Id rules!

A little leaven in the lump

ESPN had an interesting piece: Nicole Curran, the wife of Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, said Thursday that she received death threats on social media and even deleted her Instagram account after what some considered a less-than-cheerful reaction from Beyonce to Curran talking with Jay-Z courtside. A brief clip showed the famous couple courtside during Wednesday night’s NBA Finals game at Oracle Arena. In it, Beyonce and Jay-Z are seen smiling and waving, when Curran leans over to talk to Jay-Z. Beyonce’s smile goes away as the camera cuts back to the game. The clip went viral on a number of social media sites, with Curran portrayed as upsetting the superstar singer.

Curran said she was asking Jay-Z and Beyonce if they wanted a drink, because the Warriors had invited them to the game. She told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Jay-Z asked for a vodka soda, and she leaned over — into the space near Beyonce, because of the loudness of the crowd — to ask him if he wanted a lime with it. At that point, Beyonce is seen looking serious, and then down at the floor. “There was no hostility,” Curran told Shelburne. “I was trying to be a good hostess.” She added: “I’ve never experienced cyber bullying like this. I can’t believe our players go through this. That kids go through this.” Curran said that Beyonce and Jay-Z had been guests of hers and the Warriors three or four times in the past without incident.

Social media death threats??? From something a bunch of jerks assumed someone said, and a facial expression from someone who wasn’t even being addressed by the speaker that might have meant this or that? I just wrote about the id and Genesis 6:6. Perhaps God can modify the Genesis 8 promise and remove some of the leaven.

God’s lawyers.

From the Babylon Bee: HEAVEN—“Sources from within the kingdom of heaven confirmed Wednesday that God has instructed His team of angelic lawyers to begin combing through the covenant made with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with a great flood, to see whether there is any fine print or vague language that might get Him off the hook. ‘A promise is a promise, I know—but I’ve really had that Genesis 6:6 feeling lately. You know the one, where you just start regretting having created mankind at all?’ He was reported to have told the archangel Michael.

“‘Is there anything in there about wiping everyone out with an ice age? I mean the text implies liquid water, right? Let’s get some more people from legal to weigh in here,’ Michael said as he scoured the text, looking for any kind of loophole that would render the unconditional covenant null and void. One savvy lawyer suggested that while the text did specify that God couldn’t once again wipe out everyone with a great flood, the language didn’t contain any specific ban on killing humans with large boulders or tree trunks the water would happen to be carrying as it rushed across the face of the earth. At publishing time, God had decided to slowly start phasing out rainbows as a precautionary measure, in hopes that the move would trigger some kind of statute of limitations to kick in.

Ha ha, it’s funny, right? Today, I’m tired of being a Superego blogger, I am having an Id kind of morning. I am not talking about my big ego, nor did I forget the apostrophe between the I and d. Sigmund Freud postulated that we humans are variously motivated by a system of three checks and balances—executive, legislative and judicial. Just kidding. Freud’s big three, or “fundamental structures of the mind,” were the Id, Ego and Superego. When I mention Freud, don’t immediately assume “oh, he’s discredited, all that sexual stuff and that Oedipal complex.” The following are things I believe Freud mostly nailed, though his hostility to God undermined his ability to understand the root of temptations.

I like the explanation given by Lumen Learning from their course Psychodynamic Perspectives, on personality development: Conflicts among these three structures, and our efforts to find balance among what each of them “desires,” determines how we behave and approach the world. What balance we strike in any given situation determines how we will resolve the conflict between two overarching behavioral tendencies: our biological aggressive and pleasure-seeking drives vs. our socialized internal control over those drives. The id, the most primitive of the three structures, is concerned with instant gratification of basic physical needs and urges. It operates entirely unconsciously (outside of conscious thought). For example, if your id walked past a stranger eating ice cream, it would most likely take the ice cream for itself. It doesn’t know, or care, that it is rude to take something belonging to someone else; it would care only that you wanted the ice cream. The superego is concerned with social rules and morals—similar to what many people call their ” conscience ” or their “moral compass.” It develops as a child learns what their culture considers right and wrong. If your superego walked past the same stranger, it would not take their ice cream because it would know that that would be rude. However, if both your id and your superego were involved, and your id was strong enough to override your superego’s concern, you would still take the ice cream, but afterward you would most likely feel guilt and shame over your actions. In modern terms, Twitter and Instagram appeal to the id. Imprimis and National Review appeal to the Superego.

