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Anzieu-Premmereur, C. (2015). The Skin-Ego: Dyadic Sensuality, Trauma in Infancy, and Adult Narcissistic Issues. Psychoanal. Rev., 102(5):659-681.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Review, 102(5):659-681

The Skin-Ego: Dyadic Sensuality, Trauma in Infancy, and Adult Narcissistic Issues

Christine Anzieu-Premmereur, M.D., Ph.D.

The skin-ego is a metaphor created by the French psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu to describe the process by which the infant's emerging ego develops a container for psychic contents and achieves a secure feeling of well-being. The ego encloses the psychic apparatus as the skin encloses the body. The ego becomes able to fix barriers protecting the internal world and to screen exchanges with the id, the superego, and the outside world. The skin-ego is an envelope that contains thoughts and gives to thinking activity some limits, continuity, and a protection against the instincts. The functions of the skin-ego are to maintain thoughts, to contain ideas and affects, to provide a protective shield, to register traces of primary communication with the outside world, to manage inter-sensorial correspondences, to individuate, to support sexual excitation, and to recharge the libido. The skin-ego is the foundation of the container-contained relationship. An important part of psychoanalytic work with borderline patients is the reconstruction of the earliest phases of the skin-ego and their consequences for mental organization.

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