The three parts of every mind

Image by Mote Oo Education from Pixabay (edited)

According to the father of psychology Sigmund Freud, there are three parts of the human psyche: the ego, the id and the superego. These are originally Latin terms meaning ‘I’, ‘it’ and ‘upper-I’.

The iceberg is a common illustration of this triple structure of the mind. The part of the iceberg above water corresponds to the conscious parts of the mind. On the other hand, everything beneath the surface is unconscious.

The ego is above the water; the id is beneath. The superego is a bit above and a bit below⁠ — partly conscious and partly unconscious. Each part has…

How to ensure that death finds you alive

sub specie aeternitatis
/sʌb ˈspiːʃiː ɪˌtəːnɪˈtɑːtɪs/

1. viewed in relation to the eternal; in a universal perspective.

Imagine setting out from your home one day, leaving everything you know behind and heading off into the world. And imagine that on this journey, you become fantastically successful and wealthy and famous. You are now the object of enormous adulation and admiration for millions of people and what you have done is heartily felt as having the greatest value to everyone you know.

And now imagine that after a number of years out in the world winning glory and acclaim, you…

The scholar, the pioneer and the revolutionary

Friedrich Nietzsche (Image via Wikipedia - Public Domain)

In §27 of his masterpiece Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche delivers one of his trademark throwaway insights that keeps on giving. He discriminates between three types of writers based on their tempo of thinking and writing. It gives us a lens through which to view his peculiar style of philosophising and why it lends itself to being misunderstood. It also speaks to the style of academia and the pace of thinking we find there.

In this aphorism Nietzsche identifies three different styles of thinking, each with their own tempo and rhythm, giving them names in the ancient sacred language of…

The difference between success and stagnation

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You might expect the difference between guilt and shame to be a trivial, semantic distinction but nothing could be further from the truth. Research has shown that shame is highly correlated with addiction and depression (Fossum & Mason 1986), suicide (Lester 1998), bullying, aggression, violence (Tangney & Dearing 2003) and eating disorders (Sanftner et al. 2011). And if that doesn’t grab your attention then here’s the real kicker: guilt is inversely correlated with all of these things (Hastings et al. 2000).

In this article we are going to explain the distinction between shame and guilt — what it is, how…

From the seeds of preaching to the fruits of practice⁠ — the 3 phases of meditation

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

“You have now finished another day. You have only these days left to work diligently, diligently. To work aaaaaaardently. To work paaaaaaaatiently and persistentlyyyy”

After eleven hours of meditation, the smooth Indian baritone of the teacher’s voice is like the hearth to a weary traveller. Even now⁠ — on my fourth 10-day silent meditation retreat⁠ — the storytelling wisdom of S.N. Goenka’s evening discourses is fresh as ever.

This evening’s topic is about maintaining the meditation habit after returning home.

If you’ve tried to cultivate a meditation practise yourself, you’ll know the phrase “simple but not easy” is an understatement…

Different words for the underworld

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

Subconscious and unconscious are two words you’ll often hear bandied about like synonyms. But are they really interchangeable? Why are there two different words? And which one is correct? Let’s explore.

The Origins: Janet and Freud

Pierre Janet was the first one to popularise the word subconscious. Writing at the end of the 19th century, Piaget used the French term subconscient. Subconscious is a direct translation of this term.

Way back in 1893, Sigmund Freud used the terms subconscious (das Unterbewusst) and unconscious (das Unbewusste) interchangeably in his writings. Later, he settled on the term unconscious to avoid confusion saying:

If someone talks of subconsciousness…

How the dignity of the ego got lost in translation

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The word ego has broken free of its clinical origins and taken on a life of its own. From its roots in Freudian psychoanalysis, it has evolved into a cultural piñata. It is a popular scapegoat for the misery of individuals and the woes of society. This illustrious history would have been impossible if not for a translator’s choice a hundred years ago.

In its original context, the ego was⁠ — along with superego and id⁠ — part of Freud’s three-way division of the mind. The words are originally Latin terms meaning ‘I’, ‘upper-I’ and ‘it’.

The unusual thing is…

How modernity’s mouth breathing has opened a Pandora’s Box of afflictions

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

“the nose is the silent warrior: the gatekeeper of our bodies, pharmacist to our minds, and weather vane to our emotions.”
Dr. Jayakar Nayak

Do you have trouble getting to sleep? Do you find it hard to focus? Are you sick of getting cavities in your teeth? Tired of headaches? Worried about high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer? Are you fed up with wetting the bed? Does Erectile Dysfunction consistently overcome you? Then you might be a…Mouth Breather.

In his breath-taking odyssey through the parts and paradigms of breathing, James Nestor’s Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

The megalithic project that turned hunter-gatherers into farmers

Benefits / CC BY-SA

I n eastern Turkey, there is a place undermining everything we thought we knew about civilisation’s origins. In the semi-barren desert lies a hill overflowing with mysteries we are yet to decrypt, never mind digest.

It’s called Göbekli Tepe⁠⁠ and it is⁠, as Churchill said of the Soviet Union⁠: “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

“Many people think that it changes everything…It overturns the whole apple cart. All our theories were wrong.

Though the excavations are still ongoing, the site has already teased many revelations. Some of these have already revolutionised our narrative of humanity’s origins. …

James Cussen

Philosophy you can live your life by. Editor of The Living Philosophy

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store