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Blanck, G. Blanck, R. (1988). The Contribution of Ego Psychology to Understanding the Process of Termination in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 36:961-984.

(1988). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 36:961-984

The Contribution of Ego Psychology to Understanding the Process of Termination in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Gertrude Blanck, Ph.D. and Rubin Blanck, M.S.


Ego psychology is presented as an integrated psychoanalytic developmental theory, including a theory of object relations. The process of termination is employed as one of the many possible illustrations of the usefulness of this theory. Termination is regarded as a process that pervades the treatment from the outset, rather than as the final phase of treatment only, because the treatment process, whether psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, includes continuous promotion of ever-increasing autonomy. Ideally, by the time termination proper takes place, maximum autonomy has been attained.

To the definition of autonomy as intersystemic, involving relative independence of the ego from the drives (and from the superego), an object-relations dimension is added which extends that definition to include an intrasystemic consideration—namely, relative independence of the self-representation from the object representations. Especially in the treatment of the borderline conditions is the intrasystemic factor cogent because borderline states are characterized by varying degrees of incompletely differentiated self- and object representations. The objective, in the psychoanalysis of neurosis, where self- and object constancy already exist to a large degree, is ego autonomy in the intersystemic sense. In the psychotherapy of the borderline conditions, the objective is greater differentiation of the self-representation from the object representations.

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