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Kernberg, O.F. (1976). Ego Functions in Schizophrenics, Neurotics and Normals: A Systematic Study of Conceptual, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Aspects: By Leopold Bellak, Marvin Hurvich and Helen K. Gediman. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1973. Pp. 571.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:367-370.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:367-370

Ego Functions in Schizophrenics, Neurotics and Normals: A Systematic Study of Conceptual, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Aspects: By Leopold Bellak, Marvin Hurvich and Helen K. Gediman. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1973. Pp. 571.

Review by:
Otto F. Kernberg

The objectives of the research reported in this book were to evaluate whether the systematic study of disturbances or regression in ego functions would differentiate patients diagnosed as schizophrenics by ordinary clinical criteria from neurotic and normal subjects, and whether it would be possible to group schizophrenic patients on the basis of similarities of ego-function patterns. The authors hoped that such a study would have important diagnostic and prognostic implications for the effects of various treatments for schizophrenic and other patients.

The book opens with a summary of the salient features of the psychoanalytic theory of the ego as structure and as constellation of functions, exploring the relationships among ego, id and superego, and between drives and psychic structures. The author's explicit aim is to focus on ego functions while yet keeping the ego concept within the context of psycho-analytic metapsychology. They review the evolving connexions between Freud's thinking at various stages and the ideas current today. Their focus is on the exploration of commonly agreed-upon ego functions that satisfy potential research criteria of generally agreed-upon definitions, relative closeness to behavioural observation or to immediate subjective descriptions of patients, and centrality in terms of the importance of the selected ego functions.

This approach has the advantage of linking the theoretical overview with the research design and findings that follow; in the process the authors achieve an objective view of unresolved or even contradictory aspects of psychoanalytic thinking.

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