chapter  IX
The Ultimate Foundations of Ego-Identity
ByHarry Guntrip
Pages 29

Psychoanalytic theory had for a long time the appearance of the exploration of a circle which had no obvious centre until ego-psychology got under way. Exploration had to begin with peripheral phenomena— behaviour, moods, symptoms, conflicts, mental 'mechanisms', erotic drives, aggression, fears, guilts, psychotic and psychoneurotic states, instincts and impulses, erotogenic zones, maturational stages. The ego in its earliest beginnings is the psychic subject experiencing itself as 'satisfactorily in being', perhaps a realization of what Freud called the 'pleasure principle', though curiously enough this is the only possible basis for the growth of a sense of 'ego-reality'. The female element as 'being' and the male element as 'doing' is strikingly illustrated by Michelangelo in four Madonnas, produced between 1503-6, in one of his most creative periods. The conscious ego is the ego of separation, of 'doing', of acting and being acted on, and in that sense is the location of the male element in personality.