Readers' Submissions

Do Thais Lack A Developed Ego?



Insincerity due to stupidity?

I've said it before but it bears repeating. Many Thai girls don't act with integrity because there is no integrity. As westerners we take for granted that anybody who can say the word "I" has a self. But the ego in this culture doesn't get a chance to develop. What gets developed is the public exterior persona, but there is no corresponding interior persona. There is no there there.

We take for granted that a person has some sort of unified interiority. A self. It is so hard to get it that in many cases, there is no there there. No single interior unifying process who exists from day to day body capable of keeping a promise. It is a very momentary, immediate self, not capable of what in the west we term integrity. That is a higher level of cognition that this culture does not emphasize or develop. This is very foreign to westerners, and we think that our girl is lying or foolish or a cheat etc. Ya, she is, but she couldn't change if she wanted to. There is no "she" to change. All she has is her immediate experience, with no unifying person behind the mask to follow through on any promise to change.

An ego is not a form of disease, but one level of cognition that integrates our experiences and our actions. The reason we complain that Thais act without integrity is not because of differing cultural values, it is because in many cases, the Thai person doesn't have integrity. Doesn't even have a developed ego.

Sure, not all Thais are incapable of planning for the future and of knowing and expressing their emotions and of talking from a cohesive honest center instead of from a public persona that is just a mask. Not all. But much more so than in the west. I've never met a western adult woman who had as much an underdeveloped ego as is so common here.

Children tend to be different people depending on which peers they associate with. Peer pressure changes their attitudes and beliefs, and it's me too, me too, me too. Sound familiar of Thais? It takes a strong sense of self to disagree with a crowd. In the same way as it takes a strong sense of self to have moral character and integrity.

Even with the greatest of intimate relationships, with a Thai it often seems as if the guard is always up. The guard is all there is. There is nothing but guard. I dated one woman for 6 months. After things fell apart I asked her if there was anyone in the world for whom her guard was not up – anyone at all she confided in. Not one. Not even her sister. That's just the way it is here – you never – NEVER – let any one person know all of you. Of the 4 Thai women I dated for nearly a year, only one was consistently open and direct. Of 9 other Thai women I’ve dated, only one was.

Many Thais MUST do what parents say, or at least appear to. The sense of self isn’t fully differentiated from the communal family. Part of growing up is learning independence, that is an actual recognized stage of development; learning to think and act for oneself. Identifying with a group is not a sign of ego, in the sense of a sense of independent self. It’s fine to identify with family, but in the west we also eventually grow up. We become more than merely a part of a family. We also have an identity, an independent self.

It’s really difficult to be in love with someone you can’t trust. And someone with little integrity can’t be trusted. Integrity is dependent on the cognitive capacity to organize ones perceptions and thoughts and feelings cohesively around a lasting sense of self. It takes a strong self to make and keep promises, to tell the truth about feelings regardless of negative consequences. It is very difficult and frustrating to be consistently lied to, especially when you know that such lying is not just poor character, it is a lack of character, and will never change.

Stickman's thoughts:

Now that is damning!