Many variations of the term ego appear in several venues across academic discourse. In ethics, philosophers use psychological egoism to describe a moral system based on “fundamental self-interest.” The psychological egoist is not merely selfish as they would “argue that such behavioral strategies are ultimately self-defeating and, therefore, not reflective of our best self-interest.” Whether implicit or explicit, egotism is a central feature of pathological narcissism defined in part by excessive self-referential and self-aggrandizing behaviors. In developmental psychology, egocentrism is marked by the inability to differentiate one’s subjectivity from others and objective reality. It renders empathy and perspective-taking difficult and can be present throughout the lifespan if not curtailed in early development.
Since its popularization in the early 20th century, many psychological perspectives have attempted to commandeer variants of ego to fit their respective theoretical frameworks. This essay will not exhaustively analyze all the minor transformations but rather trace the major transmutations ego has undergone in psychoanalysis beginning in Drive Theory. Then we will follow its seminal developments in Ego Psychology. Lastly, we will conclude with an examination of the ego’s significance in Identity Theory.
Ego in Freudian Psychoanalysis
To Freud, there is nothing more fundamental than drives. They are, in essence, the constituent metapsychological elements that underpin psychoanalysis. Without drive, there is no psychic energy, no conflictual dilemmas, no motivation, no action; consciousness itself would cease to exist without drive. Therefore, a thorough understanding of these drives is required before engaging in any higher-order comprehension of its derivations, ego included.
Freud postulates two fundamental instincts that “exist behind the tensions” within us to describe the nature of these drives. They “are the ultimate cause of all activity.”
The first being Eros or the life drive, which is responsible for excitation of the body. Derivative drives propelled by eros typically result in sexual and approach behaviors and find their roots in the evolutionary task of propagation and exploration — in a word, survival. The psychic energy produced by eros is typically libidinal in nature and seeks immediate satisfaction. According to Freud, eros aims to establish and preserve “ever greater unities.” In contrast, Thanatos, or the death drive, has the opposite aim in disrupting unities and ultimately leading “what is living into an inorganic state.”
It may seem odd to have one of the two fundamental instincts seek its own destruction, but its conflictual relationship with the life drive gives the death drive its meaning. Although not coined by Freud, the concept of homeostasis is incredibly useful in describing how these drives dynamically relate. Freud himself noted, “the nervous system is an apparatus having the function of abolishing stimuli.” The homeostatic process works cybernetically in the psyche insofar as a person has a given set point of mental activity they deem comfortable, not too relaxed or bored, and not too excited or anxious. The instincts’ intermingling activities create an ebb and flow that relate to states or levels of experience.
When too relaxed (i.e., below one’s set point), eros activates and motivates libidinal drives to excite the body, which places demands upon the mind to resolve these tensions. The process also works in reverse when too anxious. Although it is possible to have prolonged feelings of mania and jitteriness, the body can not maintain that state forever. Partially explaining why waking up groggy and slowed after a long and exhausting day is a common experience. The body needs time to recuperate — an adaptive function of the death drive.
These two instincts, referred to succinctly as sex (Eros) and aggression (Thanatos), influence behavior deterministically through the cessation of intrapsychic tension. In a sentence, we act to quell our minds.
The Topographical Model
Freud is often credited with the “discovery” of unconscious processing. Although a misnomer — as the first appearance of the term “unconscious,” as it’s conceptualized today, comes from the German Idealist Friedrich Schelling — associating Freud with the unconscious is not entirely fallacious. Freud and his successors emphasize unconscious processes and their influence on behavior, so perhaps it’s more precise to say his popularization of the unconscious is his greatest achievement.
As many did before him, positing the existence of the unconscious adds at least one additional layer to the mind. That is, the unconscious creates depth. To understand the mind (ego included), Freud claimed that one needed to delve well beneath its surface straight into the abyss.
Diving in, one finds that we often experience concurrent and conflictual motivations yet exert little to no control over them. For example, we may feel hungry, horny, depressed, anxious, annoyed, and exhausted all at the same time or in rapid and repetitive succession. As odd and confusing as the bombardment of these emotions are, their (omni)presence is irrefutable to any introspective or mindful person.
Why then, is this the case?
To integrate this phenomenal reality into Drive Theory, Freud established the topographical model in 1900, which partitions the mind into three levels. The largest and most archaic of these levels is the unconscious proper, described as the collection of “psychical material which has no such easy access to becoming conscious.” It contains the drives, immoral and unacceptable sexual urges, repressed memories, violent impulses, and the like.
