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Pumpian-Mindlin, E. (1969). Vicissitudes of Infantile Omnipotence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 24:213-226.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 24:213-226

Vicissitudes of Infantile Omnipotence

Eugene Pumpian-Mindlin, M.D.

The role of fantasies of omnipotence in human psychic life was first delineated by Freud in his discussion of "omnipotence of thought" in relation to the Rat Man (1909). Later he discussed the same topic in relation to the magical power of words and of religion in Totem and Taboo(1913) and in The Future of an Illusion(1927). About ten years ago my attention was attracted to a phenomenon in youthful patients to which insufficient attention had been paid. This relates to a developmental recrudescence of omnipotent fantasies and feelings (transmuted, to be sure) which occurs in the late adolescent period. I have termed this phenomenon "omnipotentiality" (Pumpian-Mindlin, 1965), (1968).

Until recently there had been no systematic exposition or study of the vicissitudes and fate of infantile omnipotence, in spite of the fact that in psychoanalytic literature frequent reference is made to it as a continuing significant factor in psychic life, principally, however, in a pathological sense. Recently, in a paper on "The Normal Personality in Our Culture and the Nobel Prize Complex" (1966), Helen Tartakoff presented some observations that are similar to mine.

The concept of omnipotence, as it is usually discussed, very quickly becomes fused with the constructs of narcissism and self-esteem, so that it loses its separate identity. If my hypotheses have any validity, omnipotence must be separated out and re-examined, to see if it casts any new light on certain aspects of psychic development.

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