On Mastery

Eigen talks about the defensive nature of mastery. He points out that, “Indeed, a pervasive thrust of Freud’s work as a whole was to unmask the quasi-delusive sense that the ego was and perhaps could be ‘master in its own house’. The sense of mastery itself may function defensively, warding off the impact learning about one’s deeper psychic nature may bring.” Eigen draws our attention to feelings of helplessness, how efforts in mastery are attempts at protecting ourselves from feeling helpless in the face of wounding and overwhelming situations. One such wounding and overwhelming situation is coming to know our own mind, our psyche, the impact of which no doubt wounds our delusion that we know ourselves and are in control of ourselves, and overwhelms our naive belief that we know who we are and what we’re doing.

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