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Bergmann, M.S. (1963). The Place of Paul Federn's Ego Psychology in Psychoanalytic Metapsychology. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 11:97-116.

(1963). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11:97-116

The Place of Paul Federn's Ego Psychology in Psychoanalytic Metapsychology

Martin S. Bergmann

PAUL FEDERN belonged to the small circle of pioneers who gathered around Freud before the advent of the First World War. But even today, more than ten years after his death, Paul Federn's place in the development of psychoanalysis has not been delineated historically. It is generally known that Federn was the first psychoanalyst to treat psychotics, and his contribution to dream psychology is acknowledged. However, the theoretical edifice which Federn built on the basis of his work with psychotics and his observations of the dream—his ego psychology—has remained on the periphery of psychoanalytic thinking. This remains true in spite of the work of Eduardo Weiss (39), (40) and Jacobson's critical review (27). I hope that this historical examination of the development of Federn's work will throw new light on the significance of Federn's thought.

At the core of Federn's ego psychology is the concept of ego feelings which Federn defined as "an enduring feeling and knowledge that our ego is continuous and persistent, despite interruptions by sleep or unconsciousness, because we feel that processes within us, even though they may be interrupted by forgetting or unconsciousness, have a persistent origin within us, and that our body and psyche belong permanently to our ego" (9, Chap. 3). Normally we are not aware of our ego feelings. Ego consciousness, the empty knowledge of one's self, devoid of ego feelings is, according to Federn, already a sign of pathology.

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