Reading list: Superego

Key papers by Klein and Freud

For full references for Melanie Klein’s works see Melanie Klein’s publications.

1923 Freud, S. ‘The ego and the id’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 19. Hogarth Press (1961). Introduction of the term ‘super-ego’.

1924 Freud, S. ‘The economic problem of masochism’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 19. Hogarth Press (1961). Relationship between death instinct and sadistic superego explored.

1926 Klein, M. ‘The psychological principles of early analysis’. Introjected hostile mother described as the basis of early persecutory superego.

1927a Klein, M. ‘Symposium on child analysis’. Superego thought to be a ‘highly resistant product, at heart unalterable’.

1927b Klein, M. ‘Criminal tendencies in normal children’. Unconscious guilt linked to the idea of a harsh superego.

1928 Klein, M. ‘Early stages of the Oedipus complex’. Pregenital stages of superego described.

1929 Klein, M. ‘Personification in the play of children’. Normal supergo thought to consist of multiple internal (part-) objects’.

1932 Klein, M. ‘Early stages of the Oedipus conflict and of superego formation’. Idea of the superego originating in the death instinct is introduced.

1933 Freud, S. ‘The dissection of the psychical personality’. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 22. Hogarth Press (1964). Summary of Freud’s views on the super-ego.

1933 Klein, M. ‘The early development of conscience in the child’. The superego is described as being formed by a division in the instinctual impulse (death instinct fused with libido) in which one part is directed against the other.

1935 Klein, M. ‘A contribution to the psychogenesis of manic-depressive states’. A description is given of the defences employed at the threshold of the depressive position to meet the demand for repair from a persecutory perfectionist and sadistic superego.

1948 Klein, M. ‘On the theory of anxiety and guilt’. Dual aspect of the superego clearly stated.

1952 Klein, M. ‘Some theoretical conclusions regarding the emotional life of the infant’. Depressive position thought to modify the extreme severity of the superego.

1957 Klein, M. ‘Envy and gratitude’. Idea of an envious superego introduced.

1958 Klein, M. ‘On the development of mental functioning’. Klein removes the terrifying internal figures from the superego and places them in the deep unconscious.

1963 Klein, M. ‘On the sense of loneliness’. Loneliness is increased by a harsh superego.

Further exploration

Anderson, R. (1997) ‘Putting the boot in: Violent defences against depressive anxiety’, in D. Bell (ed.) Reason and Passion. London: Duckworth, pp. 75-87.

Bion, W. R. (1959) ‘Attacks on linking’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 40: 308-315.

Bion, W. R. (1962) ‘–K’, in Learning from Experience. London: Heinemann, pp. 95-105.

Brenman, E. (1985) ‘Cruelty and narrow-mindedness’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 66: 273-281; republished in G. Fornari Spoto (ed.) Recovery of the Lost Good Object. London: Routledge (2006).

Britton, R. (1998) Belief and Imagination. London: Routledge.

Britton, R. (2003) Sex, Death and the Superego. London: Karnac.

Grinberg, L. (1978) ‘The “razor’s edge” in depression and mourning’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 59: 245-254.

Heimann, P. (1942) ‘A contribution to the problem of sublimation and its relation to processes of internalization’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 23: 8-17.

Heimann, P. (1952) ‘Certain functions of introjection and projection in early infancy’, in M. Klein, P. Heimann, S. Isaacs and J. Riviere (eds.) Developments in Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 122-168.

Heimann, P. (1955) ‘A combination of defences in paranoid states’, in M. Klein, P. Heimann and R. Money-Kyrle (eds.) New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Tavistock, pp. 240-265.

Mancia, M. and Meltzer, D. (1981) ‘Ego ideal functions and the psychoanalytical process’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 62: 243-249.

Meltzer, D. (1967) The Psycho-Analytical Process. London: Heinemann.

Money-Kyrle, R. (1951) ‘Some aspects of state and character in Germany’, in G. Wilbur and W. Munsterberger (eds.) Psychoanalysis and Culture. New York: International Universities Press, pp. 280-292; republished in The Collected Papers of Roger Money-Kyrle. Strath Tay: Clunie Press (1978), pp. 229-244.

Money-Kyrle, R. (1968) ‘Cognitive development’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 49: 691-698; republished in The Collected Papers of Roger Money-Kyrle. Strath Tay: Clunie Press (1978), pp. 416-433.

O’Shaughnessey, E. (1999) ‘Relating to the superego’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 80: 861-870.

Riesenberg-Malcolm, R. (1999) ‘The constitution and operation of the superego’, in Unbearable States of Mind. London: Routledge, pp. 53-70.

Rosenfeld, H. (1952) ‘Notes on the psychoanalysis of the superego conflict in an acute schizophrenic patient’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 33: 11-31; republished in Psychotic States. London: Hogarth Press (1965), pp. 63-103.

Rosenfeld, H. (1962) ‘The superego and the ego ideal’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 43: 258-263.

Rosenfeld, H. (1971) ‘A clinical approach to the psychoanalytic theory of the life and death instincts: An investigation into the aggressive aspects of narcissism’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 52: 169-178.

Searl, M. N. (1936) ‘Infantile deaths’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 17: 17-39.

Strachey, J. (1934) ‘The nature of the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis’. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 15: 127-159.