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Braga, J.C. (2020). Developments on the concept of the super-ego in Bion’s work. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):757-768.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):757-768

Developments on the concept of the super-ego in Bion’s work

João Carlos Braga

In Bion’s work, we find both continuity with and a breakthrough from the ideas developed by Freud and Melanie Klein on the concept of superego. After relying on Klein’s views, Bion presented two fresh perspectives on this topic. In the first, in his theory of thinking we find a shift from an instinctive perspective to a psychological approach to morality. In the second we find conjectures (both imaginative and rational) about a primitive conscience, a form of morality prior to the mental functioning described as the superego by Freud and even the archaic superego described by Klein. This primordial psychic condition refers to a hazy dimension in which phylogenesis merges with fetal experiences. As described by Bion, the manifestations of this primitive conscience emerge as states of intense terror and guilt underneath a symbolic mind. They inhibit the development of the mind, are felt as harsh and authoritarian, always present as prohibitive, can potentially drive the individual to suicide, and are frequently found in the psychoanalytic practice.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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