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Conrotto, F. (2018). From Acting to Symbolising: The Birth of the Subject. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 12:9-23.

(2018). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 12:9-23

From Acting to Symbolising: The Birth of the Subject Language Translation

Francesco Conrotto

The notion of «subject» never acquired a specific psychoanalytic significance in Freud's thought. Of course, the subjective dimension was present in the concept of «Ego», but in an implicit not explicit form. Indeed, the Ego in the First Model predominantly represents the psycho-biological organisation of the self-preserving function, and in the Second Model it is a mediator between the demands of the Id, the Superego, and External Reality. Thus, as was made clearer later by Ego Psychology, the Ego was held to be a predominantly adaptive structure. It is only in the definition of the Ego formulated in On Narcissism: an Introduction (1914) that a subjective dimension appears more explicitly, only to disappear it seems, at least implicitly, in the writings which followed. In fact, in the paper on narcissism, the Ego is described as the product of two different and successive psychic processes: in the first place as the libidinal investment of the different erotogenic zones, followed by their subsequent integration. Thus, there needs to be a narcissistic libidinal investment of the erotogenic zones (1905, 208) which must be followed by «a new psychical action» (1914, 77) in order to form the Ego, thereby transforming primary autoeroticism into narcissism. Only at this point is an «object» created which, being the product of libidinal investment in the now integrated autoerotic zones, has a narcissistic dimension, as a result of which it can be called the precursor of a subjective organisation, which implies therefore that it is the libidinal investment in the Ego which constitutes the point of departure for the process of subjectivation.

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