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Schneiderman, L. (1984). Sartre: Ego and Superego Functions in Fiction and Ideology. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 12(3):363-385.

(1984). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 12(3):363-385

Sartre: Ego and Superego Functions in Fiction and Ideology

Leo Schneiderman, Ph.D.

With the publication of “On Narcissism: An Introduction,” Freud (1914) began to view the ego as a self-preservative drive as well as the mediator of reality. Previously, Freud had conceived of the ego as a reservoir for libido, permitting sexual drives to flow outward in the form of reality-based object cathexis, or withdrawing these drives from the external world in pathological states. Also, Freud hitherto had postulated libido as the primary energy source for behavior; now the ego became a second energy system. The function of the self-preservative drive came to be seen as more important, in fact, than the sexual instinct, and capable of repressing it in the interest of survival. This revision of the concept of the ego also included the idea that it was part of the individual's consciousness, a view that Freud (1911) had expressed in the paper, “Formulations Regarding the Two Principles in Mental Functioning.” Thus the ego was endowed with the ability to test reality, the capacity to defend the individual through repression and other mechanisms, the power to function as a drive, and the ability to process the contents of consciousness, namely, images, ideas, memories and desires. In his final formulation of the ego, Freud placed it at an increased distance from the id from which it had arisen, assigning it a measure of autonomy.

Hartmann (1964) and his associates sought to give the ego greater definition and autonomy than did Freud. From the start, the standpoint of ego psychology was that the ego itself was the source of important cognitive functions that could in no way be traced to the id.

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