IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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EGO PSYCHOLOGY Tri-Regional Entry

Inter-Regional Editorial Board: Harold P. Blum (North America), Marco Conci (Europe) and Olga Santa Maria (Latin America) Inter-Regional Coordinating Co-Chair: Eva D. Papiasvili (North America)


“The history of psychoanalysis brought it about that we became acquainted with the unconscious before the conscious and with the repressed before the ego. Nowadays the psychology of the ego stands in the center of our investigations” (Fenichel 1935, p. 348). “…a healthy person must have the capacity to suffer and to be depressed…We know that successful adaptation can lead to maladaptation… But conversely, maladaptation may become successful adaptation… health clearly includes pathological reactions as a means towards its attainment (Hartmann 1939, p. 311) . Ego Psychology presents a further development, expansion, elaboration and refinement of the Structural Theory (and pertaining Second Theory of Anxiety) of Sigmund Freud of 1923 and 1926. While recognizing the innate (pre-conflictual) ego’s functioning, Ego Psychology focuses on the unconscious ego operations in a broad developmental and dynamic context, which include developmental (and clinical) transformations, and the ego’s multiple roles in psychic conflict, as initiator of defenses, decision maker and executor of actions, synthesizer of conflicting elements in mental life, and evaluator and negotiator of the conditions of the internal and external (to the ego) environment. Post-Freudian Structural Theory/Ego Psychology’s gradual addition and elaboration of genetic, developmental and adaptive considerations (Hartmann 1939/1958; Rapaport and Gill 1959; Freud, A. 1965) to existing Freudian metapsychology has had a substantial impact on clinical theory and technique. Recent advances have allowed for greater understanding and expansion of topics extending beyond traditional Ego Psychology interests, such as the fine-tuned building of psychic structure through the interpretive process, transference and countertransference (Busch 2013, 2015); female body, sexuality and development (Balsam 2012, 2013, 2015); trauma (Blum 2003; Fernando 2009, 2012a), and recasting of ego functioning, based on the conception


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