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Anscombe, R. (1986). The Ego and the Will. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 9(3):437-463.

(1986). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 9(3):437-463

The Ego and the Will

Roderick Anscombe, M.D.


There is a cluster of concepts at the point where psychoanalysis makes contact with our ordinary understanding of people: there is the self, character, identity, ego, and the will. Like a shell game, it is difficult to decide which concept covers the I. It may even be that such a search is futile—an outmoded quest left over from the 18th century's optimistic belief in man as a rational agent. Nevertheless, we persist in trying to find the center and the source of ourselves, and we look for ourselves in that familiar group of concepts—will, decision, fear, envy, reason, belief, and so on—which has been called “Folk Psychology” (Churchland, 1981).


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