Free Yourself from the Prison of your Ego: Learn from “Breaking Bad”, S2E10 – OVER

Summary

Skyler convinces Walter to stay home so he can rest up for the big celebration she’s planning (to celebrate Walt’s cancer being in remission).

“Brownie points for taking a nap,” she says.

Her husband appears to be on board with the idea but right after she leaves the house, Walter leaves to meet Jesse in a restaurant.

“You must be so psyched,” Jesse says after he learns of the cancer-remission news, then wonders out loud how long they’ll continue to cook meth.

Walter says he’s out of the business after they unload the remaining inventory of blue crystal.

At the party, Walter thanks everyone for supporting him and his family, and goes on to say, “When I got my cancer diagnosis, I said to myself, you know…’Why me?’ And then the other day when I got the good news…I said the same thing.”

Walter becomes irritated by what he perceives as Hank playing surrogate father to Walter, Jr.  So he makes his son match him as he drinks shots of tequila. Walter, Jr. pukes into the swimming pool. The elder Walter apologizes to his family the next day, says that wasn’t the real him at the party. Then Walter becomes obsessed with home improvement. First he buys and installs a new water heater, then discovers the house foundation has rot (perfect metaphor for what’s happening with Walter’s soul).

So Walter is back at the local hardware store when he spots a man who’s obviously buying supplies to manufacture meth. Walt goes up to the total stranger and chastises him for being so obvious and urges him to buy different items at different stores. He also emphatically tells the guy to stay out of his (Walt’s) territory.

Jesse reverts to using meth after Jane blows him off in front of her father when he comes to visit her at the apartment next to Jesse’s.

Analysis/Comments

Walter’s drug-making ID, Heisenberg, reasserts itself.  Even though he should be ecstatic about the news that his cancer is in remission, Walter struggles with his self-identity in the wake of the good news regarding his health. The phenomenon of pain body applies here. The pain body is a psychic entity that feeds off negative energy. It’s also made up of the accumulated personal and collective painful memories. It’s responsible for the seemingly inexplicable, bizarre and dangerous behavior people engage in. “Drama queens” give into the siren song of their own pain bodies. The pain body loves conflict and feels more alive when its owner is in conflict with other people and with himself.

In this case, the pain body sees that its owner has gotten great news — his cancer is in remission — and therefore it would seem the last thing Walt would need to do is to make more meth because if his cancer isn’t terminal, the whole “I gotta make money fast by selling meth” idea seems obsolete. But if Walter leaves the meth business, that would take much of the drama and stress out of Walter’s life, thereby depriving the pain body of something to feed off of.

Moreover, in addition to the pain body’s need, Walter’s ego-centric view of the world means he’s fixated on the idea he has a narrow, limited, easily-defined self-identity. That means he can’t act spontaneously. He can’t keep an open mind about what to do or say or what kind of opinions he has. He’s got a specific identity that he has to adhere to. Walter was just getting used to being Heisenberg, then the cancer doctor gives him good (but unexpected) news that his cancer is in remission. This upsets the apple cart. How can Walt be Heisenberg if there’s no logical need to keep doing so?

The answer is Walter’s ego-centric view of himself is so strong it overpowers logic and wisdom. The ego looks to the past for clues to define the self. Even if the behavior is unwise, dangerous and dysfunctional, the ego still pushes the idea onto the self. Yes, making meth is unwise and immoral but it’s a known entity, something the ego thrives on.

Likewise, alcoholics who achieve a period sobriety are tempted by their ego and their pain body to relapse. The recovering alcoholic’s freedom from using alcohol threatens the ego’s safe, narrowly defined self-concept. The key is understand what they are and not give into the temptation. And don’t be afraid to get help from others to achieve your goal.

 

 

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About The Dr. of Badology

I'm a wildly successful writer and video-game maker trapped in Wal-Mart cashier's clothing. I I enjoy exploring the philosophical realities of my life, biking, bowling, golf, tennis, reading and writing. And watching assorted professional sports, especially the NFL, NHL, MLB professional golf and tennis. My beloved Rat Terrier Indy, who was 17, passed away in May 2013. I still care for and co-reside with a stylish and lovable indoor/outdoor cat named Shaggy II. Just got a new roommate, Peggy W., who is a lovely person. My latest creative adventure is a video golf & and mystery-adventure game called "Paradise City Golf & Mystery-Adventure Game". Project is currently on Kickstarter. I am trying to raise $5K to pay for game-development expenses so I can market the video game to companies like EA Sports.
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