ego ideal


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ego ideal

[¦ē‚gō ī′dēl]
(psychology)
The part of an individual's personality that is composed of the aims and goals for the self and that usually refers to the conscious or unconscious emulation of significant people with whom the individual has identified.
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Lacan, however, introduces a precise distinction between these three terms: the "ideal ego" stands for the idealized self-image of the subject (the way I would like to be, I would like others to see me); the ego ideal is the agency whose gaze I try to impress with my ego image, the big Other who watches over me and pushes me to give my best, the ideal I try to follow and actualize; and the superego is this same agency in its vengeful, sadistic, punishing aspect.
The underlying structuring principle of these three terms is clearly Lacan's triad Imaginary-Symbolic-Real: the ideal ego is imaginary, what Lacan calls the "small other," the idealized double image of my ego; the ego ideal is symbolic, the point of my symbolic identification, the point in the big Other from which I observe (and judge) myself; the superego is real, the cruel and insatiable agency which bombards me with impossible demands and which mocks my failed attempts to meet them, the agency in the eyes of which I am all the more guilty, the more I try to suppress my "sinful" strivings and live up to its exigencies.
The ego ideal is usually based on internal and cultural expectations to be like mother, and consequently, women must fight not only societal expectations, but strong internal expectations as well.
From a psychodynamic perspective, self-expectations are related to the ego ideal which is formed relatively early, and is consequently more central to one's experience of self than the expectations of others who are less central in one's life.
Regardless of the original source of the oceanic experience of fusion, the ego ideal and the ideal ego are twin representations of it, in which there is no distinction between self and other and the universe itself is experienced as self.