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September 1963

Explorations of Ego Structures of Firesetting Children

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training Michael Reese Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(3):246-253. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720150056008

Since the dawn of prehistory, man has been fascinated and mystified by a force of nature whose control and cultivation were necessary for the emergence of civilization—fire. In mythology, folklore, and beliefs of primitive cultures, one finds expressed the seemingly universal desire to account for the origins of fire and the means by which it was rendered serviceable to the needs of man (Frazer, 1930). That fire is symbolically expressive of libidinal, particularly phallicuretheral drives, has long been the psychoanalytical position. This view was first formulated in an article by Freud, "The Acquisition of Power Over Fire," (1952), in which he analyzed the Greek myth of Prometheus and linked fire, through the process of reversal, with urinary functions. In another paper, he writes, "It is remarkable how regularly analytic findings testify to the close connection between ideas of ambition, fire, and urethral eroticism" (1930, p

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