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Jones, E. (1926). The Origin and Structure of the Super-Ego. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 7:303-311.

(1926). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 7:303-311

The Origin and Structure of the Super-Ego

Ernest Jones

It is desirable to state clearly at the outset that this paper is of a peculiarly tentative character. The special occasion for which it was written, and the exigency of a time limit, induced me to attack an intricate theme when my own opinions about it are the very reverse of mature. Indeed, the essential object of the present contribution is merely to define a little more closely some of the complex problems involved and to invite further discussion of them; I would attach only a very restricted validity to any positive suggestions that may emerge in the course of the present remarks. The subject itself is concerned with one of the most important contributions that Freud has made to the science of psycho-analysis he created, and the spectacle of the following attempt to apprehend his latest teachings will serve as well as any other to illustrate the ever-pioneering nature of Freud's work and the fact that his mind remains the youngest and freshest of any among us.

The particular problem to be considered here is that of the origin and actual structure of the super-ego, that is, the nature and genesis of the various trends composing it. As Freud himself says, 'In other matters—for instance, concerning the origin and function of the super-ego—a good deal remains insufficiently elucidated'.

As to the validity and value of the conception itself there will be universal agreement, for the reasons Freud gave when he postulated it can be definitely confirmed in any character analysis, and perhaps in any properly completed analysis. Further, a number of formulations in regard to it would appear to be equally well established. Thus, the genesis of the super-ego is certainly connected with the passing of the Oedipus complex, and the nuclear and essential part of its composition may be regarded as the direct imprint made on the personality by the conflicts relating to this complex; Freud neatly designates it as the heir of the Oedipus complex.

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