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Sperling, O.E. (1964). The Balancing Function of the Ego—with Special Emphasis on Learning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:254-261.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:254-261

The Balancing Function of the Ego—with Special Emphasis on Learning

Otto E. Sperling


Parents may arouse anxiety in the child in order to facilitate the control of impulses. Freud (1926) showed that the ego itself can mobilize anxiety in order to facilitate self-control. IN this paper I have tried to show that not only can one person arouse a feeling of guilt in another or seduce another to permit gratification of id derivatives, but that the ego itself can mobilize feelings of guilt or rewards by the superego on the one hand, and a breakthrough of id derivatives on the other hand, for the purpose of what I would call for the time being 'balance'.

In regard to the special case of acquiring knowledge which is neither interesting nor followed by a reward, the ego can mobilize a reward by the superego or by the id; the ego can, more particularly, balance the necessary suffering with unnecessary suffering inflicted by oneself, or with the suffering of the teacher. This mechanism also plays a role in the working through in psycho-analysis.

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