In the topographical model, consciousness, as acknowledgeable awareness in the present moment, occupies comparatively little psychical topography and is ephemeral in nature. Only fleeting moments of integrated experience characterize consciousness. It represents only the present moment of experience and is subject to change via fluctuations in interpsychic conflict.
Between these levels lies the preconscious or subconscious, which acts as the barrier between the unconscious proper and consciousness. All unconscious material that is “capable of becoming conscious” is preconscious. An example would be the “tip-of-the-tongue” experience, where one is seemingly incapable of providing an answer to a question while insisting they know the answer yet struggle to verbalize it.
A more delicate example is unrepressing trauma. Those with more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) tend to “forget” their traumas as avoiding them is far more soothing than confronting them. After all, we tend to favor the path of least resistance. Regardless, this “forgetting” (i.e., repressing) doesn't make the experiences go away per se. They are simply hidden or stored away — still impacting behavior in unobservable ways.
A classic psychoanalytic technique would be to relive these experiences in a safe and comforting environment. However, if one has been repressing for years, it will take time for these episodic horrors to resurface. The analytic process is, simply put, centered on making what is unconscious conscious once again. Said differently, it is the analyst's job to tactfully and empathetically drag these unconscious experiences up to the preconscious. The client can then work on bringing them into consciousness at their own pace.
The Structural Model
The structural model of the mind, first introduced in Freud’s The Ego and the Id, deals less with levels of mind. Instead, it describes the functional agents of the mind that exists across its levels. Freud overlayed the structural model on top of the topographical model, meaning that some functional agents reside in and outside of awareness.
The first of these agents is the id. Being the most primordial aspect of the mind, the id “contains everything that is inherited…constitution…the instincts” and is entirely unconscious. If humans were all id, it would not be easy to differentiate them from other non-human primates based on behavior alone. The id functions according to the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of its impulses. Hunger, sexual desire, aggression, and thirst are all examples of id impulses necessary for survival. The vigorously potent tensions they cause within us reflect their importance to basic human activity.
The second agent of the mind is the ego (yes, we are getting there!), which is, to Freud, well embedded in the id. The ego itself is a “portion of the id” that underwent “special development” via interactions with the external world. In one way, the ego only exists to better satisfy id impulses because it contends with real obstacles and devises strategies to satisfy future drives more efficiently. The Freudian ego’s principal components are voluntary movement, memory, adaptation, and inhibiting id impulses through delaying gratification.
Memory is an interesting case. The id, being driven singularly by pleasure, has no memory beyond what is and is not pleasurable — it simply desires what it desires. On the other hand, the ego must then remember how to satisfy id impulses given the environment's constraints. While still tethered to the pleasure principle as an arm of the id, the ego more so functions according to the reality principle, which dethrones pleasure in favor of “considerations of safety.”
Metaphorically, one can observe the difference in how they pose questions.
ID: “how the F*** can I satisfy this impulse RIGHT NOW!?”’
EGO: “how can I optimally satisfy the range of impulses I will experience across instances under environmental constraints?”
The third agent of the mind, the superego, represents a parentally mediated collection of culturally-dependent moral wisdom. It’s your moral compass, the angel on your shoulder, the inner voice telling you what you ought to do.
It has two central aspects: ego-ideal and conscience. Both work in tandem but have separate functions. The ego-ideal is the idealized version of the ego one strives to become. The version of yourself you look up to and work tirelessly towards — perhaps based on others who you admire and subconsciously emulate.
In less neurotic individuals, using the ego-ideal as its target, the conscience then judges the ego’s activity and monitors progress towards one’s ideal while offering appropriate praise and criticism along the way. In more neurotic individuals, the ego-ideal is often quite rigid, unreasonable, and, therefore, self-defeating.
Neurotics with overly punitive superegos (a prevalent yet unfortunate marriage) often experience harsh self-criticism and deal with pathological self-structures such as imposter syndrome, borderline organization, and malignant self-regard.
Intrapsychic Conflict and Early Ego Defenses
The relationship between these three agents can be best described as conflictual and dynamic. In the abstract, the id, informed by the fundamental sexual and aggressive drives, imposes desires on the ego. The superego then judges the acceptability of these impulses. After either repressing, accepting, or adjusting them, the superego then places some degree of constraint on the ego’s possible actions reflected by the social standards and parental guidance they may or may not have received.
