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Lansky, M.R. (2004). Conscience and the Project of a Psychoanalytic Science of Human Nature: Clarification of the Usefulness of the Superego Concept. Psychoanal. Inq., 24(2):151-174.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 24(2):151-174

Conscience and the Project of a Psychoanalytic Science of Human Nature: Clarification of the Usefulness of the Superego Concept

Melvin R. Lansky, M.D.

Although the usefulness of the superego concept has been challenged by objections to the structural theory and to applying a one-person language only to the patient, we need a concept of the conscience to understand clinical phenomenology and clinical decisions and the results of treatment. Using understanding of shame dynamics as an example, fragmentation of theory and technique can be seen as resulting from the confusion of one part of the conscience for the whole. Mainstream views consider primarily the postoedipal part of the conscience dealing with guilt; Kleinian views consider the preoedipal dynamic of projected rage and fear of persecution; and Kohutian thinking excludes the ego ideal altogether. A comprehensive view of conscience is necessary to avoid such fragmentation and confusion.

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