Dysfunctional, however, it can hide the value of what is alive, connected, intimate, natural and whole. When we face the demand for the originality and mobility of our thinking, the oversized American ego is a default position, a protective and defensive mindset. As a result, we limit our possibilities and our lives suffer.
There’s more. When dysfunctional and inhibited, the American ego is often fearful—of embarrassment and rejection, of imperfection and contradiction, and of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with open and honest communications. And we pay a price for harboring our timidity, often with unaccountable feelings of confusion and loss.
However, when we take up the opportunity and challenge of autonomy, we acquire a most precious possession—the self-possession to live a life as meaningfully rich, contributory and expansive as the reach of our commitments, imagination and affinity.
Although our study has led us to recognize the dysfunctional ego’s effect on our cognitive independence, our efforts go beyond an examination of the conditions and circumstances that give rise to it. We set out to master the art of thinking freely. For it is, in fact, our cognitive oversight that processes and directs our self-possession.