toxified superego/inner critic reframed as:
The quest for social place
- Yearning for True Belonging vs fear of social exile/lack, abandonment terror, pursuing exclusive status/power
- Our Innate Tribal nature - Initiation paths to adult member & elder are missing
- Masses stuck @ teenage level ‘ID’ pleasure principle core focus (very needy: binge desire & avoid pain)
- Initiation to adult level, (social place/recognition) secondary pride, ID to altruism high (personal sacrifice, with desire for other’s development)
- Initiated to elder level, seasoned life experience and emerged from own shadow journey, ID now includes mentoring and holding space for collective wisdom & access to ancestral portals (rituals, energetic transmissions, traditional shame/priest roles)
This is a tough argument to make, as it’s a traditional road map that is no longer practiced, and modern society has no more adults and elders. Maybe they’ve been replaced by economic markets, bureaucracy, and post-enlightenment/science stance of materalist primary view with ownership of ‘truth’ and reliance in technology.
Knowledge is now disembodied and controlled by hierarchical structures more interested in their own survival and growth, pulling from older community and shared humanity structures that were led by small town/communities with more tribal structures, and also localized religious communities that were more intertwined.
So let’s make a case that the super-ego is a very powerful force of the personality. Why else do so many complain about an incessant inner-critic, and many people are obsessed with social belonging, attachment, fitting in, guilt, shame, etc.
Super-ego is the morality principle and it manages navigating social connection and belonging. If you break moral values that society holds dear, you are in danger of public shame, humiliations, or banishment. Banishment in earlier cultures meant being thrown outside of the city walls into the wild to fend off on your own, essentially death.
So an over-active toxified super-ego is partially due to a society that doesn’t offer a roadmap to social place and belonging.
In fact advertising and giant economic market forces actively exploits social belonging to sell more products and services, creating a consumer mindset and lifestyle.
Advances in information technology and communication, with latest social media & virtual conferencing, amplifies this innate desire for social place. Excessive virtue signaling and chasing after likes and responses on social media platforms is evidence of the unmet need of social place.
The masses are socially ‘insecure’, the social fabric of society is being torn apart, or everyone feels bankrupt in their social capital bank account.
Another strategy to get social place is joining on the outrage train, excessively policing other’s behavior as a way to virtue signal, advertise your high moral beliefs to the masses.
It doesn’t just translate into psychology, it is acted out with changes in our government, money is thrown at police, while mental health, community building, domestic violence, etc.
Tending to healthy community & society is being neglected.
When our super-ego, our inner moral policing mechanism, feels socially insecure and lost. It increases anxiety, over-polices everything, over-reads threats, latches onto authoritarian leaders, etc.
If all you look at is the symptoms, and look for the most annoying part of it.
Then the inner critic & monkey mind ends up being the easy scape goat.
Let’s use surgery or drugs to cut it out, or drugs to numb the pain or strengthen immune system to kill it as a disease that’s invading.
However surgery to kill or silence it, doesn’t work. Because it’s job is to manage, police, and navigate social morals, belonging and connection. If you don’t have that, it’s easy to break social norms, and get excluded from relationships, friends, family, work, society. Then become homeless, get jailed, become a socially judged and exiled addict.
Investigating a bit deeper…
What if the core unmet need is social place/belonging??
Then the solution would be to provide a roadmap of more clear opportunities to find a place in society that’s valuable to the collective, and also meaningful to the individual.
The current paths to social place is celebrity, popularity, and power/influence; with economic elements to it.
Social media amplifies this with just raw numbers of followers, likes, friends, etc. When people starting out they just want to be seen, many dream of just getting something out there that goes ‘viral’, that’s a short-cut ticket to fame.
But social media fame has a dark side that content creators face and openly talk about. With a large following, there’s added expectations, the energy of that collective attention has demands and also their shadow material can be projected onto them.
Attaining social media fame is NOT like older traditional forms of social place in smaller communities. It’s attention and importance, but with an added burden of performance and trying to tend to an audience that you don’t really know. A weird very intimate experience that’s also extremely distant and remote.
In traditional tribes, or maybe it still happens in sports teams, or current military assignments. There’s many small roles you can fill to find social place. Then as people prove their reliability and likeability in those small roles, they can advance to higher roles of place and performance. But that journey is with many interactions and relationships with other members that you get to know working together, performing together, fighting together, etc.
With social media fame it’s a broadcast style of interaction. Also similar dynamic with administration/specialist/expert authority type roles. This interaction is less together as a team, and more disconnected in a staged performance type of role. As you rise up in social place, it’s more isolated, and it’s not necessarily merit or team performance focused. It can be hacked by charisma, linguistic skills, emotional manipulation, or more dishonest or less genuine type behaviors; which would be filtered out more in traditional tribal and team type environments.
What are some ways to address the problem, ‘boots on the ground’??
Could the social addiction to validation ‘cookie seeking’ exchange flipped into something socially belonging? something to develop social capital? Could it be gamified, giving people stars, points, recognition for things like attendance, insightful sharing, being vulnerable, etc. (BUT, how to do it in an objective way, so that it’s harder to people to lie and fake it just to get points)
Would changes in structure and medium help? How can the broadcast, top-down lecture style format be switched to a more lateral peer to peer type of interaction? But same challenge occurs where bad actors can hog the mic and disrupt to force it back to top-down norms.
On an individual, small scale level, there could be more conversation, investigation and tools to help people discover their unique skills, interests, and talents to help find meaning and develop tools & skills so they have something more valuable to contribute to society. That would raise the chance of finding a place in society. Also helps them find a creative outlet for meaning.
No easy answers here… though maybe staying with the question and evaluating what’s wrong, is much more important and valuable right now. Sometimes the answers magically just appear and are totally obvious when you just stick with the question and keep investigating.