There is no doubt that Freud’s pioneer study on the relationship between infantile sexuality and adult personality was truly revolutionary. For the first time, the seemingly bizarre and incomprehensible sexual preferences and activities of the adult neurotic could be traced to the individual’s long-forgotten infantile sexuality. In short, the neurotic was repeating his or her childhood sexuality in the pattern of his or her adult life, despite the inability to retrieve the memory of the childhood sexuality. Freud’s main contribution to a theory of the development of the ego came more gradually. He defined the formation of personality as based on the defensive identification with and introjection of the lost libidinal object. Beginning with his study of Leonardo, whose homosexuality was explained by Leonardo’s identification with his mother in response to his loss of her, Freud began to differentiate between anaclitic identification (primary identification) and secondary identification, which was a reaction to separation and loss. In his study of Mourning and Melancholia, Freud applied the same categories of identification to explain the clinical manifestations of depression. During normal mourning, Freud stated, the source of pain is the loss of the love object in the object world; during melancholia, the patient is concerned with the loss of an ambivalently attached, internalized object. Finally, in The Ego and the Id, Freud formulated the developmental origins of personality, based on the three divisions of personality: id, ego, and superego. The formation of the superego depends upon the child’s identification with the parent who has been his or her rival in the Oedipal struggle. This identification is the root of the child’s value system, pattern of social conduct, and aspirations. The process and motives for both primary and secondary identification are largely unconscious and unknown to the child. There might be apparent similarities between the child’s personality and the personalities of those with whom he or she has identified, but these similarities are not based primarily on conscious imitating, role modeling, or social learning, even though all these are important and do contribute. The most decisive reason for giving up the Oedipal conflict and substituting the superego by way of identification is fear of castration at the hands of the aggressor parent. Boys’ sexual desire for the mother increases their anxiety of being castrated by the father. For girls, a feeling of having been already castrated augments their feeling of penis envy and identification with their father; they then give up this masculine striving and adopt a feminine identification, substituting their wish for a penis with the wish to have a child by the father. It is because the female develops her «genitality» by a more complicated method, that Freud believed that her Oedipal struggle rarely is resolved completely. He felt that the female’s superego was not as stable as that of the male and that she always carried the vestiges of infantile sexuality in her personality.


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