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Kestenberg, J.S. (1953). Notes on Ego Development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 34:111-122.

(1953). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 34:111-122

Notes on Ego Development

Judith S. Kestenberg, M.D.

In his paper Analysis Terminable and Interminable Freud (1) made the point that a tamed instinct is brought into harmony with the ego, becomes accessible to the influence of the other trends of the ego, and no longer seeks independent satisfaction. He suggested ways and means to explore the process of the taming of an instinct: by the invocation of the 'witch metapsychology', by metapsychological speculation and theorizing, perhaps even by 'metapsychological phantasy'. He further suggested that the point of attack on this difficult problem may lie in the contradictory features of the primary and secondary processes.

The present paper is an attempt to speculate upon ways of transition from the primary to the secondary process in human development. The problem posed is: How do the contrasting characteristics of the secondary process evolve from those of the primary process?

Freud (2) assigned the secondary process to the conscious and preconscious systems, the primary process to the unconscious system. In the study of the subsequently developed ego concept (3) it became clear that only a small part of the ego corresponded to the conscious and preconscious systems. From then on research began to focus on the problem of the interaction of the unconscious areas of the ego with the id.

In his Outline of Psychoanalysis(4) Freud described the id as the oldest of the psychic structures which contains all that is inherited and inherent in us at birth. The drives which stem from the somatic organization find their foremost and unique expression in the id.

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