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Salonen, S. (1989). The Restitution of Primary Identification in Psychoanalysis. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(2):102-115.

(1989). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 12(2):102-115

The Restitution of Primary Identification in Psychoanalysis

Simo Salonen, M.D.

The psychic trauma forms an existential threat, the nature of which is difficult to understand without insight into the early circumstances of the ego and the earliest identification phenomena. The discussion of these elementary phenomena, however, is extremely difficult, in that psychoanalytic experience in this area tends to be fragmentary and often lacks coherence. We therefore have to fall back on theoretical extrapolations, always a little rash. When we have passed beyond words and in particular when we can no longer rely on inner meanings, it is difficult to find any human metaphor which still succeeds in conveying what is experienced without being a neologism. Such a possibility is offered by the theoretical language of metapsychology, due to its organic connection with that part of psychoanalytic theory which is based solidly on clinical experience.

On The Circumstances Of The Primordial Ego

In Instincts and their vicissitudes (1915), Freud puts forward an idea not fully developed later. He suggests that the ego's original contact with reality is an objective one, and that the primordial ego is capable of distinguishing the external and internal on objective grounds. Freud speaks of the original ‘reality-ego’, which is then transformed into a purified ‘pleasure-ego’, orienting itself purely in terms of pleasure. While we no longer can accept this idea as such (involving as it does a primordial ego-boundary and hence the capability of distinguishing the internal and the external), we need not necessarily reject the concept of original reality-ego.

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