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In psychoanalysis, one of the two major aspects of the ego, based on the reality principle, differentiated by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) from the pleasure-ego, based on the pleasure principle. In his article on ‘Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning’ (1911), he summed up the distinction as follows: ‘Just as the pleasure-ego can do nothing but wish, work for a yield of pleasure, and avoid unpleasure, so the reality-ego need do nothing but strive for what is useful and guard itself against damage’ (Standard Edition, XII, pp. 218–26, at p. 223).

Subjects: Psychology.

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