As opposed to the sublimation of earlier forms of the ego ideal that are illustrated in the artist making his own world, or the ambitious person devising a long plan or enduring a long study or training to aim at taking a superlative place in the field, the imagos that form the superego have a personalized dimension.
The personal memories and attributes of one’s caregivers can come to prominence in neurosis and replace the drives to interact with the ‘parental substitutes’. I’ve encountered several patients who after being in abusive relationships have come to manage their severe anxiety and panic by living with or close to their parents. The parents repeat the roles they took in the patient’s childhood and interact with them constantly and become a powerful authority figure who must be obeyed or controlled, completely responsible for one or requiring help. If the person isn’t narcissistic and still has social ties or object constancy in work, marriage, and friendships then this often appears as the child becoming an adult who now becomes the friend of one of, or both, parents.
The 40 year old virgin who lives at home with his mother has an unconscious personalized imago relationship with his mother, while another man might be on his 3rd or 4th marriage with his mother-substitute who he has conscious sexual feelings for.