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Weiss, E. (1957). The Phenomenon of "Ego Passage". J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:267-281.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:267-281

The Phenomenon of "Ego Passage"

Edoardo Weiss, M.D.


Freud's dissection of the mental apparatus into the three substructures—ego, id, and superego—opened to the students of psychology the most important avenue for the study of mental functioning. Each of these substructures, as well as their functional interrelations, became specific fields of research.

One of the many functions of the ego is the phenomenon of internalization and externalization of object representations or parts of them. Internalization, meaning incorporation within the ego, is called by the familiar term identification. That which was object representation becomes a feature of the ego, that is, an ego state. I avoid the word "introjection" since in this phenomenon the object or part of it is not thrown, "jected" by the ego into itself, but the ego includes it within, or extends itself over it. Likewise, in the phenomenon of externalization nothing is thrown out of the ego, nothing is "extrajected, " but the ego separates itself, or withdraws from a portion of itself. This portion becomes then an object representation.

That portion or trend of the ego which becomes externalized, that is, turned into an object representation, is very frequently a previously internalized object representation. The sequence of this phenomenon is as follows. (a) An object representation is internalized by the ego, thus becoming an ego trait or ego state. (b) This ego trait is then externalized, becoming again an object representation. I called this phenomenon the "passing of an object through the ego" or simply the "ego passage" of an object (7).

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