An angel on one shoulder, a little devil on the other … The image is common in cartoons and comics since we were little. For it is not only there that it is common. This scene has been in real life since we were little. We carry our imagined little angels and imps on our shoulders, getting into our lives, participating in all our decisions, fighting each other to see who is right. And in the midst of that, we are, not knowing if we let ourselves be carried on one side or the other.
In reality, the real-life little angel and the little devil are not on our shoulders, but inside our heads and, in the end, we are ourselves. They are our good side and our bad side. It is, once again, our minds coming into action.
That was the chat with the psychoanalyst Diana Dhare with Torrego in this edition of #EInsights.
Diana tells us that the little devil represents all the pleasures to which we are exposed every day and that makes us tempted 24 hours a day. Like sleeping late, being lazy, leaving the obligations to later, drinking, eating crap, and enough, is the will to exchange work for a day at the beach, among other temptations. Already the little angel is our limits, it is he who brings that sense of conscience and says when it is necessary to stop, to go with more calm, to think twice before acting. It is he who “keeps us” in line, who supports working, studying, fulfilling obligations, controlling alcohol and cigarettes, proper and healthy food, daily exercises …
And it is the angel’s most difficult task. Because in the end, the human being wants pleasure all day long, is always behind what is good and thus facilitates the work of the devil and complicates for the little angel who needs to be more convincing to succeed in his mission . “When we speak of angel and devil it is the struggle that we have every holy day. We are always after pleasure, and on the other side we have the superego with its limits. They fight each other all the time, “says Diana.
Like all that is related to the human mind, in this case we can also understand the reason for each of them from psychoanalysis and the teachings of Freud. To begin with, let’s go to the right names. The angel, or the good side, is actually the superego. Already the other side, the little devil half bad, is the id. One is “duty,” while the other is “wanting.”
The superego are the limits. It is as if we had our parents inside our heads always saying “no,” “better to change our mind”, “this does not do well” … It is the responsible side, who values good behavior, always. What helps to define what is good are the moral and cultural concepts that we accumulate in our lives, from parents as references, to our own personality, teachings and learning over the years. Everything helps you to form our values and references. By the teachings of Freud, the superego begins to be developed from the 5 years of age. It is at this age that our contact with society is expanding and intensifying. It is when we already attend more social circles, such as school and friends’ house, we are more exposed to people with their different behaviors and we begin to form the capacity to interpret all this.
The id, the other side, is more rebellious and does not much like rules and conventions. Basically it works by the pleasures, impulses and our primitive instincts, without worrying about what comes from their actions. Inconsequential, like a teenage son who wants to meet those “parents” up there.
The fact is that the two are fighting a constant battle, and each hour wins. That is, we are not 100% pleasure and not 100% limits. We have both, all day, every day. Although sometimes one side speaks louder than the other. The key here is to have balance. But how? There are those who avoid having chocolate at home so as not to eat this delicacy every day – but it releases on the weekends; there are those who leave the credit card aside so as not to fall into temptation on the street – but do not stop buying a little something from time to time …. These and other tricks help find the middle ground. Because that is the great challenge: balance the desires and limits, to guarantee the pleasures without abandoning the duties.
The truth is that no one deserves to be without the pleasures of this life. But we also do not have to exaggerate and lose control of the situation. We like (and need to) satisfy our wants and desires of the now. But always remembering that it’s the you of tomorrow that will suffer the consequences if anything goes out of control.
In short, the little devil wants to live the now, but the little angel is there to remember that there is tomorrow.
A very common analogy made there is with the film trilogy “Lord of the Rings”, by J. R. Tolkien. Those who watched must remember Gollum, one of the characters who lived obsessed behind the precious ring and did everything to satisfy that desire. For here it can symbolize the id and the primitive impulses that awakened in the character. The superego, in the film, is Samwise, Frodo’s moral compass. It places limits, controls the desire and prevents the boy from being carried away by the desires and instincts that the ring awakens in people. Frodo, at last, would be the ego, which is the here and now, standing there in the middle listening to hunches on both sides, pondering to resolve what to do.
Which side are you on?
So we are, between good and evil, between the angel and the little devil, between the superego and the id, between gollum and Samwise. Listening to whispers from all sides, all day to make our decisions, remembering that we are responsible for our actions and choices. And now, which way are you going?