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(1960). Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. Psychoanal Q., 29:609-610.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:609-610

Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York

March 21, 1960. THE FRAGMENTIZING FUNCTION OF THE EGO. ITS ROLE IN THE TRANSFERENCE NEUROSIS AND THE PATHOGENESIS OF A MASOCHIST. Andrew Peto, M.D.

The hypothesis is presented that there is an ego function which aims at 'fragmentation' of the dynamic complexes of drives, of object representations, and of the emotions and feelings permanently or loosely connected to them. This function precedes and accompanies all the known defense mechanisms and complex defense measures and is the necessary precondition for these defensive processes. This function of the ego, which can be called the fragmentizing function, prepares those changes in the nature of mental energy which have been variously called defusion, desexualization, and neutralization.

Freud, Jacobson, Ferenczi, and Melanie Klein are cited as having observed phenomena which could be considered manifestations of the ego's fragmentizing function in neurotic and psychotic patients. The same fragmentation phenomena may occur under normal conditions—for instance, in dreaming and in children's play—as well as in the transference neurosis. The wish to sleep, which is one of the important preconditions for dreaming, is viewed as a function which aims at fragmentation and, in a sense, destruction of mental representations. This follows Lewin's oral triad, attributing to the wish to sleep a definite cannibalistic, destroying connotation. Children's play is assumed to consist of alternating disintegration and integration processes in the ego.

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