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Hesselbach, C.F. (1962). Superego Regression in Paranoia. Psychoanal Q., 31:341-350.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:341-350

Superego Regression in Paranoia

Charles F. Hesselbach, M.D.


An attempt is made to dissociate the problem of libido regression from that of ego-superego regression for an understanding of the mechanism of delusion in paranoia. From the point of view of superego regression, the delusion of persecution is seen as a reaction to an implacable superego. What seems to occur in the regression which precedes the delusion formation is a regressive deterioration of the superego with the emergence of

primitive introjects and prototypical experiences which had once constituted the ego ideal, and their repersonification in certain external objects which then become endowed with all the aggression and sadism with which the superego was once invested. That the paranoiac is persecuted by real objects instead of by his superego allows him to rise in 'legitimate' self-defense. Freud's paper, A Case of Paranoia Running Counter to the Psychoanalytical Theory of the Disease, is re-evaluated in the light of this hypothesis.

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