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Fast, I. (1990). Self and Ego: A Framework for their Integration. Psychoanal. Inq., 10(2):141-162.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 10(2):141-162

Self and Ego: A Framework for their Integration

Irene Fast, Ph.D.

The place of the self in relation to the ego has posed continuing, thorny problems for psychoanalytic psychology. Theoretical elaborations of the self in relation to objects, and of the ego in relation to the id and superego, have taken such different courses that they have formed discrete perspectives within psychoanalysis—the object relations and structural models, respectively. In the object relations framework, the self is seen to originate in early interactive experiences in which the infant does not differentiate self from others, and to develop by the differentiation of self and object structures into increasingly complex and integrated wholes distinct from one another. The ego of the structural model arises from id experiences: the infant is sensitive only to its own bodily processes, remains oblivious to the environment, and develops beyond this stage as the ego brings the influences of reality to bear on the id. To account for early adaptation to the environment, ego psychological elaborations of the structural model, following Hartmann (1939), add a conflict-free line of development not based on the drives.

Each perspective has particular areas of conceptual weakness that make clear its need of the other.

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