Summary: The component of the personality associated with ethics, standards, and self-criticism - the "conscience". It is derived mainly from identification with parents and parent substitutes.

Top Publications

  1. Ferro A. Superego transformations through the analyst's capacity for reverie. Psychoanal Q. 2002;71:477-501 pubmed
    ..and Bionian principles to psychoanalytic work with patients who suffer from symptoms arising out of pathological superego functioning...
  2. Marmor J. Changing patterns of femininity: psychoanalytic implications. J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2004;32:7-20 pubmed
  3. Shengold L. Haunted by parents--a literary example of change meaning loss: Edna St. Vincent Millay. Psychoanal Q. 2004;73:717-35 pubmed
    ..Although some of these patients fail to achieve successful analytic outcomes, Millay is an example of someone with similar circumstances who nevertheless made significant creative contributions. ..
  4. Fletcher J. Seduction and the vicissitudes of translation: the work of Jean Laplanche. Psychoanal Q. 2007;76:1241-91 pubmed
    ..The author concludes by considering Laplanche's modeling of the psychoanalytic situation and his reformulation of transference in relation to mourning and sublimation within the framework of the general theory of seduction. ..
  5. Streiner D. Regression in the service of the superego: the do's and don'ts of stepwise multiple regression. Can J Psychiatry. 1994;39:191-6 pubmed
  6. Trimboli F, Marshall R, Keenan C. Assessing psychopathology from a structural perspective: A psychodynamic model. Bull Menninger Clin. 2013;77:132-60 pubmed publisher
    ..functioning be evaluated: cognition, affect, self-object relations, interpersonal relations, defenses, superego functioning, and primary dynamics...
  7. Oda─č C. [From the preoedipal to the oedipal: Kafka as an example of the problems of transition from dyadic to triangular relationships]. Turk Psikiyatri Derg. 2004;15:317-25 pubmed
    ..One further assumption of this paper is that Kafka's ideal self and superego are not separate from each other...
  8. Raphling D. Aggression: its relation to desire and self-interest. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1998;46:797-811 pubmed
    ..Aggression also makes important contributions to maintaining psychic equilibrium, to the psychic organization's stake in instinctual gratification, to ego function, and to superego operation.
  9. Levenson L. Superego defense analysis in the termination phase. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1998;46:847-66 pubmed
    ..In the termination phase there may occur an intensification of transferences of authority (superego transferences) in response to the aggression inherent in termination...

More Information


  1. Tyson R. The good boy syndrome and malignant academic failure in early adolescence. Psychoanal Study Child. 1996;51:386-408 pubmed
    ..Their puzzling difficulties indicate a serious underlying disorder, including depression, which requires intensive treatment. Intrasystemic superego conflicts of ideals form an intrinsic part of the psychic picture.
  2. Lansky M. The "incompatible idea" revisited: the oft-invisible ego-ideal and shame dynamics. Am J Psychoanal. 2003;63:365-76 pubmed
    ..The incompatible idea model still provides an all-inclusive model for conceptualizing the conscience in the context of intrapsychic conflict. ..
  3. Cooper A. Paranoia: a part of most analyses. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1993;41:423-42 pubmed
    ..A case vignette is provided to demonstrate the analysis of a neurotic patient without borderline features who showed prominent paranoid formation. ..
  4. Tyson P. Bedrock and beyond: an examination of the clinical utility of contemporary theories of female psychology. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1994;42:447-67 pubmed
    ..Rather, it is the mutual influence of sexuality, aggression, object relations, and a superego that inherits the object-related conflicts of early childhood, intertwined as these are with gender issues, that ..
  5. Fabra M. [So-called complex ego-functions, psychic cross findings and valuation of efficiency in medical expert assessment of psychogenic diseases]. Versicherungsmedizin. 2005;57:133-6 pubmed
    ..It is the author's view that it is desirable to operationalise this way of receiving findings with the aim of achieving obligatory criteria for granting payment to every insured person. ..
