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Berkeley Psychoanalytic Society
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Questioning the Superego

February 3 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

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Penelope Garvey

In this paper I approach and examine the concept of the superego mainly from a Kleinian point of view, describe how it changes during the course of an individual’s development and raise questions about how and to what extent the primitive forces on which it is built can be modified by psychoanalysis. Using theory and examples, I outline the differences between Klein’s early harsh superego, her normal mature superego and the extreme forces from the deep unconscious that contribute to what has been variously named; the ‘abnormal superego’, the ‘ego-destructive superego’, the ‘envious superego’ the ‘ego splitting superego’ and by Freud as ‘a gathering place for the death instincts’. The examples illustrate the potentially destructive and persecuting nature of omnipotence in both patient and analyst as played out in the transference countertransference and raise questions about technique.


Penelope Garvey

Penelope Garvey is a training and supervising analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She works in private practice in Devon and teaches in the UK and abroad, particularly Ukraine. She is one of the co-authors of the New Dictionary of Kleinian Thought (2011), co- edited with Kay Long The Klein Tradition (2018) and published Melanie Klein: A Contemporary Introduction (2023). She has recorded a short e-learning course, ‘The Introduction to Melanie Klein’ for the website of the Institute of Psychoanalysis. She has served on a number of committees of the British Psychoanalytical Society and currently chairs the Outreach Committee.