The Observing Ego
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 23, 2011
Veronica http://shirahvollmermd.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/the-letter/ is working on her “observing ego” I tell her. “What are you talking about?” She asks with impatience. “The part of yourself that can be yourself and observe yourself at the same time. In the movie ‘Annie Hall’ she gets out of bed, while she is still in bed. She splits into two people, and one person asks herself what the other person is doing.” I say, grateful to the media for helping me explain this concept. “Well, I do not remember that,” Veronica says, with an angry tone, letting me know through her body movements that she is feeling criticized. “I think it is helpful if we, I mean all of us, can try to see ourselves as others see us. That way, we can expand our sense of ourselves and our impact on others,” I say, trying to help Veronica see psychotherapy as a growth-promoting agent, and not an arena for unbridled negativity. “I think I see myself all the time, too much,” Veronica says, still feeling frustrated. “Yes, I think you do, but the advantage of psychotherapy is that you can now see yourself through my eyes, and as with all relationships, seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes, brings you new information about how you interface with your world.” I say, again, trying to help Veronica connect with psychotherapy in a way in which she can see our relationship as strengthening her ego and not splitting it open. “The strength of our relationship is that we can talk about your personality, but at the end of the day, we are still working together to build your interactions in the world in the way that you see fit.” In other words, I think to myself, we are working on Veronica having a more conscious existence. Veronica is still ill-at-ease. “I will see you next week,” she says, leaving with her head down. “Yes, I will see you next week,” again, using a tone to reassure her that we have a strong relationship, but indeed, now we are going through a rough patch. It is hard to have an ego, a personality, and an observing ego, an outside/inside observer, all at the same time.