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Ego Development

  1. Gil G. Noam1,
  2. Tina Malti2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0296

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Noam, G. G. and Malti, T. 2010. Ego Development. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Harvard University and McLean Hospital

  2. 2

    University of Zurich, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The ego development concept was first introduced in psychoanalytic thinking. Using Freud's so-called structural model distinguishing between id, superego, and ego, an American group of psychoanalysts developed a branch of theory and practice that came to be known as “ego psychology” (Hartmann, 1964). The term ego development has been used with various meanings. Whereas Freud viewed the ego as a weak rider of the powerful id and the strict superego, the more pragmatic line of U.S. psychoanalysis led clinicians and theorists to stress the ego's conscious elements of decision making, choice, and competence. In general, the ego has been utilized as a broad descriptive term for all ego function in the psychoanalytic tradition or, most prominently, as the changing organization of an individual's central frame regarding the psychosocial realm or psychosocial developmental tasks.


  • ego development;
  • identity development;
  • self-understanding