Autonomous ego

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The term "autonomous ego" was coined by the proponents of ego-psychology.


According to the proponents of ego-psychology, the ego becomes autonomous by achieving a harmonious balance between its primitive drives and the dictates of reality.

The autonomous ego is thus synomymous with "the strong ego," "the well-adapted ego," "the healthy ego."


Psychoanalysis was conceived of by the proponents of ego-psychology as the process of helping the analysand ego to become autonomous: this was supposed to be achieved by the identification of the analysand with the strong ego of the analyst.


Lacan is very critical of the concept of the autonomous ego.[1]

He argues that the ego is not free but determined by the symbolic order.

Symbolic Order

The autonomy of the ego is simply a narcissistic illusion of mastery.

It is the symbolic order, and not the ego, which enjoys autonomy.

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.306-7