The ego’s primary task is to mediate these opposing forces and develop a pragmatic solution. In some cases, the impulse can be satisfied without much contest, such as eating when hungry (given one has the means). In other cases, as with inappropriate sexual desires, the impulse may not be readily satisfied and would then require alternative methods.
Freud called these “methods of defense.” These methods require some degree of reality distortion (which should not necessarily carry a negative connotation). In the case of denial, for example, the ego outright denies the existent of an anxiety-provoking phenomenon because it cannot deal with the increased interpsychic tension. There's a reason why denial is the first of five stages of grief.
In the same vein, distortion can be relatively mild. Take the case of sublimation where the psychic energy underlying an unacceptable id impulse is channeled to a more socially appropriate activity, such as playing a contact sport as an aggressive outlet or painting as catharsis. Freud pits these three agents against one another; although they possess separate functions, they are united through their dynamic conflictual interrelationship.
What's important here is the opening of the door to exploring the functions of the ego. Is it simply a mediator of impulses that serves primal desires and offers comforting delusions? Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud, believed there may be more to investigate.
Anna Freud: Ego and its Defenses
Almost a decade after her father’s death in 1939, Anna Freud published The Ego and The Mechanisms of Defence in 1948. This influential work sought to delineate the various ways the ego dealt with unacceptable id impulses. To Freud, the ego’s major function was the mediation of impulses in reference to external reality primarily through repression or sublimation (either forget about it or use it). Though Anna largely agreed, she further develops the ego by identifying more nuanced ways psychical material becomes repressed or sublimated (how do we forget about it, and how do we use it?).
Ego as Defender
Instead of listing and defining all defenses mentioned by Anna Freud, only one will be highlighted for brevity. Although initially introduced by Sandor Ferenczi, identification with the aggressor is a defense mechanism further elaborated by Anna Freud. She describes this defense as an essential property of the development of the superego.
As an oedipal solution (watch this 1-minute video), a boy, for example, could unconsciously internalize features of the father to quell libidinal energy directed at their mother. Through the unconscious internalization of their father’s “criticisms of their behavior,” as Anna states, children begin to acquire their fathers' behaviors. This allows people to circumvent the unpleasant emotions underlying the oedipal complex. A contemporary example of this defense is Stockholm syndrome, where victims of abuse establish emotional bonds with their abuser. This helps explain, in part, why an unfortunate number of individuals remain in abusive relationships.
Anna also delineated a chronology of defense usage. She realized that particular defenses, sublimation, for example, “presupposes the existence of the superego” due to its reliance on “higher social values,” and thus requires a significant amount of development before use. Other, more immature defenses demand less development. For example, repression is “meaningless… where the ego is still merged with the id” in the very early stages of infantile life when the child is essentially all id. Following this line, Anna plants the seeds of ego development scholarship when she claims:
The chronology of psychic processes is still one of the most obscure fields of analytic theory. We have a good illustration of this in the disputed question of when the individual superego is actually formed. So a classification of the defense mechanisms according to position in time inevitably partakes of all the doubt and uncertainty which even today attach to chronological pronouncements in analysis. (italics added)
Ego as Observer
In addition, Anna shifted the ego from the role of mediator between drives and environment to the “proper field for our observation.” Meaning that the ego is still a reactive agent of the drives, but more importantly, the phenomenological seat of observation. In this conception, the ego is still dependent upon the id, but more so responsible for producing, or rather making sense of, first-person experiences. For example, instead of simply mitigating blind hunger impulses from the id, the ego now interprets bodily stimuli and produces the experience of hunger. According to Anna, conflict is still a paramount feature of psychic life, but the role the ego plays in dealing with that conflict is now more complex and central to understanding the person, more so than the drives.
Heinz Hartmann: A Paradigm Shift
The conception of ego underwent perhaps its most significant transformation through the medium of Heinz Hartmann’s essay Ego Psychology and The Problem of Adaptation, published in 1958. Before this publication, the ego was understood as a reactive agent of the id, a tool born of intrapsychic conflict with external impediments. Although Anna Freud granted the ego more centrality in her writings, she never challenged its conflictual nature nor its dependence on the id as Hartmann did.
The Conflict-Free Ego Sphere
in Hartmann’s essay, when he began discussing the ego’s nonconflictual aspects, he was less so furthering an existing line of psychoanalytic thought and more so uprooting a critical assumption underpinning much of existing psychoanalytic thought. Intrapsychic conflict was an unexpendable axiom, a given at the core of psychoanalysis without which the entire analytic edifice would collapse.
