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Malmquist, C.P. (1968). Conscience Development. Psychoanal. St. Child, 23:301-331.

(1968). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 23:301-331

Conscience Development

Carl P. Malmquist, M.D.


In this paper the process of acquiring a conscience has been explored as a developmental phenomenon. The emphasis has been on developmental observations and clinical material of children until the age of six, although I have also pointed to the implications for later normal and pathological functioning. The wealth and diversity of data from this age period have led to the development of different theories in different branches of psychology. The approach utilized most frequently in this paper emphasizes the emergence of structuralized mental agencies, but it also takes into account the contributions made by learning theory and experimental investigations of moral development. Current theoretical issues such as the cognitive or affect-based theory of controls have been elaborated. I have emphasized the need for understanding the vicissitudes of normal conscience development from infancy onward in order to comprehend the diverse clinical syndromes with conscience defects. The broader cultural and anthropological questions about the origins of conscience were discussed in relation to the oedipal period. The emergence of guilt as a phenomenon of conscience has been viewed as indicating the establishment of a delineated and functioning superego in its idealized and prohibitory aspects.

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