Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry


In a review of the literature on the ego-ideal my impression has been that this concept has been placed in the position of a stepchild of the structural model of the mind, falling somewhere between the ego and the super-ego, and yet remaining loosely linked to both. Authors such as Jacobson (1954), Hartmann and Lowenstein (1962), Sandler (1963), and Schafer (196 7), have regarded the ego-ideal as a substructure of the super-ego. Others like Annie Reich (1953, 1954), Lampl de-Groot (1947), Peter Bios (1972), and Chasseguet-Smirgel (1975), have tended to view the two as being separate structures.

The purpose of this paper is, first, to point to the value of viewing the ego-ideal from a metapsychological stand point as a distinct entity, separate in more than one way from the super-ego. Secondly, the literature shows that many analysts tend to reduce the ego-ideal to a 'model' that the person is trying to emulate . This is not so. If we follow the development of the ego-ideal we begin to see how it is a more complex concept than what is casually referred to as an 'ideal', and can be useful in the understanding of a broader range of psychic phenomena. Finally, I will present some evidence as to how the ego-ideal can be perceived as being 'the heir to primary narcissism'.

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