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Moloney, J.C. (1954). Mother, God, and Superego. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:120-151.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:120-151

Mother, God, and Superego

James Clark Moloney, M.D.


In the normal process of emotional development there are trends toward expansion and maturation of the ego even before the advent of conscious awareness. However, in many (if not in most) individuals this normal sequence does not occur. Instead, a type of precognitive paralysis develops which impedes or even destroys the expansive and maturative tendencies. Such a paralysis is the result of a traumatic situation or series of situations obtaining in the relationship between the mother and the inchoate ego. All cause-and-effect aspects of the dynamic situation become parts of a Gestalt.

The particular type of trauma leading to paralysis of ego development consists of rejection of various kinds: either those that neglect the infant's own rhythms, or that are designed to alter the manifestations of those rhythms as they make their appearance in the infant's behavior. He may be denied food when he is hungry. (Scheduled feeding times may have this effect.) He may be denied soothing attention and motherly handling when he cries. There may be rigid concern for his emunctory organs and little for the rest of his body. In fact, the types of rejection which may be visited upon babies are too numerous to recount here.

When such trauma occur, some children rebel against any submissiveness to the mother.

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