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Hartogs, R. (1964-65). Application of Hartmann's Ego Psychology to the Schreber Case. Psychoanal. Rev., 51D(4):22-28.

(1964-65). Psychoanalytic Review, 51D(4):22-28

Application of Hartmann's Ego Psychology to the Schreber Case

Renatus Hartogs, M.D., Ph.D.

In accordance with Hartmann's principles of ego-psychology it must be postulated that whenever energy serving the functions of the ego comes too close to the state of instinctual energy (sexualization), a functional disturbance will result.2 Already Freud had stated that the ego normally makes use of a mode of energy entirely different from that employed by the drives.

For instinctual energy to be made available to the ego, it has to be transformed into neutralized energy by means of desexualization or desaggressivization in a continuous process. The ego's capacity for neutralization is the true indicator of its strength—according to Hartmann—while in ego-regression, the ego's capacity for neutralization is increasingly impaired.3 As a consequence of its being flooded with insufficiently neutralized instinctual energy, the ego's mastery of reality, its adaptive capacity and its synthesizing, integrating and organizing functions are morbidly impaired.

This process of neutralization begins, according to Hartmann,4 at the very time at which the ego presents itself as a more or less well-defined substructure of personality. It must be assumed that a certain degree of neutralization has to be achieved, before consistent object relationships can be formed and maintained.5 Neutralization of instinctual energy certainly has to take place in order to make a postponement of drive-gratification and inhibition of drive-discharge possible.6


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