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Murphy, W.F. (1959). Ego Integration, Trauma, and Insight. Psychoanal Q., 28:514-532.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:514-532

Ego Integration, Trauma, and Insight

William F. Murphy, M.D.


Integration refers to the process by which developmental patterns of relationship of the ego with the inner and outer worlds, in their genetic and dynamic significance, are compared and consciously linked together in a manner that permits a more effective control of environmental stimuli, mainly through the use of the mechanisms of displacement and repression, a lessening of the need for denial and dissociative defenses, and a more equitable and tolerable distribution of affect. To a large extent insight is a by-product of this integration and a reflection of an awareness of its existence. In the neurotic certain developmental patterns in all spheres of the relationships of the ego are based upon unmastered traumatic events, which give rise to characteristic dissociative defenses associated with denial where one or more spheres of the ego's activities become overburdened with the role of discharging affect. Certain antithetical relationships among these areas are important from the point of view of ego defense mechanisms and the therapeutic process. A distinction has been made between primary and secondary traumatic events. The former accompany the development of the ego and superego. The latter occur after full instinctual development. They have a defensive function which assists the denial of an inner loss from the past by allowing the ego to focus attention on an outer loss in the present.

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