Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jim Harbaugh's Ego Ideal

It’s common knowledge that diet alone is not necessarily a prescription for health because of the accompanying importance with some form of exercise. We have numerous physical health facilities, 24 hour fitness centers, cross fit plans, online programs, books, and the latest exercise equipment designed to turn an individual into a Mr. America, etc. Similarly, statistics tell the same story when it comes to exercise as it does with keeping on a diet-people do not stay the course.

A Freudian concept called the ego ideal might assist in explaining in part why many become defeated when it comes to their physical health and the many problems connected associated with being overweight. The Freudian model of man posits that early experiences and learning affect the psychological development of the individual. As a result, childhood experiences lay the foundation for what is to follow. So early history foreshadows later history and experience. We also know that there is a mind-body connection in that what we think and feel also affect diet and our mental and physical health behavior.

Early on the child develops crushes, invents heroes, and becomes attracted to objects outside of self. The favorite could be one’s parents, an older sibling, or a favorite family relative within the extended family. The model could be a special baseball, football, basketball or soccer player; a singer or music group; a movie star, or some other celebrity; a president; an astronaut; an Einstein like figure or even some comic book figure. These, as their can be more than one figure or figures become part of the conscious and/or unconscious workings of the mind. The individual may also seek out books, stories, trading cards, movies and other articles pertaining and correlating with the fantasy. The individual may likely play at a sport too. Individuals also daydream and have night dreams about their participation or their fantasy of being a star, just like their hero. A popular term like role model has been used. However, ego ideal is a much more theoretical concept and provides more depth in describing the identification with the older star, hero or heroine.

Thus, the child creates a standard of perfection and identifies with someone or something admired that he would like to be or like or become. The Freudian Psychological interpretation is that this is a universal process that develops with humans. This process proceeds because all individuals have inadequacies, imperfections and are not satisfied with some aspect of their physical and mental qualities let alone their position or station in life. For example, a young child would like to be prettier, better looking, taller, handsome, more popular, sweeter, or even stronger than they are in reality. Not only that, a child does not have all the tools, skills, experiences and abilities to compete and be like or similar to their heroes or heroine’s. What child doesn’t know his or her station in life, especially in dealing with his peers or even adults? However, the child can remove himself from reality and imagine in his mind and wish and even become like their hero. The child can be a hero in their daydreams and/or their dreams.

Well, what does an ego ideal have to do with diet, exercise, or health in later life? This is my guess. If for example, ones ego ideal as a child growing up was related to a sports figure, a health figure and/or a competitive person- activity, this would set the stage for later involvement in a similar or adjunct behavior such as in a career or participating in a sport or related hobby. The point is that if sports, exercise, health, or foods played a part in early formidable childhood experiences, than likely there would be some carry over to adulthood. If the individual liked, and played sports through childhood or adolescence, they would be more than likely to be open to and recognize the importance of exercise regarding their health. One would then expect to see them competing or playing sports, while aging through the lifecycle. On the contrary, if the individual was not athletic and didn’t do well, nor even like sports, then sports involvement or behavior while aging might prove more difficult to engage much later.

So current behavior is more than likely a product of previous thought, illusions, fantasy and imagery that took place during the formidable years. In my book “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” seven individuals were profiled while still competing in sports at the age of 65 and older. Every one of these individuals loved and participated in sports during their childhood. And, the nine men in “Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football” either had careers in sports, were passionate about sports , and  sports became paramount throughout  their lives. Yes, these nine loved sports in their childhood as well.

Remember your ego ideal and find the correlation with current behavior. Coach Jim Harbaugh loved sports as a kid and still loves sports. As a kid, he used to run around the Big House chasing footballs balls during Schembechler’s practices. Currently, you will find him throwing footballs at the Big House. 

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