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Britton, R. (2002). Commentary by Ronald Britton. Neuropsychoanalysis, 4(1):26-27.

(2002). Neuropsychoanalysis, 4(1):26-27

Commentary by Ronald Britton Related Papers

Ronald Britton

I would first like to say that I think David Milrod's paper is an excellent piece for your journal. It is an exceptionally clear account of the psychoanalytic metapsychology and developmental schema espoused by the author and of how he locates the concept of self and self-representation within it. I wholeheartedly agree with him that “the self” as an entity is central to both psychoanalysis and to any neuroscientific attempt to explain mental life. His point that the development of object representation is parallel to selfrepresentation and that understanding identification is essential to any approach to explaining mental development is very well taken. I agree with him that we should continue to use both the term “self” and ego” as they have acquired different senses if only through usage. The self is, in the ontological sense of the word, subjective and as such includes qualities of identity, experience, and location. In Bion's terminology this is “O” (being), as distinct from K (knowing), as the self is also known by itself. Selfconsciousness (K) is often the starting point of philosophical and neuroscientific speculations on mind. The ego, in contrast to the self, has become a useful psychoanalytic concept as an objective description of some sort of psychic organizer whose characteristics can be studied. We can ascribe functions to it: I for example hold that belief is an ego function in the sense that Freud spoke of judgement.

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