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Heinz Hartmann’s Ego Development and Adaptation was a more comprehensive development of Sigmund Freud’s theory of Psychoanalysis. In the theory Freud divided the human mind into the id, ego and superego with each part having a specific function. The id was the internal instinctive drive for satisfaction of basic human needs and desires. The ego developed in a person to counter the id and its basic drive. The ego in some quarters is known as pride since it separated man from animal by controlling unbridled instinctive behavior.
The superego constituted the conscience of the person and helped to balance the id and the ego, allowing either to operate only as necessary to satisfy basic human desires while maintaining the dignity of the individual (Hartmann, 1958). This paper is a summary of Hartmann’s theory on Ego Development and Adaptation. Ego Development and Adaptation Like Freud, Hartmann believed that the ego developed as a result of human interaction with the environment.
This environment provided external stimuli such as rebuke by parents and mistakes such as falling down a slippery floor that shaped the way a person interacted with his environment after the experience (Hartmann, 1958). However, he went further to assiduously study ego functions hence coming up with a general psychology and a clinical instrument to evaluate the functioning of an individual and formulate therapeutic interventions.
He believed that the ego was not formed just by external influences but also has innate capacities such as perception, attention, memory, concentration, motor coordination, and language.
Under what he termed an average expectable environment these capacities developed independently of libidinal and aggressive drives; consequently they were not products of frustration and conflict (Hartmann, 1958). Nevertheless, he agreed that the human condition was inextricably embroiled in conflict thus some of the functions were shaped and conditioned by such conflicts.
Aggressive and libidinal drives therefore helped shape these functions in the face of the conflicts (Hartmann, 1958). Conclusion So according to Hartmann the duty of the psychoanalyst is to neutralize the impulses shaped by conflict so as to expand conflict free functions. Only in this way can the psychoanalyst help facilitate the proper adaptation of the individual to his environment (Hartmann, 1958).
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