The Wisdom of the Ego

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Harvard University Press, 1995 - Psychology - 394 pages
"Because creativity is so intrinsic to this alchemy of the ego, Vaillant mingles these life studies with psychobiographies of famous artists and others. We meet Florence Nightingale, the intractable hypochondriac and hopeless dreamer who, at the age of thirty-one, wrote in her diary, "I see nothing desirable but death," and we watch as she transforms her anguish into altruism, her hapless fantasies into fantastic success. In the tormented life of Sylvia Plath, we see psychosis as not only a defect but also an effort at repair, her poetry as an extraordinary illustration of the adaptive process. We witness the mature working of the mind's defenses in the career of Anna Freud, their greatest elucidator. And we see the wisdom of the ego at work as Eugene O'Neill evolves from self-destructive youth to creator of great art." "In these compelling portraits of obscure and famous lives, Vaillant charts the evolution of the ego's defenses, from the psychopathic to the sublime, and from the mundane to the most ingenious. An account of the boundless psychological resilience of adult development, The Wisdom of the Ego is a brilliant summation of the mind's amazing power to fashion creative victories out of life's would-be defeats."--BOOK JACKET.
 

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Contents

Introduction I
1
A Matter of Definition
28
Mutually exclusive ways of identifying the defenses
36
SelfDeceptions of Everyday Life
76
Necessary Questions
96
How Can We Prove That Defenses Exist?
118
Correlations between maturity of defenses and measures
131
The Ego and Adult Development
141
Major differences between the more and the less
218
Creativity and Psychotic Defenses
231
Mature Defenses
248
The Maturation of Defenses
266
Disadvantage Resilience and Mature Defenses
284
Eleven vulnerable Core City men and their
286
How Does the Ego Mature?
326
Notes
365

Psychosocial stages reached by members of
168
Life Histories
175
The Ego and Creativity
203
Acknowledgments
383
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

He is a widely respected researcher, psychiatrist & professor at the Harvard Medical School. He is also the author of several books, including The Wisdom of the Ego, The Natural History of Alcoholism & Adaption to Life. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on aging.

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