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Jacobson, E. (1954). Federn's Contributions to Ego Psychology and Psychoses. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:519-525.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:519-525

Federn's Contributions to Ego Psychology and Psychoses

Edith Jacobson, M.D.


Dr. Weiss and his collaborators have earned our gratitude by assembling Paul Federn's writings on Ego Psychology and the Psychoses. The volume contains important contributions published by Federn in years past, and a number of hitherto unpublished papers which Weiss has edited with great care.

The attempt to penetrate to a genuine understanding of Federn's work is arduous but very rewarding. We realize with some astonishment that two or even three decades ago Federn studied normal and pathological processes in the ego upon which psychoanalytic research in general has begun to focus only within recent years. Federn's contribution did not remain limited to clinical observations. But his theoretical explanations of the phenomena under scrutiny were only hesitantly accepted. He considered this reluctance, in terms of his own theories, as an inner resistance on the part of his readers to encompass such new, strange ideas within their ego boundaries.

This explanation is typical, since it illustrates Federn's intimate and lively contact with the nature of his own thought processes. However, he was not fully aware of the extent to which his complex mode of thinking and the manner in which he presented his ideas were rooted in his own personal experience and in his self-observations. Hence the study of his writings requires an extraordinary degree of empathy with his peculiarities. This imposes a heavy burden on readers who have not been familiar over many years with the problems raised by the author.

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