Nellie Curtin – The Narcissistic Ego: Functions and Fallacies

THE LETTER 63 Autumn 2016 pages 97 – 102

The Narcisistic Ego:

Functions and Fallacies 1

Nellie Curtin

Ego therapies have as their aim the strengthening of the ego. This is in sharp contrast to Lacan’s statement that the ego is the capacity to fail. Freud identifies the functions of the ego as well as presenting the complex theory of its origins. Following Freud and Lacan, this paper, while recognizing the ego as an agency which speaks, searches back to the narcissistic fixation of the image and its precarious foundation in the imaginary. There is also an attempt to reflect on the implications of this for psychoanalytic practice.

Keywords: orthopaedics of the ego; identification; the moorings of speech; Echo; the image.

Freud’s paper On Narcissism: An Introduction (1914) is considered to be one of his most important writings. He had developed his ideas over a decade prior to this publication and he continued to refine them during the subsequent decade. His paper is interesting because it includes the hesitations and ambiguities of a theory in its beginnings. This is also true of what he says about the ego which is so closely linked with Narcissism.

The paper on Narcissism highlights the ego and its functions which play such a central role in the psyche. In analytic work, the ego therapies are considered ‘inauspicious’. If we do not wish to pursue the ‘orthopaedics of the ego’ as Lacan calls it, how do we deal with the ego in psychoanalysis? Ego’s place as outlined by Freud, appears in neurosis, in repression, in sleep and dreams, in melancholia, in psychoses, in everyday living. In face of this how do we understand and work with it if we are not to go the route of ego…….

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