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Tyson, R.L. (1992). The Development of the Ego: Implications for Personality Theory, Psychopathology, and the Psychotherapeutic Process: By Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1989. 380 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:291-295.

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(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:291-295

The Development of the Ego: Implications for Personality Theory, Psychopathology, and the Psychotherapeutic Process: By Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1989. 380 pp.

Review by:
Robert L. Tyson

The author declares for his book an impressively ambitious and somewhat confusing series of aims: "This work will present a comprehensive theory which looks simultaneously at the biological … and the interactive … underpinnings of the ego, as well as the stages that the ego uses to organize itself, namely, its own experience. [It] will also postulate the developmental pathways by which biology and experience express themselves in various psychopathologies … provide a model both for future research and further theory building … suggest a needed reexamination of a number of core concepts in dynamic thinking, including identification, repression defense, and drives … discuss applications to clinical practice [including] the classic psychoanalytic situation with both children and adults [and] short-term psychotherapy involving couples, families, and groups [and] evolve a model of preventive therapeutic work with both children and adults which takes advantage of the ego's own tendencies toward growth, conflict resolution, and new levels of integration" (p. x). Not surprisingly, the author's reach exceeds his grasp.

The book consists of eleven chapters, the first two of which explicate Greenspan's present theories of the stages of ego development (Chapter 1) and of psychopathological development (Chapter 2). The remaining nine chapters are concerned with the application of these developmental theories to a number of areas of clinical interest and, in Chapter 3, to some psychoanalytic concepts. Chapters 1, 2, and 11 repeat material Greenspan has published in journals, and the first two chapters are primarily based on three of his previously published books.

In Greenspan's current description of ego development, he hypothesizes that it occurs in six stages: (1) homeostasis, 0-3 months; (2) attachment, 2-7 months; (3) somatopsychological differentiation


1 Greenspan, S. I. (1981): Psychopathology and Adaptation in Infancy and Early Childhood. Principles of Clinical Diagnosis and Preventive Intervention. New York: Int. Univ. Press. Reviewed in this Quarterly, 1984, 53:122-127.

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