“Among Western psychotherapists, there’s been a long debate about the value of a ‘healthy ego’ for those striving to practice the Dharma,” writes Lorne Ladner. “One of the functions of the ego is to help us to fit into society – to be well adjusted to the world around us. Freud explained that the ego’s job is to modulate our powerful, instinctual impulses, helping us to meet as many of our desires as we can while also not harming others, not breaking the rules of our society, and perhaps contributing something to those around us. From an ego-centered perspective, mental health could be described as fulfilling as many of your own desires as possible while also finding your place in society, not harming others around you, and perhaps helping others also to fulfill their desires. The ego lives in the realm of desire.”
Does “sanity” look the same from the perspectives of Dharma and contemporary psychology? What does it mean to be “well adjusted?” Read the entire article by Dr. Lorne Ladner and let us know what you think.
From Mandala October-November 2004.