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Lachmann, F.M. (2004). Identity and Self: Historical Antecedents and Developmental Precursors. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(4):246-253.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(4):246-253

Identity and Self: Historical Antecedents and Developmental Precursors

Frank M. Lachmann

A historical overview of the evolution of “identity” indicates that this term was more commonly used prior to the elaboration of the sense of self. Erik Erikson and Heinz Lichtenstein elaborated “identity” in their epigenetic and clinical theories, respectively, and were criticized by psychoanalysts for relying on social, cultural, anthropological data rather than psychoanalytic treatment. Formulations with respect to “identity formation” subsequently shifted to the psychological and developmental constructs, “self” and “sense of self.” In her contribution, Edith Jacobson made autonomy, separateness, and independence central to the establishment of one's identity. She buttresses this view through her description of the relationship of the developing self to its world of objects. Pursuing the elaboration of “self” through empirical infant studies, Daniel Stern formulated the development of “senses of self” as linked to interactions between self and other. A clinical vignette illustrates the sources of a patient's self organization and the clinical implications of understanding the various experiences that contribute to a sense of self.

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