Without internal conflict, the ego itself should not exist at all. If id impulses were not rubbing against social cohabitation’s adaptive aspects (e.g., rape, cyclical revenge, murder, etc.), the mediation of id impulses would not have been evolutionarily advantageous and thus not selected for. This, however, did not obstruct Hartmann in his contention that certain psychological processes such as “perception, object comprehension, thinking” and “language” develop “outside of conflict.” Hartman was careful not to conflate this conflict-free ego sphere with a metaphorical slice of the mind or ego, like the structural model. Instead, he held these processes were merely functions with which no such conflict exists.
On its face, perhaps this seems contradictory, but this is only the case if one holds the assumption that the ego is essentially the property of the id. In a seminal theoretical breakthrough, Hartmann granted the ego a notable degree of autonomy from the id in suggesting that while id and ego grew from a common undifferentiated matrix (the original state of mental organization, existing at birth), their developmental trajectories from that matrix are fundamentally independent.
Bifurcating id and ego allows for both conflictual and nonconflictual spheres of ego functioning. Namely, defensive functioning and countercathexis would remain conflictual with id impulses. In contrast, the mental processes of perception, reasoning, speech, movement, planning, and the like would all reside in the conflict-free ego sphere.
Though admittedly a highly granular distinction within the vast body of psychoanalytic thought, validly partitioning off a subsection of mental activity as nonconflictual was surely revolutionary. Remember, one of Freud’s fundamental metapsychological drives, Thanatos, derives its significance from conflict with its contrasting drive, Eros. And from this conflict, all psychological phenomenon emanates.
So, establishing a series of nonconflictual mental processes could be seen as a challenge to psychoanalysis’s foundation. Hartmann, however, viewed this development more so as a growth opportunity for psychoanalysis. Without the dictum of conflict underlying psychoanalysis as general psychology, its explanations, and theoretical tools could apply to “customarily considered ‘extra-analytic’” contexts.
Given that the ego now has some degree of relative autonomy from the id, the individual is no longer shackled to their darkest impulses. To be sure, the ego, with its defensive functioning, is still concerned with the unconscious compulsions placed upon the mind. Still, with the discovery of conflict-free mental processes, future analysts could decouple their thought from conflict as a necessary prerequisite.
Erikson and McAdams: Ego Development and Identity
One of the defining tenants that cuts across all permutations of psychoanalytic theory is the fundamentality of early childhood experiences to personality development. Freud largely focused his investigations on the oedipal period, roughly ages three to six. In contrast, Klein pushed her research further back in childhood while Mahler and Winnicott centered on the earliest developmental epochs of infantile life. Unlike what Freud’s psychosexual stages seem to suggest, post-pubescence is not the end of human development to Erikson nor McAdams.
Erikson felt analysis focused so heavily on early development that it missed salient developments later in life. Namely, the formation of identity. Erikson rather elusively referred to identity as “something noisily demonstrative…a more or less desperate ‘quest,’ or…an almost deliberately confused ‘search.’” To Erikson, identity is not a spatial region of the mind with specific functions like the ego in previous theoretical formulations, but a psychological journey towards self-discovery supported by ego.
Erikson extended the development of identity throughout the lifespan as a continuous task of integrating new experiences with “the structure of social institutions.” Your surroundings play a vital role in shaping who you become, just as much as any inherent inclinations or dispositions. As a process of ego development, the integration of one’s experiences occurs roughly sequentially in a list (below) produced by Erikson, which contains basic virtues or “ego qualities” attained through the successful navigation of “identity crises.”
For instance, the ego quality of hope, a rudimentary trust in the world’s benevolence that sets the stage for all future endeavors, is ascertained only through the affirmative establishment of a trust in one’s primary caregiver. If, on the contrary, one’s mother was malevolent in their relations early on, say intentionally neglectful or scornful of their existence, it would be challenging (to say the least) to develop any kind of basic trust in the world and instead would likely beget a profound suspiciousness of the intentions of others.
Further into ego development, one obtains the ego quality of competence through dissatisfaction with passively absorbing information leading one to “make things and make them well and even perfectly” in the face of their perceived inferiority. Having an overly comforting caregiver who waited on your every whim and expected nothing in return would disturb this process and perhaps lead to an ego expecting much more than is reasonable form other people concluding in perpetual disappointments in interpersonal relationships (not to mention the reduced capacity to take care of one's self).
