The ego is a metaphor. If you hear talk of someone having a ‘big ego’, ‘ego issues’, or that they are ‘an egomaniac’ – or if you are tempted to say things like that yourself – it’s worth remembering that nobody actually ‘has’ an ego.

Freud invented it as part of his theoretical model, and it found its way from the psychiatrist’s couch (where it should have stayed), into everyday speech via pop-psychology. When the term ‘ego’ is used it is never flattering, and as it’s an abstract concept it conveys suggestion rather then information.

Like most buzz-words it says as much about the person using it, as it does about the person who is being tagged with it. It implies judgement without actually stepping up and saying what you mean.

If you feel compelled to use the word to describe another person, hold back and ask yourself what you would say if the word ‘ego’ didn’t exist.