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Medical How does the EGO form?

  1. Nov 4, 2006 #1
    Hi there,

    I was wondering what modern psychology has to say about the formation of the ego. Is it thought to be inate and present at birth, or is it developed as a response to external factors?

    If developed, what factor contribute to its formation?

    Please only respond with established theories, later on in this thread we can start talking about our own ideas, but first lets start with a concrete approach. ty.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2006 #2
    I guess no one knows then?
  4. Nov 9, 2006 #3


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    I don't think modern science has much of anything to say about the "formation of the ego" since that is not considered to be a scientific term.
  5. Nov 9, 2006 #4
    Sorry, I hadn't seen this yet.

    Look up Eric Erikson's theory of psychosocial development. It basically states that someone's "identity" is the result of an interaction between biological needs and social forces. (nature vs nurture).

    However, a quick answer to what I believe to be the heart of your question, is that development of language is THE crucial ingredient.
  6. Nov 9, 2006 #5


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    I grow them in jars.
  7. Nov 10, 2006 #6
    Huh? I don't want to get into a debate as to whether psychology is a science or not, but surely the ego is a palpable term with well defined boundaries. I'm not sure where you got the idea that its a scientific term.
  8. Nov 10, 2006 #7
    Thanks Buckeye, I shall read up on this then post later.
  9. Nov 11, 2006 #8
    no prob. btw it's erik Erikson. (going from memory in that first post, sorry)
  10. Nov 12, 2006 #9
    There was an article in psychology today recently about how the five factors of personality ( Big Five) can change over time. how do you guys define ego? Would you consider that voice in your head that's you to be your ego?
  11. Nov 15, 2006 #10
    I think this is a good definition.

    Psychoanalysis. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.

    Another definition is.

    The one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality
  12. Nov 15, 2006 #11
    I'm pretty sure ego, id, and superego are terms developed by Freud, and, though I haven't read his writings on this particular subject, I'd bet he must go into how he proposes they develop.
  13. Nov 22, 2006 #12

    I'm not sure if your question had been answered adequately yet, but I saw this book and it immediately jogged my memory, and I thought about your post. I think it is relevant to your topic insofar as it deals with what factors contributed to its formation.

    The book was by a psychologist Julian Jaynes, who worked with schitzophrenic patients and reached a stunning conclusion. He wrote a book called: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

    I would warn you that it is speculative and his research was not peer reviewed before publishing but AFAIK it's gaining favor. (Mentors, it has been posted before, but not thoroughly discussed, that I could tell)

    Attached Files:

  14. Nov 22, 2006 #13
    Great, I was looking forward to a meaty reply, all so far have been skimming glances. I'm intrigued by this paper and will read it soon and then we will discuss it. Thanks again RV.
  15. Nov 22, 2006 #14


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    I feel that Jaynes should get a grandfather on personal theories, since his was published and professionally discussed without formal rejection before there ever was a web, let alone a physics forums. Compare Bohm's model of quantum mechanics.

    Most brain theorists don't believe in the two compartment theory, but it continues to exists and challenge.
  16. Nov 23, 2006 #15
    I was just trying to cover my butt there because I didn't want to get his thread locked if this book wasn't "mainstream" enough for PF. I don't know if that was your personal endorsement of Jaynes' idea, Self, but I personally found it rather interesting.

    I don't really understand whether or not he is claiming that the early human brain was actually split (like no corpus collosum/or a "non-modern" corpus collosum), or that the difference lies somewhere in the association cortex of the brain (which I think is more likely). It's kind of hard to find any studies on how a corpus collosotomy affects a patients sense of self. What's your take, if you don't mind my asking?
  17. Nov 23, 2006 #16


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    The split he is talking about is two functional modes in the the same brain. Jaynes was a psychopathologist who worked with people having brain disorders, and they "heard voices". He noted that people in the early literary remains of all civilizations very commonly "heard voices" and hypothesized that at one time everybody was like that, and that the integrated consciousness we experience today was a later development out of this divided consciousness. This split consciousness was what he called the bicameral mind. He drew a lot of conclusions from this hypothesis, which I am not informed enough in psychology to criticise. But most psychologists do not find the Jayne hypothesis to be helpful.
  18. Nov 23, 2006 #17
    I see what you are saying, and I only asked you because I saw in another thread that you had read the book previously. Perhaps I am inferring that Jaynes believes there evolved a different make-up of the brain. I really don't see how anyone could say that bicameral and modern brains could be identical, yet one could allow for introspection, while the other could not.

    As for whether psychologists find it useful or not, I can't say either. A humans use of metaphor and language as key components in mental thought seem valid. It's also hard to deny that someone's inner monologue isn't a form of hallucination. How else could you explain it? (physically not philosophically)
  19. Nov 23, 2006 #18


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    You have to allow for the fact that Jaynes had a lot of experience (which neither of us does) with patients who had entirely modern brains but radically bicameral consciousness. So he had empirical evidence that it was possible for a modern brain to do the bicameral or the integrated consciousness. As a psychoanalyst, hence presumably an empiricist, he would not feel it incumbent to provide a mechanism. The fact that WE cannot envision a mechanism would not weigh very highly with him.
  20. Nov 24, 2006 #19
    I find it hard to believe that bicameral consciousness had an attribute such as 'hearing voices', while modern consciousnesses do not. Perhaps the 'hearing voices' or the bicameral is the inner monologue of the modern, but unrealized at the time.

    If you are a materialist like me, inner monologue is not a wonderous notion at all. Its the fundamental attribute of the consciousness. In fact without it, one becomes reduced to instinct or extremely primitive non-linguistic 'thought'. Even considering the possibility of an inner monologue without language seems to me to be impossible, if not an excercise sure to drive you mad! :)
  21. Nov 25, 2006 #20
    My confusion about different make-up of modern and bicameral brains was due to the end of page 8 in the lecture I posted. He referenced "it coincides with the astonishing development of the particular areas of the brain involved in language". I see now he was pointing out archeological evidence for the date when language evolved. Not when consciousness began. Although on his website they refer to "split-brain" patients as evidence supporting his theory. (which still casues me some confusion)

    I've visited the website and did some further reading on his theory. If you use the definitions Jaynes uses for:

    Consciousness: applies primarily to what is felt within oneself
    Awareness: applies to that which is percieved as without

    I understand him to be saying that the bicameral man, as modern schitzophrenics, couldn't/didn't make that distinction. In a question/answer session after the lecture I posted in post #8, he later answers a question posed to him:
    Things I agree with
    *how he defines conciousness in his lecture, which didn't allow consciousness to protozoa or other animals.
    *that consciousness is not necessary for learning
    *not necessary for thinking/reasoning
    *it is dependent on language and metaphor
    *if true, could explain the history of religion (which is of particular interest to me)

    I'm just a little dissapointed, not that he doesn't provide a mechanism, but it seems like it adds nothing to the nature/nurture debate. I feel like I've been left hanging.:grumpy: Not that it isn't plausible or fit the data. (anyway, that's all for today. I'm being shushed off the computer)
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