Suffocation, needs, desires, and the avoidance of any discomfort

Suffocation, my body was acting as if it’s not my own. A steady loss of conscience along with generalized muscle tremor as I gradually lost control. As if my eyes craved a last moment of innocence before facing the ugly truth, they slowly started closing shut. Just before I descended into complete darkness, I vaguely heard the doctor state, “All the symptoms match. It is in fact, an epileptic seizure.”Freud’s model of the Psyche describes three distinct networking agents, the id, an ego and a superego. The Id is motivated by the “pleasure principle”, or the predisposition of striving for immediate fulfillment of our primitive needs, desires, and the avoidance of any discomfort (Cervone & Pervin, 2015). It supplies awareness of our basic survival needs. Contrastingly, the superego is a system of inhibition, which comes about as a result of the internalization of social norms and moral expectations. It is the perfectionist in every single one of us aiming to precisely fit into the rubrics of society. Lastly, the ego sits on the throne, mediating between the Id and the superego, between desires and reality. (Cervone & Pervin, 2015). Through its means of defense mechanisms, it abides by the “reality principle” aiming to realistically satisfy the Id’s wants, while adhering to the boundaries which society sets for us.At the age of eleven, my world shook when I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I found myself in an unfamiliar struggle to overcome the psychological barriers of my new disease. While I received all the love and support I could ask for from my parents, I never felt fully understood and in many aspects very much alone. The repeating loss of consciousness from then throughout my life created what I felt to be a loss of control, encouraging a persisting behavioral pattern of low self-esteem. Due to the memory issues that come alongside my disease, the doctor advised against studying psychology, which in turn reinforced this problematic behavior. My disease constantly reminded me of the many things I could not do. This is when low self-esteem began to intertwine with my perfectionism, causing me great distress. No matter how motivated I was to change this pattern of behavior, it seemed to follow me around like a shadow my whole life, even now.At the age of 17, this pattern of behavior was exacerbated. I began to neglect my basic bodily needs just studying for hours upon hours. My strongly fueled superego put my id to a state of paralysis; I didn’t sleep, eat nor drink adequately. At the time it almost seemed like the right thing to do. During finals, my body inevitably collapsed. Midway through my exam, I had another seizure forcing me to take a gap year. This brought about an inferiority complex, prompting me to question my abilities. This is when I began to diet. While I couldn’t control what happened to my body back then, what I could control was its weight. Filled with self-hatred and shame, soon enough, what started off as a healthy diet, became anorexia nervosa. This struggle occurred on a daily basis for a year, regardless of where I was or who was around, yet, was most prominent when I was left alone with my mirror, with nothing else to do but overthink.Anorexia is characterized by an aggressive superego in an unfair battle with the Id, leaving the ego powerless. In such a case, when my Id conveyed a feeling of hunger, my overpowered superego aggressively rejected this want, striving for the perfection of a thin body (regarded as what’s beautiful by the rubrics of society) (Kahn & Laby, 2016). The Id at this point, seeking relief from the harsh criticism, gives in, in the form of food restriction. This raging battle consumes a large part of one’s psychic energy leaving little left for the development of the ego. The result is an impairment of one’s sense of self explaining my low self-esteem. The undeveloped ego, normally meant to ease anxiety by reducing conflict between structures, isn’t capable of ceasing this battle, nor is it strong enough to make the emotional and physical consequences conscious. This brings about a means of denial, allowing this pattern to endure (Kahn & Laby, 2016). “I’m really not that skinny, I just must have a small bone structure or low on water weight. This scale could also be off you know?” My anorexia was based on a mechanism of counting calories. I began counting the calories of everything I ate, down to those of a small stick of gum. I began using this app called My Fitness Pal. This “pal” of mine let me know the number of calories I should restrict myself to in order to lose .8 of a kilogram in only a week’s time. I plugged in my height, current weight and my goal. Shortly after, I began eating less than 1200 calories a day. My perfectionism has become lethal. In only 4-month time, I had lost 10 kilos. Getting on that scale I would strip myself of everything, any ring, hair band or even a thick sock could change the read couldn’t it? Every time the scale showed I had lost a kilo I smiled, almost involuntarily. I felt empowered. While back then I couldn’t control my sense of isolation and failure, for once in my life, I was fully in control. Mirrors became my worst enemies. Getting up to go to the bathroom, mid-sleep, I would avoid them at any cost because I knew, if I saw how fat my thighs still are, or get a glimpse of my gross chubby arms, I won’t go back to sleep. At month 3, my ribs began to show. At that point, out of regulations (almost as if it knew), I received a message from the app saying my current weight has become too low for me to continue using it for weight loss purposes. This is when I began lying about my weight. At my friend’s birthday party, for the first time, I allowed myself to eat a small piece of cake. It was her mom’s well-known recipe (Which I knew was really not that good). Yet this time was different. I loved every bite of it, licking off every crumb left on that fork. My id had finally reached satisfaction. Shortly after, however, my superego struck again. How did I let that happen? Everything around me became blurry. I walked into the bathroom, took an old toothbrush, got on all fours and began to purge. This is when I decided I need help. I ran out of the bathroom crying to my mom just repeating “I’m sorry” “I’m so, so sorry”. She wiped the tears off my bony cheeks and called a psychologist.Therapy based on ego psychology focuses more on the present rather than someone’s past. It works with defense mechanisms attempting to understand the reason behind their use and where they stem from in both past and present time. Anna Freud’s believed in addressing these defenses that keep the drives unconscious, in a direct manner. This will allow for adaptations in their use, which in turn will decrease anxiety. Analyzing these defense mechanisms can be used as a tool for understanding the structures of the psyche that are located in the unconscious realm of oneself (The Id and superego). The main aim of the treatment is to strengthen one’s ego, helping it mediate between the Id and Superego in a healthier manner. This would be particularly effective in the case of eating disorders as developing one’s ego can recover some of their self- esteem. Moreover, defense mechanisms’ interpretations, especially suitable for immature primitive ones such as my long-standing denial, include transference interventions. Transference is a term first coined by Sigmund Freud. It is the patient’s unconscious tendency to treat the therapist in a way influenced by past relationships with others. By interpreting defenses as they are being used within therapy, the therapist can gain a better understanding of their use outside of therapy, without addressing them directly.I won’t forget the first time I saw my reflection and was ok with not seeing less of it. Even though I have grown out of my anorexia I still deal with it on a daily basis. Triggers are everywhere, from a brief glance in the mirror to a number written on a scale, to the smallest criticism that would echo in my head. Especially nowadays with the media’s promotion of what’s “beautiful”, superego inflation is easier than ever. Everyday I must wake up and fightAfter writing this assignment, the first did was eat a piece of chocolate cake to remind me of how far I have become. It prompted me to think that although I have overcome my anorexia, I should book another session with the psychologist and continue to work hard on my self-image. To remind my perfectionist in me that its ok if I dont receive a 100 on this paper, and the self conscious part of myself that its ok that I am now at a normal weight of 55 kilograms.


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