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Lind, L. (1989). Segregation of the Ego and Intra-Psychic Projection as a Defence against Super-Ego Anxiety. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):58-77.

(1989). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):58-77

Segregation of the Ego and Intra-Psychic Projection as a Defence against Super-Ego Anxiety

Lis Lind

In contrast to the fate of a majority of Freud's metapsychological concepts, his theory on defence mechansims seems to have awakened only moderate astonishment, annoyance or claims for modernisation, either on the part of the informed laity or on that of the corps of practising psychoanalysts. Like an anonymous and indispensable bureaucracy, they exercise their functions without attracting much attention. To the analyst, they will mainly present themselves through their results, i.e., omissions, inconsequences, distortions, stereotypes or falsifications in conscious psychic content. Still, we have to acknowledge their existence and make some conjectures concerning the nature of their workings, in order to obtain a meaningful apprehension of the dynamics of the inner worlds belonging to oneself and to other people.

Theoretically, a defence mechanism might be expected to look just any way, but even if such a basic assumption seems to be correct, it is uncomfortable and causes mental dizziness, which is not just of advantage in everyday work. That is probably the reason why we have come to count on a limited number of defensive strategies crystallised within Freudian and Kleinian tradition, without spending too much time on reflecting on the problem of how the existing assortment was brought about. It may certainly be useful to the analyst to have at his disposal, a catalogue of ten or twenty defence mechanisms of frequent occurrence, which are relatively easily recognised from patient to patient. However, one runs the risk of becoming blind to individual variations, the number of which must be unlimited, which contributes to making every personality a unique organization.

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