Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To search for text within the article you are viewing…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can use the search tool of your web browser to perform an additional search within the current article (the one you are viewing). Simply press Ctrl + F on a Windows computer, or Command + F if you are using an Apple computer.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Brody, E.B. (1958). Superego, Introjected Mother, and Energy Discharge in Schizophrenia: Contribution from the Study of Anterior Lobotomy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:481-501.

(1958). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6:481-501

Superego, Introjected Mother, and Energy Discharge in Schizophrenia: Contribution from the Study of Anterior Lobotomy

Eugene B. Brody, M.D.


The psychic apparatus of the schizophrenic is conceptualized as an unstable, "high-pressure" energy system with a limited capacity for discharge. A critical feature of this system is the superego, with its introjected maternal constituent, conceptualized as a disordered regulating agency functioning through the intrapsychic release of nonneutralized aggressive energy in a rigid, nonflexible manner. The innate tendency of the system toward organization and integration is evoked in its attempt to maintain an intrapsychic steady state in the presence of a superego which acts as a disturbing foreign body. One expression of this tendency is the schizophrenic's wish for oral unity with his mother.

Anterior lobotomy disrupts (in a nonspecific manner) the schizophrenic pattern of superego function. In men modifications in the manner of dealing with the incest conflict are prominently observed, while in women the manner of dealing with problems of maternal identification is modified. New, more effective and varied avenues of libidinal and aggressive energy discharge become

available, associated with more gratification and less disguise of previously prohibited, particularly pregenital and prephallic, instinctual wishes. The system thus becomes less differentiated, more stable, and relatively "low pressure." The threat to the ego of overwhelming energies, including those mediated by the superego, is reduced. Neutralized aggressive energy becomes more available for certain ego functions because of the diminished need to energize the defensive activities of the ego. This allows it to engage in a certain amount of organized action in respect to objects, and to attempt to control objects as a newly available means of controlling drives. A modification in the distribution of object cathexis reflected in reduced danger of destroying objects, of loss of love and of loss of control permits a more effective, narcissistic relationship between self and object. By changing the intrapsychic energy balance, behavior becomes possible which is at best more adaptive and ego-syntonic, and which often may be ego-syntonic without being adaptive.

The schizophrenic superego reorganized after lobotomy into a less differentiated regulating organization is thought of as a narcissistic ego ideal denying the ego's limitations and attempting to regain infantile omnipotence by identifying with the idealized parent through oral incorporation. The relative fusion of ego and superego which occurs is considered equivalent in terms of intrapsychic structure to, in symbolic terms, a state of relative unity with the mother. In this sense the lobotomized schizophrenic is a more successful schizophrenic in that he has achieved what he has always wanted: that oral reunion with his mother previously feared as engulfing or devouring and threatening to his identity.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.