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Fries, M.E. (1946). The Child's Ego Development and the Training of Adults in his Environment. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:85-112.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:85-112

The Child's Ego Development and the Training of Adults in his Environment

Margaret E. Fries, M.D.

Planned education of the ego is concerned with the impact of life experience upon the individual as he progresses from birth to maturity. Freud frequently stressed the need for broadening and strengthening the ego (13), (14), (15), (16), and in therapeutic psychoanalysis our attention is focused upon problems of the ego and the need for its development. Balint (2) suggests the need for a sound theory and method of education based on a more precise study of the processes involved in strengthening the ego, while French (9), (10) emphasizes the "learning" and "working through" processes during analysis.

Whether the ego will be strong or weak is determined by the type of life experiences it encounters. Obviously, frequent integrating experiences will help the child to build a strong ego and, conversely, repeated indiscriminate exposure to traumatic experiences will hinder ego development (11).

The problem is how to set the stage during infancy and childhood so that the child can progress from the parasitic to the genital level. A solution proposed here is that we administer "doses of life experiences" in such quantity and quality as are appropriate to the physical, intellectual and emotional status of the child.

Adjustments of conditions to meet the physical and intellectual capacity of the child is a common procedure in physical and educational spheres of life. For example, solid foods are not introduced into the infant's diet until he can digest and assimilate them. Similarly, the

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1 This concept is borrowed from medicine but widened to form a theoretical foundation for ego development.

15 Consultant, New York Infirmary for Women and Children.

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