And near the end of life, when one develops a more intimate relationship with their mortality, despair can easily set in. Erikson believed the antidote to the gloomy period at the end of one’s life was for the ego to build a sense of integrity. By assembling a sense of “assurance,” “emotional integration,” “acceptance,” and ‘responsibility” for “one’s one and only life cycle,” the ego cultivates a “detached yet active concern with life” which Erikson labels “wisdom.”
Here the ego becomes the stage on which the drama of formulating one’s identity is acted out.
Along the way, several trials stand in opposition to attaining the ego qualities one needs to acquire what Erikson called a well-ensconced “ego identity.” As one passes through these trials, their ego identity becomes further moored into a stable ground to build a sense of “continuity and sameness,” which is used to confront increasingly complex trials later in life.
Cultural Dependence of Ego Identity
Importantly, resolving these crises is not an entirely universal task, according to Erikson. The feat of resolving each identity crisis delivers unto one’s ego identity “real strength only from…accomplishment…that has meaning in the culture.” Perhaps said better as one’s culture rather than the culture to express the cultural dependency of identity.
This is another significant transformation of the concept of ego. Sigmond Freud, Anna Freud, and Hartmann all made theoretical contributions to the ego but absent in their additions was an adequate recognition of the variations in ego development across different cultures. Erikson gives a controversial yet timely example in the differences between white and African American cultures in mid 20th century American society to express these disparities:
[African American] babies often receive sensual satisfactions which provide them with enough oral and sensory surplus for a lifetime, as clearly betrayed in the way they move, laugh, talk, sing. Their forced symbiosis with the feudal South capitalized on this oral sensory treasure and helped to build a slave’s identity: mild, submissive, dependent, somewhat querulous, but always ready to serve, with occasional empathy and childlike wisdom. (italics added)
Regardless of the accuracy of Erikson’s interpretations, they attempt to capture the differences in the development of ego identity along cultural lines within a society. This led Erikson to postulate an ego space-time referring to the location and time in which one’s ego began to emerge, or their “childhood surroundings…with its social connotations.” Here, the “social connotations” of maturing in the Southern United States as an African American affords a vastly divergent ego space-time than a white person growing up in the Northeast. According to Erikson, one’s position in time, or more concretely, the milieu surrounding their ego, has definitive consequences for the trajectory of one’s ego identity.
Standing atop the shoulders of Erikson’s research and theory on ego identity, Dan McAdams pioneered the concept of Narrative Identity as “an internalized and evolving story of the self that provides a person’s life with some semblance of unity, purpose, and meaning.” As an explicit elaboration of Erikson’s conception of ego identity, McAdams argues that emerging adults, roughly aged 18 to 30, begin to construct an inner story that helps determine where one currently is, how they have come to this position, and the potential directions of their future that conform to conventional thematic elements (e.g., protagonistic/antagonistic characters, episodic sequence, climax, resolutions, calls to adventure, redemption, etc.).
Drawing on William James’s conception of “self” as the summation of “I” and “Me,” McAdams argues the development of one’s narrative identity results from the transition from an identification first as an actor with basic reflexes and traits, then as an agent with motivated interest, and finally, an author which sketches the story of the agent’s dealings.
An important connection here comes from the English translation of the German term “ego” into “I.” So, in this conception, the ego or “I” becomes an author whose writing inscribes meaning unto the vicissitudes of one’s life. Instead of acquiring virtuous qualities by conquering various life tasks, the ego develops an orienting narrative during emerging adulthood that affords the psyche a sense of direction and stability as life progresses in an exceedingly complex world.
Where then exactly does this narrative, this inner voice describing and archiving the oscillations of one’s life, come from? Although lacking a fully formed identity, there is evidence that young children have an implicit understanding of the canonical features involved in narratives (see Mandler, 1984 in further reading below).
Or what McAdams calls a story grammar, a “generic script concerning what kinds of events can occur and in what order.” Children can pick up on inconsistencies in cause and effect, understand temporality in sections such as beginnings, middles, climaxes, and endings or resolutions in stories. And as McAdams points out:
If a story does not conform to conventions such as these, children may find it confusing and difficult to remember, or they may recall it later with a more canonical structure than it originally had.
This has two important implications:
- Children seem to an inherent narrative faculty that emerges without explicit social priming or conditioning.
