Ego

We are about to start the paper “The Ego Factors in Surrender in Alcoholism.” This is one of the most important papers in the collection.

Right up front, Tiebout faces a difficulty with the word “ego.” There is a common definition of ego that he wants to use:

ego
noun
1: egotism; conceit;self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day.

But he knows his colleagues won’t think of that definition. They’ll think of Sigmund Freud’s model of the human psyche in which ego has a technical definition not at all like the one Tiebout wants to use. Just remember that he’s using the word in its ordinary sense. He’s going to talk about the immature ego of an alcoholic. That probably means what you think it means.

Optional background.

Freudian psychology ruled the roost in 1953 America when this paper was written. According to Freud, the ego was one part of the human psyche, along with the id and the superego. The ego was actually the part that kept the balance between the other two, so it was considered healthy when working properly. You can find nice short outline of Freud’s model of the psyche here.

There are many competing and/or cooperating models of the structure of the psyche out there today. Freud’s original ideas aren’t so much in fashion, but they have had an enormous impact on the development of the field. Here’s a short article on that topic.

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