Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Beast

If everything on Earth were rational, nothing would happen.
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky-

According to Sigmund Freud our ego's role is to control the fine balance between the super-ego (superconscious) and sub-ego (subconscious) realms.

The ego is the central hub of our consciousness, the gateway to success, failure, happiness, and misery.

Freud argued subconscious realm is driven by primal survival instincts most dominantly by sexual desires. Since reproduction is the ultimate goal of all species this seems a very plausible argument.

When we talk about "emotions" we talk about reflections or transformations of sexual instincts into the superconscious realm. While superconscious submits to the group unconditionally, subconscious resists against full submission. Subconscious strives to maintain a territory of selfish existence by aggression, and emotions reflect the borderline of that territory.

It is absurd to expect individuals to be deprived of emotions, what makes us 'us' is logic and emotions, without our emotional override we would become hopelessly and indecisively stuck in logical deadlocks.

However group pressure forces emotions to disguise themselves under subtle forms. Group pressure, often powerful and overwhelming, tries to keep emotions at bay in order to maintain group discipline and unity.

Therefore the ego acting as a 'safety valve' had to invent elaborate ways to hide but at the same time engage emotions. A subtly threatening short glance with eyes minutely narrowed or a tone in our voice skilfully marks our territory of existence.

Ultimately the group decides what is acceptable and what is not, so the ego has to adjust to a certain code of conduct when it comes to control emotions at bay.

The tension between the group and the individual interests is always there. The subconscious, constantly on alert to protect and expand selfish territory tests weaknesses of individuals or the group for exploitation, whereas the superconscious engaging actively with the group conforms to group protocol, forms alliances and strives to build confidence between the group and the individual.

In group protocol the term "someone being emotional" is used to mean decipherment and consequent exposure of someone's selfish intent.

There is no reason why a rival seeing the individual's emotions becoming highly visible to the group seizing the opportunity and counter assault with "you are being emotional" or in a more subtle form "lets not be emotional". This gives the rival a double advantage; while exposing his team mate's weakness, he seeks to strengthen his selfish status-quo and additionally he gains the group's confidence by seemingly caring for group interests.

We should distinguish between true (genuine) and false accusations of "being emotional". In its worst form some cunning individuals might even try to falsely accuse an individual of "being emotional" whereas there is no such evidence. The accused then taken by surprise and frustration of being falsely accused might become emotional in his response thereby validating the accuser's initially false claim. The attention quickly drifts from the deceptive accuser, the liar scores, and the innocent looses.

To the individual the accusation of "being emotional" (if genuine) means his assault is deciphered and failed. Regardless of the accusation is true or false, the best next move from the point of accused is not to become emotional in response and flee with "why don't we focus on our technical problem at hand" but at the same time marking the accuser in our memory as a formidable rival if his accusation was false. Liars require special attention. Knowing him will prepare us for a future warfare with him. But for now we should just admit withdrawal.

Some may see fighting with "could you please show me the evidence why you think I am being emotional?" would be a better move but in group's eyes this may seem our willingness to drag emotional warfare, so even though when we speak we show no physical signs of emotion, in itself our fair question will be seen as an emotional response from group's perspective.

Human beings are emotional creatures. Subtle as it may often seem there is always going to be an emotional warfare running at different levels in even deceivingly harmonious team environments.

Denial of selfish emotions and believing a fairyland version of comradeship would be a massive delusion with destructive consequences on individual's account. If we take a fully passive and humble approach and shutdown our emotional outlets completely then we would be self destroying ourselves. Submissive and pretentiously humble attitude would inevitably cause depression and self destruction. Whereas we are required to play the game with full prowess hence withdrawal would not help. In fact best ideas can only emerge through conflicts.

Being social animals should not mean to undermine the importance of our emotional psyche. We should simply acknowledge the beast within us and harness its power to our advantage. We should learn to establish sustainable and intelligent alliances between our superconscious and subconscious realms. Eventually such a mixed strategy will benefit both us and the group.

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