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Nagera, H. (1968). The Concept of Ego Apparatus in Psychoanalytsis—Including Considerations Concerning the Somatic Roots of the Ego. Psychoanal. St. Child, 23:224-242.

(1968). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 23:224-242

The Concept of Ego Apparatus in Psychoanalytsis—Including Considerations Concerning the Somatic Roots of the Ego

Humberto Nagera, M.D.


The term apparatus is frequently encountered in psychoanalytic literature. It is used in a variety of ways, usually forming compounds such as the mental apparatus, apparatuses of the mind, ego apparatuses, etc. As I pointed out in another publication (1967), it was Hartmann who, in 1939, introduced the term "ego apparatus," though Hartmann as well as others, especially Rapaport, have used "apparatus" interchangeably with "structure." In the same publication, Hartmann stated that the further development of "inborn ego apparatuses" takes place, to some extent, in what he called the "conflict-free sphere of the ego." He said:

The newborn infant is not wholly a creature of drives; he has inborn apparatuses (perceptual and protective mechanisms) which appropriately perform a part of those functions which, after the differentiation of ego and id, we attribute to the ego [p. 49]. The human individual, at his birth, also has apparatuses, which serve to master the external world. These mature in the course of development [p. 50].

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