In psychology, the “ego” is the subjective centre of the conscious part of the personality. New born babies have no egos yet, and slowly develop a sense of themselves and others, night and day, hunger and fullness, happiness and pain, etc. Slowly the child develops autonomy, initiative and executive functions. The developing ego has an emerging sense of identity, agency and competence in the world.
In common parlance, the “ego” is seen as negative: “he has a big ego!”
In psychology, that refers more to someone with actually a small or weak ego, but carrying big defence mechanisms against that feeling of smallness.
We want to develop a strong ego, that can withstand the vicissitudes of life without crumbling. One needs to have a realistic identity, good cognitive and executive functions, good judgment and an appropriate self esteem.
The onslaught of activated instincts should be curtailed and transformed, with mature impulse control and humanisation of biological drives, all managed through the ego functions and a realistic sense of self.
The strong ego must be able to adapt to different social situations with resilience and receptivity, and mobilise an adaptive persona that allows for the appropriate expression of the personality with minimal self-betrayal.