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In psychoanalysis, a process whereby the attributes of an instinctual object, especially another person, are represented mentally in a perfected form. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) defined it as follows in an article ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’ (1914): ‘Idealisation is a process which concerns the object; by it that object, without any alteration in its nature, is aggrandised and exalted in the subject's mind’ (Standard Edition, XIV, pp. 73–102, at p. 94). Many subsequent psychoanalysts, including the British-based Austrian psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1882–1960) in a chapter in a co-authored book Developments in Psycho-Analysis in 1952, have interpreted it as a defence mechanism. See also imago (1).

Subjects: Psychology.

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