Freud: A Critical Re-Evaluation of His Theories

By Reuben D. Fine | Go to book overview

Chapter XI. THE TOTAL PERSONALITY: ID, EGO, SUPEREGO

Around the time of the outbreak of World War I Freud began to reformulate some of his basic ideas. Within the next twelve years he had built up a much broader basis for psychoanalytic thought, now generally referred to as "ego psychology," in contrast to the earlier "id psychology." By 1926, with the publication of The Problem of Anxiety, the second system of psychoanalytic thought was essentially completed, although the final paper on therapy, "Analysis Terminable and Interminable," was not published until 1937.

Many factors led Freud to revise the system which he had so laboriously built up. Psychoanalysis had begun with the observation that the neurotic has conflicts which involve defenses against unbearable ideas. As has been pointed out, psychoanalysis at first consisted of the exploration of the nature of these unbearable ideas. The general area of the defensive processes -- what is now called the ego and what Freud always called, fairly loosely, the ego or the ego instincts -- was referred to over and over again but was repeatedly left for future investigation. For a variety of reasons, Freud was not ready to examine the nature of this ego until long after he had clarified the id.

It has been noted that Freud always had in mind a complete system of psychology which would explain the whole of mental functioning. In 1915 he began a book variously titled Introduction to Metapsychology, Introductory Essays on Metapsychology, and A General Review of the Transference Neuroses. By "metapsychology" he meant a comprehensive description of mental processes along psychoanalytic lines. Unfortunately, only five of the twelve

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