Peter Jay Stein, MD, MA
EGOS AND OBJECTS
This eclectic diagram was primarily inspired by the writings of Gertrude and Rubin Blanck (Ego Psychology Theory And Practice, 2nd Edition, 1994).
The Blancks carefully gathered ideas from a multitude of both current and historical sources, from which they synthesized a beautifully integrative develpmental tapestry.
This diagram aims to illustrate and mirror the simultaneous, multiple, developmental processes, ego functions, or "lines of development" (A. Freud), that are intrinsic to an infant's normal psychological growth and development: Cognition, Affect/Anxiety Regulation, Self-Esteem, Motor Development, Object Relations, Identity, Sexuality, Language Aquisition, and Reality Testing.
With such an understanding, one can then discuss how, where, and when a particular developmental task or challenge gets derailed.
The various developmental tasks and phases depicted in this diagram represent the seminal contributions of S. Freud, A. Freud, H. Hartmann, R. Spitz, E. Erikson, and M. Mahler, the latter 4 theorists increasingly recognizing the reciprocal nature of the mother-infant dyad, a relationship, beyond instinctual gratification, that "...provides the essential human connectedness within which all psychological development occurs..." (Freud and Beyond, Mitchell, S. & Black, M., 1995, p.40).
Although Freud's original theories and meta-theories have been transformed and reformulated 100 years later, through the "paradigm shifts" of Self Psychology, Intersubjectivity, Relational Theory, and Complexity Theory, highlighted on these pages, his focus on infancy as the informative source for understanding adult psychology, is still a valuable and viable methodological resource.
Remarkably, Freud developed his elaborate theory of infantile psychosexual development largely from reconstructions of the past, through his analyses of his adult patients, by which he identified the prime mover of human activity, and cause of neurosis, as the repression of the troublesome wishes to gain satisfaction from forbidden objects (Freud and Beyond, Mitchell, S., & Black, M., 1995, p. 53).
From the conceptual seeds of Hartmann, Spitz, and Mahler, mentioned above, there evolved the gradual shift of emphasis, and emergence of the contemporary views of infant researchers, (e.g., D. Stern, B. Beebe, F. Lachmann, Fosshage, A. Schore), who continue to widen the understanding of affects, intentions, behavior, and psychological trauma, now using the lenses of a relational, Intersubjective, self/other bi-directional, regulatory field, in the context of Bowlby, Main, and Target's attachment behavioral models, itself embedded in the larger matrix of community and culture (Persons in Context, Frie & Coburn (ed.), 2011).
From a neuroscience vantage point, that there are relevant psychological links between infancy and adulthood is now validated by neurobiological findings, which reveal that the impact of early maternal care is evident "...at the implicit level, in the person's neural brain circuitry, evident in adulthood as physical sensations, perceptions, emotions, nonverbal emotional expressions, and patterns of interpersonal interaction..."(Pally, R. 2005, p. 202).