What is the alter ego and how to use it?

The alter ego is an exercise with multiple implications in your life (positive and negative). Learn all about him in the following article.

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz on November 26, 2021.

Last update: November 26, 2021

We are all used to seeing how some people embody a role or role that is different from their personality. We see it frequently in film, theater, and advertising, so it is a relatively common experience.. However, many are unaware of the potential benefits of doing this on a daily basis. Today we are talking about what a alter ego and how to use it.

The term alter ego it’s something that artists, actors, and writers are familiar with. On the contrary, on a day-to-day basis it may be a more unknown idea. Assuming a parallel personality can be an escape into the real world, one that also serves to drain emotions. In the following lines we explain the benefits of alter ego, and also its possible consequences.

The alter ego: the other me

The alter ego is a term coined by Cicero that literally means ‘the other self’ or ‘the second self’. Since then it has had a great influence on humanity, especially in artistic manifestations and psychology. For example, in novels like The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) the idea of alter ego it is an essential part of history. It is also in others such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

On the other hand, thousands of writers, painters, cartoonists, musicians and others have assumed more than one alter ego in his artistic development. To mention a recent case, David Bowie played several during his life; one of them Ziggy Stardust. Other examples of alter ego in popular culture we find it in the series Hannah Montana in which the protagonist leads two parallel lives.

All this serves to account for that the idea of alter ego, from the other self, is something that has accompanied humanity for the last two thousand years. Psychology, especially psychoanalysis, has tried to explain its origins through the unconscious. The saying, the alter ego What is chosen is nothing more than a manifestation of that which is beyond our consciousness.

Why have an alter ego?

In the artistic field, as is the case of writers, it is relatively common for the alter ego. However, in daily life its application is not so normal.

A alter ego it goes far beyond assuming a parallel personality. It involves taking on a new life, one that distances itself in almost every respect from the main one. Of course, this is something that is done temporarily (minutes, hours or days), since for it to exist it must always coexist with the original personality or life.

Now, you may be wondering what practical advantages it means to have a alter ego. Well, this is where we include the contributions of Ethan Kross. In 2017, together with his team, he published an article in the magazine Child Developmet in which what was coined as “The Batman Effect” was exposed.

Kross found that children who assumed a secondary personality (embodied in this case through the Batman costume) were exposed to behavioral disturbances that can affect persistence and concentration. All this through what the author has called self-distancing.

Self-distancing is the ability to step back and reflect on our experience through a different psychological perspective. Let’s look at other ways to recreate a other me It can have repercussions in your life:

  • It helps you release tension and worries in your day-to-day life (that other self is an escape valve into another life).
  • It can help to enhance parallel skills that you do not have in your daily life (music, painting, writing and others).
  • It is a technique to improve your performance or the achievement of your objectives.
  • You can use it as a way to overcome trauma or close cycles.
  • It is a great tool for dealing with stress.
  • It can be used as a therapeutic method or simply to explore different facets in your life.

Does it have negative consequences?

So far we have referred to alter ego in its positive aspects. It is worth asking at this point whether assuming another self, even if only temporarily, can have negative implications. The answer, as in many cases, is It depends.

When it is done with full consciousness, the repercussions of the behavior and its relationship with reality are understood and it is assumed as a therapeutic exercise, then it is a harmless technique. When these variables are not taken into account, it can generate important consequences.

For example, derive in what is known as personality disorders. There are many of them, among which we highlight the following:

  • Dissociative identity disorder.
  • Histrionic personality disorder.
  • Narcissism.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  • Antisocial personality disorder.

This is just a sample of many of the disorders that affect our personality. Many variables determine the development of these conditions, so we are not asserting that building a alter ego flows into them. On the contrary, the individual can assume features of these.

On the other hand, conflicts of gender identity or sexual identity can also arise. Doubts about your sexual orientation can invade you, to the point that they overwhelm your life. Secondly, It is possible that the other me merge with your real personality; or replace it. In this way, it all depends on the maturity or awareness with which you approach this exercise.

How to build an alter ego

Create a alter ego it could help you to better cope with some situations and enjoy life in a different way.

Now that we have exposed the lights and shadows of having a alter ego, it’s time for us to give you some ideas on how to create it. Pay attention to the following:

  • Determine why you want to undertake this exercise (is, if you will, the most important of all).
  • Collect ideas that will help you build this personality. You will find many of them within you (in your past, your childhood and others).
  • Once you find her, equip her with all the physical and psychological characteristics that will distinguish her (this includes her tastes, the way she dresses, her tone of voice, her beliefs, and her past).
  • Distinguish your new personality through a name (very important).
  • Assume little by little your alter ego in the reality. Do it for a few minutes, preferably in front of the mirror.
  • Fully interpret this other self. Do it taking into account all the variables that you have already considered.

As you can imagine you do not need to openly express this role in front of others. You can do it alone in private, even for a very short time. You are also not required to keep it if you find that you are not comfortable with it, you can always build a alter ego different when you want it.

Many take on this role when painting, writing, drawing, composing music, cooking and even interacting with their partner (role plays can be considered as such). It all depends on your imagination. In any case, remember what we have said about its consequences so that you are alert and prevent it from getting out of control.

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