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Deutsch, H. (1964). Some Clinical Considerations of the Ego Ideal. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 12:512-516.

(1964). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12:512-516

Some Clinical Considerations of the Ego Ideal

Helene Deutsch, M.D.

SINCE FREUD'S publication of the paper on narcissism, analytic contributions to the subject of the ego ideal have to a great extent been a continuation of speculations set forth in that paper (5). The theoretical approach to the ego ideal gives us above all the history of its development. This is an oscillation between projection and introjection, identifications with parents (or their successors), the interplay between ego ideal and superego. The end result is an ideal on a high level of cultural values.

On the other hand, the clinical approach forces us to dilute the conception of "cultural demands" into levels more in agreement with the vast majority of the population. Looking at the cultural background from the more individual standpoint, as an influence of personal milieu, we can understand better the differences in ego ideals. The variety of personalities is not only determined by instinct development and defense mechanisms but also by the formation of the ego ideal.

In some individuals the ego ideal is more abstract, directed inward. In others it has to be externalized and gratified by action. At one end we find the ascetic saint, on the other an individual whose ego ideal is under the rule of the pleasure principle, and even achieved by directly sexual means.


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