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(1956). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 24, 1955, No. 4: Helene Deutsch. 'The Impostor. Contribution to Ego Psychology of a Type of Psychopath.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:204-205.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 24, 1955, No. 4: Helene Deutsch. 'The Impostor. Contribution to Ego Psychology of a Type of Psychopath.'

(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:204-205

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 24, 1955, No. 4: Helene Deutsch. 'The Impostor. Contribution to Ego Psychology of a Type of Psychopath.'

The longitudinal study of a case is used to suggest typological conclusions. The impostor studied was overfed as a boy with maternal love, with a resultant increase of infantile narcissism, lessened ability of

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the ego to develop constructive defences, and fostering of passivity. This pathological development was reinforced when his powerful and despotic father entered into a special relationship with the boy which precipitated through identification the adoption of a grandiose ego-ideal. Towards the end of latency a sudden but prolonged illness traumatically devalued the father. As a result a shadow fell across the boy's own identified ego. The process of sublimation was interrupted, and the identification could not be transferred on to more suitable objects. The boy solved this conflict regressively by pretending to be what he would have liked to be. In this way he escaped the inferiority of his own guilt-laden ego. He adopted the ego of others as his own ego-ideal, demanding that the world should accept these identifications and reacting paranoically when it did not. When he was accepted he did not feel an impostor; he did so only during treatment, when he achieved real success on his own account and was thus confronted with his own inferior ego.

Helene Deutsch differentiates among the mechanisms operating in other impostors. The pattern varies according to the degree of consolidation of the ego-ideal and the capacity for sublimation—from such cases as the present one in which each imposture expressed a transient wish for what he would like to be, similar to the identifications of prepubertal girls, to that of the talented physicist who could only achieve success under another man's name.

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Article Citation

(1956). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 24, 1955, No. 4. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:204-205

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