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(1938). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence: By Anna Freud. (International Psycho-Analytical Library. Hogarth Press, London, 1937. Pp. 196. Price 9 s.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 19:115-146.

(1938). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 19:115-146

The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence: By Anna Freud. (International Psycho-Analytical Library. Hogarth Press, London, 1937. Pp. 196. Price 9 s.


The content of this book will be presently considered by other writers, but I gladly avail myself of the opportunity to record briefly my general impressions of it. Let me mention three in particular.

First of all its astonishing and refreshing lucidity. Not merely that each sentence is quite free from ambiguity, but Anna Freud shares in common with her father the outstanding faculty of being able to light up the various themes she touches upon so as to make things really clear. Perhaps the most striking example of this is the second chapter where with a sure touch she classifies the several forms of analytic technique in relation to their suitability for investigating the ego. This forms an admirable introduction to the discussion which follows of the different types of defence. This lucidity gives the whole work its peculiar quality of 'illumination' and makes it particularly valuable as a textbook.

Another striking feature of the book is its moderation. There are many places where the author could have carried her arguments and analyses further than she has, but she has preferred not to pass beyond the sphere of what she considers definitely ascertainable knowledge. This, too, makes the work a reliable guide for students even if the experienced analyst will find many points at which Anna Freud breaks off her voyage of discovery into the depths where he could have wished for further enlightenment: thus, for instance, the important themes of projection and introjection are only very lightly touched upon.

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