Delayed Ego Gratification

The ultimate coping mechanism

Dr. G.C. Dilsaver
October 8, 2023
min read

The following is an excerpt from Psychomoralitics: The Soul-Deep Alternative to the Failed Mental Health Professions.

A person who is apt at and habituated in rigid coping will always have the ability to practice delayed gratification, which is the ultimate coping mechanism. Delayed gratification is the ability to select to be open to certain realities, even when those realities militate against his ego, for the future strengthening of the ego. In this a person is able to accept a certain abnegation of the ego and pseudo-self so as to become a better pseudo-self. Because the coping defense of delayed gratification entails an acceptance of a certain humiliation of the ego for the sake of preserving and ultimately aggrandizing the ego, it is also highly functional. The coping mechanism of delayed gratification is found in the various forms of stoicism, from existentialism to cognitive behavioral therapies, and many forms of religiosity.

The ego coping mechanism of delayed gratification is characteristically unlike either the apathy or lethargy characteristic in common coping. Rather it may entail very proactive and aggressive activism. But it is still selective and restrictive of reality in the single-minded pursuit of a subjective good. Such coping is characterized by this single-mindedness, and a disproportionality or even obsession with selective goods to the exclusion and sacrifice of other—and at times even higher—goods. An example of such coping can be seen in overachievers such as the driven athlete, or the intensely studious graduate student, or the passionately ambitious politician. Those well-practiced in delayed gratification may also appear very virtuous.

Note well that people with manifest ego reactivity and/or symptomatic mental disordering are not good at coping, especially at the above supreme coping of delayed gratification, and thus a psychotherapeutic process that entails the ability to delay gratification is often futile. The goal of psychomoralitics, which facilitates its efficacy as well, is not to produce a coping person but a person beyond the coping stage and open to the fullness of reality.

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