Who dares suggest the American dream could be thwarted by an indistinct entity a mere two letters long? The CIA certainly doesn’t have a dossier on it. Yet one ingredient of personal suffering and national self-sabotage is the id. Yes, I know that’s an odd, whimsical word, one that many of us, should it zip across our mind, dismiss as harmless jargon.
Yet psychoanalysis has taken the id very seriously. The discipline defines the id as the primitive, unconscious part of our mind that induces us to pursue self-centered gratification, often at the expense of wise self-regulation. For reasons I’m about to discuss, the id appears to be particularly virulent in the American psyche.
The id is like a virus or bug of the unconscious mind. And it can wreak as much havoc on the national scene as swarms of computer viruses. We have an impressive national-security apparatus in place to block out hackers. But in blindness to the enemy within, nobody’s minding the id.
Civilization and national life are extensions of our consciousness. Despite that direct correlation between the inner and outer world, the media hardly ever talk about the psychological dysfunction of our leaders or write about the mental-emotional components in everyday political and social conflicts. To give them some due, the media are beginning to explore the psychological dynamics of family life and to look deeper into the roots of the 2008 economic crisis. [Read more…]