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Hägglund, T. (1980). Some Viewpoints on the Ego Ideal. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 7:207-218.

(1980). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 7:207-218

Some Viewpoints on the Ego Ideal

Tor-Björn Hägglund


The thesis of this paper is that the fusion of masturbation fantasies and creative fantasies in connexion with the regression in adolescence occurs in a way which is related to the outcome of the positive and negative oedipal phases. Whereas ego ideal is a developmental extension of the negative Oedipus complex through identifications, the positive Oedipus complex is based more on incest wishes, and is, therefore, the main developmental result of the superego. The release of masturbation fantasies in adolescence is more related to the conflicts of who owns, who gratifies, controls and punishes the young body. Creative fantasies are based on the illusions shared with mother in the transitional phase of childhood forming an extension of the creative, narcissistic fusion and of the emergence of the ego ideal structure in adolescence. Only a sufficiently stable ego ideal structure of adulthood can guarantee creative intimacy with another person, and, likewise, only a superego structure sufficiently free of conflict can guarantee physical intimacy in a heterosexual relationship.

A concise review is included of the developmental theory of ego ideal, and the last part of the paper illustrates the development of ego ideal through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in the light of two clinical cases. In both cases a narcissistic trauma led to withdrawal from strivings for ego ideal in childhood, and an attempt to control mother by hatred or idealizing grandiose self took its place. In adolescence, defusion of masturbation fantasies and creative fantasies did not occur to a sufficient degree, and the outcome therefore, was inability to love and to work as separate commitments in adulthood.

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