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Temperley, J. (1987). The Ego Ideal: By Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel. London: Free Association Books. 1985. Pp. 271.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:302-303.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:302-303

The Ego Ideal: By Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel. London: Free Association Books. 1985. Pp. 271.

Review by:
Jane Temperley

With 'The ego and the id', Freud in effect subsumed the concept of ego ideal, which he had introduced in 'On narcissism' and extended in 'Group psychology', under the new concept of the superego. Mme Chasseguet-Smirgel seeks to retrieve an independent significance for the ego ideal.

In his later writings, Freud stresses that the ego ideal or superego results from the introjection of an idealized version of the parents. This view emphasizes the derivation of the ego ideal from object relationships. The earlier view, preferred by Mme Chasseguet-Smirgel, traces the emergence of the ego ideal to primary infantile narcissism. As a result of the primary narcissistic trauma of discovering that he is separate and needy the child projects his lost narcissism before him, in the form of the ego ideal to which he hopes to approximate, thus seeking to restore his sense of primary narcissism which Mme Chasseguet-Smirgel equates with undifferentiated fusion with the original, maternal object.

This leads to very interesting analyses of the place of the ego ideal in the psychology of perverts. Whereas in normal development the ego ideal is projected on to the oedipal father and acts to promote the healthy negotiation of the Oedipus complex, the sexual pervert, with his mother's collusion, elevates and idealizes his pregenital instincts, persuading himself of their superiority to heterosexual adult coitus. In this way he retains the illusion that he and his phallus are what mother desires and that he can discount father and the primal scene, bypassing them in a phantasy that he and his ego ideal, himself admired and desired by his mother, need take no cognizance of parental intercourse and need not aspire to identify with the father as ego ideal.

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