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Widlöcher, D. (1978). The Ego Ideal of the Psychoanalyst. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:387-390.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:387-390

The Ego Ideal of the Psychoanalyst

Daniel Widlöcher

We must examine the issues which lead us to become interested in the psychoanalyst's ego ideal. Is it simply a matter of applying to ourselves the sort of questions which could be extended to any other profession? Or is it a matter of thinking together about an aspect of our mental functioning which is particularly involved in our professional activity? The second hypothesis is the more likely, and there is every reason to believe that there is an area specific to the analyst's ego ideal, arising from the fact that he carries out his professional activity after a personal experience of psychoanalysis, and especially from the particular conditions of analytic practice.

The analyst's ego ideal in the analytic situation

An important part of the ego ideal is involved in all professional activity. Because of the conditions of the analyst's practice, his professional isolation and the problem of knowing the results of his work, this part of the ego ideal receives little in the way of narcissistic gratification. Nowadays we talk freely of the power of the analyst. We recognize less often the lack of means he has to measure the effect of this power. What does he know of his capacity to be a good analyst, an analyst who is as good as he can be for each and every one of his patients? These questions are rarely asked openly, and yet they are familiar to all those who are starting out as analysts, the more so because they are an extension of questions about the success of their personal analysis.

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