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Sechaud, E. (2015). The Double Nature of Splitting. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(1):141-143.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(1):141-143

The Double Nature of Splitting Language Translation

Evelyne Sechaud

(Accepted for publication 17 December 2014)

“The ego can be split”, Freud wrote in 1932, on account of its composite nature which brings together diverse identifications. Following the metaphor of the crystal, the ego always breaks along its predetermined lines of structure. But for Freud such splitting is reversible: “…the ego splits itself during a number of its functions - temporarily at least. Its parts can come together again afterwards” (1933[1932], p. 58). At that time Freud stressed that what characterizes the ego is “a tendency to synthesis in its contents, to a combination and unification in its mental processes” (p. 76); further on he writes that the ego's task “is to bring the claims and demands [of its three masters] into harmony with one other” and adds: “if the ego is hard pressed, it reacts by generating anxiety” (p. 77). It is in order to avoid this anxiety, whose intensity can be variable but sometimes catastrophic, that the ego employs defensive processes which causes splits within it.

In 1938, in his article on splitting, Freud (1940[1938]) takes stock of the alterations in the ego's synthetic function: what he finds both disconcerting and yet thoroughly familiar is not so much the phenomenon of splitting as the failure of the “synthetic nature of the processes of the ego” which we thought we could “take for granted”; “but,” he continues, “we are clearly at fault in this.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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