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Use ofD etachment in Na r c iss is t ic andB Co n d it io ns1 (1979)

One aspect of the current developmental emphasis in psycho-analysis is that the concept of ego defense has become more broadly conceptualized so as to take into consideration the evolution of certain defenses prior to the full development of the ego and of intrapsychic conflict. The writings of Fairbairn (1944), Anna Freud (1946), Guntrip (1961a), Kernberg (1966, 1975), Mahler (1968, 1975), Sullivan (1940, 1953), and Winnicott (1960a, 1963b) have been particularly influential in shaping this perspective. Detachment, for example, is seen at the early stage of human growth as guardian of the integrity of the ego itself, arising to protect a fragile, growing sense of differentiated self from the threat of potential annihilation by internal and external stimuli that the ego is not yet strong enough to integrate. The role that detachment plays in character formation and in ego functioning during later stages of development has received notably less theoretical attention, although its adaptive as well as its more pathological manifestations are commonly acknowledged.