Who was Heinz Hartmann and how did he contribute to psychology and medicine?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Physician and psychologist, Heinz Hartmann of Vienna, Austria, came from a distinguished family of professors, physicians, politicians, and philanthropists. After becoming a psychiatrist, he published papers at the age of 43 on the subjects of psychoses, neuroses, values, and cocaine (Freud used cocaine and advocated it for some of his patients). 

When Freud offered to psychoanalyze Hartmann for no charge if he would remain in Vienna, Hartmann accepted. Thereafter, Hartmann became a follower of Freud. In 1937, he wrote a paper on ego psychology, a paper that later developed into a book. This is the work for which he became renowned; in it Hartmann contends that the ego, as defined by Freud--that part of the psyche that mediates between the basic urges of the Id and the idealistic measures of the Superego--is the part of a person's personality that determines behavior. 

The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions." 
(Sigmund Freud, 1923, The Ego and the Id

According to Hartmann, the ego has 12 functions:

  1. Reality testing
  2. Judgment
  3. Sense of Reality
  4. Regulation and Control of Drives and Impluses
  5. Object Relations
  6. Thought Processes
  7. Adaptive Regression
  8. Defensive Functioning
  9. Stimulus Barrier
  10. Autonomous Functions
  11. Mastery- Competence
  12. Integrative Functioning

Knowledge of these adaptive functions of the ego has allowed psychology and psychoanalysis to harmonize better with each other because the main goal of psychoanalysis is to draw out the Id's various drives out into the consciousness, thus allowing these drives to be met directly in an effort to reduce the patient's reliance on ego defenses.

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