  6. Cooper A. Our changing views of the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis: comparing Strachey and Loewald. Psychoanal Q. 1988;57:15-27 pubmed
    ..Loewald's work also illuminates a major challenge for contemporary psychoanalysis: the need for an integration of the now disparate languages of metapsychology and clinical process. ..
  7. Meissner W. What if there is an ethical dimension in psychoanalysis?. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2007;55:541-69 pubmed
    ..Beyond theoretical considerations, the interaction between ethical factors and genetic, structural, and dynamic issues in clinical psychoanalysis loom as matters for future exploration. ..
  8. Kernberg O. Aggression and love in the relationship of the couple. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1991;39:45-70 pubmed
    ..Protective functions of the couple's interaction with their social network are examined in the context of their elaborating and integrating aggression with love. ..
  9. Kernberg O. Some observations on the process of mourning. Int J Psychoanal. 2010;91:601-19 pubmed publisher the setting up of a persistent internalized object relationship with the lost object that affects ego and superego functions...
  10. Pick D. "In pursuit of the Nazi mind?" The deployment of psychoanalysis in the Allied struggle against Germany. Psychoanal Hist. 2009;11:137-57 pubmed
    ..It shows how a variety of studies of Fascist psychopathology, centered on the concept of superego, were mobilized in military intelligence, postwar planning and policy recommendations for "denazification...
  11. Finkelstein L. Neglected aspects of the superego. J Am Acad Psychoanal. 1991;19:530-54 pubmed
    Topics covered in this essay on neglected aspects of the superego include the overemphasis on the harsh superego and the neglect of the range of activities of ordinary people that involve issues of moral responsibility; the need for a ..
  12. Olweny C, Juttner C, Rofe P, Barrow G, Esterman A, Waltham R, et al. Long-term effects of cancer treatment and consequences of cure: cancer survivors enjoy quality of life similar to their neighbours. Eur J Cancer. 1993;29A:826-30 pubmed
    ..In conclusion, young adult cancer survivors enjoy a quality of life similar to their neighbours, whereas coronary bypass survivors adjust less well psychosocially. ..
  13. Jacoby G. [Eating disorder and confession. Is there a correlation between the type of eating disorder and specific religious affiliation?]. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 1993;43:70-3 pubmed
    ..This was linked up with the more internalized drive control of the Protestants. Further investigations are encouraged to analyze the essence of this connection. ..
  14. Kahn C. Culture endangered. Psychoanal Rev. 2008;95:325-39 pubmed publisher
  15. Kernberg O. [Sexual partners: a psychoanalytic study]. Psyche (Stuttg). 1994;48:866-85 pubmed
    ..The article concludes with a discussion of the relationship between couples and groups. ..
  16. Rothstein A. Shame and the superego. Clinical and theoretical considerations. Psychoanal Study Child. 1994;49:263-77 pubmed
    The conception of the superego as a set of compromise formations characterized by the calamity of parental disapproval and the striving of winning or regaining parental love and approval facilitates the awareness that shame and guilt are ..
  17. Stapert W, Smeekens S. Five year olds with good conscience development. Psychoanal Study Child. 2011;65:215-44 pubmed
    ..Emde. Characteristics of classical psychoanalytic theory about superego development are compared with more recent insights...
  18. Parson E. Post-traumatic stress and coping in an inner-city child. Traumatogenic witnessing of interparental violence and murder. Psychoanal Study Child. 1995;50:272-307 pubmed
  19. Levin R. Communicating with the schizophrenic superego revisited: a new technique. J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2007;35:483-507 pubmed
    Developing from the author's prior work in which the patient's superego is conceived as more accessible to consciousness than generally believed, this article undertakes greater illumination of technical matters arising in the clinical ..
  20. Coen S. Intolerance of responsibility for internal conflict. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1989;37:943-64 pubmed
    ..Responsibility for oneself and for what is within oneself is held to be terrifying--more than anyone can bear on his own. How destructiveness has become, and remains, so terrifying is discussed. ..
