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Kaywin, L. (1957). Notes on the Concept of Self-Representation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:293-301.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:293-301

Notes on the Concept of Self-Representation

Louis Kaywin, M.D.

Following a suggestion by Hartmann (5), Jacobson, in a recent series of papers (6), (7), (8), (9) has elaborated on the concept of self-representations, a concept analogous to object representations. "This term refers to the endopsychic concept of the bodily and mental self, which, built up in the course of ego formation, normally reflects the characteristics, the state, and the function of our conscious and preconscious ego" (8p. 102). "From the ever increasing memory traces of pleasurable and unpleasurable experiences and of perceptions with which they become associated, body images as well as images of loved objects emerge …" (9p. 85). "Suffice it to say, that during the early preoedipal phase, 'good' and 'bad' images of the self and of the loved objects begin to be formed …" (7p. 241). Jacobson further points to "the enormous and rather disruptive influence which the processes of infantile repression gain over the formation of our concepts of the self and object world … the cutting out of a considerable sector of unpleasurable memories by infantile repression eliminates the great amount of unacceptable aspects of both the self and the outside world" (9p. 86).

The purpose of this presentation is (1) to delineate the usefulness of Hartmann's and Jacobson's conceptualization of the self-representations; (2) to indicate the practicality of considering the self-representations in terms of positive and negative nuclei in the early ego; and (3) to stress the fact that maintenance of the repression of the primitive negative self-representations is one of the most significant functions of the ego.

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