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Milrod, D. (1990). The Ego Ideal. Psychoanal. St. Child, 45:43-60.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 45:43-60

The Ego Ideal

David Milrod, M.D.


An outline is given of the varied uses and meanings attributed to the term "ego ideal" in the current literature. The concept is clarified and defined, with special attention to its historical origins. The locus of the ego ideal is placed in the superego, and its structure and function are integrated with those of the superego. Criteria for differentiating superego precursors from superego proper are given, and the importance of the distinction is stressed. The clinical usefulness of these issues is illustrated by clinical examples. In addition, "narcissism" as it pertains to the ego ideal is explored, and there is a discussion of the distinctions between shame and guilt.

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