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Reich, A. (1954). Early Identifications as Archaic Elements in the Superego. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:218-238.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:218-238

Early Identifications as Archaic Elements in the Superego

Annie Reich, M.D.


The revival or persistence of an early identification within the structure of the later superego imbues the personality with characteristics of the ego level on which the identification was originally formed, like unstable ego boundaries, confusion between ego and object, between wish and reality. In more regressed cases, the picture is complicated by an admixture of sadistic superego forerunners as well as of crudely sexual ideals. Such superegos are marked by inadequate integration which expresses itself in continual vacillations of self-esteem. In our not too precise analytic language, we frequently speak of such persons as narcissistic.

Finally it should be stressed that a narcissistic type of this kind was already described very early in the psychoanalytic literature, long before the publication of Freud's papers on ego psychology. I am referring here to an essay by Ernest Jones (16), "The God Complex, " in which the narcissistic personality is conceived as

the result of identification with a father figure that is seen in an infantile light.

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