I was just thinking about chronic pain and pacing lately. Made me think that my ID and Ego are having a bit of a conflict going on. Now, Sigmund Freud was a nutter and I don’t really agree with much of anything he said or wrote, but it is interesting to think of this particular chronic pain dynamic as an ID/Ego conflict. Most people are familiar with that part of his theory, anyway. But if you dig deeper you into his theories and personal life…well, the crazy comes out.

Subtitle: A little story about my wants, desires and my pain
Title: Chronic pain- the Ego and the ID
Image: lower half of the Pin- self portrait triplicated in red, green and blue split


The ID, according to Freud, is the part of our personality we are born with and satisfies our immediate needs. It doesn’t much like it when it doesn’t get its needs satisfied… NOW. Think of all your wants, desires and needs you want to be fulfilled… well, that is the ID, but it is all about immediate gratification. But following the pleasure principle and immediately satisfying every desire we have isn’t exactly socially acceptable.

When it comes to chronic pain, though, this is my ID:

I’m going to have a life, damn you!! WHHhheeee!!!!!

The things about chronic pain is that we don’t just stop having desires and wants.

Sometimes you just want to Do things. And sometimes, even though you know there will be a price and consequences, you damn well are going to do it anyway.

I can deny I have desires and wants and needs all I want. But that never works for long. We all have them. Because we are all human. Repressing these is not a way to live a life. And my ID will get pretty feisty and cranky if I do. Or I will get pretty depressed if I do. I know I will probably spontaneously do things that exceed my limits if I ignore my actual needs, desires, and wants for too long.

And it is hard to pace when on good days. Hard to say, hey, slow down- you have to pace on the good days and the bad days- or you will just boom and bust, and boom and bust.

I want to:

  • Eat that food I shouldn’t- and this is usually something sweet like chocolate. I can eat it in small amounts, but too much always makes me nauseated. And I always regret that but, damn it all, I just want it sometimes. Or some sort of greasy mess like fast food. I know my digestive system will most definitely not like.
  • I want to go out with friends (back when that was a Thing People Did. But sometimes when my friends wanted to go out and about I wasn’t having the best day. But I wanted that teeny tiny bit of social time anyway. So I just went. And, yeah, there were always consequences. Sometimes immediate consequences.
  • Or there is a specific activity you want to do that is Huge in Pain Cost but you haven’t done it in a long time and it would be super fun. But, man… that Cost!

My Ego

According to Freud, the Ego develops control the ID’s desires in a reasonable, socially acceptable fashion. It deals with Reality. How can we realistically get those needs, desires, and wants? Well, we are going to have to weigh to Costs and the Benefits. And obviously, the Ego is all about delayed gratification because we can’t just get what we want when we want it…. there is a time and a place.

When it comes to chronic pain, my Ego goes:

You better pace or you will regret it! And I will NOT be pleased if I have to suffer the consequences!!

And clearly, we are all about weighing the costs and benefits of our choices when we pace our actions. When and if we choose to do something, we have to know the cost of that choice. Whether the consequences are worth it. Whether we have enough recovery time for the cost of it. Whether the benefits are worth that cost… and they might be when it comes to social time and mental health benefits and so forth.

The SuperEgo

The superego’s criticisms, prohibitions, and inhibitions form a person’s conscience, and its positive aspirations and ideals represent one’s idealized self-image, or “ego ideal.”


I have little to say about the Superego because with chronic illness, this is where we get our Guilt and Shame from… even when there is no damn reason for it. I really do not dig that. I am so over that.

Either way, I will stick within my limits. And definitely keep pacing. Maybe I will slip up from time to time. Or miss the mark because pacing is really an art form. But, man, sometimes I just want to be spontaneous.

Time management and pacing for fibromyalgia
Chronic pain: Limits, pacing, and recovery
Guilty of being chronically ill

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