The ego, according to Freud, is the executive acting part of our selves. It is that which tries to mitigate between the dark and unpredictable forces of sex, hunger and violence of the “id”, and the unrealistically high and exaggerated moral demands of the “superego”.
No wonder the ego feels stressed out sometimes! Come on, throw me a bone here! It's like working under two demanding bosses at the same time who give you conflicting orders. And you try your best to negotiate and not to piss them off.
The impulses and wants of the id that are not satisfied come back and haunt you in a major way, and then you, I mean, the ego, might lose control, a momentary lapse of reason, and you might end up committing an act you'll regret for the rest of your life. On the other hand, the superego may threaten you with the possibility of severe punishment, and you might be so filled with guilt and remorse that you fall into deep and black despair.
What to do then? The ego, the self, or the voice inside your head that calls itself “I” is smart enough to come up with various mechanisms to protect itself from harm. Of course, some are better and more effective than other methods, but here I shall present a few.
Denial is a simple and very common procedure. We all do it. We turn a blind eye to the facts and say that there is no problem. We avoid confrontations at all costs and pretend that everything is fine. There is no problem. Period. What are you talking about, you crazy, or something?
Displacement is not a good idea, unless you choose a symbolic object like a punching bag. People who use this method are cowards really. They are afraid of standing up to their bosses. They look for easier helpless targets that cannot defend themselves. They go home and kick their dog and even worse, hit their children.
Projection is the perfect way of fooling yourself. While denial was a simple non-acceptance looking-away kind of deal, projection is a little more complex. You transfer unwanted feelings onto others; that way you feel relieved because supposedly you exorcise them, at least temporarily. A faithful husband fighting his attraction for a beautiful and sexy neighbor accuses his innocent wife of acts of infidelity.
Or, if you have homosexual feelings and your superego is on the conservative end, you will try your best to openly attack those who practice what you in the deeper recesses of your being would like to do yourself. I am always suspicious of those who are strongly and very vocally anti-gay. Think about it. Or skip this paragraph because it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Who am I or who is Freud to say something about your personality, right? One of us is definitely a crack-head and it ain’t me!
Sublimation is the best mechanism of them all. Seriously. Here you take your violent and unacceptable impulses and turn them into pure gold. Maybe not gold, but at least, a work of art.
Instead of becoming a serial killer write a book or make a movie about them! That way you will not only save innocent people's lives and stay away from serious jail time, but you may actually be praised for your creativity. I hope Tarantino keeps on making movies and Mel Gibson should be kept busy at all times; I would even put up with another film of the latter for the sake of humanity!