Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ideology and the ego ideal pt. 1

In previous posts I have traced the development of the ego ideal and forms of perfection to the latency stage in which the ego ideal no longer concerns individual narcissism but social narcissism.

At the father complex the individual in pathology can be self-absorbed and concerned about his individual (irrational) guilt and not fulfilling his duties to family or the adult community life where he lives. In Oedipal or earlier stages the individual can be preoccupied with self-hate or inferiority in regards to his lack of success, status, or power or earlier superego conscience reactions.

In latency

[e]ach individual is a component part of numerous groups, he is bound by ties of identification in many directions, and he has built up his ego ideal upon the most various models. Each individual therefore has a share in numerous group minds- those of his race, of his class, of his creed, of his nationality, etc. (Freud, 1921, p. 129).

In regards to the conscience the individual forms a "morality of mores" as Nietzsche calls it that are based upon internalization of specific values and in regards to the ego ideal, instead of measuring his own success, power, or sins, the individual is able to get self-esteem from the success or power of the group he belongs to. For example, we all know those obsessed with their local sports teams who watch all the games and listen to the awful sports shows on the radio in which the most inane psychological speculations and emotions rivaling histrionic personality disorder arise. They can have their moods thoroughly affected by the team's performance and this illustrates the part it plays in the self-esteem system. 

It is also possible to witness political rhetoric that doesn't seek to reach people in regard to their individual narcissism (their own personal success, power, or duty) but which appeals to them, as Freud mentions, as a class. At least, when they are approached individually it isn't about persuading them this is the best option for their own self-interest, but instead the appeal to their group narcissism will be paired with an appeal to defused ego ideal fears. For example, the rhetoric around 'Obamacare' was about the 'nanny state' who wanted to make decisions for the individual, control him, become bigger and bigger and overwhelm him, and take away his freedom, on one hand. On the other hand, there was an appeal to class traditions and some ideologues would say thing like 

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN, R-TN (10/30/2013): Some people don't want to be sipping chardonnay from a crystal stem, they want to be drinking beer from a red Solo Cup.  You know?  Choices.

This exaltation of class traditions and pride for them that is above the measurement of individual success or power is a major route for ideology to affect the broad population of neurotics who have developed to latency. The inverse side is to externalize the defusions of the individual ego ideal onto the group mind one shares in. Thus, one does't experience the individual fear that someone will try to rob your body of a precious substance but instead: 

Life, liberty, and... the pursuit of unfettered access to Costco?
That's a right some residents in Bellingham, Wash., are lobbying for after droves of Canadians began flooding the Costco there, taking advantage of the Canadian dollar's buying power relative to the US currency.
According to the Daily Mail, the financial disparity means that Canadians can easily drive across the border (30 miles away), to stock up on goods that are more expensive back home -- namely cheap milk and fuel.  

The group's body, or its borders are invaded by an outside group that takes all the precious liquids. I think the cartoon representation, that is very phallic and worm-like, is important in affecting the individual just as Reich showed that the swastika's shape recalled sex and the primal scene that was externalized onto the Jewish groups who were charged with lascivious desires and 'raping the motherland'. 

I want to be careful not to say that 'pregenital' (pre-father complex) characters don't have any libidinal ties to the social. However, the issue is that they can't draw self-esteem or social narcissism from belonging, although they may defensively move hate or aloneness to the social. I hope to indicate the process here in the next post on the topic.   

As the lower classes endure the 'war on Christmas' that very cleverly targets their social narcissism, I hope my readers can feel my writing as an attack on their individual narcissism and be driven to rise to the occasion of giving more nuanced formulations to their concepts. Specifically, I hope you can see that psychoanalysis can no longer ignore politics and ideology but is required to study it and eventually overcome it in order for it to regain its prominence and, more importantly, make health the goal of social organization. 

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