Were Sigmund Freud to peek in on us today, we can only wonder how he would react to the ego’s reputation, the ego being the component he originally put at the very center of personality structure. Little did he know that from a lay perspective, the terms narcissism and ego would come to mean the same thing—how a grandiose, brusque, and demanding person is said to have an oversized ego. Not could he have suspected the extent to which spiritual and religious sources would consider the ego to be a demon to the soul. From Narcissus enraptured with his own reflection to the neighbor who constantly self refers, the general notion prevails that the ego is much in need of extinction.
Nonetheless, the ego has not only theoretically survived—it is now recognized by scientists as the personality component that both keeps us alive and gives us a sense of self. “Too big” of an ego is not the problem—the problem is an ego that hasn’t had the opportunity to mature. Individuals with mature egos have a healthy sense of self: They deal constructively with reality, they direct hostile energy into creative and positive outlets, they relate to others in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness, they are relatively free from symptoms produced by tensions and anxieties, they have the capacity to self-nurture, they gain more satisfaction from giving than receiving, and they are at peace with themselves and others.
This developmental issue goes back to the very beginning of life, when parents who give their infants consistent loving care and engage in appropriate emotional responses provide the trusting base necessary for the ego to healthily grow. Parents who display emotional inconsistency along with neglect and abusiveness, on the other hand, produce offspring who lack self-esteem and cannot appropriately connect with others. Such individuals may act out in varying—and sometimes violent—ways. While there is a remedy for this perilous situation, “growing up the ego information” that describes ego growth stages and the ego’s capacity to mature has primarily been limited to psychology textbooks and academic journals.
Grow Up Your Ego: Ten Scientifically Validated Stages to Emotional and Spiritual Maturity was written by psychologist Jeannette Gagan in order to set forth the facts about ego development and to free the ego of its notoriety. Grow Up Your Ego is the first self-help book backed by sound research that demonstrates the ego’s vital role in the maturing of our personalities and in our spiritual evolution. It is the first self-help book that clearly presents and describes ten stages of ego growth in plain English along with what needs to happen during each stage in order for the ego to develop and mature. It is the first self-help book that also shows how the ego can indeed mature. And it is the first self-help book about ego development that emphasizes that no matter what stage or at what age a person may be, it is never too late to grow.
Grow Up Your Ego not only fits right into today’s mental-health/spiritual development of mix of things but offers cutting-edge information relevant to the present time of national and global turbulence. The dilemma is that many self-help, inspirational, and spiritual books focus on just one portion of the growth process, such as breaking bad habits, how to use Eastern or Christian concepts to expand, changing thought patterns, or remedying problem emotions.
Grow Up Your Ego, in contrast, not only details the ten ego-growth stages but also specifies research results that show how the maturing ego is accompanied by the unfolding of our innate spirituality. Regardless of whether individuals are “religious” or not, those who reach the final stages have integrative experiences of unity, demonstrate altruistic behaviors, hold a sense of awe, effectively resolve emotional dilemmas, experience peace and calm, expand humor and playfulness, accept reality as it is, uncover fresh veins of creativity, and open the door to the sacred within.
Complete with case examples and end-of-chapter exercises, Grow Up Your Ego helps readers pinpoint their position within the ten stages, presents practical steps for reaching the next stage, illustrates methods for healing early-life wounds, shows how to harmonize the relationship between defense mechanisms and ego growth, details the crucial role of emotions in the mind-body connection, illustrates the brain’s life-long capacity to create new neural connections, demonstrates how to hone self-nurturing skills, outlines techniques for surmounting inevitable obstacles to growth, and provides ongoing inspiration for readers in their pursuit of holistic maturity.