An alter ego is a second self, believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists. A person with an alter ego is said to lead a double life.
In literature an alter ego may be a fictional character who is psychologically similar, and whose speech or thoughts intentionally represent those of the author.
Does anyone remember the 1987-1988 television series which starred Matt Frewer and his alter ego Max Headroom? It wasn’t on the air for very long, but I loved it. I love the idea of having an alter ego who can say and do things the person that the world knows me to be can’t.
I think everyone has an alter ego. Whatever that part of you is that you keep inside and no one knows about. That part that houses all the things you’d like to do if you weren’t constrained by money, social convention or other circumstances.
I refer to my pen name persona AJ Tillock as my alter ego, but considering I’ve also created the character of Tee Rutledge under that name, she might be more my alter ego than AJ is. There’s certainly more of me in her than in any of the romantic heroines I’ve created.
I thought I’d create a whole persona based on AJ. I’d find a picture of someone my idea of AJ looked like and I’d make up a whole bogus history for him which I’d post on Amazon’s Author Central and elsewhere. I’d give him his own web site and he’d write blogs under his own name. My alter ego would then go on to the kind of fame and fortune that’s eluded me, but he’d be a totally fake persona. An illusion if you will.
But aren’t we all an illusion? How much does our outside reflect what’s inside? Haven’t we all thought or said something along the lines of, “If you really knew me?” or “You don’t know me at all.” I can’t be the only person on the planet who believes very few people know me well and even those who do certainly haven’t plumbed every depth of my psyche. Nor, God knows, would they want to. Imagine the frightening things others might find out about you if they had that ability.
No, we all show the world what we want it to see and we all keep our secrets. Which is probably why we all need an alter ego to let little bits of the real us seep out from time to time.
I feel a little sorry for Tee sometimes. She has the burden of bearing the biggest part of me out there in the world of fiction.
You can follow AJ on Twitter @AJTillock
You can follow me on Twitter @barbmeyers
(AJ’s posts are way more pithy and interesting than mine because I channel my dad, AJ, for ideas on what to post. He was a great story teller with a thought-provoking little quote for most every occasion. I call them Dad-isms.)
You can visit us both at www.barbarameyers.com