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Niederland, W.G. (1965). The Role of the Ego in the Recovery of Early Memories. Psychoanal Q., 34:564-571.

(1965). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 34:564-571

The Role of the Ego in the Recovery of Early Memories

William G. Niederland, M.D.


The recovery of memories is therapeutically effective not only because of the discharge of affect, but also through the reemergence of the specific state of the ego which was repressed at the time of the traumatic experience. The regressive features which often accompany the recall may approximate forms of thinking and feeling close to the primary process. These seem to carry with them a greater force of conviction than is ordinarily attainable. With the release of forces that were bound in the psychic structure, the synthetic function of the ego makes possible its reorganization and restructuralization. With such recall and working through into consciousness, content and affect of memory can be dealt with in a revised fashion by both the ego and the superego functions, permitting a more realistic solution of the conflict between the archaic, instinctual, and defensive forces which made the original traumatic event pathogenic.

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