Self control is essential for leading the proverbial good life. It enters into all phases of existence. Morality, religious observance, relationships, and all aspects of our being depend on how little or how much we practice this concept. In our Jewish religion the kosher laws teach the practice daily. From earliest childhood the orthodox individual must refrain from eating certain foods. He cannot eat meat and milk together, he/she must wait a number of hours between one and the other, he cannot eat pork products or shellfish, and much more. He must follow the ten commandments and adhere to as many of the “karyagim mitzwot” (613 good deeds/ blessings/ rules) as possible. He cannot desecrate the Sabbath, drive a car, labor, etc.
Looking at those who do not follow the “golden rule” leads to the negatives that are seen on a daily basis. It brings on wars, murders, poverty, prisons, and much more.
Sigmund Freud described it in his concept of the id. The id is that part of the human personality that constitutes the impulses of the personality in each of us. If we allow this to control our lives, we respond to these feelings and carry out these impulses. The healthy individual allows the superego, the conscience, to take over and censors the impulse. An example is that if we have the urge to steal, our thoughts of punishment/ consequences take over and we refrain from the unacceptable deed.
Many illnesses are brought about from lack of self control. A diabetic who does not refrain from eating sugars and carbohydrates invites death. A person who overeats without control disregards his or her body and can easily become morbidly obese. There are the alcoholics who will not or allege they “cannot” control their habit, who drive erratically sometimes, killing and maiming their victims. There are the adult children who damn their elderly parents, the people who have given life and care to them to bring them into adulthood, without so much as the slightest pang of conscience. Some even go so far as to annihilate the old for personal gains.
The folks who have no inner controls bring about many of the problems that we have in our world today. Those who feign disability collect money to which they are not entitled. They rob those who work hard and pay taxes while the “disabled” enjoy the fruit of the hard working individuals.
We can point out innumerable situations and folk who have no censors, no self control. They murder without a thought to the outcome. They are people without a conscience, better known as psychopaths. There are groups of people, political groups and otherwise, whose collective conscience is absent. Take a look at organized crime, “Hamas,” Nazis/ skinheads, deceptive business organizations; the Mafia, terrorist groups with or without deceptive titles, brothels, Acorn, the Ku Klux Klan, etc.
Prisons are full of people who practiced little or no self control as are some of the guards who legitimize their behavior toward those who are their victims.
There are those who do not care if others are starving as long as their stomachs are filled. There was Marie Antoinette, who disregarded her people who had no “bread” by declaring, “Let Them Eat Cake!”
There are swindlers and power or investment brokers who are allegedly increasing other people's assets and instead keep everything for themselves. Some of these individuals are highly placed politicians who delude humanity with their charming facades, their ability to speak persuasively, often hypnotically, to masses of humanity. They protect their turf successfully for their own gains and desires, disregarding anything or anyone in their path. They are narcissists who love only themselves with a passion regarding all others. They have no morals, no self controls!
We can name here countless individuals too innumerable to mention, who typify those who have no feeling about inner controls, the most prominent of which was Adolf Hitler!
Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.