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Steingart, I. (1969). On Self, Character, and the Development of a Psychic Apparatus. Psychoanal. St. Child, 24:271-303.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 24:271-303

On Self, Character, and the Development of a Psychic Apparatus

Irving Steingart, Ph.D.


The basic purpose of this paper is to define, psychoanalytically, the concepts of "character" and "self" (or, as I prefer to say, sense-of-self), and to define the interrelationship between these two concepts. My aim is to formulate these concepts so as to make them congruent with—but theoretically and clinically distinct from—the psychic system concepts id, ego, and superego. I understand these concepts to be classificatory terms. For example, Hartmann (1950) states about the term ego: "It is a substructure of personality and is defined by its functions" (p. 75). In employing these terms I also shall be guided by and use a further important distinction introduced into the literature by Hartmann (1950); (see also Hartmann and Loewenstein, 1962): We use the same concepts to classify different types of identifications which produce important differences in psychic content (experience).

I believe this, in turn, leads to a more useful, general framework for a thoroughly objective study of behavior and experience—and in particular for the ideals and standards possessed by an individual.

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