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Young, M. (1989). Heinz Hartmann, M.D.: an Introduction and Appreciation. Psychoanal Q., 58:521-525.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:521-525

Heinz Hartmann, M.D.: an Introduction and Appreciation

Marianne Young, M.D.

Heinz Hartmann's Ich Psychologie und Anpassungsproblem was published fifty years ago in Germany. Nineteen years later, in 1958, the essay was translated into English by David Rapaport under the title, Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation. It appeared as part of the Monograph Series of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Heinz Hartmann's essay may be regarded as a quasi-blueprint which Hartmann hoped would be elaborated in subsequent years by way of multidisciplinary research, the results of which would be brought under the umbrella of psychoanalytic theory. The main avenues of approach recommended, in addition to psychoanalysis proper, were observation of children, psychophysics, biology, and sociology.

In his "Reminiscences," Hartman paid tribute to Freud's far-reaching contributions to ego psychology and proposed to follow up on what Freud had tentatively indicated. He thought he was prepared for the task by virtue of his academic background in psychology and biology (Swerdloff, 1963). In Hartman's (1939) words, "At present we no longer doubt that psychoanalysis can claim to be a general psychology" (p. 4) and that "[m]any of us expect psychoanalysis to become a general developmental psychology" (p. 8).

The essay brings into sharp relief Hartmann's concept of ego autonomy, the correlated conflict-free sphere, and their genetic sources. In his opinion, the ego is an adaptive organ, a biological element in human psychology. The ego and the id develop from an undifferentiated matrix. The ego develops, in part, free of conflict, and it is endowed with primary autonomy.

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