August 1972

The Prediction of Ego Functioning in College

Author Affiliations

Cambridge, Mass
From Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(2):224-229. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750260070010

This interdisciplinary study demonstrates a method for identifying signs of faulty ego functioning in adolescence from the routine written reports of secondary school teachers. These reports were coded systematically into categories which meaningfully described students and which had greater power to predict their future behavior and emotional stability in college than the usual demographic, ability, and performance parameters. The categories reflect well-known characterological types, styles of interpersonal relationships, and patterns of cognitive functioning. The results suggest that character is sufficiently well defined by mid-adolescence so that one can distinguish between normal adolescent turmoil and a pathological process. Adolescents whose egos fail in college have already manifested in high school signs of difficulty, specifically an intensification of aggression, increased narcissism, and deviant cognitive functioning.