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Sterba, R. (1934). The Fate of the Ego in Analytic Therapy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 15:117-126.

(1934). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 15:117-126

The Fate of the Ego in Analytic Therapy

Richard Sterba

That part of the psychic apparatus which is turned towards the outside world and whose business it is to receive stimuli and effect discharge-reactions we call the ego. Since analysis belongs to the external world, it is again the ego which is turned towards it. Such knowledge as we possess of the deeper strata of the psychic apparatus reaches us by way of the ego and depends upon the extent to which the ego admits it, in virtue of such derivatives of the Ucs as it still tolerates. If we wish to learn something of these deeper strata or to bring about a change in a neurotic constellation of instincts, it is to the ego and the ego alone that we can turn. Our analysis of resistances, the explanations and interpretations that we give to our patients, our attempts to alter their mental attitudes through our personal action upon them—all these must necessarily start with the ego. Now amongst all the experiences undergone by the ego during an analysis there is one which seems to me so specific and so characteristic of the analytic situation that I feel justified in isolating it and presenting it to you as the 'fate' of the ego in analytic therapy.

The contents of this paper will surprise you by their familiarity. How could it be otherwise, seeing that it is simply an account of what you do and observe every day in your analyses? If, nevertheless, I plead justification, it is because I believe that, in what follows, adequate recognition is given for the first time to a factor in our therapeutic work which has so far received too little attention in our literature.

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