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Peto, A. (1963). The Fragmentizing Function of the Ego in the Analytic Session. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:328-338.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:328-338

The Fragmentizing Function of the Ego in the Analytic Session

Andrew Peto

In a recently published paper (Peto, 1961) I put forward the hypothesis that there is an ego function which aims at the extreme splintering of the dynamic complexes of drives, of object representations, and of the emotions and feelings permanently or loosely connected with them. This function precedes and accompanies all the known defence mechanisms (repression, identification, etc.), and complex defence measures, e.g. splitting, sublimations, and is indeed, I believe, the necessary precondition which makes them possible. It prepares those changes in the nature of mental energy which have been variously called desexualization, neutralization, deaggressivization. I called this function the ego's fragmentizing function.

The above considerations make it clear that a sharp distinction should be made between splitting-off, e.g. as described by Freud in the fetishist, and the fragmentations which may cause the splintering of mental representations. My assumption is that only the latter is caused by the ego's fragmentizing function.

I discussed very briefly the possibilities of this ego function's role in dream dynamics, in children's play, and in the effects of interpretations. I pointed out its relation to regression, isolation, and to the superego's functioning and development. I also attempted to demonstrate its presence in transference neurosis. A masochist's transient somatic symbolization process (hypochondriac 'cancers' and 'heart attacks') in the course of his transference neurosis offered an opportunity to discern the operation of fragmentizing on the symbolic, somatic representation of a threatening, bisexual mother image.

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