Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To zoom in or out on PEP-Web…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Are you having difficulty reading an article due its font size? In order to make the content on PEP-Web larger (zoom in), press Ctrl (on Windows) or ⌘Command (on the Mac) and the plus sign (+). Press Ctrl (on Windows) or ⌘Command (on the Mac) and the minus sign (-) to make the content smaller (zoom out). To go back to 100% size (normal size), press Ctrl (⌘Command on the Mac) + 0 (the number 0).

Another way on Windows: Hold the Ctrl key and scroll the mouse wheel up or down to zoom in and out (respectively) of the webpage. Laptop users may use two fingers and separate them or bring them together while pressing the mouse track pad.

Safari users: You can also improve the readability of you browser when using Safari, with the Reader Mode: Go to PEP-Web. Right-click the URL box and select Settings for This Website, or go to Safari > Settings for This Website. A large pop-up will appear underneath the URL box. Look for the header that reads, “When visiting this website.” If you want Reader mode to always work on this site, check the box for “Use Reader when available.”

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

Katz, J.B. (1995). The Wisdom Of The Ego. By George E. Vaillant. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993, 394 pp., $27.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:251-254.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:251-254

The Wisdom Of The Ego. By George E. Vaillant. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993, 394 pp., $27.95.

Review by:
Jerome B. Katz, M.D.

This remarkable book, a significant contribution to ego psychology and a testament to the value of longitudinal study, presents a broad outlook on the ego and a view of a collaborative research project, The Study of Adult Development, that has been ongoing now for fifty years. For two decades George Vaillant has directed this study, in which large numbers of people are followed from adolescence throughout their adult lives, allowing the documentation of their struggles to love, to find meaning and order, and to create. From this extensive data base Vaillant develops three interrelated themes: (1) defenses are coping and adaptive mechanisms as important to well-being as are immune mechanisms and the autonomic nervous system; (2) creativity is part of the alchemy of the ego, bringing order and meaning out of chaos and distress; (3) ego development continues to unfold throughout adulthood. Closely examined life stories reveal illusion and self-deception, a kind of intellectual dishonesty and trickery, as healthy and creative devices serving maturation.

To be sure, defense mechanisms have not always been viewed in such a positive light. Freud saw them as entirely pathological rather than as homeostatic; believing they arose in response to childhood sexual conflict, he ignored their role in modulating affects and relationships, and overemphasized the psychology of drives. Correcting this view, Vaillant describes the ego in relation to the four lodestars of human conflict: conscience, desire, people, and reality. Defenses can accomplish their task either by altering these sources of conflict or by altering its expression. Vaillant identifies defenses as psychotic, immature, neurotic, and mature, and offers a brilliantly lucid exposition of each mechanism, showing how the more mature defenses elegantly balance and attenuate the four lodestars.

[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 © 2020, 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.