Ego - Alien Feelings And Impulses

1. Guilt, self-blame. Except when the patient is seriously depressed, blaming oneself and expressing guilt feelings are difficult to do. At times, the only clue is an over-defensiveness, an anxious displacement of blame and responsibility to somebody else. At other times, a series of expiatory acts or obvious attempts of undoing and great anxiety over anticipated painful consequences (“punishment”) are the indicators.

2. Anger and hostility when directed against love objects. They find it easier to recognize patterns of hostility towards other people. Towards loved ones the great fear is that of destroying the relationships if one admits hate impulses. When such are recognized, guilt feelings are considerable; reaction-formation, in the form of nurturance, sympathy and pity are utilized to deny hostile thoughts.

3. Envy for others’ good fortune and a not-so-unconscious gratification from hearing about someone else’s misfortune. An admission of envy, regarded as something “bad,” is evocative of shame. Even if told that it is a human emotion, the patient would insist, that it is despicable anyway. An “inggitero” (one prone to be envious) in the culture is one who is not full of malevolence, but by his attitude, admits he is inferior and less blessed. As in anger, defense mechanisms consist of denial and reaction formation.

4. In women, competitiveness with men and with other women. They watch other women very closely, especially with regard to appearance and manner, and automatically make unconscious mental comparisons. This obtains even among very close friends. With many, especially school and college girls, the competitiveness is centered around academic grades. The patient, however, would deny this and say that it merely happens that way.

They would also deny that they quickly notice and compare with their own, the attractiveness of other girls to boys. One disturbing pre-occupation is a sense of inadequacy as a woman; it is sometimes stated in terms of physical unattractiveness. To adolescent girls, the most cutting word is pangit (ugly). (Cases of adolescent girls in transient psychotic reactions who have auditory hallucinations hear this word addressed to them.) Only four women openly discussed their undersized breasts. Two merely inquired if a certain procedure for increasing the size of their breasts was safe; two actually underwent the corrective procedure but the psychological effect was not impressive. It is interesting to note that all four were rather attractive women and were much above average in physical attributes.

5. In men, doubts about maleness. Some of the touchiness about masculinity is merely in conformity with cultural attitudes, e.g., objection to being picked up at the office by the wife. In others the over-reaction to inaccurately perceived intrusion by the wife into his activities is more than cultural sensitivity. On the other hand a man’s passive-dependent wishes and impulses are never labelled as such; they are rationalized as “normal” wishes for more understanding and consideration from the wife.