- This faculty seems to be partly unconscious as children unintentionally impose a general narrative framework upon information where no such framework was needed.
Taken together, the inherent and partly unconscious faculty of narrative identity begins to resemble the early psychoanalytic conception of the ego. Of course, absent here is any capitulation of drive, tension reduction, defensive function, or the like, but its new role as a semi-conscious storyteller of accrued integrated experience demonstrates the ego’s development as a concept and its echoed roots in psychoanalytic theory.
From the Freuds, through Hartmann, Erikson, McAdams, and countless others, the term ego has undergone a significant evolutionary history, one that continues to this day and shows no signs of halting.
One could argue that over a century of intellectual development on a single construct might prove obsessionally insignificant given the likelihood of unintentional redundancy, definitional disputes, splintering lines of thought, and the like. However, the resiliency of the ego concept’s relevance to psychology generally and its clinical applications tells a story of an idea so critical to self-understanding that seemingly all of its permutations are indispensable.
Likewise, these iterations are encouraged to promulgate themselves across as many venues as possible to inspire more theorists to place their unique spin upon it in hopes of attaining a fully articulated knowledge of what makes one who they are.
Others may call ego a vacuous concept, a blank canvas upon which any colorful liquid can seep. The terms that have attached themselves to “ego” over its development are surely numerous (e.g., ego-centricity, development, reliance, identity, plasticity, stability, and so forth). Although, at the same time, because of its embeddedness within the ethos of the Western canon (thanks chiefly to the psychoanalytic tradition), it is hard to find a person who does not know what the other means when they say “ego.” They may have minor misunderstandings that could be resolved in a sentence or two. Still, the general idea of the ego as the aspect of the human psyche that is responsible for giving one the first-person experience of the present moment along with all the emotional valance, internal tension, the shades of oneself one chooses when to reveal, and the evolving story written as one’s acts all come to mind when one utters the term “ego.”
So, while it may seem vacuous, that perception misses the profundity a term carries when its vocalization compels another’s mind to conjure-up the products of over a century’s worth of meaningful investigation into the nature of individual subjectivity.
Appendix & Further Reading
This essay is an adaptation of a grad school essay I wrote in the Fall of 2020. I was encouraged to publish this somewhere, and I figured this was a good venue as I frankly didn't want to deal with pesky revisions from an academic journal. For my own writing, I try to reserve that hell for empirical work.
I choose not to include page numbers for in-text citations (except where I deemed them necessary) solely to make the text more readable. This might infuriate more scrupulous and inquisitive readers. To them I say, you are few, and if you would like detailed citations, send me an email, and I’ll send you the full manuscript. That said, I added more content in this essay and re-toned the language to make it a bit more accessible. So expect inconsistencies.
That said, here is some of the source material I used to construct the essay. Thanks for reading!
Erikson, E. H. (1950). Childhood and Society. W. W. Norton & Co.
Erikson, E. H. (1969). Identity, Youth, and Crisis. New York: W. W. Norton Company.
Freud, A. (1948). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. London: Hogarth Press.
Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. Franz Deuticke, Leipzig & Vienna.
Freud, S. (1915). Instincts and Their Vicissitudes. S. E., 14, 109–140.
Freud, S. (1923). The Ego and the Id. Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag (Vienna), W. W. Norton & Company.
Freud, S., & Strachey, J. (1940). An outline of Psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press.
Hartmann, Heinz. (1958). Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation (David Rapaport, Trans.). New York: International Universities Press. (Original work published 1939).
Howell E. F. (2014). Ferenczi’s Concept of Identification with The Aggressor: Understanding Dissociative Structure with Interacting Victim And Abuser Self-States. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 74(1), 48–59. 10.1057/ajp.2013.40
Huprich, S. K. (2014). Malignant Self-Regard: A Self-Structure Enhancing the Understanding of Masochistic, Depressive, and Vulnerably Narcissistic Personalities. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 22(5), 295–305. 10.1097/hrp.0000000000000019
Mandler, J. M. (1984). Stories, Scripts, and Scenes: Aspects of Schema Theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
McAdams, D. P. (1985). Power, Intimacy, and the Life Story: Personological Inquires into Identity. New York: Guilford Press.
McAdams, D. P. (2011). Narrative Identity. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (p. 99–115). Springer Science + Business Media. 10.1007/978–1–4419–7988–9_5
Walker, N. (1956). Freud and Homeostasis. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 7(25), 61–72. https://www.jstor.org/stable/685936