The source of personal wisdom and effective guidance in the psyche is the self, which comprises the emotionally important ideas that form our authentic character and worldview. However, human beings are a social species and must work together in various kinds of complex groups in order to survive. This means we need consciousness and the communication tool we call language. In turn, this means ego, the source of consciousness and language, must supervise the psyche. However, like a construction-site supervisor, the ego is not responsible for deciding what to build; it is not in charge of overall governing and course setting. Those more general functions are the purview of the self. Ego’s proper role is to be aware of the self and the genuine will that emerges from there. The old aphorism, “know thyself” is very apropos.
Odysseus resisting the song of the sirens symbolizes ego’s struggle with unconscious contents. (Image Wikimedia)