Gert enjoyed Adam Phillips’ romp with the idea of the ego in the LRB:
The self-critical part of ourselves, the part that Freud calls the super-ego, has some striking deficiencies: it is remarkably narrow-minded; it has an unusually impoverished vocabulary; and it is, like all propagandists, relentlessly repetitive….It is, in short, unimaginative; both about morality and about ourselves. Were we to meet this figure socially, this accusatory character, this internal critic, this unrelenting fault-finder, we would think there was something wrong with him. He would just be boring and cruel….
Writers are all too used to this unrelenting fault-finder. (Gert, she’s glad to say, has well and truly given it the boot).
What does the Freudian super-ego look like if you take away its endemic cruelty, its unrelenting sadism? Phillips continues. It looks like Sancho Panza. And like Sancho Panza the absurd and obscene super-ego is a character we mustn’t take too seriously.
What a great idea. Here’s to the Don Quixote in all of us, incurable adventurers, tilting at the most absurd windmills. And tell Sancho Panza to shut up.
Adam Phillips, Against Self-Criticism in the London Review of Books vol 37 no 5 5 March 2015.