The Dynamic of the Weaker Self
Change begins at the end of your comfort zone – in the middle of the wilderness. Alexandra Kleeberg
Welcome to your healthy happy fulfilled life.
“What do I see here? Who is lying next to you? Is he chained to you or you to him?” The animal looks up briefly and I see a small sparkle in his twilit eyes and he is once again redeemed. He looks like a dog or even a pig but even more like a mythical creature from the realm of hell. “Yes, who do you mean?” You ask indignantly. “Well, the bastard over there.” “Oh, that’s my friend, he’s watching over me.” “What, you always obey him?” “Yes, sometimes life is so hard, so tough, too laborious, I prefer to stay with the old and familiar. I just have no strength to inspire myself. I prefer to stay in bed, in the house, in my shell. I’m also very caring…I take care of my depression.” You can write this excuse/justification list forever.
Where does the word pigdog derive from?
The term “inner pigdog” comes from German Schweinehund. It is an allegory for the weaker self. It often describes an apparent weakness of will which prevents us from performing unpleasant activities that are demanded from outside or from ourselves.
The German word Schweinehund has been around since at least the 19th century and was meant as a gross swearword. It refers to boar-hunting with wild dogs. Its tasks such as rushing, fatigue and clinging were ascribed as characteristics of biting, snappy people.
Our modern term, pigdog, has experienced a change in meaning. He is not biting or snappy any more. He has no lower motives. He is simply tired and lazy. He has lulled himself into apparent comfort. He often blocks us from undertaking important developments within ourselves. He even hinders us from taking care of ourselves.
Interestingly, the word Schweinehund exists only in German and can not be literally translated into other languages. But I researched certain English translations and discovered the term pigdog as a substitute for Schweinehund.
In German culture discipline is highly valued and so the handling of the pigdog is often about conquering self-discipline. In Freudian theory this pigdog is probably the capitulation of a completely paralyzed ID in front of a powerful SUPEREGO.
In popular opinion as well as in motivational literature one is advised to trick the pigdog bastard, to fight him, in order to overcome him. The focus is on the demand for self-discipline and to see the pigdog as an adversary to be defeated.
Psychological background or where there is a will should not be a sofa
According to Sigmund Freud, the bastard is probably part of the ID, which is being harassed by an overarching SUPEREGO. When making decisions, our brains work like a parliament. There are different ‘experts’ for each decision. One ‘expert’ is for short-term satisfaction, the other for long-term enjoyment. Another ‘expert’ orients itself to past experiences, the other one judges possible future outcomes. Still another one does not look right and left, the other tries to get the overview. One pays attention to what people say, another stays subjective to its body. One has special ideas and expectations, the other does not want to commit itself. You may know that.
Essentially, however, the pigdog belongs to the part of us that enjoys short-term satisfaction, instant gratification, and not to long-term success. The pigdog wants to have it now or to not do it now. He loves to take over our ‘inner sofa.’
From a neuropsychological point of view, the pigdog represents those impulses, which we cannot control in self-care: “I want everything and I want it right now.” Please do not underestimate the power of your pig dog. The bastard will help you to produce happiness and forget pain right now.
If you were traumatized and devalued as a child, then your pigdog, in adulthood, can be quite active, no, actually inactive. It is active as a blockade and inactive as an action so to say. Our past pain instills a fear of the future and overwrites the possibilities of the present and blocks the view of a happy, fulfilled future.
Behavioral therapy helps to train the bastard slowly but surely. For example, this can be done with rewards – you can, so to say, hold a sausage in front of him and then make him move. Or you can use different feedback systems so that you can recognize him early enough and fight, outsmart, or overwhelm him. You do this with discipline, because the bastard is clever – as soon as you deviate from it, he sits on the sofa again and dozes.
The dynamics of the pigdog
Now, self-discipline is a word that does not exactly make one happy – it often feels tight, severe, bad in the body. In my groups, I have deleted the word discipline and prefer to speak of self-care or self-love. I also like the word commitment. Commitment gives you the motivation to stick to something, because the vision or idea of something in the future is bigger and more important than anything else right now.
A way out of this dilemma is the study of Mindfulness, which leads to the power of staying in the here and now. Mindfulness helps us to enjoy the moment going beyond the craze of addiction and immediate gratification by experiencing the present moment with all the senses. To do this, we have to stop the carousel of the past, get out and experience the Now free of disabling ideas.
The other option is to use the big power of the pigdog and to learn to release that power. Yes, he is an embodied rebel – of the rebellion that was not allowed to take place at the time the abuse occurred.
I see the pigdog as something completely different for me. He is concentrated energy. Yes, he is the energy we often lack. He is the reserve we need to change. He is the motivation for happiness and health. He is the protection against alienation. The pigdog is our very own wildness, our unlimited freedom, our untamed emotions, our instinctual thoughts – an expression of our traumatized ego. Actually, he is wild and strong, free and alive. But we have fattened him, locked him in cages, sedated him on fluffy sofas. Alongside him, we too have become comfortable, tight, fat and lazy.
Below you will find a worksheet to help you understand your pigdog better. In the left column please write all the expectations and norms of the ‘Super Ego.’ Then, in the ‘Weaker Self’ add the impulses of your pigdog. In the next column note his Needs and then find the Actions which are in alignment with his needs.
Please fill in the left side all the expectations and norms from inside and outside. in the next column add the reaction of the weaker self. Then write down its needs and what action it needs to fulfill these needs.