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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Freud's ego ideals: a study of admired modern historical and political personages.

It is appropriate to conclude this study with a statement that characterizes Freud and his search for particular models, and this is: "A genius chooses his family from among heroes." His historical heroes were Cromwell, Napoleon, Masséna, Garibaldi, Bismarck, Adler, Lasalle, Lasker, and Wilson. Of course, toward many of these figures, Freud was also ambivalent. Yet these leaders have certain common denominators. In various degrees, they may be characterized as progressive, secular, and anti-Catholic. Moreover, they all had spectacular careers, stood up against great odds, and in many instances had serious conflicts with their fathers or men in authority. These leaders had a special significance for Freud, and their selection is representative not only of his own personal dynamics, but also of his historical milieu. His ego ideals demonstrate that Freud was ambitious and had partisan political feelings and concerns. In some cases the choice of the ego ideals stemmed from his ambivalent feelings toward his father and his particular resolution of the oedipal situation. Also very significant is the fact of Freud's Jewish heritage and the anti-Semitism he experienced as a citizen of the Hapsburg Empire. Moreover, Freud was always sensitive about the power and the influence of the Catholic church. Still another reason for his selection of widely scattered figures with whom to identify is the broadening influence of his classical education. In addition, being gifted linguistically, he was able to transcend a parochial environment. In general then, Freud's ego ideals reveal that he was informed politically and historically and that he regarded these men as promoting policies that were liberating.[1]


  1. Freud's ego ideals: a study of admired modern historical and political personages. Szaluta, J. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. (1983) [Pubmed]
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