Idealization is different from, though under optimal conditions it may lead to, the holding of ideals. The latter implies a capability for "delay, control, neutralization, symbolization and sublimation." In "On Narcissism," Freud stated that the ego ideal develops as a result of the frustration that leads to the awakening of the reality principle. He added that the existence of the ego ideal may, but does not always, lead to such structure-building psychic work as sublimation.
Edith Jacobson and Melanie Klein, each from her own theoretical perspective, described the maturation process that may set the stage for the holding of ideals. Jacobson conceptualized a "disillusionment crisis"; its positive resolution is crucial for further development—helplessness and yearning for fusion gradually giving way to mature object relations and ego defenses. These, in turn, provide the capability for the development of ideals. Klein, in her elaboration of Freud's concept of the deathinstinct, theorized how idealization may be utilized as a defense against aggression. This defense may be resolved through traversing the "depressive position." The resolution provides the groundwork for the holding of ideals.
Freud's Moses and Monotheism is used as a metaphoric clinical example to show the "going from idealization to the holding of ideals, mediated by ego development and the depressive position." Freud hypothesized that Moses was a follower of the monotheist Akhenaten and that he kept the latter's ideals even though most of his countrymen abandoned them. Moses then left Egypt with a band of followers. However, even though their narcissism was flattered by being chosen by the nobleman Moses, his followers could not live up to his ideals and eventually rebelled. Over the generations after Moses, however, they developed further, and their descendants integrated "elements of Mosaic religion into" their primitive beliefs.