  21. Levy S, Inderbitzin L. Safety, danger, and the analyst's authority. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1997;45:377-94 pubmed
  22. Wallesch C. [Mind and matter - id and super-ego revisited?]. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2002;70:509-10 pubmed
  23. Ingham G. The superego, narcissism and Great Expectations. Int J Psychoanal. 2007;88:753-68 pubmed
    The author notes that the concepts of the superego and narcissism were linked at conception and that superego pathology may be seen as a determining factor in the formation of a narcissistic disorder; thus an examination of the superego ..
  24. Zerbe K. Why eating-disordered patients resist sex therapy: a response to Simpson and Ramberg. J Sex Marital Ther. 1992;18:55-64 pubmed
    ..Possessing punitive superego structures, they are also quite critical of their sexual responses...
  25. Tyson P. Object relations, affect management, and psychic structure formation. The concept of object constancy. Psychoanal Study Child. 1996;51:172-89 pubmed
    ..Possible interferences with the achievement of mature object constancy are briefly explored. ..
  26. Hershey D. On a type of heterosexuality, and the fluidity of object relations. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1989;37:147-71 pubmed
    ..intrapsychic uses of the object; a special kind of defensive organization; an experienced victory over the superego and associated elevation of certain aspects of the ego ideal; and a resultant alteration in the nature of close ..
  27. Coen S. Superego aspects of entitlement (in rigid characters). J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1988;36:409-27 pubmed
    ..Dynamic conflict among feelings of entitlement, defectiveness, and deprivation is discussed from the perspective of superego defense against dangerously aggressive (and sexual) wishes...
  28. Lax R. A variation on Freud's theme in "A child is being beaten"--mother's role: some implications for superego development in women. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1992;40:455-73 pubmed
    ..of parental prohibitions, the repression of oedipal wishes, and the subsequent structuralization of the superego. Mother establishes the "oedipal law" for the girl analogously to father's doing the same for the boy...
  29. Klain E, Moro L. The superego in patients' dreams in group analysis. Acta Med Iugosl. 1990;44:307-323 pubmed
    The paper gives an introduction to the superego in patients' dreams in group analysis and presents new contributions to the theory of the superego...
  30. Corradi R. The repetition compulsion in psychodynamic psychotherapy. J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry. 2009;37:477-500 pubmed publisher
    ..and treating several common and representative psychiatric conditions: reactive depression, punitive superego function, and traumatic neurosis...
  31. Posener J. A cognitive perspective on object relations, drive development and ego structure in the second and third years of life. Int J Psychoanal. 1989;70 ( Pt 4):627-43 pubmed
    ..Parallels are explored between cognitive stages and the psychoanalytic understanding of ego and superego development...
  32. Lee H, Kim L, Han C, Kim Y, Kim S, Lee M, et al. Latency of auditory P300 correlates with self-control as measured by the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2005;59:418-24 pubmed
    ..46, P = 0.044; and r = -0.72, P = 0.002, respectively). These results indicate that the personality traits of self-control, perfectionism, high superego, and reasoning are related to information processing in the brain.
  33. Kernberg O. The couple's constructive and destructive superego functions. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1993;41:653-77 pubmed
    ..activated internalized object relations, so does the couple activate both partners' conscious and unconscious superego functions...
  34. Milrod D. The superego. Its formation, structure, and functioning. Psychoanal Study Child. 2002;57:131-48 pubmed
    In this paper the theory of the superego is explored from the point of view of ego psychology...
  35. Josephs L. Self-criticism and the psychic surface. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2000;48:255-80 pubmed
    ..self-syntonic and self-dystonic contents are seen to reflect an underlying intrasystemic conflict within the superego between conflicting superego injunctions...
  36. Ross D, Favero M. The experience of borderline phenomena through cinema: Guentin Tarantino's Reservoir dogs, true romance, and pulp fiction. J Am Acad Psychoanal. 2002;30:489-507 pubmed
    ..of drive derivatives, the discontinuous experience of time and space, the coniflicted search for an idealized parent, antisocial distortions of the superego, and the organizing and stabilizing function of a central romantic fantasy.
  37. Chessick R. On falling in love and creativity. J Am Acad Psychoanal. 1992;20:347-73 pubmed
    ..The work of other authors is reviewed and recast into a metapsychological framework involving ego and superego contributions to the experience, and focused on self cohesion...
