Emotional Immune System Building

Additional Information for Chapter 4, page 60

The Compatibility Code identifies in a few paragraphs what exactly we’re talking about here: It is establishing a level of emotional health and stability that allows you to negotiate the ups and downs of life without “crashing” and make wise relational decision even if it tough, painful choices are required.

As I (Darren) consider what to say in a prescript on this topic, I realize that I need to unload the entire disciplines of personality psychology, social psychology, and therapeutic intervention. Tens of thousands of books have been written on those topics, literally millions of pages.  So how can I create something that is useful to someone reading here in about one millionth the space that all other sources require?

What I have decided to do is present a model that begins with some Freudian theory but then extends well beyond it.  It is essentially a model that addresses personal growth, emotional stability, and accomplishment of desired goals.  Those who follow this model will move toward greater emotional health and productivity.  I think you will enjoy this journey of discovery, so buckle up and let’s begin.

Phase I: The Freudian Model

We begin with one of Freud’s most famous theories, that of the ID, EGO, and SUPER EGO placed within an egg-shaped diagram

ID: The ID is the most controversial of this portion of Freud’s theory, and if you find it a little overstated, bear with us because there will be modifications a little further on.  The ID is the huge reservoir of powerful sexual and aggressive urges seeking release.  This material is a raw, primal, pressured, twisted, tortured coagulation of unacceptable subconscious sexual and aggressive urges. Freud calls it the driving force of human personality.  The pressure and destructive power of the ID is increased when we repress painful and traumatic events rather than processing them in a healthy way. Since most of the urges are unacceptable, the Ego places a firm lid on the ID so that we appear acceptable to those around us.

EGO: The EGO is the conscious portion of our personality.  It is the part of us that makes conscious choices or decisions.  The EGO knows that only certain activities or comments are acceptable in society and thus represses the urges of the ID. Hollywood has created comedies based on the elimination of this constraint-Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar provides a good example.

SUPER EGO: The SUPER EGO is simply the conscience-an internal guide to behavior.  According to Freud (and modern experts agree) the conscience develops roughly between ages 3 and 7 and continues to adapt in years that follow.  Notice that the SUPER EGO intersects both the EGO and the ID because it has both a conscious and subconscious influence.

Phase II: Externalization

Freud fully acknowledged that this picture of people driven by sexual and aggressive urges is hardly a happy one and spent much of his career developing “Psychoanalysis” as a method of reducing ID urges and allowing people to live more comfortable lives, that is lives less subject to ID urges. Psychoanalysis (and there are still therapists today who practice psychoanalysis) is centered on the concept of free association.  Free association is simply externalizing the negativity that resides in the ID.  We spoke in another Prescript about Paul Tournier and his book We Are Our Secrets. Essentially the idea is that when material is externalized it loses its power.  Freud felt that when a client can talk freely about his “unacceptable” sexual and aggressive urges that they lose their power.  The Christian concept of confession is very similar.  The Bible urges that when we violate (sin) that we confess the sin and it loses its power over us.

Phase III: The Actualizing Drive

So far our exercise has been largely descriptive.  We have not talked much about what todo to move in the direction of emotional health and vibrant life.  We now begin that process.  First let’s regroup with simpler definitions of the four Freudian concepts introduced:

ID: The evil side of our nature; the hostile, bitter, aggressive side seeking release

EGO: The conscious mind, specifically the power to make choices.

SUPER EGO: The internalization of our value system-our conscience

EXTERNALIZATION: Appropriate release of negative, traumatic or painful material by working it through in therapy, confession, or other methods.

We now move entirely beyond Freud to more modern theorists.  A concept espoused by many is that of Self actualization.  It was introduced in the early part of last century by such luminaries as Carl Jung and Alfred Adler and popularized in the mid and late 20thcentury by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. At the risk of over simplification, Self actualization is an inherited drive to grow, to become, to achieve all we are designed to achieve in our lifetime.  Clearly the drive varies hugely from person to person: For Obama achieving the US presidency, for another to become a professional musician, for another to become an expert in all the trivia of the Star Trek TV episodes, for another to create a great mixed drink.  In general we’re talking about the “good” impulses.  Not necessarily morally good (to achieve wealth or become a professional athlete is morally neutral) but the urge to grow and become in whatever way we choose.

