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Insights From Our Clients

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Health and Maintenance of the Superego by Andrew Geddis

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

NewBridge client Andrew Geddis

Insights From Our Clients is a new series in which NewBridge clients share wisdom about recovery from serious mental illness. In this first installment, Andrew Geddis [click on his name to read more about his mental health journey] discusses a psychoanalytical view of his treatment. He wants the world to know that recovery is possible. He is a prime example. 

It may help to review Merriam-Webster definitions for the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory:

Id: the one that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives.

Ego: the one that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality.

Superego: the one that is only partly conscious, represents internalization of parental conscience and the rules of society, and functions to reward and punish through a system of moral attitudes,  conscience, and a sense of guilt.

Health and Maintenance of the Superego 

By Andrew Geddis 

To date the therapist’s practice of suspending the superego has not resulted in the promises it formerly held. To the contrary, it has only contributed to the fallacy that mental illness cannot be cured and to the high rate of depression experienced by clinicians and social workers. When one instead focuses on the health of the patient’s superego and maintains all the parameters that one could apply as healthy (strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, etc.) then positive results are experienced by both the patient and the therapist. 

Suspension of the superego has three main negative results for the patient: 1. Unhealthy id forces are allowed into the ego, causing damage to the ego. 2. The superego itself experiences sometimes traumatic stress which over time weakens the superego, giving the id more power over the ego. 3. The relationship with the therapist is now distant and less effective. For the therapist there are also negative repercussions. In suspending the superego of the patient they themselves must use the full force of their superego to repress all id impulses, within an emotionally charged environment, which results in what Freud might call neuroses but which translate today as the high rates of depression in the field. 

Focusing instead on the health of the superego, one can see how a patient is better prepared for the stressful situations life can present. To be quick and wise in using the full force of the superego to repress the id in its full force when necessary is one of many skills which the superego can in a sense be trained to do. When the therapist’s superego is not suppressing it’s id completely, there is a new dynamic created that allows the natural flow of the clinical and human relationship that both the therapist and the patient share. This, in reality, resolves the whole issue of transference and allows the energy within the relationship to be healthy balanced and whole.

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