Wisdom Of The Ego / Edition 1

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Overview


One of America's preeminent psychiatrists draws on his famous Study of Adult Development to give us an exhilarating look at how the mind's defenses work. What we see as the mind's trickery, George Vaillant tells us, is actually healthy. What's more, it can reveal the mind at its most creative and mature, soothing and protecting us in the face of unbearable reality, managing the unmanageable, ordering disorder. And because creativity is so intrinsic to this alchemy of the ego, Vaillant mingles his studies of obscure lives with psychobiographies of famous artists and others--including Florence Nightingale, Sylvia Plath, Anna Freud, and Eugene O'Neill.

One of America's preeminent psychiatrists gives us an exhilarating look at how the mind's defenses work, how they evolve and change, and so, change us. In 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
A stimulating presentation of theory and research on ego development.
Boston Sunday Globe

Vaillant tells us that ego defenses are not pathological formations or symptoms of mental illness. They are ingenious self-deceptions that serve adaptation...He is to be commended for bringing certain unconscious processes into focus and for illuminating the various ways in which ego defenses contribute to a person's adaptation to life.
— Louise J. Kaplan

American Journal of Psychotherapy

The rumor of the death of Ego Psychology is greatly exaggerated. As long as George Vaillant writes his engaging books extolling the wisdom of ego psychology it is destined to remain part of our theoretical landscape...The Wisdom of the Ego is written with the author's vivid, sometimes witty and consistently clear style, happily interspersed with numerous examples both from his longitudinal studies, as well as from biographies of well-known people...One need not agree with all of Vaillant's premises to appreciate and enjoy this colorful and many-faceted book. I cannot think of a better, more absorbing book to introduce clinical graduate students and clinicians in general to an up-dated version of the best ideas of ego psychology.
— Sophie Freud

Canadian Medical Association Journal
Mental health, social fitness, creativity, self-deception, success and failure are documented with uplifting humor and nobility. Medical and psychiatric understanding is eruditely conveyed with the good taste of a fine after-dinner story.
American Journal of Psychiatry
The thesis of The Wisdom of the Ego is most persuasively developed by the use of life histories, some of which derive from subjects in Vaillant's study groups but many of which are derived from life histories of famous individuals. The reader gets delicious insights into the way that life experiences shaped the ego's defensive repertoire and how these defenses then shaped the careers of characters as diverse as Beethoven and Emily Dickinson, Tolstoy and Henry Ford, and Gandhi and Josef Mengele...The illustrations offered by these famous lives result in a book that is entertaining and memorable.
— John G. Gunderson, M.D.
American Journal of Psychiatry

The thesis of The Wisdom of the Ego is most persuasively developed by the use of life histories, some of which derive from subjects in Vaillant's study groups but many of which are derived from life histories of famous individuals. The reader gets delicious insights into the way that life experiences shaped the ego's defensive repertoire and how these defenses then shaped the careers of characters as diverse as Beethoven and Emily Dickinson, Tolstoy and Henry Ford, and Gandhi and Josef Mengele...The illustrations offered by these famous lives result in a book that is entertaining and memorable.
— John G. Gunderson, M.D.

American Journal of Psychotherapy - Sophie Freud
The rumor of the death of Ego Psychology is greatly exaggerated. As long as George Vaillant writes his engaging books extolling the wisdom of ego psychology it is destined to remain part of our theoretical landscape...The Wisdom of the Ego is written with the author's vivid, sometimes witty and consistently clear style, happily interspersed with numerous examples both from his longitudinal studies, as well as from biographies of well-known people...One need not agree with all of Vaillant's premises to appreciate and enjoy this colorful and many-faceted book. I cannot think of a better, more absorbing book to introduce clinical graduate students and clinicians in general to an up-dated version of the best ideas of ego psychology.
George W. Goethals
This is a remarkable synthesis of the best current thinking on ego psychology as well as a many-faceted picture of what Robert White would call 'lives in progress.' It makes on its own not only a highly innovative contribution to ego psychology but an equally original and impressive contribution to longitudinal research. A remarkable and many-faceted work.
Boston Sunday Globe - Louise J. Kaplan
Vaillant tells us that ego defenses are not pathological formations or symptoms of mental illness. They are ingenious self-deceptions that serve adaptation...He is to be commended for bringing certain unconscious processes into focus and for illuminating the various ways in which ego defenses contribute to a person's adaptation to life.
American Journal of Psychiatry - John G. Gunderson
The thesis of The Wisdom of the Ego is most persuasively developed by the use of life histories, some of which derive from subjects in Vaillant's study groups but many of which are derived from life histories of famous individuals. The reader gets delicious insights into the way that life experiences shaped the ego's defensive repertoire and how these defenses then shaped the careers of characters as diverse as Beethoven and Emily Dickinson, Tolstoy and Henry Ford, and Gandhi and Josef Mengele...The illustrations offered by these famous lives result in a book that is entertaining and memorable.
Robert Kegan
A richly textured, elegantly written, and humane book by the person who is becoming the Anna Freud of his day. Vaillant's sympathetic treatment of the defenses is itself wise and creative.
John C. Nemiah
This is a brilliant, not to say unique, book. It brings to the study of the ego the same clarifying empiricism, animating passion, and illuminating insight that so strikingly characterized the pioneering investigations of the dynamic unconcious a hundred years ago. Behind The Wisdom of the Ego lies the wonderful wisdom of George Vaillant.
American Journal of Psychotherapy
The rumor of the death of Ego Psychology is greatly exaggerated. As long as George Vaillant writes his engaging books extolling the wisdom of ego psychology it is destined to remain part of our theoretical landscape...The Wisdom of the Ego is written with the author's vivid, sometimes witty and consistently clear style, happily interspersed with numerous examples both from his longitudinal studies, as well as from biographies of well-known people...One need not agree with all of Vaillant's premises to appreciate and enjoy this colorful and many-faceted book. I cannot think of a better, more absorbing book to introduce clinical graduate students and clinicians in general to an up-dated version of the best ideas of ego psychology.
— Sophie Freud
Boston Sunday Globe
Vaillant tells us that ego defenses are not pathological formations or symptoms of mental illness. They are ingenious self-deceptions that serve adaptation...He is to be commended for bringing certain unconscious processes into focus and for illuminating the various ways in which ego defenses contribute to a person's adaptation to life.
— Louise J. Kaplan
Booknews
Draws on the Study of Adult Development, based at Harvard U., to show how the mind's defenses work and how they evolve and change, how the maladjustments of adolescence can evolve into the virtues of maturity, and how creativity is intrinsic to this alchemy of the ego. Portraits of obscure and famous lives illustrate the themes of resilience and evolution. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674953734
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

George E. Vaillant is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Why Praise the Human Ego?
  • 2. A Matter of Definition
  • 3. Self-Deceptions of Everyday Life
  • 4. Necessary Questions
  • 5. How Can We Prove That Defenses Exist?
  • 6. The Ego and Adult Development
  • 7. Life Histories
  • 8. The Ego and Creativity
  • 9. Sylvia Plath: Creativity and Psychotic Defenses
  • 10. Anna Freud: Mature Defenses
  • 11. Eugene O’Neill: The Maturation of Defenses
  • 12. Disadvantage, Resilience, and Mature Defenses
  • 13. How Does the Ego Mature?
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Index

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