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Rangell, L. (1950). Psychiatry. XII, 1949: The Factor of Omnipotence in Neurosis. William V. Silverberg. Pp. 387–398.. Psychoanal Q., 19:613.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychiatry. XII, 1949: The Factor of Omnipotence in Neurosis. William V. Silverberg. Pp. 387–398.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:613

Psychiatry. XII, 1949: The Factor of Omnipotence in Neurosis. William V. Silverberg. Pp. 387–398.

Leo Rangell

Silverberg has described elsewhere two 'maneuvers' by which neurotics and, to a lesser extent, 'normal' people attempt to evade utter helplessness and to achieve omnipotence: the 'schizoid and the transference maneuvers'. In this article he describes a third, 'the magical maneuver', in which an omnipotent being is established, but one whom the person then sets out to influence in his own favor. The relation of this mechanism to religious attitudes and to obsessional neurosis is described.

The ego evolves in a number of stages. As a prelude there is a stage of effortless satisfaction in which helplessness is not yet perceived. With the appearance of frustration, attempts are made to deal with helplessness, first by denial of the separate existence of the outside world, then by acknowledgment of and reliance upon the all-powerful mother, and then by attempting direct control upon the significant elements of external reality. Finally, the ego must accept 'partipotence', i.e., it must accept and distinguish between elements in external reality which it may control fully, partly, or not at all. Silverberg makes the hypothesis that the nuclear feature of all neurosis may be the ego's problem of helplessness and its attempt to solve this by trying to become omnipotent, in contrast to the more healthy adjustment of partipotence.

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Article Citation

Rangell, L. (1950). Psychiatry. XII, 1949. Psychoanal. Q., 19:613

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