A couple weeks ago, I was meeting a friend at a train station. Before she showed up, I was wandering around and noticed this little kid being pushed by his father in a stroller. He was probably around three or four and was just bawling his head off. I mean, he was emitting agonized screams of agony. From what I could parse together, I think he was disappointed that his dad had not brought the right kind of cracker.
It struck me as interesting and very related to my readings on the id and ego and our unconscious self. John Sarno’s argument is that a lot of physical pain is due to repression of the rage of the id. Of course, many people’s reaction to that idea, myself included, is along the lines of “but I don’t repress my emotions, at least not to any great degree.” But you look at this kid — literally screaming his fucking head off because of the wrong cracker — and you have to think, “well, if that’s what not repressing feelings looks like, then I definitely repress them.” I mean, frankly, if you told me that my best friend had died, I don’t think I would have a reaction anywhere near what this kid was experiencing about the wrong cracker. This kid was id, unleashed.
And this behavior nicely corresponds with a point I made earlier. As I noted, in the book “My Stroke of Insight” the author notes that when you’re a kid, your limbic system — your brain’s emotional center — is about as developed as its going to get. My view has long been that the limbic system is the physiological correlate of the id. The frontal cortex of the brain — the area that seems to be used in logic, reasoning and moral behavior (e.g. the ego and superego) — takes a much longer time to fully develop, up into your 20s. So, if you’re frontal cortex isn’t developed, and you get the wrong kind of cracker, you’re going to freak out. Eventually this kid’s frontal cortex will develop and inhibit the torturous antics of his limbic system. Until then, someone should kick his teeth in.