- BBC Radio 4
- Serie “Sideways”
The idea that one person can harbor two identities has been a fascination for millennia. But it was not until the 19th century that the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud introduced the concept alter ego in the popular imagination.
Freud thought of the self as a collection of different states of consciousness, each with its own qualities and traits.
Today, the term alter ego is used to describe a second identity, different from everyday life.
But, like our core identities, each alter ego is unique, with its own origin story, its own personality, and character.
Alter egos can free us from our own minds.
Amrou Al-Kadhi, un guionista, artista drag and British-Iraqi author, created the alter ego Glamrou.
With a wig, heels, glitter and makeup, Amrou becomes Glamrou. But it’s about much more than the costume.
When Amrou takes the stage as his alter ego, he enters another person, another world, where they can be whatever they want and feel safe and powerful.
“Glamrou allows me to feel the best of myself,” says Amrou.
And from the start, Glamrou eased Amrou’s battles with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition they describe as a “brain prison.”
Performing on stage provides an antidote to OCD: “For me, the drag It is probably the most present and out of my head experience that I have ever known, “says the artist.
Adopting an alter ego can be a way to improve performance.
Todd Herman has spent years working with the best athletes, from the Danish Olympic team to the New York Yankees, helping them get into several alter ego to sharpen your game.
You learned about the benefits of strategy firsthand.
“I was concerned that he had ambitions to be a great athlete, but he wasn’t,” he recalls.
“I was extremely skinny, and when I walked onto the field, I didn’t want to do it like the skinny Todd.”
There wasn’t much she could do about her physique, but there was much she could do about how she felt about it.
So he decided to play through someone else: “Jerónimo.” It was a sassy name for a sassy alter ego. “It allowed me to play a lot bigger than I really was,” says Todd.
When he began working with athletes on their mental performance, Todd realized that he was not the only one using this technique.
“The best of the best brought out a person, an alter ego or a secret identity.”
For example, the heavyweight of tennis Rafael Nadal He spends five minutes in front of the mirror entering his alter ego before each game.
Rafael off the court can be a very, kind and humble human being, but the alter ego on the court is “an absolute killer”, dice.
The benefits of using an alter ego are not limited to the world of sports, strategy can also help unleash the creative force.
Artist Robbie Williams spoke to the BBC about the personality he adopts to wow audiences when he takes the stage, injecting extra confidence into his shows, and unleashing a new kind of creative force.
“Robbie Williams is like a construct. He’s like a superhero,” says the pop star. “My name is Robert Williams, not Robbie Williams. Robbie Williams takes the stage; Robert Williams Raises His Children“.
Beyoncé went public about her alter ego, “Sasha Fierce”(Sasha the fierce), in The Oprah Winfrey Show, the talk show of the famous American presenter, in 2008.
“It’s like a character that I created over the years,” he admitted.
Sasha was fierce by name, fierce by nature, and Beyonce could turn to her in those moments when she needed to be brave.
His alter ego appeared when he listened to the crowd; when she got nervous. “Sasha Fierce appears in my posture and in the way I speak,” said the interpreter.
“The Batman Effect”
We can all use the alter ego technique in our own lives, particularly when it comes to dealing with stress.
Professor Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan has been researching how changing our perspective can affect the way we approach challenges.
In his experiments, he and his team put children under stress, giving them puzzles and difficult tasks to solve.
They then asked some of the young people to pretend to be a character they admired, such as Batman or Dora the Explorer.
“What we find in these studies is that children who adopt that alter ego – the personality of a superhero – tend to perform better at these tasks“, dice Ethan.
They persist longer and experience less frustration.
The power of self-distancing
Kross and his team suspect that some of the magic of what they have called “the Batman effect” has to do with the process they call “self-distancing.”
It consists of our ability to step back and think about our experiences from a more psychologically distant perspective.
“It can be very useful in helping people overcome problematic emotional experiences,” says the scientist.
And you don’t have to wear a cape to reap the rewards of this technique.
One tool is “remote self-talk,” which involves helping yourself solve a problem as you would a friend.
The language used is key.
When we use words like “you” and “you” instead of “me” and “my”We are actually activating different parts of our brain, the parts that we normally use to think about other people.
And we are often much better at helping other people than we are at thinking about our own problems.
When the alter ego and the self become one
For some people the alter ego may begin as a way of differentiating dimensions of their identity, but it may end up integrating multiple parts of themselves into one identity, with transformative results.
Amrou found that he had to repress different parts of himself in different settings: at home he repressed his sexuality; with his disguise, he suppressed his Arab identity; Outside of him, she repressed her femininity.
“That fracture drove me a little crazy,” he admitted. Something changed when Glamrou became real.
“I started to do shows really authentic about who I am and about some of the things that happened in my life, “says Amrou.
His show drag became the glue with which to joinall about himself: “From feeling that it is impossible to be queer and Arabic at the same time to present myself as an Arab icon queer on the stage; from being ashamed of being feminine to suddenly feeling so galvanized by femininity. ”
Today he does not consider Glamrou to be an alter ego: “It is such an honest manifestation that it makes no sense for me to conceptualize it as something alternative. Glamrou is me.”
In 2010, Beyoncé “killed” her alter ego. He stated that he no longer needed Sasha Fierce.
She was already the person Sasha helped her become.
The alter ego question often starts out as a role play, but if you stand your ground, yours may end up showing you what you are capable of.
We build a history of what we can and cannot do. So entering the world of an alter ego can be a way to consciously reconstruct our own identities and rewrite our stories.
As a tool to feel more self-confident, to engage in self-distancing, to act more creatively, and to find new ways to express ourselves, it can be incredibly empowering and help free us from the limitations imposed by our own insecurities and by society. .
An alter ego can help us live as the most authentic version of ourselves.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.