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Spitz, R.A. (1958). On the Genesis of Superego Components. Psychoanal. St. Child, 13:375-404.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 13:375-404

On the Genesis of Superego Components

René A. Spitz, M.D.

The structural concept of the psychic organization in its final form was laid down by Freud in his book The Ego and the Id(1923). Its formulation had been developing since 1914 when he first introduced the concept of the ego ideal and described its self-observing function in the article "On Narcissism: An Introduction." He continued his exploration of a self-criticizing part of the ego, which is split off, in the paper "Mourning and Melancholia" (1917). In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego(1921), the superego was for the first time formulated as a "differentiating grade in the ego." In these publications the formulation of the concepts is derived, by and large, from the clinical observation of pathological phenomena and not through a genetic investigation. The exception to this is to be found in the ultimate formulation in The Ego and the Id(1923), which takes up the original propositions of the origin of the ego ideal as stated in the paper on narcissism.

The close linkage between the emergence of this differentiating grade in the ego and the fate of object relations has directed our attention to the early stages of personality organization which constitute what one might call the primordia from which the superego ultimately will be formed.

In the following, I propose to investigate the emergence of certain behavioral phenomena in the course of the first and second year of life. Their appearance seems to indicate the formation of corresponding specific psychic structures. In the beginning, these structures are observable as physical and psychological behavior patterns. Several years later they are destined to participate in the formation of the superego and to become component parts of its organization.


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