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Rose, G.J. (1966). Body Ego and Reality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:502-509.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:502-509

Body Ego and Reality

Gilbert J. Rose


Reality is coloured by representations of the bodily self throughout a wide gamut of behaviour. The self may be viewed as a phallic extension, anal product, breast, or mouth, and the view of the world may bear corresponding imprints. These phase-specific aspects must, of course, be analysed. Sometimes, however, they reflect basic deformations of the body-ego and an incomplete differentiation from an underlying symbiotic mother-child core. These cases are not necessarily psychotic or borderline. They are narcissistic identity disorders and their treatment requires certain technical considerations. Studying the reality testing function of symptoms is an essential prerequisite for further analytic work and failure to do so may account for some cases of interminable analysis. Compulsions as well as acting out may sometimes represent efforts to reinforce the sense of self and defend against the threat of merging into the symbiotic mother-child undifferentiated state. In body-ego terms, individuation is more firmly established when one knows what one has and how to act with it. As long as psychological growth continues, however, this is not an end point. For the body-ego contributes also to creative imagination. It is through the various manifestations of the creative imagination that the world of reality continues to be tested, constructed, and expanded. Thus, the body-ego participates in reality-testing and continues to participate, through the creative imagination, in the unceasing task of reality construction.

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