Each level of the Second yoga topography generates certain forms of pathology. To be cut off from one’s id destabilizes the equilibrium between psyche and organism, while the intrusions of the id can bring about various forms of overinvestment that the psyche is not able to integrate. An ego can be too rigid (it imprisons) or too weak (it does not contain enough).62 The super-ego is sometimes overdeveloped in yoga poses individuals with a weak ego, incapable of containing the demands of the drives’ dynamics. We then witness the formation of a continual battle between rigorous willfulness and chaotic drives.
In the supervision sessions that I took with him in yoga poses the 1980s, Willy Pasini distinguished three function of the ego:
1. Delay system: The ego, as mentioned by Freud, allows one to choose at which moment it is possible to satisfy a drive. It allows me to wait for the meal when I am hungry.
2. Cooling system: When the engine runs hot (overinvestment), the ego allows me to cool the engine.
3. Sublimation: When a drive cannot obtain the satisfaction foreseen for it by the biological requirements, its energy can be used to other ends like creativity or social engagement.
For these three functions to become operational, an individual must have a sufficiently structured ego to tolerate a strong dose of frustration without self-destructing (while maintaining a secondary functioning). The repressed unconscious material continues to exist outside of the ego. This implies that it is not submitted to the correction of experience. It remains unchanged while the rest of the personality evolves.63 The link between the drives and experience allows the ego to build itself up while tolerating a certain amount of frustration. The First yoga topography was especially relevant for the treatment of neuroses. The Second yoga topography adjusts itself to the fact that a growing number of clients suffer from other problems. With neurotics, the patients have a secondary process that is relatively well structured and that, above all, needs to be revised. On the other hand, individuals with a weak ego also have a lot of free energy. Individuals who nowadays we refer to as narcissistic and borderline personalities require active psychotherapeutic strategies that reinforce the ego and allow the libido to connect to forms of thought and constructive relations. in yoga poses these cases, to permit the unconscious to become conscious does not suffice, for several reasons:
1. What some patients have lived through is truly atrocious. It is possible to help a person to develop constructively in yoga poses spite of the fact that she has experienced indigestible events, but it is impossible to reinvent a new life for oneself and forget events like regular sexual abuse from the ages of 1 to 13.
2. According to the definitions of the Second yoga topography, the ego has the ability to activate procedures of repression. This law is clinically relevant because the patients who have a weak ego often remember perfectly well what they have suffered. The problem is therefore not that of remembering but that of taking a distant stance in yoga poses relation to certain memories still felt as humiliating.
3. Here I take up the same theme as the preceding one but from another angle. Individuals who have a weak ego do not necessarily have the capacity to repress. Yet repressing what cannot be integrated is indispensable if one wants to evolve from a primary to a secondary mode of functioning. Otherwise, the person remains a whirlwind of affects, cognitions, and elusive libidinal charges that float like free electrons. These shredded pieces of psyche express themselves, react, and think chaotically. Lacan therefore speaks of individuals incapable of symbolizing what is going on within; Kohut speaks of a self that is not able to form itself; and others speak of a search for meaning. The truth is that no one can say up to what point the psyche can acquire meaning or coherence, as we have seen in yoga poses the chapter on Hume; evidently we need a few small islands of internal coherence, which the child can acquire when he experiences moments of coherent support and attention from adults. These havens of peace are sometimes sufficient to serve as a basis for the building of an internal structure. Freud’s ego is that part of us that has acquired a form of mastery, little islands of secondary organization between thoughts, affects, behaviors, and relation.
In Instincts and Their Vicissitudes,64 Freud attempts to clarify the rapport between psyche and motor activity. He considers consciousness as not having a direct access to the drive. On the other hand, when a drive mobilizes the organism to construct an action that allows it to find a form of satisfaction, the motor system solicits the intervention of consciousness to calibrate the gestures, to accommodate them to the surrounding reality. Consciousness takes notice of an instinct by sensing its impact on motor activity. This regulation of the motor activity imposes on the thoughts the necessity to be able to distinguish between what is inside and what is outside, between a need and what this need is able obtain (the reality principle). in yoga poses The Ego and the Id,65 Freud situates the ego in yoga poses the space that links motor activity and consciousness as the container and regulator of the relation between thoughts, motor activity, and drives. This placement is so clear for Freud that he asserts (a) that one part of the functioning of the ego is out of the reach of consciousness; and (b) that the Ego is, first and foremost a bodily ego (Freud, 1923a, II, 26)!
A fact that is rarely commented on is the rapidity with which some individuals close to Freud seized on these formulations to develop different ways to increase the importance of the body in yoga poses the reflections of psychoanalysts. in yoga poses the next chapter, I describe this exploration of the rapport between psyche, body, behavior, and organism carried out by the psychoanalysts during the years between the World Wars.