In a Personality Psychology class a few years ago we considered adapting the Freudian model to include the reality that all people have powerful negative impulses and that all people also have powerful positive impulses. Clearly for some the negative impulses are stronger, and for others, the positive impulses are stronger.  We call this impulse the “Actualizing Drive” for sake of the easy abbreviation “AD” to parallel the “ID“.

The externalization is correctly associated only with the ID side of the model.  There is no need to externalize healthy growth activity.  Technically the SUPER EGO should intersect both the ID and the AD, but since the influence on the AD is minimal, we leave the model as is.

Phase IV: The Power of Input

We now come to the power phase, the use of the EGO to determine whether the ID grows and expands (like Hitler) or whether the AD grows and expands (like Mother Teresa). Restating, it is the EGO choices that determine whether the ID side grows (resulting in the dysfunction of emotional germs discussed in Chapter 4), or whether the AD side grows (leaving us emotionally healthy and vibrant).  Here it is.

Choice of Input: We can use our EGO to determine what we put into our minds.  What we put into our minds influences whether the ID impulses are encouraged or whether the ADimpulses are encouraged.  There are many sources of input but the three biggest are:

  • What we read
  • What we watch and listen to (TV, movies, training videos, sermons, speeches)
  • The people we associate with (called by many “choice of environment”)

We considered adding a 4th step stating that you now “apply in your own life all you have learned through your reading, watching, listening, and associating.”  But in reality what we do is a reflection of who we are.  If we do steps 1, 2, and 3 (above) consistently over time, we will eventually do the activities that reflect who we have become.  Quoting Jesus, “a good tree produces good fruit; a bad tree produces bad fruit . . .” The reverse cannot happen consistently

The model is simple.  If we feed ourselves on trash (read tabloids, watch soap operas, hang out with bitter, critical people) that is the sort of person we will become.  Want to become rich? Read books about wealth acquisition, listen to training videos and presentations associated with sound financial principles, spend time with people who have achieved wealth, and apply those principles.  Want to improve your spirituality? Read spiritually uplifting material, listen to videos and presentations designed to enhance spirituality, spend quality time with spiritual people, and then apply those principles.

This principle is the bed rock of just about every motivational speaker who has ever lived.  When Earl Nightingale, one of the superstars of this industry, wondered in 1933, “Given the same 24 hours each day that all experience, why is it that some achieve mighty deeds and others do nothing?”  The answer came 17 years later, January 1, 1950.  Earl came upon a principle that had been sitting there for 3000 years.  Solomon said it this way: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  In others words, we become what we immerse our minds in.  Our actions will mirror who we are.

As applied to the topic of The Compatibility Code, If you want to have a great marriage (or great relationships in general) spend your time reading excellent books on relational success, watch videos and listen to presentation that help you grow in such knowledge, and associate with positive, emotionally healthy people who are involved in healthy relationships.

SUPER EGO: a secure conscience that accurately reflects your value system.

EGO: the choice to read, to view, and to involve ourselves with positive people contribute to your becoming the person you wish to become.

ID: The evil side of your nature will diminish as you 1) choose to not feed it, and 2) externalize painful or traumatic events in appropriate ways.

EXTERNALIZE: You practice a life pattern of: 1) if you violate, you make restitution; 2) if you sin you confess and seek forgiveness; 3) if you experience serious trauma (anger, embarrassment, devastation . . .) you will talk through to satisfaction with a therapist, trusted friend or pursue other valid modes of externalization.

AD: The many facets of our choices for growth will grow stronger as we feed that side of our nature.

INPUT: That which we feed grows.  As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. We become who we wish to become through habitual input of the positive and externalization of the negative.

What we have created is a powerful model for human growth and health.  Those who follow these steps will thrive.

Final Thought

That’s the best we can do in four pages.  If you have further questions e-mail us in “Ask the Experts” of our web site, or, select and read a few of the 10,000 books that deal with the general topic of emotional growth and health.

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