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Hadjiisky, E. (1996). Introduction À L'étude De Surmoi [Introduction To The Study Of The Superego]. : By Cléopâtre Athanassiou. Lyon: Césura. 1995. Pp. 189.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1063-1064.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1063-1064

Introduction À L'étude De Surmoi [Introduction To The Study Of The Superego]. : By Cléopâtre Athanassiou. Lyon: Césura. 1995. Pp. 189.

Review by:
Elisabeth Hadjiisky

The author, who is a child and adult psychoanalyst and has already written several books, in effect here offers us a serious and painstaking technical treatise. The genesis of the superego in Freud and the contributions of his ‘heirs’ down to the present day are dealt with chronologically. The concept is anchored in the thought of each of the relevant authors, the obscurities in some being illuminated by the ideas of the others. For all the aridity of the subject, the book is easy to read. Freud leaves us with a paradox: how can the superego, as the heir of the Oedipus complex, result from the introjection of an object that is at the same time the bearer of retaliation; and how can it lie at the root of sublimation, and hence of ego maturation, while simultaneously reacting in accordance with the lex talionis? The author's account shows Freud evolving from the first to the second topography.

Athanassiou presumes that Freud's superego has a twofold origin, one aspect of which is narcissistic (primary narcissism) while the other, more mature, is oedipal. The superego includes a severe part, which operates patho logically in melancholia: the ego kills itself in order to punish the introjected object. In the author's view, the severe (or even criminal) superego stems from the omnipotent parts of the self, which inflict punishment in accordance with the lex talionis.

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