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Sedlak, V. (2016). The Psychoanalyst's Normal and Pathological Superegos. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(6):1499-1520.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(6):1499-1520

The Psychoanalyst's Normal and Pathological Superegos Language Translation

Vic Sedlak

(Accepted for publication 28 January 2016)

The first section of the paper explores a number of differing views regarding the concept of the superego, essentially in terms of its formation and its functions. Two broad theories of superego development, both of which were introduced by Freud, are described. The first takes the superego to be principally oedipal in origin; the second traces the superego to an earlier period. The controversy about the usefulness of the concept of the death instinct is also implicated in the different views. It is then suggested that it is worthwhile to distinguish between a normal superego and a pathological superego and that these two distinct models of the superego are implicit in the work of both Freud and Klein. Strachey's (1934) views on the nature of the mutative effect of psychoanalytic treatment are briefly reviewed in the light of this distinction. It is suggested that Strachey was hesitant in clarifying the full implications of his views, particularly regarding the reasons for the difficulty the psychoanalyst will experience in making a transference interpretation. It is argued that the difficulty will relate to the psychoanalyst's anxiety about having sufficiently worked through the countertransference, particularly in relation to superego functioning. Two brief clinical vignettes are considered in support of this view. The last section of the paper offers some comments on the emotional development of the psychoanalyst and the ways that maturing as a psychoanalyst will involve a certain mellowing of the analyst's stance and a greater tolerance of the patient's prerogative to bring the full range of his or her personality into the treatment.

[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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