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August 2022

The psychoanalytic treatment of the performing artist: Superego aspects

Journal/Book: Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. 1985; 13: 139-148.

Abstract: Describes the developmental path of the superego and contrasts it with that of the performing artist to illustrate factors involved in shaping the harsh and rigid superego often found in these individuals. It is contended that the superego of the professional musician has 2 hurdles to overcome during its development: the structuring of an internalized conscience and the establishment of a unique ego ideal. The ego ideal becomes patterned after 2 significant adults--the parent and music teacher--and thus suffers in growth and scope because of the lack of value systems incorporated from other significant adults. A case example is presented. (13 ref) ABSTRACT 2: This article highlights the crucial role of the superego in the development of the professional musician. The developmental path of the superego is outlined, given the nature of the training and the restrictions put on the emotional life of the person. There are two major areas of concern. The first has to do with the persistence of a severe, rigid, and punitive conscience. It is postulated that this difficulty centers around the second separation-individuation phase of adolescence. The possible causes for this developmental lag are discussed. The second has to do with the ego ideal. The ego ideal is limited to and patterned after the two significant adults in the lives of such individuals. It suffers in growth and scope because of the lack of value systems incorporated from different significant adults. The self-rewarding system is constricted and limited to achievement. The possible genetic factors as well as the effect of such development on the life of the person have been discussed. Finally these points are illustrated by presenting the case of Ms. V.

Note: psychoanalytic interpretation of development of superego; performing artists

Keyword(s): Superego ; artists ; psychoanalysis ; music ; drama ; dance. Achievement. Adult. Case Report. Creativeness. Female. Human. Male. Music. Object Attachment. Psychoanalytic Theory. Psychoanalytic Therapy/methods. Superego


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