes due to extreme traumatic stress in their early lives and those who have not.
What if being ‘evolutionarily altered’ means for many of us that we did NOT develop an ‘ordinary ego’?
In an older kind of society, call in clan or tribal, no individual survives alone. Whatever exists of an individual in those contexts can only contribute to GROUP survival at the same time that group survival is enhanced by the continued survival of its individual members.
Those of us who suffered ALONE through seemingly insurmountable early experiences of abuse and trauma NEVER had a chance to negotiate within a benign, benevolent environment the kinds ego-based interactions and transactions that build an ego in the first place.
Never before today have I had occasion – or opportunity – to realize that what matters to humans is not ONLY about the development and retention of a ‘self’. In cultures where people are placed in competition with one another – which IS the truth in today’s American society no matter what we might wish to believe to the contrary – people NEED an ego.
Those of us who are ‘evolutionarily altered’ because of the severe traumatic stress that changed the development of our body-brain — very likely experience the losing end of a battle for survival in a culture that is NOT invested in the many taking care of either the many – or the few.
While we are obviously alive, have survived, continue to survive – in essence it is THRIVING with a good quality of life, with a good chance of experiencing well-being, that we are missing out on.
This deprivation as I see it at this moment would have far less to do with whether or not we came out of our horrendous early years having a SELF as it would do with not coming out of those early years with a well-formed EGO.
Ego and self are NOT the same thing. One can have a clear mind, inner integrity, and conscious, reflective awareness without having an ego.
America is an ego-driven culture. One for all and all for one? Not that I see. Not when we freely neglect and sacrifice the well-being of our offspring.
The mismatch that happens as Teicher mentions when those raised in a malevolent early environment end up living their adult life in a world supposedly created by and for those raised in a benevolent world means that those of us who suffered alone in the beginning will most likely suffer alone for the rest of our lives. We were not created to participate in a free-for-all world of free-trade. We needed help from others THEN – and we need help from others NOW.
Not because we are weak. Not because we are inadequate. We need help because we were created in, by and for a world where EVERYONE in our world needed help – although, of course, nobody admitted this fact.
Now we live in a world where there are lots and lots and lots of people who really don’t need that much help to get along pretty dang well in their lives. People gave them what they needed in the beginning (‘good enough’) so that they can use their corresponding ego to take care of their own needs.
Those of us raised in an environment of need in the beginning – have needs for the rest of our life that are not recognized by the mainstream culture we live in. It takes us nearly a lifetime to figure out what our needs really are – let alone to figure out how to get those needs met.
I have pushed myself into a tight corner. In consequence I have finally clearly defined what I am missing and how that loss is affecting me in ways that matter to me a great deal.
I cannot publish my own books without help. I don’t have the ego I need to do this work alone. I am feeling angry about this today. Angry that it took me this long to even find out that I have been missing one of these culturally-handy ego-things all of my life! I can’t run out on Black Friday and buy one, either. Egos aren’t for sale at any price – large or small.
Of course I am very glad I have a self – but a self without an ego puts me at disadvantage in a competition-for-resources society where the bigger the ego the bigger the gain. I am in a situation where I am dependent on outside people to help me where I cannot help myself. Can I access that help? It feels to me that such assistance will come with a price – no matter what – because I live in an ego-driven culture that places a price on everything it can think of.
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