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(1962). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IX, 1961: Identity and Sexuality: A Study of Their Interrelationship in Man. Heinz Lichtenstein. Pp. 179-260.. Psychoanal Q., 31:291-292.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IX, 1961: Identity and Sexuality: A Study of Their Interrelationship in Man. Heinz Lichtenstein. Pp. 179-260.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:291-292

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IX, 1961: Identity and Sexuality: A Study of Their Interrelationship in Man. Heinz Lichtenstein. Pp. 179-260.

The author's thesis is that nonprocreative sexuality in man is used to acquire a primary identity, and that once it is established, the maintenance of 'identity' in man has priority over any other principle determining human behavior, including the pleasure and reality principles. The maintenance of identity is accomplished by complex means including some of a nonsexual nature.

While the animal's identity is innate, the long dependence of the human infant on the mother is the source of identity. The symbiotic universe of mother and child is organized to include the unconscious of the mother, and to the child it constitutes the nucleus of his emerging identity. Man can experience his identity only in terms of an organic instrumentality within the variations of a symbiotically structured umwelt; he must consciously express his identity in terms of what he is for someone else. This is brought about within the mother-child symbiosis in a way similar to imprinting. The 'imprinting-stimulus combination' is transmitted to the child by the way in which the mother stimulates some of the child's senses and does not stimulate others. While the mother is satisfying the infant's needs, and in fact creating certain specific needs

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in him, the infant is transformed into an organ or instrument for the satisfaction of the mother's unconscious needs. Thus the mother and infant become partners in the sensual involvement. The primitive sensory interchanges of this sensual involvement are the precursors of adult sexuality.

Once it is conveyed to the infant by the mother, the child's identity is irreversible, and he is compelled to find ways to realize this specific 'identity theme'. The author regards this compelling need as the most fundamental principle governing human behavior. The identity principle is identical to the repetition compulsion and commands priority over any other need; it is absolutely compelling, while drives are only relatively compelling.

The author illustrates the dominant role of the identity principle with the case of a twenty-three-year-old woman upon whom identity had been 'imprinted'. As a result the patient found herself between the Scylla of loss of sanity and separateness, and the Charybdis of loss of identity (loneliness) and depersonalization.

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Article Citation

(1962). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. IX, 1961. Psychoanal. Q., 31:291-292

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