Psychology 101

Yesterday evening I had dinner at a great French restaurant in Fairview (near Bellingham) with my niece, Bryndis. She has just started college at Western Washington University. Over dinner we discussed her classes and also what she might major in, and I ended up telling her my story about Psych 101. You see, I was in International Baccalaureate in highschool, which meant I wrote extra papers and took extra tests to demonstrate that I was up to snuff with an international standard. One of the tests I took was in psychology, after taking half a year (or was it a whole year?) of psych with Mr. Kroger my junior year of highschool. Anyhow, I was telling Bryndis that I completely aced the test, Mr. Kroger told me that I actually set the national curve, no one in the country had done better at the IB Psych test that year. He was so proud he revised up my course grade. So when I got to college, it occurred to me that perhaps I should be a psychology major. I registered for the first course in the series, Psych 101, and I remember going to the huge lecture, filled with students, listening to the professor and looking through the syllabus. I was disappointed to discover that every text they were going to read was something I had already learned in Mr. Kroger's class two years earlier, so I dropped the class. Of course, what I should have done was ask the teacher to let me advance to the next level, I didn't know there was such a thing as petitioning for a waiver of the prerequisite. 

Byndis had never taken any psychology classes, so we discussed that it would be good for her, even just to understand people better. Not that psychology explains all human behavior, I think it only works for a certain modern western European mindset.

Still, I think it is important to be aware of ideas for instance of Sigmund Freud. Now I only have a highschool level understanding of psychology, obviously, and I understand that there is no way to really map his ideas of the Id, Ego, and superego onto any kind of physical location on the brain. So basically it is a working theory, not a physical fact. But as a working theory, I sometimes find it useful. Like when it comes to myself.

Some people have a very well developed Super-Ego: if something is a rule, they don't question it, and they understand their social responsibility to follow rules and obey. Other people have a very strong and well developed Ego, which helps them prioritize those things that bring themselves the greatest stability, wealth, and/or status. Then there are those people who have a very well developed Id, and their lives are devoted to seeking pleasure.

I have always considered myself somewhat weakly expressed in all three of these areas. Certainly, no one of these is overarching as far as I am aware, and the pattern of my life does not indicate so either. I think I am blandly balanced. The bad thing about that is that I end up having internal arguments with myself because no one of these life strategies is my dominant decision maker. So for an issue as mundane as say security cameras at intersections. A person with a strong super ego would like them, because it means they are safe, someone with authority is watching over the situation, and that is a good thing. A person with a strong ego would like the idea that their every move is being tracked, although they might dislike the invasion of privacy. A person with a strong Id is precisely the kind of person the camera is meant to catch, someone who is going too fast, or running a red light.

Anyhow, I guess we are all a mixture of paradoxes, or at least the interesting ones are. Someone who acts like they have a very carefully, socially correct and strong super ego, but when given the chance will let their libido take over.

Ha, I just noticed the time. It is now officially my birthday.


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