  38. Siegel E. Franz Kafka's The Trial: guilty or innocent?. Psychoanal Q. 1996;65:561-90 pubmed
    ..My goal is to show how the concept of a particular type of superego pressure can be used to understand the subtle irony in The Trial. Although Joseph K...
  39. Blum H. Clinical and developmental dimensions of hate. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1997;45:358-75 pubmed
    ..Countertransference hate is often an unrecognized determinant in cases of analytic and therapeutic impasse. A classic contribution by D.W. Winnicott to the recognition and elucidation of countertransference hate is reevaluated. ..
  40. Kernberg O. The sexual couple: a psychoanalytic exploration. Psychoanal Rev. 2011;98:217-45 pubmed publisher
    ..quot; (Reik, 1945). ..
  41. Perelberg R. 'A father is being beaten': constructions in the analysis of some male patients. Int J Psychoanal. 2011;92:97-116 pubmed publisher
  42. D Amelio G, Bazzan A, Guzzo R, Lazzaretto M, Sigalotti G. [A systematic approach to the prediction of psychosomatic disease]. Minerva Med. 1990;81:629-32 pubmed
  43. Burton A. The meaning of perineal activity to women: an inner sphinx. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1996;44 Suppl:241-59 pubmed
    ..The aggressive component may present as an unconscious fantasy of possessing an inner, powerful, and dangerous organ--a focus for conflict between anal-sadistic wishes and early elements of the superego.
  44. Moreira J. Otherness in interior identity: a reflection about the Freudian concepts of unconscious, superego, and id. Span J Psychol. 2008;11:689-701 pubmed
    Theoretical, psychoanalytical constructs referring to the unconscious, the superego, and id, enjoy an autonomy within the I...
  45. Milrod D. The ego ideal. Psychoanal Study Child. 1990;45:43-60 pubmed
    ..The locus of the ego ideal is placed in the superego, and its structure and function are integrated with those of the superego...
  46. Motte dit Falisse J. [Participation and separation: reference criteria for the study of the genesis of the moral personality and its pathology]. Acta Psychiatr Belg. 1989;89:344-60 pubmed the analytic theory of the different identification process levels and of the gradual constitution of the superego, we finally find out how a lack or an absence of concord between these two dynamics (individual and social) ..
  47. Simpson R. A letter to Hans Loewald. Psychoanal Q. 2007;76:1171-93 pubmed
  48. Waska R. Mutilation of self and object: the destructive world of the paranoid-schizoid patient and the struggle for containment and integration. Psychoanal Rev. 2002;89:373-98 pubmed
    ..During the middle phase of treatment, pathological superego states and manifestations of death instinct color the analysis...
  49. Pfeifer S, Waelty U. Psychopathology and religious commitment--a controlled study. Psychopathology. 1995;28:70-7 pubmed
    ..Anxiety concerning sexuality, superego conflicts and childhood fears of God was primarily associated with neuroticism and not with religious commitment...
  50. Novick K, Novick J. Postoedipal transformations: latency, adolescence, and pathogenesis. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1994;42:143-69 pubmed
  51. Apfelbaum B, Gill M. Ego analysis and the relativity of defense: technical implications of the structural theory. J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1989;37:1071-96 pubmed
    ..Accordingly, the structural revision made possible an equidistant position between defense and wish, reducing reliance on suggestion and establishing interpretive neutrality, which we distinguish from behavioral neutrality. ..
  52. Jerry P. Psychodynamic psychotherapy of the intravenous cocaine abuser. J Subst Abuse Treat. 1997;14:319-32 pubmed
    ..Also discussed are the use of dream material, the facilitation of the corrective emotional experience, and the complementary use of 12-step programs in the therapeutic process. ..
  53. Dahl E. In her mother's voice: reflections on "femininity" and the superego. Psychoanal Study Child. 2002;57:3-23 pubmed
    For some female analysands the anxiety generated by superego conflict stimulated by aggressive and creative wishes may be warded off by invoking representations of the archaic all-powerful, limit-setting mother...