This pivotal centre is so named because “I” is the expression commonly employed to evoke this level of the person: “I think that… I choose to... I want to…” Other psychological approaches speak of the ego, the me, the mental, the cerebral zone, the spirit, the consciousness, etc.
The “I” is the governing centre of persons. It is from this centre that they conduct their lives, handle and invest their resources and decide on their actions. It is a pivotal centre sensed at the level of the head.
It is also an autonomous centre which has its own life with specific requirements (rationality, coherence, logic, truth, feasibility …), its needs (to understand, decide, act…), its mechanics of development (mainly through learning…), its centres of interest (not everything retains its attention or strikes it in the same way(, its memory (cerebral memory). It has its view of things, it representations, its theories, its aims, its ambitions, its projects … to the point that many people who have not become aware of their deep inner life and developed it, or have hardly done so, see in the “I” their only centre of reference, their “identity”. They identify and confuse their “I” with their being. With them, “reason” dominates.
The “I” is therefore a locus of reference where people have recorded those principles, laws, patterns of thought, standards and images which influence their thought and action. The principles or laws decreed by persons themselves, from their own experience or reflection, constitute the references of their cerebral conscience; those acquired from their education and surroundings from the references of their socialized conscience.
Three groups of faculties function independently at the level of the “I”. They are:
– the intellect, with its capacity for awareness, analysis and understanding, reflection, conceptualization, reasoning and imagination, all the cognitive faculties as well as the reflective capability which permits the “I” to be conscious of itself…
– freedom, which brings the capacity for discernment and choices, the deliberative and decision-making faculties...
– the will, covering the capability to mobilize and orientate energy, the volitional faculties…
People govern their lives and handle their growth through these three functions.
In the evolution of living species, it is with this reality that the maximum level of complexity and evolution has been attained. In fact, it is the functioning of one’s intellect, freedom and will that make the human being distinct from the animal kingdom totally conditioned by its instincts.
Note: This typified and personal aspect of the intellect, freedom and will is part of the initial potential with which people are born. These realities also have their constitutional limits, their “threshold of incompetence” as Dr. Peters would say. Like the other realities of the being, they may or may not be recognized and lived as part of oneself, integrated into one’s self-image. Thus, persons with a normal intelligence quotient, able at times to succeed in very difficult matters, can feel that they are unintelligent. It is therefore important to distinguish: 1. the potential contained in the realities of the being (intellect, freedom, will); 2. one’s awareness of it and its integration into one’s personality (which constitutes the “rock of being”); and 3. the functioning of these faculties. The latter can combine and harmonize with the functioning of the being or remain apart from it, even oppose it. For instance it can act in support of personal ambitions, appearances, the pleasures of action or the juggling of ideas. In our observation of the “I”, these intellectual, decision-making and volitional faculties are examined solely from the angle of their functioning and their involvement in the overall growth of the person.
(Persons and their growth p.74-76).