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March 1969

Executive Functions of the Ego

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(3):257-261. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740150001001

IN THE BEGINNING, psychoanalytic theory was almost exclusively involved with the mapping of intrapsychic events. This emphasis had good and sufficient cause—that manifest behavior could not be fully accounted for by rational processes since analytic investigation of such behavior by free association revealed "reasons that reason knew not of." This fruitful period of concentration created a psychoanalytic psychology of man's inner world, seductively complete, but lacking a grammar of relationships with reality. Absorption with the intrapsychic implications of manifest behavior resulted in a long delay in the development of Freud's plan for a truly general psychology, more generally biological than specifically human. Only relatively recently did the mainstream of psychoanalytic thought broaden enough to allow for the construction of an ego psychology with an action in reality orientation.

In 1939, Heinz Hartmann's Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation1

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