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Wilson, E., Jr. (1985). Revue Trançaise De Psychanalyse, XLV. 1981: The Sense of Identity. Nicole Berry. Pp. 473-486.. Psychoanal Q., 54:679-680.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Trançaise De Psychanalyse, XLV. 1981: The Sense of Identity. Nicole Berry. Pp. 473-486.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 54:679-680

Revue Trançaise De Psychanalyse, XLV. 1981: The Sense of Identity. Nicole Berry. Pp. 473-486.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

According to the author, psychoanalysis has its share of what one might call screen theories. The early concentration on the unconscious tended to minimize an awareness of narcissistic issues, while now the concentration on the theory of narcissism may well block out considerations of unconscious desire and oedipal conflict. The author discusses the belief in one's existence, or the sense of one's own identity, which is so often lacking in narcissistic conflicts. She believes that the origin of identity is to be found in the process of separation and individuation, in the psychic differentiation between the self and the mother. Berry criticizes Lacan's notion of the mirror, and in general criticizes theorists who would base this feeling of identity exclusively in the Other, unless, of course, this Other is to be interpreted as originally the mother. Disturbances of the sense of existence occur in two types of patients. One group has had to deal with the constant intrusion of a parent and the necessity of denial of their own feelings. For the other group, the mother was depressed or psychotic, and unable to provide the emotional response necessary for the child. Berry reviews the types of defenses specific to these clinical situations, such as testing, the need to possess, aggressive impositions, the staging of scenes and ruptures, excessive clutching at others, and overinvolvement in fantasy. She would distinguish the sense of identity from the sense of existence. One can exist without the experience of oneself as a unique individual. In contrast to Freud's concept of the family romance, the author's theory suggests that the child elaborates an original romance, in order to establish his or her feeling of identity. This is the fantasy that we as individuals tell ourselves about our own history, independent of the family myth. Such an original romance later sorts itself out between a sense of self and the ego ideal. Berry also argues for the existence of an original, unformed,

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biological ego prior to identification. She compares her view of the formation of the sense of self with that of Kohut, with which she thinks it compatible.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1985). Revue Trançaise De Psychanalyse, XLV. 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 54:679-680

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