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Nunberg, H. (1931). The Synthetic Function of the Ego. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 12:123-140.

(1931). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 12:123-140

The Synthetic Function of the Ego

H. Nunberg

According to the hypothesis of Freud the ego is a part of the id, the surface of which has become modified. In the id there are accumulated various trends which, when directed towards objects in the outside world, lead to a union between these and the subject, thereby bringing into existence a new living being. These libidinal trends are ascribed by us to Eros, in the Freudian sense of the term. Our daily experience teaches us that in the ego also there resides a force which similarly binds and unites, although it is of a somewhat different nature. For its task is to act as an intermediary between the inner and the outer worlds and to adjust the opposing elements within the personality. It achieves a certain agreement between the trends of the id and those of the ego, an agreement which produces a harmonious co-operation of all the psychic energies.

The period when the psychic harmony is most complete is probably that of earliest infancy, when the id's every impulse finds direct fulfilment in the ego (ideal-ego). This state must very soon suffer various disturbances, most likely when there first arises a tension due to some craving and when gratification does not ensue.

Later on the psychic harmony, which probably corresponds to the condition within the 'ideal-ego', is disturbed by the development of the super-ego and the subject's increasing adaptation to reality.

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