In contrast to the instinctual id and the moral superego, the ego is the rational, pragmatic part of our personality. It’s what Freud considered to be the “self,” and its job is to balance the demands of the id and superego in the practical context of reality. So, if you walked past the stranger with ice cream one more time, your ego would mediate the conflict between your id (“I want that ice cream right now”) and superego (“It’s wrong to take someone else’s ice cream”) and decide to go buy your own ice cream. While this may mean you have to wait 10 more minutes, which would frustrate your id, your ego decides to make that sacrifice as part of the compromise– satisfying your desire for ice cream while also avoiding an unpleasant social situation and potential feelings of shame. Freud believed that the id, ego, and superego are in constant conflict and that adult personality and behavior are rooted in the results of these internal struggles throughout childhood. I have studied psychology my entire life, but most people will be able to relate this example to their own lives and that of their children.

You are probably anxious for me to get back to what God finally decided about destroying humanity a second time, and how my being in an id kind of mood is related. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6. That’s analogous to man being ruled by the id. But note that He was talking about the heart—our thoughts and intentions. Yet the majority of Americans and “civilized” people have sublimated their id to their “ego” (in Freud’s sense). That’s what we call maturity. It’s a way God provides for civilization: Maturity is taught and caught by family and church (in the sense of religious accountability) governments. The hoped for outcome is self governance. Civil government i.e. what we think of erroneously as government, is instituted to protect the roles of family and church governments, to reward good and punish bad. When civil government oversteps and starts trying to replace rather than protect the more personal circles of government, maturity suffers, id flourishes. God isn’t fooled by appearances—the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That’s the Genesis 6:6 mood.

The human heart or nature hasn’t changed. Hopefully, God’s lawyers will not find a loophole, and our future will be “the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease’.” Genesis 8:21-22. Better that than “the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

The defense mechanisms.

Freudian diagnosis

Sigmund Freud was mostly correct about the use of defense mechanisms, which we unconsciously use to protect our delicate self images: 1) Denial– believing that what is true is actually false 2) Displacement– taking out impulses on a less threatening target 3) Intellectualization– avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects 4) Projection– attributing uncomfortable feelings to others 5) Rationalization– creating false but believable justifications 6) Reaction Formation– taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety 7) Regression– going back to a previous stage of development 8) Repression– pushing uncomfortable thoughts out of conscious awareness 9) Suppression– consciously forcing unwanted thoughts out of our awareness 10) Sublimation– redirecting ‘wrong’ urges into socially acceptable actions. He believed that these defenses are not under our conscious control and our unconscious will use one or more to protect one’s self from stressful situations. He considered them natural and normal, and without these, neurosis develops such as anxiety states, phobias, obsessions, or hysteria.

Where I differ from, or modify (because I cannot interview him about what he really believed, I can only read what he and others wrote) Freud is: What is “unconscious” shows up in behavior as automatic responses, and are therefore predictable, based on our past experience with someone. I’m sure you have noticed these patterns of behavior in others. But what about in yourself? Freud was hostile to religious faith, so he failed to use the counsel of scripture: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.“-Luke 6:41-42.

Natural or normal” such mechanisms might be, but does it follow that we can’t rise above them? If our self image is based on false premises, invented memories or uninformed opinions, what is better, to protect that facade, or to seek the truth and follow that road? “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”-Matthew 7:13-14.

Most of those defenses play out negatively, by attacking others (displacement, projection), false beliefs (rationalization, denial, reaction formation) or stunted emotional growth (regression, intellectualization, repression). Repression and suppression may sound the same, but they are not the same. The former is wholly unconscious and tends to lead to neurosis. However, in the most stressful situations, like war, suppression is necessary for functioning–like men suppressing their fear. Much charity comes from sublimation. Even there, scripture is superior to Freud. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4.